Colombia in the northwestern corner of South
America has a varied nature, a rich cultural heritage
and a strong economy mainly based on oil and
agriculture. But deep social divisions have contributed
to decades of armed conflict between left-wing
guerrillas, the army, semi-military right-wing groups
and drug power. The conflict has made Colombia one of
the world's most violent countries. A peace agreement
was signed in 2016 with the largest guerrilla, Farc, but
the situation is still unstable.
Brief profiles of Colombia, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Colombia is the fourth largest country in
South America. It accommodates most of the continent's
natural types thanks to its dramatic topography. The
country has long coasts facing two seas, the Pacific and
Geography is dominated by two extremes: the mighty
mountain masses of the Andes in the west and the Amazon
flat rainforest in the east.
From the south to the north, the Andes run in three
parallel mountain ranges. Many peaks are over 5,000
meters high. However, the highest point, Pico Cristóbal
Colón, is not in the Andes but on the granite plateau
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the far north. In the
two fertile main valleys between the mountain ranges
flow the country's most important rivers, Cauca and
Magdalena. At La Sabana, one of the high plains in the
eastern mountain range, the capital Bogotá expands at an
altitude of 2 650 meters.
To the north and west of the Andean highlands are the
two coastal plains. The Pacific coast is dominated by
tropical rainforest. On the Caribbean coastal plain in
the north, the country is generally flat. At the far
northeast, the dry Guajira peninsula stands out. Near
the Nicaraguan coast are the islands of San Andrés and
Providencia, which belong to Colombia but which
Nicaragua claims (see Foreign Policy and Defense).
The climate is tropical and the temperature is even
throughout the year. However, the height differences
create great contrasts. Colombians divide the country
into three climate zones: In tierra
caliente (up to 1,000 meters above sea level) the
average temperature is 25-30 degrees and the humidity is
high. In tierra templada (1000-2000 meters
altitude) it is on average 18-25 degrees and in the cold
areas, tierra free (from 2,000 to about 3,000
meters), it is 12-18 degrees and the temperature
differences between night and night. day is great.
The capital of Bogotá's climate is similar to a cool
Swedish summer. Higher up is the steppe-like terrain
called páramo, and from 4,500 meters altitude
there is constant snow. However, the glaciers have
started to melt as a result of climate change. In the
highlands there are two rainy periods, which in Bogotá
fall in October-November and in April-May. The North
Pacific Coast is one of the rainiest areas in the world.
Colombia is located in a volcanically active region
on the border between two of the Earth's continental
plates. The process that once created the Andes is still
ongoing and is known as earthquakes and volcanic
FACTS - GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
1,141,748 km2 (2018)
Swedish –6 hours
Adjacent country (s)
Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Panama
Capital with number of inhabitants
Bogotá 7.7 million (2013 estimate)
Other major cities
Medellín 2.4 million, Cali 2.3 million, Barranquilla
1.3 million, Cartagena 980,000 (2013 estimate)
Pico Cristóbal Colón (5,775 m asl)
Average Precipitation / month
Bogota 160 mm (Oct), 51 mm (Feb)
Average / day
Bogota 12 °C (Jan), 13 °C (June)
Medical cannabis is approved
Santos signs a decree that allows the use of marijuana as a drug. The
president says illegal drug production will still be fought.
Interim goals are achieved in the peace negotiations
A new breakthrough in peace negotiations is announced: an agreement on
mechanisms to secure justice in a "transitional system" that will also secure
compensation for the victims of the armed conflict. Basically, this is the same
point in the talks that a settlement was reached in September, but after further
negotiations a number of clarifications have been made. According to Santos, it
is "perhaps the most important" settlement so far in the peace process.
ELN leader killed by ambush
Security forces state that a high-ranking ELN leader, José Daniel Pérez, was
killed in a clash in the Department of Santander. Pérez is said to have been
behind an ambush in October against a group of people carrying ballots. Eleven
soldiers and a police officer were killed in the ambush, and six people were
removed. All have now been released. ELN says the attack was a response to
increased military activity in the area, in the Department of Boyacá.
Far Signs of Staged Conflict
Timochenko states that Farc stopped buying weapons and ammunition in
September, and says it shows that the group is serious about stepping down the
armed conflict. In October, he also announced that he had ordered a halt to all
military training. At the same time, the government has recently accused
Farcrebeller of continuing to engage in blackmail, drug trafficking, illegal
mining and road mining. According to the Minister of Defense, Farc respects his
own ceasefire reasonably, but engages in other criminal activities.
Local and regional elections are held
The elections in all 32 ministries are the first since the peace talks with
Farc began. A soldier is killed by ELN in Antioquia before the election, but
generally reported to be calm. Santos says the election was the most peaceful
and least violent in decades.
Disappearances should be investigated
The government and Farc agree to form a special unit to look for the tens of
thousands who have disappeared during the war. The search concerns both living
persons and survivors of the dead. The International Red Cross Committee (ICRC)
New breakthrough in peace talks
The government and Farc agree to set up special courts to investigate crimes
committed during the conflict, by both guerrilla members and security forces. A
truth commission will also be created, and an amnesty law will be adopted.
