U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
BACKGROUND NOTES:  COLOMBIA
PUBLISHED BY THE BUREAU OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
JANUARY 1997

OFFICIAL NAME: 
Republic of Colombia

PROFILE

GEOGRAPHY

Area:  1.2 million sq. km. (440,000 sq. mi.); about the size of Texas, 
New Mexico, and Arkansas combined; fourth-largest country in South 
America.  
Cities:  Capital--Santa fe de Bogota (pop. about 6 million).  Other 
major cities--Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena.  
Terrain:  Flat coastal areas, three rugged parallel mountain chains, 
central highlands, and flat eastern grasslands with extensive coastlines 
on the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.  
Climate:  Tropical on coast and eastern plains, cooler in highlands. 

PEOPLE

Nationality:  Noun and adjective--Colombian(s). 
Population:  37 million.  
Annual growth rate:  1.7%.  
Religion:  Roman Catholic 95%.
Language:  Spanish.  
Education:  Years compulsory--9.  Attendance--80% of children enter 
school.  Only five years of primary school are offered in rural areas.  
Literacy--93% in urban areas, 67% in rural areas.  
Health:  Infant mortality rate--37/1,000.  Life expectancy--men 67 yrs., 
women 72 yrs.

GOVERNMENT

Type:  Republic.
Independence:  July 20, 1810.  
Constitution:  1991.
Branches:  Executive--President (Chief of State and Head of Government).  
Legislative--Bicameral Congress.  Judicial--Supreme Court, 
Constitutional Court, Council of State. 
Administrative divisions:  32 departments; Santa fe de Bogota, capital 
district.  
Major political parties:  Liberal Party, Social Conservative Party,  
Democratic Alliance/M-19 (AD/M-19), Patriotic Union (UP).  
Suffrage:  Universal age 18 and over. 

ECONOMY (1995)

GDP:  $78 billion. 
Annual growth rate: 5.3%. 
Per capita GDP: $1,800.
Natural resources:  Coal, petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, nickel, 
gold, silver, copper, platinum, emeralds.  
Agriculture (20% of GDP):  Products--coffee, bananas, cut flowers, 
cotton, sugar cane, livestock, rice, corn, tobacco, potatoes, soybeans, 
sorghum.  Cultivated land--5% of total land area.  
Manufacturing (19% of GDP):  Types--textiles and garments,  chemicals, 
metal products, cement, cardboard containers, plastic resins and 
manufactures, beverages.
Other sectors (by percentage of GDP):  Financial services--15%; 
community, social, and personal services--14%;  retailing, restaurants 
and hotels--11.5%; transportation, storage and communications services--
9%; mining and quarrying--4%; construction and public works--3.6%;  
electricity, gas and water--1%.
Trade (1995):  Exports--$10.7 billion:  petroleum, coffee, coal, 
ferronickel, bananas, flowers, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, textiles 
and garments, gold, sugar, cardboard containers, printed matter, cement, 
plastic resins and manufactures, emeralds.  
Major markets--U.S. (34%), Germany, Netherlands, Japan.  
Imports--$13.1 billion:  machinery/equipment, grains, chemicals, 
transportation equipment, mineral products, consumer products, 
metals/metal products, plastic/rubber, paper products, aircraft, oil and 
gas industry equipment and supplies.  
Major suppliers--U.S. (37%), Venezuela, Japan, Germany, Panama.  
Exchange Rate:  1,010 Colombian Pesos = U.S. $1. (9 OCT 1996)

PEOPLE

Colombia is the third most populous country in Latin America, after 
Brazil and Mexico.  Movement from rural to urban areas has been heavy.  
The urban population increased from 57% of the total population in 1951 
to about 74% by 1994.  The nine eastern departments, constituting about 
54% of Colombia's area, have less than 3% of the population and a 
density of fewer than one person per square kilometer (two persons per  
sq. mi.).  Thirty cities have 100,000 or more inhabitants.  Residents of 
the high Andes Mountains must cope with sometimes deadly volcanic  
activity--more than 20,000 died in the 1985 eruption of the Nevada del 
Ruiz Volcano near the town of Armero in Tolima Department.  The Galeras 
Volcano near Pasto (Nari–o Department) is active and under observation 
by the Colombian Government.

