U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Colombia, March 1998
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Colombia
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
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.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Colombian(s).
Population: 37 million.
Annual growth rate: 1.7%.
Religion: Roman Catholic 95%.
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.
Independence: July 20, 1810.
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
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 ( 1996)
GDP: $86 billion.
Annual growth rate: 2.1%.
Per capita GDP: $2,225.
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
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: Exports--$10.6 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. ( 39%), Germany,
Netherlands, Japan. Imports--$12.8 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. ( 40% %), Venezuela, Japan, Germany, Panama.
Exchange rate: 1,335 Colombian Pesos=U.S.$1. ( March 1998)
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 (Narino 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.
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
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
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
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.
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--Camilo REYES Rodriguez (interim)
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
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 temporary halt to U.S. military assistance programs, except for
those related to counter-narcotics. On August 1, 1997, the U.S. and
Colombia signed an End Use Monitoring (EUM) memorandum of understanding
which stipulates that U.S. counternarcotics assistance to the Colombian
military is conditioned on human rights screening of proposed recipient
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 Gaviria
Government pursued prudent fiscal, exchange rate, and monetary policies
and 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. Upon
taking office in August 1994, President Samper promised to continue many
of the programs contained in Gaviria's "apertura," or economic
liberalization program. While the Samper Administration has not
undermined "apertura," it also has not pushed it forward. Privatization
has slowed under the Samper Government.
Political stability questions stemming from allegations that Samper
accepted drug money in his presidential campaign have affected the
economy. Samper has made repeated concessions in labor disputes by
acceding to workers' demands, including inflationary wage increases.
This led the private sector in 1997 to abandon the "Social Pact for
Productivity, Prices and Wages," a program instituted in 1995 in which
the economy's major players (government, private sector, and labor)
agreed to exercise discipline over wages and prices to keep inflation in
check. Continued internal security problems stemming from Colombia's
civil conflict also affect economic growth.
In 1996, the Colombian economy produced real growth of 2.1%, down from
the 5.3% recorded in 1995. Economic performance in 1996 owed its
strength largely to the 7.7% growth in the mining and hydrocarbons
sector and a 9.9% growth in the services sector. Exports grew only
slightly, from $10.2 billion 1995 to $10.6 billion in 1996. Unemployment
rose to 11.5% by the end of 1996, its highest level in almost 10 years.
The trade deficit of $2.2 billion was compensated for by capital flows
in the form of foreign direct investment and private sector borrowing.
Colombia's 1996 foreign exchange reserves were approximately $9.9
billion. The Government of Colombia failed to bring inflation in at the
17.6% % target for 1996, with a year-end inflation rate of 21.6%, up
from 1995's figure of 19.5%.
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 approximately $28 billion in 1996.
With a strong net international reserves position ($9.9 billion at the
end of 1996), 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,
The 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 averages 620,000 b/d; about 184,000 b/d were
exported. The Government of Colombia has come under pressure for the
stringency of its association contracts for the exploration and
production of Colombia's oil.
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.
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.
Colombia's balance of trade showed a deficit of $2.2 billion in 1996,
slightly better than the $2.5 billion deficit in 1995. Total imports
reached $12.8 billion, while exports were $10.6 billion. 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 1996 continued
to be the United States, which took 39% of Colombia's exports and
provided 40% 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.
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.
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
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
Agriculture accounted for 20% of Colombia's GDP in 1996. 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
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. In December 1996 and
February 1997, however, the Colombian Congress passed legislation to
toughen sentencing, asset forfeiture, and money laundering penalties. In
November 1997, the Colombian Congress amended the constitution to permit
the extradition of Colombian nationals, albeit not retroactively--which
could have the effect of shielding major traffickers from justice in the
United States and other countries where they committed their crimes. The
legislation is currently being reviewed by the Constitutional Court. The
Colombian Government permits extradition of foreigners resident in
On March 1, 1996 and again on February 28, 1997, President Clinton made
the decision not to 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. 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.
U.S. law provides for the discretionary imposition of economic
sanctions, which were not imposed.
On February 26, 1998, the President determined that the vital national
interests of the United States require that U.S. assistance to Colombia
be provided to meet the increasing challenges posed to counternarcotics
efforts in Colombia. The President thus granted Colombia a national
interests certification, which waives the restrictions of
decertification and allows for broader U.S. engagement with Colombia in
the fight against illegal narcotics.
Colombia, along with other drug producing and drug transit countries,
will be reviewed for counter-narcotics performance again at by March 1,
1999 and each successive year.
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 1994-1998, 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
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.
Some of these reservations have subsequently been withdrawn, most
notably the reservation on extradition.
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
The decertification 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
Despite the strain the visa revocation and decertification decisions
placed on political relations, the U.S. and Colombian Governments have
continued 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. In 1997, the U.S. and Colombia
signed an important maritime shipboarding agreement to allow for search
of suspected drug-running vessels. During the period 1988-1995, the
United States provided approximately $691 million in assistance to
Colombia. In 1996, U.S. assistance totaled $73.9 million. This funding
supports Colombia's counter-narcotics efforts, such as arresting drug
traffickers, seizing drugs and illegal processing facilities, and
eradicating coca and opium poppy.
Colombia is the United States' fourth-largest export market in Latin
America (behind Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela) and the twenty-fifth-
largest market for U.S. products worldwide. In 1995, two-way merchandise
trade between the United States and Colombia totaled $9 billion. 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 $6.4 billion
in foreign direct investment registered between 1967 and 1995. Worker
rights and conditions in the U.S.-dominated sectors are superior to
general working conditions. Examples include shorter-than-average
working hours, higher wages, and compliance with health and safety
standards above the national average.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Curtis W. Kamman
Deputy Chief of Mission--Oliver P. Garza
Political and Economic Counselor--Joseph McBride
Consul General--Jean A. Louis
Commercial Counselor--Dorothy L. Lutter
Administrative Counselor--Roland W. Bullen
Defense Attache--Col. William C. Spracher
Public Affairs Officer (USIS)--Chris Filostat
Regional Security Officer--Seymour DeWitt
USAID Director--Carl Cira
The U.S. Embassy in Colombia is located at 22D Bis, No. 47-51, Bogota
(tel: (571) 315-0811; fax: (571) 315-2196). The mailing address is APO
OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION:
U.S. Department of Commerce
Trade Information Center
International Trade Administration
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce
Calle 98, @2264, Oficina 1209
Apartado Aereo 8008
Tel: (571) 621-5042/7925/6838
Fax: (571) 612-6838
(Chapters in Cali, Cartagena, Medellin)
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
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obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648).
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) 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).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication).
Registering with the embassy may help you to replace lost identity
documents or help family members contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
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 magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings;
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an annual 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. Contact
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O.
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or
fax (202) 512-2250.
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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