Colombia Country Overview

Colombia, located in northern South America, is a country with a population of 47.70 million people and Spanish as its official language. It has a relatively stable political and economic outlook, but there are still threats from violent crime and terrorism.

Colombia General Information

Capital: Bogotá

Language: Spanish (official)

Religion: Predominantly Catholic (95%)

Currency: Colombian peso (COP)

Time Zone: UTC-5


About Colombia

The Republic of Colombia is located in northern South America, bordering Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Panama. Colombia’s population stands at 47.70 million making it the 29th most populous nation globally.

The capital, Bogota, is the largest metropole with 9.77 million residents, whilst the economic centres of Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, Bucaramanga, and Cartagena all have over one million inhabitants. Spanish is the official language and whilst the state is officially secular, around 93% of the population are nominally Christian: 79% of adherents are Catholic and 14% are Protestants.

Colombia is a relatively stable nation, particularly in relation to its neighbour, Venezuela. In terms of the political-economic outlook and the business climate, both are currently deemed to have acceptable levels of risk. The security situation is variable. Although the recent peace deal with FARC and ceasefire with ELN, in effect until 9 January 2018, have reduced the risk, there are still significant threats from violent crime, terrorism and narco-terrorism.

Colombia ranks 90 of 176 in Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Index. Further data suggests that corruption is most significant in the Colombian political environment but it also exists in the business sector and judiciary. Nevertheless, anti-corruption laws are often enforced effectively.

Colombia’s GDP currently stands at US$307.48 billion and has started to recover following its drop in GDP caused by the 2014 crash in hydrocarbon prices. The economy is forecast to steadily grow in the near future. The official currency is the Colombian Peso.

Colombia is a presidential republic, which is pluralistic in nature. The executive power rests with the president, currently Juan Manuel Santos, who is both chief of state and head of government. Both the president and vice-president, currently Ret. Gen. Oscar Naranjo, are elected by absolute majority vote every four years.

From 2018 presidents can only serve one four-year term. Legislative power rests with the bicameral Congress. The Senate is elected by a constituency-based proportional representation popular vote, as is the Chamber of Representatives and members of both serve four year terms, with the next election scheduled for March 2018. Elections are free and fair: the 2014 election saw no reports of major problems or irregularities.

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