The ethnic diversity in Colombia is a result of the intermingling of 
indigenous Indians, Spanish colonists, and African slaves.  Today, only 
about 1% of the people can be identified as fully Indian on the basis of 
language and customs.  Few foreigners have immigrated to Colombia, 
compared to several other South American countries.

HISTORY

During the pre-Columbian period, the area now known as Colombia was 
inhabited by Indians, mostly primitive hunters or nomadic farmers.  The 
Chibchas, who lived in the Bogota region, dominated the various Indian 
groups.

Spaniards first sailed along the north coast of Colombia as early as 
1500, but the first permanent settlement, at Santa Marta, was not 
established until 1525.  In 1549, the area was established as a Spanish 
colony with the capital at Santa fe de Bogota.  In 1717, Bogota became 
the capital of the viceroyalty of New Granada, which included what is 
now Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama.  The city became one of the 
principal administrative centers of the Spanish possessions in the New 
World, along with Lima and Mexico City.

On July 20, 1810, the citizens of Bogota created the first 
representative council to defy Spanish authority.  Total independence 
was proclaimed in 1813, and in 1819 the Republic of Greater Colombia was 
formed.

The Republic

After the defeat of the Spanish army, the republic included all the 
territory of the former viceroyalty.  Simon Bolivar was elected its 
first President and Francisco de Paula Santander, Vice President.  Two 
political parties that grew out of conflicts between the followers of 
Bolivar and Santander, the Conservatives and the Liberals, have 
dominated Colombian politics.  Bolivar's supporters, who later formed 
the nucleus of the Conservative Party, advocated a strong centralized 
government, alliance with the Roman Catholic Church, and a limited 
franchise.  Santander's followers, forerunners of the Liberals, wanted a 
decentralized government, state rather than church control over 
education and other civil matters, and a broadened suffrage.

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, each party held the 
presidency for roughly equal periods of time.  Colombia, unlike many 
Latin American countries, maintained a tradition of civilian government 
and regular, free elections.  The military has seized power only three 
times in Colombia's history:  in 1830, when Ecuador and Venezuela 
withdrew from the republic (Panama did not become independent until 
1903); in 1854; and in 1953-57.  In the first two instances, civilian 
rule was restored within a year.

Notwithstanding the country's commitment to democratic institutions,  
Colombia's history has been characterized by periods of widespread, 
violent conflict.  Two civil wars resulted from bitter rivalry between 
the Conservative and Liberal Parties.  The War of a Thousand Days (1899-
1902) cost an estimated 100,000 lives, and up to 300,000 people perished  
during "La violencia" (The Violence) of the late 1940s and 1950s.

A military coup in 1953 brought Gen. Gustavo Rojas Pinilla to power.  
Initially, Rojas enjoyed considerable popular support, due largely to  
his success in reducing "La violencia."  When he did not restore 
democratic rule, however, he was overthrown by the military in 1957 with 
the backing of both political parties, and a provisional government was 
installed.

The National Front

In July 1957, former Conservative President Laureano Gomez (1950-53) and 
former Liberal President Alberto Lleras Camargo (1945-46) issued the 
"Declaration of Sitges," in which they proposed a "National Front" 
whereby the Liberal and Conservative parties would jointly govern.  
Through regular elections, the presidency would alternate between the 
two parties every four years; the parties also would have parity in all 
other elective and appointive offices.

The National Front ended "La violencia."  National Front administrations 
instituted far-reaching social and economic reforms in keeping with the 
Alliance for Progress, an inter-American program of economic assistance 
which began in 1961 with major financial backing by the United States.  

Although the parity system established by the Sitges agreement was 
terminated in 1978, the 1886 Colombian constitution, which was in effect 
until 1991, required that the losing political party be given adequate 
and equitable participation in the government.  Although the 1991 
constitution does not have that requirement, subsequent governments have 
included opposition parties in the government.

Post-National Front Years

The National Front ended in 1974, having made efforts to resolve 
problems of inflation, unemployment, and inequitable income distribution  
while cutting government expenses.  Between 1978 and 1982, the 
government focused on ending the limited, but persistent, Cuban-backed 
insurgency that sought to undermine Colombia's traditional democratic 
system.  The success of the government's efforts enabled it to lift the 
state-of-siege decree that had been in effect for most of the previous 
30 years.

