Colombia Country Facts

Capital city Bogota
Surface 1,141,748 km²
Population 50,372,000
Road network length 206,500 km
Length of highway network 1,119 km
First highway 1956
Motorway name autopista
Traffic drives Right
License plate code CO

Colombia (Spanish: República de Colombia) is a large country in South America. The country has 50 million inhabitants and is approximately 27 times the size of the Netherlands. The capital is Bogotá.


Colombia is located in the northwest of South America and is the northernmost country of the continent. It has long coastlines on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The country borders Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. Colombia measures a maximum of 1,850 kilometers from north to south and 1,100 kilometers from west to east, so it is quite a large country.

The country consists of five geographical regions. The western Pacific coast region is an inaccessible area, Colombia has only two smaller cities on the Pacific coast. The border with Panama is formed by the Darién Gap, an impenetrable jungle that separates North and South America. The interior of western Colombia is formed by the Andes, which splits into two mountain ranges with a huge valley in between, which in the north turns into the Caribbean lowlands. These are the Cordillera Oriental to the east and the Cordillera Occidental and Cordillera Central to the west, which are located next to each other. The mountain ranges have large parts of more than 3,000 meters above sea level and several high mountains rise above them. The highest mountains are permanently covered with snow, some peaks are more than 5,000 meters high. However, Colombia’s highest mountain is not located in the Andes, but in a separate massif near the Caribbean coast, of which the 5,730 meter high Pico Cristóbal Colón is the highest mountain.

Northeastern Colombia, east of the Andes, is formed by Los Llanos, a large tropical plain that extends far into Venezuela. Despite its great distance from the sea, this area is low; largely between 50 and 200 meters above sea level. This region is sparsely populated, the main places are at the foot of the Andes. The Orinoco is the main river that drains this region. South of Los Llanos and also east of the Andes is the Amazon jungle, an unexplored jungle. This is an inaccessible area with no places or infrastructure. It lies almost uniformly low at 100 to 200 meters above sea level.

Colombia also includes the archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, a number of small islands in the Caribbean Sea, which are closer to Nicaragua than Colombia, more than 700 kilometers northwest of Cartagena. West of Colombia are three more uninhabited islands in the Pacific Ocean that also belong to the country.

Colombia essentially has a tropical climate, which is tempered by its altitude. It varies from a tropical climate with high temperatures throughout the year, to a cooler tropical highland climate. The extreme north of Colombia has an aberrant desert climate in a small region that lies in the rain shadow. The capital Bogotá is so high that there are no really high temperatures, the average maximum temperature is between 18 and 20 °C all year round. However, frost is quite rare.


City Population (2016)
Bogota 7,963,000
Medellin 2,458,000
Cali 2,358,000
Barranquilla 1,219,000
Cartagena 972,000
Cucuta 634,000
Soledad 632,000
Ibague 528,000
Bucaramanga 522,000
Soacha 516,000

The population of Colombia grew from 4 million around 1900 to 11 million in 1950 and 40 million in 2000. Today the country has almost 50 million inhabitants, making it the second most populous country in South America. Colombia has a highly urbanized population. The capital Bogotá is by far the largest city in the country with 8 million inhabitants, but there are two other large cities with more than 2 million inhabitants; Medellín and Cali, and 10 cities have a total population of more than 0.5 million. The major cities are mainly located in the Andes or on the Caribbean coast. The east and west of Colombia is sparsely populated, there are only two small towns on the Pacific coast, Buenaventura being the most important. The largest cities on the Caribbean (or Atlantic) coast are Barranquilla with its suburb of Soledad,

The country has a diverse ethnic makeup, the result of a mix of indigenous peoples, European colonization and Africans who came to Colombia as slaves. About 85% of the population is Mestizo (mixed Indo-American and European) or white. The indigenous people mainly live in the eastern lowlands and the African population mainly on the Pacific coast, but these are both sparsely populated regions. About 37% of the population is white, largely of Hispanic descent. Spanish is spoken by almost the entire population, but there are 100 other languages ​​that are spoken to a limited extent in Colombia.


Colombia is the fourth largest economy in Latin America, but internal conflict has created an unfavorable investment climate for years. Those times are over, however, the country has a fast-growing economy and a large urban middle class. The GDP per capita is in the middle class of South American countries, above countries like Bolivia or Peru but below that of Argentina or Chile. The size of Colombia’s economy has grown strongly since the 1990s, from $120 billion in 1990 to $700 billion in 2015. The country has a relatively large manufacturing industry and its economy is less resource-based than other Andean countries..

A well-known export product from Colombia is coffee, but also bananas and flowers. However, the agricultural sector accounts for only a small part of GDP. The country has the largest coal reserves in Latin America. Colombia has been a net oil exporter since the 1980s, but not nearly as large as neighboring Venezuela. A barrier to the economy is the underdeveloped infrastructure, especially the connections to the major cities in the Andes are problematic. Since Colombia had a better security situation from the 1990s, tourism has increased somewhat.


Colombia is named after the Italian explorer Columbus, who discovered the new world on behalf of Spain. In 1508 the town of Santa María la Antigua del Darién was founded on the Caribbean coast, this was the first permanent settlement in the new world. From 1535, Spanish Conquistadors began exploring the interior of Colombia, calling it Nuevo Reino de Granada (New Kingdom of Granada). In the 1530s, several cities in the interior of Colombia were founded. From 1542, all Spanish colonies in South America were governed from the Virreinato del Perú, whose capital was in Lima.had. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the infrastructure of the area was developed with cities and institutions. In 1717 the Virreinato de la Nueva Granada was founded, part of the Spanish Empire that encompassed northern South America and had Bogotá as its capital. In the early 19th century, a struggle for independence began, as in many places in Latin America. Cartagena became the first city to become independent in 1811. In 1819, under the leadership of the independence fighter Simón Bolívar, the independence of Spain was declared and in 1822 the last pro-Spanish units were defeated, the country was organized as the Republic of Colombia.

As an independent country, Colombia was marked by internal conflict in the 19th and 20th centuries. Also, Colombia’s definitive borders were not established until later. Panama seceded in 1903 under the influence of the United Stateswho wanted to build the Panama Canal. Colombia also lost territory to Brazil in 1907 and 1928. In 1932-1933, Colombia and Peru fought a war over control of the Amazon jungle. Colombia remained a loyal ally of the United States in the 20th century, it was the only Latin American country to fight in the Korean War. Beginning in the 1960s, a guerilla war began to develop between the government, left-wing guerrilla groups (FARC) and right-wing paramilitary groups, a war that escalated in the 1990s, especially in rural areas. The United States was heavily involved in this on the side of the Colombian government. After 2000, the situation greatly improved, FARC was defeated and disarmed and the economy grew strongly after the violence between drug cartels decreased.

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