Geographic and Governmental Profile of Colombia

Background
Colombia was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others are Ecuador and Venezuela). A four-decade long conflict between government forces and anti-government insurgent groups, principally the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 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. However, insurgents continue attacks against civilians and large areas of the countryside are under guerrilla influence or are contested by security forces. More than 31,000 former paramilitaries had demobilized by the end of 2006 and the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) as a formal organization had ceased to function. In the wake of the paramilitary demobilization, emerging criminal groups arose, whose members include some former paramilitaries. The Colombian Government has stepped up efforts to reassert government control throughout the country, and now has a presence in every one of its administrative departments. However, neighboring countries worry about the violence spilling over their borders. In January 2011, Colombia assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term.
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
Continent / Subcontinent
South America
Area
total:
1,138,910 sq km
rank:
26
land:
1,038,700 sq km
water:
100,210 sq km
includes Isla de Malpelo, Roncador Cay, and Serrana Bank
Area - comparative
slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Land boundaries
total:
6,309 km
border countries:
Brazil 1,644 km, Ecuador 590 km, Panama 225 km, Peru 1,800 km, Venezuela 2,050 km
Coastline
3,208 km (Caribbean Sea 1,760 km, North Pacific Ocean 1,448 km)
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
continental shelf:
200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate
tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands
Terrain
flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point:
Pico Cristobal Colon 5,775 m
nearby Pico Simon Bolivar also has the same elevation
Natural resources
petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds, hydropower
Land use
arable land:
2.01%
permanent crops:
1.37%
other:
96.62% (2005)
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Irrigated land
9,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
2,132 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
total:
10.71 cu km/yr (50%/4%/46%)
per capita:
235 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
highlands subject to volcanic eruptions; occasional earthquakes; periodic droughts
volcanism:
Galeras (elev. 4,276 m) is one of Colombia's most active volcanoes, having erupted in 2009 and 2010 causing major evacuations; it has been deemed a "Decade Volcano" by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, worthy of study due to its explosive history and close proximity to human populations; Nevado del Ruiz (elev. 5,321 m), 129 km (80 mi) west of Bogota, erupted in 1985 producing lahars that killed 23,000 people; the volcano last erupted in 1991; additionally, after 500 years of dormancy, Nevado del Huila reawakened in 2007 and has experienced frequent eruptions since then; other historically active volcanoes include Cumbal, Dona Juana, Nevado del Tolima, and Purace
Environment - current issues
deforestation; soil and water quality damage from overuse of pesticides; air pollution, especially in Bogota, from vehicle emissions
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified:
Law of the Sea
Geography - note
only South American country with coastlines on both the North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea
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)
Administrative divisions
32 departments (departamentos, singular - departamento) and 1 capital district* (distrito capital); Amazonas, Antioquia, Arauca, Atlantico, Bogota*, Bolivar, Boyaca, Caldas, Caqueta, Casanare, Cauca, Cesar, Choco, Cordoba, Cundinamarca, Guainia, Guaviare, Huila, La Guajira, Magdalena, Meta, Narino, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Quindio, Risaralda, Archipielago de San Andres, Providencia y Santa Catalina (colloquially San Andres y Providencia), Santander, Sucre, Tolima, Valle del Cauca, Vaupes, Vichada
Independence
20 July 1810 (from Spain)
Constitution
5 July 1991; amended many times
Legal system
civil law system influenced by the Spanish and French civil codes
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
Suffrage
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Juan Manuel SANTOS Calderon (since 7 August 2010); Vice President Angelino GARZON (since 7 August 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government:
President Juan Manuel SANTOS Calderon (since 7 August 2010); Vice President Angelino GARZON (since 7 August 2010)
cabinet:
Cabinet appointed by the president
elections:
president and vice president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 30 May 2010 with a runoff election 20 June 2010 (next to be held in May 2014)
election results:
Juan Manuel SANTOS Calderon elected president in runoff election; percent of vote - Juan Manuel SANTOS Calderon 69.06%, Antanas MOCKUS 27.52%
Legislative branch
bicameral Congress or Congreso consists of the Senate or Senado (102 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the Chamber of Representatives or Camara de Representantes (166 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections:
Senate - last held on 14 March 2010 (next to be held in March 2014); Chamber of Representatives - last held on 14 March 2010 (next to be held in March 2014)
election results:
Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - U Party 28, PC 22, PL 16, PIN 9, CR 8, PDA 8, Green Party 5, other parties 5; Chamber of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - U Party 47, PC 37, PL 36, CR 16, PIN 12, PDA 4, Green Party 3, other parties 10; note - as of 1 January 2011, the Senate currently has 101 seats after one seat became vacant due to a PL senator losing their seat for illegal collusion with the FARC; the Chamber of Representatives also has one seat vacant after only 165 of the 166 candidates were credentialed
Judicial branch
four roughly coequal, supreme judicial organs; Supreme Court of Justice or Corte Suprema de Justicia (highest court of criminal law; judges are selected by their peers from the nominees of the Superior Judicial Council for eight-year terms); Council of State (highest court of administrative law; judges are selected from the nominees of the Superior Judicial Council for eight-year terms); Constitutional Court (guards integrity and supremacy of the constitution; rules on constitutionality of laws, amendments to the constitution, and international treaties); Superior Judicial Council (administers and disciplines the civilian judiciary; resolves jurisdictional conflicts arising between other courts; members are elected by three sister courts and Congress for eight-year terms)
Political parties and leaders
Alternative Democratic Pole or PDA [Clara LOPEZ]; Conservative Party or PC [Efrain CEPEDA Sarabia]; Green Party [Luis GARZON; Jorge LONDONO Ulloa; Enrique PENALOSA]; Liberal Party or PL [Simon GAVIRIA]; National Integration Party or PIN [Angel ALIRIO Moreno]; Radical Change or CR [Alejandro CHAR Chaljub]; Social National Unity Party or U Party [Juan Francisco LOZANO Ramirez]
Colombia has seven major political parties, and numerous smaller movements
Political pressure groups and leaders
Central Union of Workers or CUT; Colombian Confederation of Workers or CTC; General Confederation of Workers or CGT; National Liberation Army or ELN; Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC
FARC and ELN are the two largest insurgent groups active in Colombia
International organization participation
BCIE, CAN, Caricom (observer), CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-3, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNSC (temporary), UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Gabriel SILVA Lujan
chancery:
2118 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone:
[1] (202) 387-8338
FAX:
[1] (202) 232-8643
consulate(s) general:
Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Washington, DC
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador Michael MCKINLEY
embassy:
Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50, Bogota, D.C.
mailing address:
Carrera 45 No. 24B-27, Bogota, D.C.
telephone:
[57] (1) 275-2000
FAX:
[57] (1) 275-4600
Flag description
three horizontal bands of yellow (top, double-width), blue, and red; the flag retains the three main colors of the banner of Gran Colombia, the short-lived South American republic that broke up in 1830; various interpretations of the colors exist and include: yellow for the gold in Colombia's land, blue for the seas on its shores, and red for the blood spilled in attaining freedom; alternatively, the colors have been described as representing more elemental concepts such as sovereignty and justice (yellow), loyalty and vigilance (blue), and valor and generosity (red); or simply the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity
similar to the flag of Ecuador, which is longer and bears the Ecuadorian coat of arms superimposed in the center
National symbol(s)
Andean condor
National anthem
name:
"Himno Nacional de la Republica de Colombia" (National Anthem of the Republic of Colombia)
lyrics/music:
Rafael NUNEZ/Oreste SINDICI
adopted 1920; the anthem was created from an inspirational poem written by President Rafael NUNEZ
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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