In 1984, President Belisario Betancur, a Conservative who won 47% of the 
popular vote, negotiated a cease-fire that included the release of many 
guerrillas imprisoned during the effort to overpower the insurgents.  
The cease-fire began to unravel when Democratic Alliance/M-19 (AD/M-19) 
guerrillas resumed fighting in 1985.

A vicious attack on the Palace of Justice in Bogota by the AD/M-19 on 
November 6-7, 1985, shocked Colombia and the entire world.  Of the 115 
people killed, 11 were Supreme Court justices.  Although the government 
and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the largest 
guerrilla group, renewed their truce in March 1986, peace with the AD/M-
19 and dissident factions of other guerrilla groups seemed remote as 
Betancur left office.

The next administrations had to contend with both the guerrillas and the 
narcotics traffickers, who operated with relative impunity within 
Colombia.  Narco-terrorists assassinated three Presidential candidates 
before Cesar Gaviria Trujillo was elected in 1990.  With the death of 
Medellin cartel leader Pablo Escobar in December 1993, indiscriminate 
acts of violence associated with that organization have abated.

GOVERNMENT

President Ernesto Samper assumed office in August 1994.  Samper vowed to 
continue many of the economic and foreign policy goals of the Gaviria 
Administration, while also placing greater emphasis on addressing social 
inequities and eliminating poverty.  However, Samper's political crisis 
relating to contributions from drug traffickers to his 1994 presidential 
campaign diverted attention away from these social programs, thus 
slowing, and in some cases, halting progress.

The new constitution, enacted on July 4, 1991, strengthened the 
administration of justice with the introduction of an accusatorial 
system which replaced the previous Napoleonic Code system.  Other 
significant reforms under the new constitution provide for civil 
divorce, dual nationality, the election of a vice president, and the 
election of departmental governors.  The constitution expanded citizens' 
basic rights, including that of "tutela," under which an immediate court 
action can be requested by an individual if he feels his constitutional 
rights are being violated and if there is no other legal recourse.

The national government has separate executive, legislative, and 
judicial branches.  The President is elected for a four-year term and 
cannot be reelected.  The 1991 constitution reestablished the position 
of Vice President, who is elected on the same ticket as the President.  
By law, the Vice President will succeed in the event of the President's 
resignation, illness, or death.  The first Vice President, Humberto De 
La Calle Lombana, took office on August 7, 1994.  He subsequently 
resigned in September 1996 in protest of Samper's management of the 
government and narco-links, and was replaced by Carlos Lemos Simmonds.

Colombia's bicameral Congress consists of a 102-member Senate and a 161-
member House of Representatives.  Senators are elected on the basis of a 
nationwide ballot, while representatives are elected on a regional 
basis.  The country's capital is considered a separate region and elects 
its own representatives.  Members may be reelected indefinitely, and, 
unlike the previous system, there are no longer alternate Congressmen.  
Congress meets twice a year, and the President has the power to call it 
into special session when needed. 

Principal Government Officials

President--Ernesto SAMPER Pizano
Vice President--Carlos LEMOS Simmonds
Minister of Foreign Relations--Maria Emma MEJIA Velez
Ambassador to the U.S.--Juan Carlos ESGUERRA Portacarrero
Ambassador to the OAS--Carlos Holmes TRUJILLO Garcia
Ambassador to the UN--Julio LONDONO Paredes

Colombia maintains an embassy in the United States at 2118 Leroy Place 
NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-387-8338).  Colombian consulates are 
located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, 
Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan, Tampa, and 
Washington.

DEFENSE

Colombia's Ministry of Defense, charged with the country's internal and 
external defense and security, has an army, navy (which includes a coast 
guard), air force, and national police under the leadership of a 
civilian Minister of Defense.  The armed forces number about 235,000 
uniformed personnel:  145,000 military and 90,000 police.  Many 
Colombian military personnel have received training in the United States 
or in U.S. military schools in Panama.  The United States has provided 
equipment to the Colombian military through the military assistance 
program and foreign military sales.  Narcotics decertification in 1996 
forced a halt to U.S. military assistance programs, except for those 
related to counter-narcotics.

