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Colombia

Country profile

Flag of Colombia

Map of Colombia

Area of Colombia: 1,138,910 square kilometres

 

Information at a Glance

People

Population: 39,685,655
Population growth rate: 1.68%
Ethnic groups: mestizo 58%, white 20%, mulatto 14%, black 4%, mixed black-Amerindian 3%, Amerindian 1%
Religions: Roman Catholic 90%
There has been a major shift in the population from the country to the cities.

Economy

Currency: Peso
GNP per capita: $1,670 (1994)
Main Industries: coffee, drugs (cocaine, opium poppies, marijuana), textiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, cement; gold, coal, emeralds
External Debt per capita: $534 (1994)

Health

Life expectancy: 70.28 years
Infant mortality: 24.7 deaths/1,000 live births

Self-reliance

Coal and oil reserves and a modernizing economy have eased dependence on coffee; huge earnings from cocaine.

Literacy

IlIiteracy: 9% (1995)
Languages: Spanish

Income Distribution

Very unequal: lowest 40% of households have 12.7% of income, while a small percentage of people are very wealthy.

Environment

Regions: There is a wide range of different regions: flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains. The Andes Mountains cross the country from north to south.
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, platinum, copper, emeralds, hydropower
Farming: Agriculture is very important to the economy. It only uses a small percentage of the land (5%), but it is 23% of the economy. Commercial agriculture has taken the best land and small farmers have often taken to growing coca, the plant that is made into cocaine.
Problems: deforestation; soil damage from overuse of pesticides; air pollution, especially in Bogota, from vehicle emissions

Politics

Groups that export drugs (especially cocaine) have often had considerable political power in recent years.

There have also been struggles with left-wing guerrilas forces in many areas of the country.

Freedom

Official democracy with press freedom, but high levels of state political violence.

Position of Women

Catholicism and machismo has a large effect on poor urban and rural women. A 1991 Constitution guarantees equal opportunities for women, but there remain considerable inequalities. Approximately 23% of the work force is women. Literacy rates for women are nearly the same as for men.

Sources: Colombia Country ProfileThe New Internationalist issue 257 - July 1994 by Jenny Pearce. The World Guide, Leading Issues in Economic Development 7th edition by Meier and Rauch, CIA World Factbook 2000.


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