Lying in northwest South America, Colombia has coastlines on both the Caribbean and the Pacific. It is primarily noted for its coffee, emeralds, gold, and cocaine trafficking.

Geography: The densely forested and almost uninhabited east is separated from the western coastal plains by the Andes, which divide into three ranges (cordilleras) with intervening valleys.

Climate: Coastal plains are hot and wet. The highlands are much cooler. The equatorial east has two wet seasons.

People and Society: Most Colombians are of mixed blood. Blacks and Amerindians have the least political representation. Civil conflict over four and a half decades has displaced millions of people, and left over 200,000 dead. The fighting is deeply entwined with the narcotics trade. Violent crime is common.

The Economy: Healthy and diversified export sector – includes coffee and coal. Considerable growth potential, but drugs-related violence and corruption deter foreign investors.

Insight: Over 50% of the world’s cocaine is produced in Colombia

Fact File:

Official Name: Republic of Colombia

Date of Formation: 1819

Capital: Bogotá

Population: 45.7 million

Total Area: 439,733 sq. miles (1,138,910 sq. km)

Density: 114 people per sq. mile

Languages: Spanish*, Wayuu, Páez, other Amerindian languages

Religions: Catholic 95%, other 5%

Ethnic Mix: Mestizo 58%, White 20%, European-African 14%, African 4%, African-Amerindian 3%, other 1%

Government: Presidential system

Currency: Col. peso = 100 centavos

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