ECONOMY

Colombia, under the leadership of President Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, 
undertook a profound economic reform program in 1990-94 that opened up 
its economy to international trade and investment.  The government has 
pursued prudent fiscal, exchange rate, and monetary policies and, since 
1990, has implemented sweeping changes in the areas of finance, labor, 
exchange rates, and trade.  These measures were largely responsible for 
the sustained economic growth enjoyed by Colombia during this period; 
3.8% average GDP growth during 1990-93, and a robust 5.3% in 1995.

In 1995, the Colombian economy produced real growth of 5.3%, down 
slightly from the 5.7% recorded in 1994.  Economic performance in 1995 
owed its strength largely to the 17.4% growth in the mining and 
hydrocarbons sector resulting from the exploration of the Cusiana and 
Cupiagua oil fields located in Colombia's eastern plains.  Exports grew 
by 10.6%, helping to stimulate economic growth.  Unemployment rose to 
9%.  The trade deficit of $2.5 billion was more than compensated for by 
capital flows in the form of foreign direct investment and private 
sector borrowing.  

Colombia's 1995 foreign exchange reserves grew slightly to approximately 
$8.3 billion and are expected to decline only slightly in 1996.  The 
Government of Colombia failed to bring inflation in at the 18% target, 
but inflation at 19.5% was down an impressive 3.1% from 1994, and was 
under 23% for the first time in 15 years.  Prospects for 1996 are not so 
rosy, however.  The 12-month inflation rate was 18.43% through September 
1996, and the total for the year is expected to come in at 21% or 
higher.  Colombian Government officials project a growth in GDP of 
approximately 3.5% in 1996.  Business leaders are more cautious, 
estimating closer to 3%.

Colombia is the only major Latin American country which did not have to 
reschedule its external debt during the debt crisis of the 1980s.  The 
nation paid both principal and interest to its foreign creditors.  Today 
it enjoys one of the highest credit ratings in the region.  

Colombia's total foreign debt was $24.6 billion at the end of 1995, and 
is expected to increase by 10.9% to $27 billion in 1996.  With a strong 
net international reserves position ($8.3 billion at the end of 1995), 
Colombia has successfully reentered the international capital markets in 
Europe, Japan, and the United States.

Mining and Energy

Colombia is well-endowed with minerals and energy resources.  It has the 
largest coal reserves in Latin America and is second to Brazil in 
hydroelectric potential.  Estimates of oil reserves in 1995 were 3.1 
billion barrels, equal to about 3.5% of the world total.  It also 
possesses significant amounts of ferronickel, gold, silver, platinum, 
and emeralds.

The recent discovery of 2 billion barrels of high-quality oil at the 
Cusiana and Cupiagua fields, about 125 miles east of Bogota, assures 
Colombia's crude oil self-sufficiency until well into the next decade.  
Production from those fields is expected to reach 1 million barrels per 
day (b/d) by the year 2000.  However, refining capacity cannot satisfy 
domestic demand, so some refined products, especially gasoline, must be 
imported.  Plans for the construction of a new refinery are under 
development. 

Total crude oil production in 1995 was 590,000 b/d; about 184,000 b/d 
were exported.  In 1996, the Government of Colombia came under pressure 
for the stringency of its association contracts for the exploration and 
production of Colombia's oil.  A major European oil company, with 
sizeable investment in Colombia's oil sector, has petitioned for changes 
to its association contract with the Government of Colombia for the 
development of the Piedemonte oil fields, claiming that the current 
terms are not cost-effective for them, given the extremely difficult 
terrain in question.

Colombia has 6.6 billion tons of proven coal reserves and its coal 
production totaled 21.7 million metric tons (mt) in 1995.  Production 
from El Cerrejon, the world's largest open pit coal mine, located on 
Colombia's Guajira Peninsula, accounted for 65% of that amount.  
Colombia's exports of 18.4 million mt of steam coal in 1994 made it the 
world's fourth-largest exporter of this commodity.  Coal exports are 
expected to reach 25 million tons in 1996, and private and public 
investment in Colombia's coal fields and related infrastructure projects 
are expected to enable the country to export about 35 million mt at the 
beginning of the next decade.  The government-owned coal company, 
Carbocol, plans to sell its 50% share in the vast El Cerrejon coal mines 
in late 1996 or early 1997. 

