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Geography—note: only South American country with coastlines on both North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea

total: 1,138,910 sq km
land: 1,038,700 sq km
water: 100,210 sq km
note: includes Isla de Malpelo, Roncador Cay, Serrana Bank, and Serranilla Bank

Area—comparative: slightly less than three times the size of Montana

Coastline: 3,208 km (Caribbean Sea 1,760 km, North Pacific Ocean 1,448 km)

Climate: tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands

Terrain: flat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds

Environment—current issues: deforestation; soil damage from overuse of pesticides; air pollution, especially in Bogota, from vehicle emissions

Population: 38,580,949 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 33% (male 6,474,927; female 6,321,404)
15-64 years: 62% (male 11,725,078; female 12,333,982)
65 years and over: 5% (male 780,486; female 945,072) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.89% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 24.93 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 5.69 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 25.44 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.06 years
male: 66.15 years
female: 74.11 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.9 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Ethnic groups: mestizo 58%, white 20%, mulatto 14%, black 4%, mixed black-Amerindian 3%, Amerindian 1%

Religions: Roman Catholic 95%

Languages: Spanish

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.3%
male: 91.2%
female: 91.4% (1995 est.)

National capital: Bogota

Independence: 20 July 1810 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 20 July (1810)

Constitution: 5 July 1991

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Political parties and leaders: Liberal Party or PL [Emilio LEBOLO Castellanos]; Conservative Party or PC [Hugo ESCOBAR Sierra]; New Democratic Force or NDF [Andres PASTRANA Arango]; Democratic Alliance M-19 or AD/M-19 is a coalition of small leftist parties and dissident liberals and conservatives; Patriotic Union (UP) is a legal political party formed by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Colombian Communist Party (PCC)

Economy—overview: Columbia is recovering from a short recession that began in late 1996 - resulting from tight monetary policy to drive down inflation, declining business confidence related to President SAMPER's political difficulties, and a slowdown in exports stemming from an appreciation of the peso and a recession in neighboring Venezuela. Although 1997's 3.1% GDP growth rate represented an improvement over 1996, it ranked among the lowest in Latin America and was substantially lower than the average annual growth rate exceeding 4% that Colombia posted for several decades prior to SAMPER's election. Colombia's next president will inherit a variety of economic problems. Most notably, the unemployment rate is at its highest level this decade, risks for the export sector and foreign investors are rising as a result of increasing guerrilla violence and a volatile exchange rate, and the fiscal deficit has more than tripled since 1994.

GDP—real growth rate: 3.1% (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 19%
industry: 26%
services: 55% (1996)

Agriculture—products: coffee, cut flowers, bananas, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, oilseed, vegetables; forest products; shrimp farming

total value: $11.4 billion (f.o.b., 1997 est.)
commodities: petroleum, coffee, coal, bananas, fresh cut flowers
partners: US 39%, EC 25.7%, Japan 2.9%, Venezuela 8.5% (1992)

total value: $13.5 billion (c.i.f., 1997 est.)
commodities: industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products
partners: US 36%, EC 18%, Brazil 4%, Venezuela 6.5%, Japan 8.7% (1992)

Debt—external: $17.1 billion (1997 est.)

Currency: 1 Colombian peso (Col$) = 100 centavos

Military manpower—availability:
males age 15-49: 10,229,023 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:
males: 6,862,893 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $2 billion (1995)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 2.8% (1995)

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