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Category:Colombia

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Colombia was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 A.D. (the others are Ecuador and Venezuela). A 40-year conflict between government forces and anti-government insurgent groups and illegal paramilitary groups 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 A.D., 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 A.D. and the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) as a formal organization had ceased to function. Still, some renegades continued to engage in criminal activities. Insurgents are still holding people hostage, the longest one for 13 years. Johan Steven Martinez, age 13, has never met his father, Libio Martinez, yet has marched twice (the latest in July, 2010 was 45 miles {70 kilometers} with many other demonstrators) to plead for his release.

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, neighboring countries worry about the violence spilling over their borders. They also speak Spanish there.

On December 5, 2010, mudslides killed about 85 people in the mountains of central Antioquia province and on December 24 of the same year, at least 13 more perished in a mudslide in southern Colombia.

PEOPLE
Colombia is the third-most populous country in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico. Thirty cities have a population of 100,000 or more. The nine eastern lowlands departments, constituting about 54% of Colombia's area, have less than 3% of the population and a density of less than one person per square kilometer (two persons per sq. mi.). Ethnic diversity in Colombia is a result of the intermingling of indigenous peoples, Europeans, and Africans. Today, only about 3% of the people identify themselves as indigenous.

Economy
GDP (2008): $140.8 billion; base year 2000: $93.7 billion.
Annual growth rate (2009 est.): -0.1%.
Per capita GDP (purchasing power parity; IMF 2009): $8,205.
Government expenditures (2009): 27.6% of GDP.
Natural resources: Coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, nickel, gold, silver, copper, platinum, emeralds.
Industry (19% of GDP): Types--textiles, garments, footwear, chemicals, metal products, cement, cardboard containers, plastic resins and manufactures, beverages, wood products, pharmaceuticals, machinery, electrical equipment.
Agriculture (8% of GDP): Products--coffee, bananas, cut flowers, cotton, sugarcane, livestock, rice, corn, tobacco, potatoes, soybeans, sorghum, cocoa beans, oilseed. Cultivated land--8.2% of total area.
Services (64% of GDP): Government, personal and other services--17.5%; financial services--18.1%; commerce--13.4%; transportation and communications services--7%; construction and public works--5%; electricity, gas, water--2.7%.
Taxes (9% of GDP): Includes taxes on imports, products, and the value-added tax.
Trade: Exports (2008)--$37 billion: petroleum, coffee, coal, nickel, emeralds, apparel, bananas, cut flowers.
Major markets--U.S., Venezuela, Ecuador, Switzerland, Peru, Chile.
Imports (2008)--$39 billion: machinery/equipment, grains, chemicals, transportation equipment, mineral products, consumer products, metals/metal products, plastic/rubber, paper products, aircraft, oil and gas industry equipment, supplies, chemicals, electricity.
Major suppliers--U.S., China, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela.

Principal Government Officials
President--Juan Manuel SANTOS Calderon
Vice President--Angelino GARZON
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Maria Angela HOLGUIN Cuellar
Minister of Defense--Rodrigo RIVERA Salazar
Ambassador to the United States--Gabriel SILVA Lujan
Ambassador to the Organization of American States--Luis Alfonso HOYOS Aristazabal
Ambassador to the United Nations--Nestor OSORIO Londono

Narcotics and Rule of Law
The United States and Colombia continue to enjoy a close counternarcotics partnership. Under Plan Colombia, significant U.S. funding, technical assistance, and material support has been provided to Colombian-led counternarcotics programs aimed at interdicting and eradicating drugs at the source as well as expanding the capacity of Colombian military, police, and judicial institutions. Although nearly 90% of the cocaine entering the United States is processed in Colombia, and the country remains the primary source for heroin used east of the Mississippi River, Colombia has made real progress with the help of U.S. support in weakening drug trafficking organizations, disrupting the supply of illicit drugs to the United States, and establishing a security presence in former conflict regions.

In 2009, Colombia seized over 200 metric tons of cocaine and coca base, nearly 200 metric tons of marijuana, and 740 kilos of heroin--up from 695 kilos in 2008. Colombia also destroyed over 3,000 drug laboratories in 2009, including nearly 300 cocaine processing laboratories and 2,800 smaller coca base labs. Progress is also being made in addressing the problem of reducing the area under coca cultivation. Over 165,000 hectares of Colombian coca was eradicated in 2009, with over 100,000 hectares aerially eradicated--nearly 5% over the 2009 aerial goal. This potentially eliminated hundreds of metric tons of cocaine from the world market and arguably contributed to the encouraging trends in price and purity of cocaine in the United States.

Colombia maintains an embassy in the United States at 2118 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-387-8338). Consulates are located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, San Juan, and Washington DC.