While Colombia has vast hydroelectric potential, a prolonged drought in 
1992 forced severe electrical rationing throughout the country until 
mid-1993.  The consequences of the drought on electricity-generating 
capacity has caused the government to commission the construction or 
upgrading of 10 thermoelectric power plants.  Half will be coal-fired, 
half will be fired by natural gas.  The government has also begun 
awarding bids for the construction of a natural gas pipeline system that 
will extend from the country's large gas fields to its major population 
centers.  Plans call for the completion of this project, which will make 
natural gas available to millions of Colombian households, by the middle 
of the next decade.

Trade

Colombia's balance of trade showed a deficit of $2.35 billion in 1995, 
approximately the same as in 1994.  Total imports reached $13.1 billion, 
while exports were $10.7 billion.  Imports and exports each grew at over 
15%.  Colombia's major exports continue to be coffee, petroleum, coal, 
nickel, gold, and non-traditional exports (e.g., cut flowers, semi-
precious stones, sugar, and tropical fruits).  Colombia's major trading 
partner in 1995 continued to be the United States, which took 34% of 
Colombia's exports and provided 37% of its imports.  The EU and Japan 
remain important trading partners, as do Andean Pact partners, 
especially Venezuela.  Diplomatic relations with a number of Pacific 
nations were established during the Gaviria Administration.  Regular 
diplomatic exchanges with Japan, China, South Korea, and other Asian 
nations are designed to open these markets to Colombian products.

Foreign Investment

In 1991 and 1992, the government passed laws to stimulate foreign 
investment in nearly all sectors of the economy.  The only activities 
closed to foreign direct investment are defense and national security, 
disposal of hazardous wastes, and real estate (the latter restriction to 
control money laundering).  Colombia established a special entity-
Coinvertir--to assist foreigners in making investments in the country.  
Foreign investment showed strong growth in the first half of 1996, and 
the trend is expected to continue, despite the current unstable 
political situation in the country.  Colombia received $756 million in 
non-petroleum related foreign investment in 1995. 

Major foreign investment projects underway include the $6 billion 
development of the Cusiana and Cupiagua oil fields, development of coal 
fields in the north of the country, and the recently concluded licensing 
for establishment of cellular telephone service.  The United States 
accounted for 51.2% of the $6.5 billion stock of non-petroleum foreign 
direct investment in Colombia at the end of 1995.

On October 21, 1995, under the International Emergency Economic Powers 
Act (IEEPA), President Clinton signed an Executive Order barring U.S. 
entities from any commercial or financial transactions with four 
Colombian drug kingpins and with individuals and companies associated 
with the traffic in narcotics, as designated by the Secretary of the 
Treasury in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney 
General.  The list of designated individuals and companies is amended 
periodically and is maintained by the Office of Foreign Asset Control at 
the Department of the Treasury, tel. (202) 622-0077 (ask for Document 
#1900).

Industry and Agriculture

The most industrially diverse member of the five-nation Andean Pact, 
Colombia has four major industrial centers--Bogota, Medellin, Cali, and 
Barranquilla, each located in a distinct geographical region.  
Colombia's industries include textiles and clothing, leather products, 
processed foods and beverages, paper and paper products, chemicals and 
petrochemicals, cement, construction, iron and steel products, and 
metalworking.

Agriculture accounted for 20% of Colombia's GDP in 1995.  Its diverse 
climate and topography permits the cultivation of a wide variety of 
crops.  In addition, all regions yield forest products, ranging from 
tropical hardwoods in the hot country to pine and eucalyptus in the 
colder areas.

Cacao, sugar cane, coconuts, bananas, plantains, rice, cotton, tobacco, 
cassava, and most of the nation's beef cattle are produced in the hot 
regions from sea level to 1,000 meters elevation.  The temperate 
regions--between 1,000 and 2,000 meters--are better suited for coffee; 
certain flowers; corn and other vegetables; and fruits such as citrus, 
pears, pineapples, and tomatoes.  The cooler elevations--between 2,000 
and 3,000 meters-- produce wheat, barley, potatoes, cold-climate 
vegetables, flowers, dairy cattle, and poultry.

Narcotics Cultivation and Control

Colombia is the world's leading supplier of refined cocaine and a 
growing supplier of heroin, especially to the United States. Colombia's 
territory is also the second largest area under coca cultivation.  
Despite the death of Medellin cartel drug lord Pablo Escobar in 1993 and 
the arrests of major Cali cartel kingpins in 1995 and 1996, the 
Colombian drug cartels remain among the most sophisticated criminal 
organizations in the world.  They control cocaine processing, 
international wholesale distribution chains, and markets. 

