See Special Medellin Section

Colombia - Overview

Colombia is a nation rich in culture and heritage dating back a long way in history. The site of the country's capital, Bogota, is reported to be once home to hunter-gatherer societies. From those days through the Spanish discovery, conquest, colonization and eventually freedom from Spanish rule, Colombia has come a long way and made huge progress in all walks of life.

Colombia - Location

Colombia forms the geographical link between Central and South America.Meeting the Isthmus of Panama in the west, it is bordered on the south by Ecuador and Peru, and on the east by Venezuela and Brazil, and has coastlines on both the Caribbean and the Pacific. Its climate is warm and temperate in the coastal strip, but arid in the inland plateau. The capital is Bogotá.

Colombia - Head of state

Alvaro Uribe Velez (2002)

Colombia - Ruling party

The government of this Latin nation formed by the Colombian Conservative Party (PCC), the Liberal Party of Colombia (PLC) and non-partisans.

Colombia - Political structure

Colombia has an executive president who answers to a 102-member Senate and a House of Representatives with 161 elected members. Constitutional reform has been under way for many years, but in practice the issue has been repeatedly overshadowed by concerns about the eradication of the gangs who operate the drug trade. In 2005, the Constitutional Court upheld an amendment to the constitution which will allow the president to stand for a second term.

Colombia - Last elections

In presidential elections held in May 2006, Uribe was re-elected with 62% of the vote. The main contender was Carlos Gaviria Diaz who took 22% of the vote.Elections to the House were held in March 2006.

Colombia Political risk

Colombian army has made considerable progress against the left-wing Fuerzas Armada Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC). Even FARC's allies are pressing it to enter serious negotiations with the government. Any agreement will probably include some security guarantees for the guerrilla leaders. The government has also reined in the right-wing United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC). Colombia has extradited 14 of its Colombian leaders to the USA where they will serve long prison terms. The government's programme to reduce the acreage devoted to coca production has had less success.

Main industries

Farming is the mainstay of the Colombian economy just like other Latin American countries with production of coffee, sugar, bananas, cotton and meat. Coffee is grown by 400,000 farmers, mainly smallholders who employ a similar number of labor.

Colombia - Energy

Oil is the major legal export commodity of Colombia. One of the biggest Oil exporting countries in Latin America. The country has 1.45 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. These deposits represent the fifth-largest in South America.