Colombia

 

Colombia was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others are Ecuador and Venezuela). A 40-year conflict between government forces and anti-government insurgent groups and illegal paramilitary groups – both heavily funded by the drug trade – escalated during the 1990s. The insurgents lack the military or popular support necessary to overthrow the government, and violence has been decreasing since about 2002, but insurgents continue attacks against civilians and large swaths of the countryside are under guerrilla influence.

 

More than 32,000 former paramilitaries had demobilized by the end of 2006 and the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) as a formal organization had ceased to function. Still, some renegades continued to engage in criminal activities. The Colombian Government has stepped up efforts to reassert government control throughout the country, and now has a presence in every one of its municipalities. However, neighbouring countries worry about the violence spilling over their borders.

 

Geography:
Location: Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama
Geographic coordinates: 4 00 N, 72 00 W
People:
Population: 45,239,079 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.7% (male 6,109,495/female 5,834,273)

15-64 years: 67.2% (male 14,826,008/female 15,208,799)

65 years and over: 6.1% (male 1,159,691/female 1,587,277) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Colombia

conventional short form: Colombia

local long form: Republica de Colombia

local short form: Colombia

Government type: republic; executive branch dominates government structure
Capital: name: Bogota

geographic coordinates: 4 36 N, 74 05 W

time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Transportation:
Airports: 862 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 121

over 3,047 m: 2

2,438 to 3,047 m: 7

1,524 to 2,437 m: 41

914 to 1,523 m: 55

under 914 m: 16 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: National Army (Ejercito Nacional), Republic of Colombia Navy (Armada Republica de Colombia, ARC, includes Naval Aviation, Naval Infantry (Infanteria de Marina, IM), and Coast Guard), Colombian Air Force (Fuerza Aerea de Colombia, FAC) (2011)
Military service age and obligation: 18-24 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; service obligation – 18 months (2004)

Economy:

Colombia’s economy has experienced positive growth over the past five years despite a serious armed conflict. In fact, 2007 is regarded by policy makers and the private sector as one of the best economic years in recent history, after 2005. The economy continues to improve in part because of austere government budgets, focused efforts to reduce public debt levels, an export-oriented growth strategy, improved domestic security, and high commodity prices.

 

On-going economic problems facing President URIBE include reforming the pension system, reducing high unemployment, and funding new exploration to offset declining oil production. The government’s economic reforms and democratic security strategy, coupled with increased investment, have engendered a growing sense of confidence in the economy. However, the business sector continues to be concerned about failure of the US Congress to approve the signed FTA.

Transnational Issues:Memorials and counter memorials were filed by the parties in Nicaragua’s 1999 and 2001 proceedings against Honduras and Colombia at the ICJ over the maritime boundary and territorial claims in the western Caribbean Sea – final public hearings are scheduled for 2007; dispute with Venezuela over maritime boundary and Venezuelan-administered Los Monjes Islands near the Gulf of Venezuela; Colombian-organized illegal narcotics, guerrilla, and paramilitary activities penetrate all of its neighbours’ borders and have caused over 300,000 persons to flee the country, mostly into neighbouring states.