Colombia is engaged in a broad range of narcotics control activities.  
Through aerial spraying of herbicide and manual eradication, Colombia 
has attempted to keep coca, opium poppy, and cannabis cultivations from 
expanding.  The government has committed itself to the eradication of 
all illicit crops, interdiction of drug shipments, and financial 
controls to prevent money laundering.  

Corruption and intimidation by traffickers complicate the drug-control 
efforts of many institutions of government.  Despite a major overhaul of 
the Colombian judicial system as a result of the 1991 Constitution, 
changes have yet to produce successful prosecution of narcotics 
traffickers.  Colombia passed a revised criminal procedures code in 1993 
which permits traffickers to surrender and negotiate lenient sentences 
in return for cooperating with prosecutors.  The U.S. Government is 
hopeful, however, that the Colombian Congress will pass legislation to 
toughen sentencing, asset forfeiture, and money laundering penalties.  
The Colombian constitution now prohibits the extradition of Colombian 
nationals, but the government does permit extradition of foreigners 
resident in Colombia. 

On March 1, 1996, President Clinton did not certify Colombia as fully 
cooperating with the U.S. or taking adequate steps on its own to meet 
the objectives of the 1988 UN Convention on drugs.  The U.S. concluded 
that there was a lack of effort at the top levels of Colombia's 
government to push for legislative and judicial reforms to strengthen 
Colombian government institutions' ability to fight narco-trafficking.  
Areas of weakness included inadequate prison security, failure to pass 
legislation strengthening laws on asset seizure and forfeiture, 
sentencing, penalties for money laundering, and failure to sign a 
bilateral maritime interdiction agreement with the United States. (Note: 
On December 12, 1996, the Colombian Congress passed legislation to allow 
forfeiture of illegally acquired assets. The legislation was signed into 
law on December 19, 1996.)

Under the certification legislation, the U.S. Government was required to 
halt non-humanitarian and non-counter-narcotics aid to Colombia and to 
vote against loans to Colombia by certain multilateral development 
banks.  In addition, U.S. law provides for the discretionary imposition 
of economic sanctions, which, as of this writing, have not been imposed.  
Colombia, along with other drug producing and drug transit countries, 
will be reviewed for counter-narcotics performance again at the end of 
1996 and each successive year.

FOREIGN RELATIONS

Colombia seeks diplomatic and commercial relations with all countries, 
regardless of their ideologies or political or economic systems.  In the 
1980s, it broadened its bilateral and multilateral relations, joining 
the Non-Aligned Movement--which it chairs 1994-97, the Contadora Group, 
and the Group of Eight (now the Rio Group).  In addition,  Colombia has 
signed free trade agreements with Chile,  Mexico, and Venezuela. 

Colombia has traditionally played an active role in the UN, the 
Organization of American States, and their subsidiary agencies.  Former 
President Gaviria became Secretary General of the OAS in September 1994.  
Colombia was a participant in the December 1994 Summit of the Americas 
and followed up on initiatives developed at the summit by hosting two 
post-summit Ministerial-level meetings on trade and science and 
technology.  

Colombia regularly participates in international fora,  including the 
Organization of American States' drug body (CICAD), on money laundering, 
chemical controls, and drug abuse prevention.  While the Colombian 
Government ratified the 1988 UN convention on narcotics in 1994--the 
last of the Andean governments to do so--it took important reservations, 
notably to the anti-money-laundering measures, asset forfeiture and 
confiscation provisions, maritime interdiction, and extradition clauses. 

U.S.-COLOMBIAN RELATIONS

In 1822, the United States became one of the first countries to 
recognize the new republic and to establish a resident diplomatic 
mission.  Today, about 22,000 U.S. citizens live in Colombia, most of 
them dual nationals.  In 1995, over 102,000 American tourists visited 
Colombia.

The certification announcement on March 1, 1996 occurred during the 
midst of a major political scandal in Colombia, linking President Samper 
to contributions by drug traffickers to his 1994 presidential campaign.  
The United States concluded that President Samper had undermined 
Colombian counter-narcotics efforts, and revoked Samper's U.S. tourist 
visa on July 11, 1996, in accordance with U.S. Immigration and 
Nationality Act (INA) provisions on narcotics trafficking.  President 
Samper retains his diplomatic visa, which is not subject to the same INA 
regulations.

