Official Name

Republic of Colombia


Area: 1.2 million sq. km. (440,000 sq. mi.); about the size of Texas, New Mexico, and Arkansas combined; fourth-largest country in South America.

Cities: Capital–Bogota (pop. 7 million). Other major cities–Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena.

Terrain: Flat coastal areas, three rugged parallel mountain chains, central highlands, and flat eastern grasslands with extensive coastlines on the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

Climate: Tropical on coast and eastern plains, cooler in highlands.
Natural resources: Coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, nickel, gold, silver, copper, platinum, emeralds.


Nationality: Noun and adjective–Colombian(s).

Population : 43,593,035.

Population growth rate: 1.46%.

Religion: Roman Catholic 90%.

Language: Spanish.

Education: Years compulsory–9. Attendance–80% of children enter school. Only 5 years of primary school are offered in many rural areas.

Literacy–92.5% (2006).

Health: Infant mortality rate–20.3/1,000. Life expectancy–men 68 yrs., women 76 yrs. (2006).

Colombia is the third-most populous country in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico. Movement from rural to urban areas has been heavy. The urban population increased from 57% of the total population in 1951 to about 74% by 1994. Thirty cities have a population of 100,000 or more.

The nine eastern lowlands departments, constituting about 54% of Colombia’s area, have less than 3% of the population and a density of less than one person per square kilometer (two persons per sq. mi.).

Ethnic diversity in Colombia is a result of the intermingling of indigenous Indians, Spanish colonists, and Africans. Today, only about 1% of the people can be identified as fully indigenous on the basis of language and customs.


Type: Republic.

Independence: July 20, 1810.

Constitution: 1991.

Branches: Executive–President (chief of state and head of government). Legislative–bicameral Congress. Judicial–Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, Council of State, Superior Judicial Council.

Administrative divisions: 32 departments; Bogota, capital district.

Major political parties: Conservative Party of Colombia, Liberal Party, Polo Democratico and a score of small political movements (most of them allied with one or the other major party).

Suffrage: Universal, age 18 and over.


GDP (PPP): $366.7 billion (2006)

Annual growth rate: 5.4% (2006).

Per capita GDP (PPP): $8,400 (2006).

Manufacturing: 35.2% of GDP (2006). Types: textiles and garments, chemicals, metal products, cement, cardboard containers, plastic resins and manufactures, beverages.

Agriculture: 12% of GDP (2006). Products: coffee, bananas, cut flowers, cotton, sugarcane, livestock, rice, corn, tobacco, potatoes, soybeans, sorghum.

Service sector: 52.7% of GDP (2006).

Source: U.S. State Department’s Country Background Notes (2005) and CIA – The World Factbook (2006).