Colombia is located at the "top" of South America,
bordering both the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela,
and the northern Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama.
is just under three times the size of Montana.
covers only 1 percent of the world's land surface, but boasts
10 percent of the world's flora and fauna.
Colombia's population is 41,008,227 (July 2002 estimate).
By ethnicity, Colombians are: Mestizo 58%, White 20%, Mulatto
14%, Black 4%, mixed Black-Amerindian 3%, Amerindian 1%.
is a republic; the executive branch dominates the government structure.
Alvaro Uribe VČlez is the current president.
Colombians speak Spanish, but there are more than 60 indigenous
languages as well.
was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse
of Gran Colombia in 1830 (along with Ecuador and Venezuela).
40-year-long insurgent campaign to overthrow the Colombian government
escalated during the 1990s, largely funded by the drug trade.
In 2001, the unemployment rate was estimated at
17 percent and 55 percent of the population was living below
the poverty line.
biggest exports are petroleum, coffee, coal, apparel, bananas
and cut flowers.
exchange rates have nearly doubled in the past five years, seriously
weakening the country's economy -- Colombian pesos per U.S.
dollar went from Col$1,140.96 in 1997 to Col$2,275.89 in January
economy suffers from weak domestic demand, austere government
budgets and the ongoing difficult security situation. Two of
Colombia's leading exports, oil and coffee, face an uncertain
future; new exploration is needed to offset declining oil production,
while coffee harvests and prices are depressed.
is the world's leading coca cultivator, supplying about 90 percent
of the cocaine that reaches the United States and the great
majority of cocaine that reaches other international drug markets.
Colombia is rated as the homicide capital of the
on Colombian government statistics, Colombia's 1999 murder rate
of 77.5 murders per 100,000 inhabitants was more than 13 times
that of the United States. There were more than 27,800 murders
than 95 percent of crimes in Colombia are never prosecuted.
is the third-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid (Israel is
first, Egypt, second).
is currently considering a new aid package that includes $439
million for Colombia plus a $98 million package to train Colombian
troops to protect the Occidental pipeline. (The United States
has previously provided $1.7 billion in mostly military aid
to fight drug trafficking.)
almost daily bombings of oil pipelines by rebels cost Colombia
nearly $500 million in 2001. The two main rebel groups have
bombed the pipeline approximately 950 times since the 1980s.
Uribe recently declared a state of emergency and announced that
Colombia will arm 15,000 peasants.
Uribe has specified two military zones where commanders can
conduct searches without warrants and impose curfews.
is the ninth-largest supplier of oil to the United States.
December 2001, the Colombian army more than doubled the size
of the force protecting the pipeline, adding three battalions
to the two already assigned. As of mid-September 2002, this
strategy appeared to be working, as there had been only 29 attacks
on the pipeline, as opposed to 170 in 2001.
is Colombia's top export product (followed by coal and coffee
in 2001). Oil accounted for about 25 percent of government revenues
of January 2002, Colombia had about 1.75 billion barrels of
proven oil reserves, down from 2001 estimates of 1.97 billion
barrels. Potential oil reserves, however, are believed to be
much larger. Without new discoveries, Colombia could become
a net oil importer. Colombia's oil production declined in 2001
to 616,000 barrels per day (bbl/d), after reaching an all-time
high of 826,000 bbl/d in 1999. Colombia exported 280,000 bbl/d
to the United States during 2001, down from 332,000 bbl/d in
Colombian government is the owner of the country's hydrocarbon
BP and U.S.-based Occidental are the most active foreign companies
in the Colombian oil sector.
Left-wing rebel groups continue to target the oil industry.
In April 2002, Colombia's second-largest rebel group, the National
Liberation Army (ELN), declared that oil companies working in
the country were military targets.
ELN and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) bombed
the Cano LimŪn Pipeline a record 170 times (about 14 times per
month) in 2001.
to fewer pipeline bombings in 2002, increased exports of Caño Limón crude oil arrived at the U.S. Gulf Coast.
BP Cusiana/Cupiagua complex's Ocensa Pipeline is a far less
frequent target for bombings. While it carries more oil than
the Cano LimŪn Pipeline, a greater portion of it is underground.
(the state-owned oil company) strikes have followed disappearances
of oil union officials. An estimated 165 union members were
killed in Colombia in 2001.
paramilitary organizations have claimed responsibility for abductions
of Oil Workers Union members, claiming those abducted had ELN
affiliations. Strikes in February, March and April protested
abductions and killings of oil union workers.
current refining capacity is about 285,850 bbl/d, and all refineries
are 100 percent owned and operated by Ecopetrol.
Colombia is a net oil exporter, it has to import gasoline to
meet domestic product demand.
recent OPEC report predicted that in the second half of 2002,
global daily crude oil consumption would amount to 76.46 million
barrels, rising to 77.22 million barrels in 2003.
to OPEC, extraction of crude oil in Iraq grew in September 2000
by 345,000 barrels a day and amounted to 1.922 million barrels.
Colombia opened a new chapter in U.S.-Colombian relations.
In 2000, the United States gave $1.3 billion in mostly military
aid to the Colombian government to help eradicate coca crops,
the raw material used for making cocaine.
to figures released this month by the White House Office of
National Drug Control Policy, coca production in Colombia actually
increased by almost 25 percent between August 2000, when Plan
Colombia went into effect, and December 2001. During that time,
80,000 acres of land were opened up for coca cultivation, according
to the administration's figures.
CIA Worldfactbook, 2002; Colombian embassy; http://www.ethnologue.com; U.S. Consular information sheet on Colombia, 9/24/02; Foreign Affairs, September/October, 2002; Associated Press; New York Times; Boston Globe; Los Angeles Times; U.S. Energy Information Center; Global Exchange