Despite strained political relations, the U.S. and Colombian governments 
continue to cooperate and consult on bilateral issues.  In 1995 and 
1996, the U.S. and Colombia signed important agreements on environmental 
protection and civil aviation.  The two countries have signed agreements 
on asset sharing and chemical control.  During the period 1988-1995,  
the United States provided approximately $691 million to Colombia.  The 
majority of the assistance (71%) supported Colombia's counter-narcotics 
efforts, such as arresting drug traffickers, seizing drugs and illegal 
processing facilities, and eradicating coca and poppy.    

Trade Development

The United States is Colombia's principal trading partner.  Colombia 
benefits from duty-free entry (for a 10-year period, through 2001) for 
certain of its exports to the United States under the Andean Trade 
Preferences Act.  Colombia improved protection of intellectual property 
rights through the adoption of three Andean Pact decisions in 1993 and 
1994, but the U.S. remains concerned over deficiencies in licensing, 
patent regulations, and copyright protection. 

The petroleum and natural gas, coal mining, chemical, and manufacturing 
industries attract the greatest U.S. investment interest.  U.S. 
investment accounted for 51.2% ($3.3 billion) of the total $6.4 billion 
in foreign direct investment registered between 1967 and 1995.  Worker 
rights and conditions in the U.S.-dominated sectors are superior to 
general working conditions.  Examples include shorter-than-average 
working hours, higher wages, and compliance with health and safety 
standards above the national average. 

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Ambassador--Myles R.R. Frechette
Deputy Chief of Mission--Oliver P. Garza
Political and Economic Counselor--Joseph McBride
Consul General--Jean A. Louis
Commercial Counselor--Dorothy L. Lutter
Administrative Counselor--Roland W. Bullen 
Defense Attache--Col. William C. Spracher
Agricultural Attache--Vacant
Public Affairs Officer (USIS)--Terrence Kneebone
Regional Security Officer--Seymour DeWitt
USAID Director--Lawrence Klassen

The U.S. Embassy in Colombia is located at 22D Bis, No. 47-51, Bogota. 
Tel: (571) 315-0811.  
Fax: (571) 315-2196.  The mailing address is APO AA 34038.  

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides 
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are 
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel 
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all 
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency 
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and 
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in 
the subject country. They can be obtained by telephone at (202) 647-5225 
or by fax at (202) 647-3000. To access the Consular Affairs Bulletin 
Board by computer, dial (202) 647-9225, via a modem with standard 
settings. Bureau of Consular Affairs' publications on obtaining 
passports and planning a safe trip abroad are available from the 
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 
Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800. 
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be 
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225.
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization 
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water 
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information 
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280, price 
$14.00) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, 
Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800. 
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and 
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to 
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's 
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal 
Government Officials" listing in this publication). 
Upon their arrival in a country, U.S. citizens are encouraged to 
register at the U.S. embassy (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" 
listing in this publication). This may help family members contact you 
in case of an emergency. 
FURTHER ELECTRONIC INFORMATION:
Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). Available by modem, the CABB 
provides Consular Information Sheets, Travel Warnings, and helpful 
information for travelers. Access at (202) 647-9225 is free of charge to 
anyone with a personal computer, modem, telecommunications software, and 
a telephone line.
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet, 
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy 
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch, 
the official weekly magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press 
briefings; directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. 
DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov; this site has a 
link to the DOSFAN Gopher Research Collection, which also is accessible 
at gopher://www.state.gov or gopher://dosfan.lib.uic.edu.
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on a quarterly basis 
by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the 
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of 
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Priced at 
$80 ($100 foreign), one-year subscriptions include four discs (MSDOS and 
Macintosh compatible) and are available from the Superintendent of 
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 37194, Pittsburgh, 
PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.
Federal Bulletin Board (BBS). A broad range of foreign policy 
information also is carried on the BBS, operated by the U.S. Government 
Printing Office (GPO). By modem, dial (202) 512-1387. For general BBS 
information, call (202) 512-1530.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of 
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information, 
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet 
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information. 

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