The United States remains committed to helping Colombia improve the rule of law and prevent drugs from reaching the United States through strong interdiction, eradication, and alternative development programs. U.S. assistance has helped create economic opportunities for Colombians and has also helped promote a lifestyle change and supported state presence. With U.S. assistance as of September 2009, U.S. and Government of Colombia alternative development programs had supported the cultivation of over 650,000 hectares of agricultural, forestry plantation, and/or natural forest management activities and had completed approximately 1,290 social and productive infrastructure projects over the last 7 years with communities that agree to remain illicit-crop free. More than 400,000 families in 18 departments have benefited from these programs. Additionally, these projects have leveraged over $759 million in private and public sector funding for alternative development initiatives.

Industry and Agriculture
As the most industrially diverse member of the Andean Community, Colombia has five major industrial centers--Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga--each located in a distinct geographical region. Colombia's industries include mining, hydrocarbons, textiles and clothing, leather products, agribusiness (cut flowers and coffee), processed foods and beverages, plastic products, chemicals and petrochemicals, cement, construction, iron and steel products, and metalworking. There is also a burgeoning service economy comprised of tourism and information technology exports (call centers, software development, animation).

Colombia's diverse climate and topography permit the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. In addition, all regions yield forest products, ranging from tropical hardwoods in the lowlands, to pine and eucalyptus in the colder areas. Cacao, sugarcane, coconuts, bananas, plantains, rice, cotton, tobacco, cassava and most of the nation's beef cattle are produced in the hot regions from sea level to 1,000 meters elevation. The temperate regions--between 1,000 and 2,000 meters--are better suited for coffee, flowers, corn and other vegetables, pears, pineapples, and tomatoes. The cooler elevations--between 2,000 and 3,000 meters--produce wheat, barley, potatoes, cold-climate vegetables, flowers, dairy cattle and poultry.

Trade
Colombia is the United States' fourth-largest trading partner in Latin America behind Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela and the largest agricultural export market in the hemisphere after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries. U.S. exports to Colombia in 2009 were estimated at $9.45 billion, down 17% from the previous year. U.S. imports from Colombia are estimated to be $11.31 billion, down 19%. Colombia's major exports are petroleum, coffee, coal, nickel, cut flowers, and bananas. The United States is Colombia's largest trading partner, representing about 37% of Colombia's exports and 28% of its imports.

Mining and Energy
Colombia has considerable mineral and energy resources, especially coal and natural gas reserves. In 2009, gas reserves totaled 3.7 trillion cubic feet. Gas production totaled 922 million cubic feet per day. The country's current refining capacity is 323,000 barrels per day (bbl/d), but renovations to its two main refineries will increase its refining capacity to over 400,000 bbl/d. Colombia had 1.36 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves in 2009, the fifth-largest in South America.

Colombia is presently the fifth-largest coal exporting country, accounting for about 1.1% of the world's total annual coal production, and the largest producer in Latin America (73.5 million tons in 2008). Colombia has proven recoverable coal reserves of about 7.4 billion short tons, the majority of which are located in the north of the country. Colombia historically has been the world's leading producer of emeralds, although production has fallen in recent years. Emerald production fell from 5.73 million carats in 2006 to 2.12 million carats in 2008. Colombia is also a significant producer of gold, silver, and platinum.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--P. Michael McKinley
Deputy Chief of Mission--Perry Holloway
Political Counselor--Mark A. Wells
Economic Counselor--Timothy Stater
Consul General--Raymond Baca
Commercial Counselor--Margaret Hanson-Muse
Management Counselor--Theresa M. Leech
Military Group Commander--COL Michael Brown
Narcotics Affairs Section Director--Daniel L. Foote
Defense Attache--COL Paul Murray
Public Affairs Officer--Mark Wentworth
Regional Security Officer--Robert Myers
USAID Director--Susumo Ken Yamashita

U.S. Embassy
Carrera 45 # 24B - 27
Bogota, Colombia
(tel: (571) 315-0811; fax: (571) 315-2197)
The mailing address is APO AA 34038.

Other Contact Information
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Main Switchboard: 202-647-4000 (www.state.gov)

U.S. Department of Commerce, Trade Information Center, International
Trade Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue
Washington, DC 20230
(tel: 800-USA-TRADE, Internet: trade.gov)

Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce
Calle 98, # 22-64, Oficina 1209
Apartado Aereo 8008
Bogota, Colombia
(tel: (571) 623-7088; fax: (571) 612-6838)
Chapters in Cali, Cartagena, Medellin

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION Monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at www.travel.state.gov. For additional information on international travel, see www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4-USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778); TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793. Passport information is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. You may speak with a representative Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) and a web site at wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. The CDC publication "Health Information for International Travel" can be found at wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentYellowBook.aspx

Department of State Web Site. Available on the Internet at www.state.gov, the Department of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy information, including Background Notes and daily press briefings along with the directory of key officers of Foreign Service posts and more. The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides security information and regional news that impact U.S. companies working abroad through its website www.osac.gov

Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.

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Media in category "Colombia"

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