The World Factbook (1990)/Colombia

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World Factbook (1990) Colombia.jpg

 See regional map III and IV


Total area: 1,138,910 km²; land area: 1,038,700 km²; includes Isla de Malpelo, Roncador Cay, Serrana Bank, and Serranilla Bank

Comparative area: slightly less than three times the size of Montana

Land boundaries: 7,408 km total; Brazil 1,643 km, Ecuador 590 km, Panama 225 km, Peru 2,900, Venezuela 2,050 km

Coastline: 3,208 km total (1,448 km North Pacific Ocean; 1,760 Caribbean Sea)

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: not specified
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: maritime boundary dispute with Venezuela in the Gulf of Venezuela; territorial dispute with Nicaragua over Archipelago de San Andres y Providencia and Quita Sueno Bank

Climate: tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands

Terrain: mixture of flat coastal lowlands, plains in east, central highlands, some high mountains

Natural resources: crude oil, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds

Land use: 4% arable land; 2% permanent crops; 29% meadows and pastures; 49% forest and woodland; 16% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: highlands subject to volcanic eruptions; deforestation; soil damage from overuse of pesticides; periodic droughts

Note: only South American country with coastlines on both North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea


Population: 33,076,188 (July 1990), growth rate 2.1% (1990)

Birth rate: 27 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 5 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: NEGL migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 38 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 68 years male, 73 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 2.9 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Colombian(s); adjective—Colombian

Ethnic divisions: 58% mestizo, 20% white, 14% mulatto, 4% black, 3% mixed black-Indian, 1% Indian

Religion: 95% Roman Catholic

Language: Spanish

Literacy: 88% (1987 est.), Indians about 40%

Labor force: 11,000,000 (1986); 53% services, 26% agriculture, 21% industry (1981)

Organized labor: 1,400,000 members (1987), about 12% of labor force; the Communist-backed Unitary Workers Central or CUT is the largest labor organization, with about 725,000 members (including all affiliate unions)


Long-form name: Republic of Colombia

Type: republic; executive branch dominates government structure

Capital: Bogotá

Administrative divisions: 23 departments (départamentos, singular—départamento), 5 commissariats* (comisarías, singular—comisaría), and 4 intendancies** (intendencias, singular intendencia); Amazonas*, Antioquia, Arauca**, Atlántico, Bolívar, Boyacá, Caldas, Caquetá, Casanare**, Cauca, Cesar, Chocó, Córdoba, Cundinamarca, Guainía*, Guaviare*, Huila, La Guajira, Magdalena, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo**, Quindío, Risaralda, San Andrés y Providencia**, Santander, Sucre, Tolima, Valle del Cauca, Vaupés*, Vichada*; note—there may be a new special district (distrito especial) named Bogotá

Independence: 20 July 1810 (from Spain)

Constitution: 4 August 1886, with amendments codified in 1946 and 1968

Legal system: based on Spanish law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

National holiday: Independence Day, 20 July (1810)

Executive branch: president, presidential designate, cabinet

Legislative branch: bicameral Congress (Congreso) consists of an upper chamber or Senate (Senado) and a lower chamber or Chamber of Representatives (Cámara de Representantes)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justica)

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Virgilio BARCO Vargas (since 7 August 1986; term ends August 1990); Presidential Designate Víctor MOSQUERA Chaux (since 13 October 1986)

Political parties and leaders: Liberal Party—Virgilio Barco Vargas, Alfonso Lopez Michelson, Julio Cesar Turbay; Cesar Gaviria is the Liberal Party presidential candidate; Conservative Party—Misael Pastrana Borrero, Alvaro Gómez Hurtado; Rodrigo Lloredo, Conservative Party presidential candidate; Patriotic Union (UP), is a legal political party formed by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Colombian Communist Party (PCC), Bernardo Jaramillo Ossa is the UP presidential candidate

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: President—last held 25 May 1986 (next to be held 27 May 1990); results—Virgilio Barco Vargas 59%, Alvaro Gomez Hurtado 36%, Jaime Pardo Leal 4% (assassinated in October 1987), others 1%;

Senate—last held 11 March 1990 (next to be held March 1994); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(114 total) Liberal 68, Conservative 45, UP 1;

House of Representatives—last held 11 March 1990 (next to be held March 1994); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(199 total) Liberal 107, Conservative 82, UP 10

Communists: 18,000 members (est.), including Communist Party Youth Organization (JUCO)

