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Colombia

Flag of Colombia

Last reviewed: 02 June 2009

Country information

Map of Colombia

COLOMBIA TODAY

Country Facts

Full country name: Republic of Colombia
Area: 1,141,748 sq km
Population: 42,090,503
Capital City: Bogotá (population: 6.9 million)
People: Colombia is an ethnic melting pot in which some 60% acknowledge that they have mixed Spanish/indigenous roots, 20% claim direct European descent, 18% are of Afro-Colombian origin, and 2% belong to indigenous communities. There are tiny Christian and Muslim Arab minorities, small and declining Jewish communities in the major cities, and a small group claiming Romany roots.
Language: Spanish with some isolated pockets where indigenous languages remain in use.
Religion: Predominantly Roman Catholic, with some evangelical influences in parts of the country.
Currency: Peso.
Major political parties: The 2 major political parties are the Liberals and the Conservatives. President Uribe stood for the 'Primero Colombia' movement (dissident Liberal). In addition, there are the following parties: Polo Democrático, Movimiento Cristiano, Movimiento Nacional Progresista (MNP) and recently some small independent parties are emerging. The Conservatives opted not to field a candidate in the 2002 Presidential elections.
Government: Democratically elected representative system with a strong executive.
Legislature: Bicameral Congress; 102 member Senate and 165 member Chamber of Deputies are both directly elected for 4-year terms.
Head of State: President Alvaro Uribe Vélez
Foreign Minister: Jaime Bermudez
Membership of international groupings/organisations: Colombia is a member of the Andean Community, UN, G3, Organisation of American States (OAS), Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), Latin American Economic System (SELA), Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the Caribbean Development Bank, Andean Development Corporation (CAF), and the Inter-American Development Bank (AIDB) amongst others.

Health

The health sector underwent considerable reform in the 1990s, with a social security system established in 1993. Colombia aims to ensure universal health coverage through a mix of contributory and subsidised health schemes using both public and private sectors. By the end of 2004, 14.7 million people were covered by the contributory scheme and 15.4 million under the subsidised programme. But adequate funding is a problem.

Colombia has significantly reduced the population growth rate from 3.1% per year in the early 1960s to 1.6% in 2004.

Life expectancy at birth, total (years): 72.6
Mortality rate under-5 (per 1,000 births): 20.5

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