Colombia

The Salvation Army started working in Colombia in 1988.

General

Capital: Bogota
Surface area: 1.138.910 km²
Number of inhabitants: 46 million 
Language: Spanish 
Religion: Roman Catholic 
Currency: Colombian peso 
Form of government: constitutional republic  

Development

Colombia borders Venezuela and Brazil. It has a score of 0.727 on the Human Development Index (HDI). This compiles numbers related to life expectancy, education and per capita income. Once classified in numbers, this is used to rank countries in four levels of human development. The higher these factors, the higher the index number. Colombia ranks number 95 out of the 186 countries worldwide. More than 25% of Colombians live under the poverty line. (source: UNDP)

History and Politics 

The Spaniards arrived in Colombia in 1500. Little is known about the time before the colonization only that the area was inhabited by Indian tribes with different levels of civilization. In 1810, Gran Colombia became independent of Spain. This did not change much about the citizen's hierarchy. The white descendants of the Spaniards, the Criollo, still treated the Mestizos (half Spanish, half native) as second-class citizens. The rights of the native and black population were similar to those of a slave. In 1830, Ecuador and Venezuela separated from Gran Colombia. Panama did the same in 1903. From 1900 onwards, the Conservatives and the Liberals were alternately in power. In 1899, political conflicts resulted in the 'The Thousand Days War’ that killed more than a hundred thousand Colombians. The time of peace after the war did not last long. In 1948, liberal leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was murdered. As a result, the civil war between Conservatives and Liberals flared up again, a period known as 'La Violencia' in which a number of left-wing revolutionary movements arose. For decades, Colombia has been plagued by guerrilla groups, paramilitaries and security forces in response to the economic and social inequality in the country. In the past 20 years, at least 70.000 people have been murdered and tens of thousands of civilians have been tortured, have disappeared or have been abducted. Both the guerrilla and paramilitary organizations control drug trafficking. (source: landenweb.nl)

Economy

Coffee, bananas and meat are the most important export products of Colombia. Mining has been an important sector since the colonization times. Not only precious metals but also coal is an important product for Colombia. (source: www.wetenschap.infonu.nl

Culture

The majority of the population in Colombia is Roman Catholic. Bullfighting is very popular. In all major cities in the country you can find bullrings where especially in January you can watch bullfights. A girl’s fifteenth birthday, also called 'Quinceanera', is celebrated exuberantly. Family is very important within the Colombian culture.