However, the amnesty should not include those who have been guilty of war crimes
and human rights violations. Santos and Timochenko meet in Havana and shake
hands with each other.
Presidential meeting lifts the crisis
Santos meets his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolás Maduro in Ecuador and the two
agree to gradually open the border, one month after the first closure.
Continued flight across the border
According to the UN, more than 20,000 Colombians living in Venezuela have
been forced out of their homes in less than three weeks. Most have given up on
their own, for fear of reprisals. President Santos accuses Venezuelan leaders of
crimes against humanity because of the displacement of people in the border
Border closure causes diplomatic crisis
Venezuela's decision to close a section of the border with Colombia is
causing concern. The background is an incident where smugglers must have
attacked and injured three soldiers and one civilian. Venezuela begins to expel
Colombians living across the border, while others return on their own. Santos,
who himself visited the border town of Cúcuta, calls Venezuela's actions
"unacceptable" and calls his ambassador from Caracas home. Venezuela responds by
calling home its ambassador from Bogotá.
Mutual escalation of violence
Since Farc announced a new one-sided cease-fire that will last for one month,
both parties jointly announce that the fighting will be stepped down. The
government promises for the first time to reduce the military efforts against
the guerrillas. Six days after the cease-fire began, Santos orders a stop for
air strikes against Farc's camp.
Military commanders are replaced
Santos replaces the commanders of the army, navy and air force. It happens a
few weeks after Human Rights Watch said it had seen evidence that top-ranking
militants knew of extra-judicial executions of civilians who were then allegedly
killed guerrillas, during the period 2002-2008 (see Political system). Santos
has officially dismissed the report and thanks the generals for their efforts
for the country.
Crisis in the peace talks
The government's chief negotiator Humberto de la Calle talks about crisis
situation due to a new wave of violence. Among other things, Farc has blown
several oil lines since the unilateral ceasefire was blown off in May.
Changed electoral law prevents re-election of president
The ban on re-election of a president is reintroduced since both chambers of
Congress voted on the issue. CD is strongly critical of the decision and claims
that the purpose is to prevent Uribe from re-staging. Re-election is also
prohibited for items such as prosecutors and prosecutors, to prevent individuals
from gaining too much political power (a background is the trips around the
appointment of Bogotá's mayor, see December 2013 and
Truth Commission is planned
The government and Farc agree to establish a Truth Commission when and if a
peace agreement can be reached. The purpose is said to be to explain the
half-century-long conflict, to try to ensure that no new fighting flares up.
Farc deflates ceasefire after attack
Since 27 Farcrebeller were killed in a combined ground and flight attack in
Cauca in the southwest, the guerrillas inflate their barely half-year-long
ceasefire. The attack means the guerrilla's largest single loss in three years.
According to observers, guerrilla military activity has decreased by 85 percent
during the ceasefire.
Landslides require life
Around 80 people are killed in a landslide in Antioquia. Heavy rainfall
caused flood dams to burst in the middle of the night as people lay asleep.
Cocoa control from the air is stopped
The government decides to ban the control of cocaine and opium crops from the
air, after a number of reports have shown that the spraying causes cancer.
Aerial spraying against coca and opium crops has been used for 20 years.
A strike against Farc's mining operations
Authorities strike 63 locations where Farc carries on illegal mining, in what
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón describes as perhaps the biggest raid to
date against the business. 59 people are arrested in connection with the strike,
which Pinzón says will "cost" the guerrilla $ 8 million. Gold, tungsten and
cobalt are mined in the area near the border with Brazil and Venezuela.
Ex-security chief convicted of espionage
A former chief of security police, Maria del Pilar Hurtado, is sentenced to
14 years in prison for espionage, targeting opponents of ex-president Uribe -
including politicians, journalists and judges. Hurtado was director of the
recently discontinued security service DAS in 2007–2008 (see October
2011). She fled the country in 2010 and received asylum in Panama. It
caused disarray not least because of Uribe's close relations with the then
Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli. Panama's Supreme Court upheld her
asylum in 2014 and since being called by Interpol, she surrendered in January
Guerrilla attack ends bombing
Since Farc carried out an attack and killed 11 soldiers in southwestern
Colombia, the government cancels the decision to stop air strikes against Farc
fortresses (see March 2015). President Santos says the attack
represents a clear violation of the unilateral ceasefire that Farc proclaimed in
Stop for air strikes
The government decides to stop air strikes against Farc and the parties agree
to jointly clear mines in the countryside. Colombia is one of the countries in
the world where there are most mines in the terrain. Over the past 15 years,
more than 11,000 people have been killed or injured by landmines.
Farc raises age limit for child recruits
The guerrilla announces that it will no longer recruit children under 17,
which means that the age limit will be increased by two years. The guerrilla
denies the forced recruitment of young people, but the authorities say they have
saved several thousand former child soldiers over a 15-year period. Most of them
were 16-17, but almost a third were between 9 and 15 years.