Other political or pressure groups: Colombian Communist Party (PCC), Gilberto Vieira White; Communist Party/Marxist-Leninist (PCC/ML), Chinese-line Communist Party; Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC); National Liberation Army (ELN); People's Liberation Army (EPL); 19th of April Movement (M-19)


Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Victor MOSQUERA; Chancery at 2118 Leroy Place NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 387-8338; there are Colombian Consulates General in Chicago, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico), and Consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Tampa; US—Ambassador Thomas E. McNAMARA; Embassy at Calle 38, No.8-61, Bogotá (mailing address is APO Miami 34038); telephone [57](1) 285-1300 or 1688; there is a US Consulate in Barranquilla

Flag: three horizontal bands of yellow (top, double-width), blue, and red; similar to the flag of Ecuador which is longer and bears the Ecuadorian coat of arms superimposed in the center


Overview: Economic activity has slowed gradually since 1986, but growth rates remain high by Latin American standards. Conservative economic policies have encouraged investment and kept inflation and unemployment under 30% and 10%, respectively. The rapid development of oil, coal, and other nontraditional industries over the past four years has helped to offset the decline in coffee prices—Colombia's major export. The collapse of the International Coffee Agreement in the summer of 1989, a troublesome rural insurgency, and drug-related violence dampen prospects for future growth.

GDP: $35.4 billion, per capita $1,110; real growth rate 3.7% (1988)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 27% (1989 est.)

Unemployment rate: 9.0% (1989 est.)

Budget: revenues $4.39 billion; current expenditures $3.93 billion, capital expenditures $1.03 billion (1989 est.)

Exports: $5.76 billion (f.o.b., 1989 est.); commodities—coffee 30%, petroleum 24%, coal, bananas, fresh cut flowers; partners—US 36%, EC 21%, Japan 5%, Netherlands 4%, Sweden 3%

Imports: $5.02 billion (c.i.f., 1989 est.); commodities—industrial equipment, transportation equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals, paper products; partners—US 34%, EC 16%, Brazil 4%, Venezuela 3%, Japan 3%

External debt: $17.5 billion (1989)

Industrial production: growth rate 2.0% (1989 est.)

Electricity: 9,250,000 kW capacity; 35,364 million kWh produced, 1,110 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: textiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, metal products, cement; mining—gold, coal, emeralds, iron, nickel, silver, salt

Agriculture: accounts for 22% of GDP; crops make up two-thirds and livestock one-third of agricultural output; climate and soils permit a wide variety of crops, such as coffee, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, oilseeds, vegetables; forest products and shrimp farming are becoming more important

Illicit drugs: major illicit producer of cannabis and coca for the international drug trade; key supplier of marijuana and cocaine to the US and other international drug markets; drug production and trafficking accounts for an estimated 4% of GDP and 28% of foreign exchange earnings

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-88), $1.6 billion; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $2.9 billion; Communist countries (1970-88), $399 million

Currency: Colombian peso (plural—pesos); 1 Colombian peso (Col$) = 100 centavos

Exchange rates: Colombian pesos (Col$) per US$1—439.68 (January 1990), 382.57 (1989), 299.17 (1988), 242.61 (1987), 194.26 (1986), 142.31 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 3,563 km, all 0.914-meter gauge, single track

Highways: 75,450 km total; 9,350 km paved, 66,100 km earth and gravel surfaces

Inland waterways: 14,300 km, navigable by river boats

Pipelines: crude oil, 3,585 km; refined products, 1,350 km; natural gas, 830 km; natural gas liquids, 125 km

Ports: Barranquilla, Buenaventura, Cartagena, Covenas, San Andres, Santa Marta, Tumaco

Merchant marine: 34 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 334,854 GRT/487,438 DWT; includes 23 cargo, 1 chemical tanker, 1 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 9 bulk

Civil air: 106 major transport aircraft

Airports: 673 total, 622 usable; 66 with permanent-surface runways; 1 with runways over 3,659 m; 10 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 124 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: nationwide radio relay system; 1,890,000 telephones; stations—413 AM, no FM, 33 TV, 28 shortwave 2 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT earth stations with 2 antennas and 11 domestic satellite stations

Defense Forces

Branches: armed forces include Police (Policia Nacional) and military—Army (Ejercito Nacional), Air Force (Fuerza Aerea de Colombia), Navy (Armada Nacional)

Military manpower: males 15-49, 8,768,072; 5,953,729 fit for military service; 354,742 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 1.9% of GDP, or $700 million (1990 est.)