Like most other Latin American countries, Colombia has
since 1989 liberalized its economic policy through free
trade agreements with neighboring countries, facilitating
foreign capital and a more and more market-oriented domestic
policy. Expanding oil recovery and some diversification of
business have to some extent limited the social costs of
this economic policy.
countryaah, agriculture is the main trade route with coffee as the
dominant crop, but the industry has expanded greatly since
1940. The country has rich biological, mineral and energy
resources that are not fully utilized. Gross domestic
product (GDP) grew by 1.6% per year in fixed prices in the
period 1994–2002; Growth has stagnated from around 1980,
partly as a result of falling coffee prices. At the same
time, the "black" economy has grown in scale, especially the
illegal trade in marijuana and cocaine. GDP per capita in
2003 was estimated at approx. 6300 USD.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing employ approx. 25% of
the working population. About 5% of the land is cultivated
land; almost 40% is considered to be pasture. Coffee is the
main crop. Colombia is the world's second largest coffee
producer, after Brazil. Production shows large annual
fluctuations, but in recent years has been around 800,000
tonnes a year. The best coffee is grown in temperate areas
between 1300 and 2000 meters above sea level. The most
important areas of cultivation are the provinces of
Antioquia and Caldas. Other important agricultural crops are
sugar cane and cotton grown on large plantations in the
Caucadale, coastal bananas and tobacco and cocoa. For their
own consumption, corn and potatoes in the highlands, and
rice around the lower reaches of Río Magdalena. Marijuana
and cocaine are illegally grown in large areas. In the
eastern lowlands, near the foot of the mountains, in
Colombia's Wild West,
Agricultural productivity is consistently low. The
average farmer lacks working capital, machinery and
fertilizers. Productivity is further hampered by the very
uneven distribution of the soil. Except for the
coffee-producing area, where the uses are generally small,
most of the land is collected in large goods (latifundios),
which are owned by a small number of families. Most of the
country's farmers live on small farms (minifundios),
which are rarely larger than 20 acres, or are without
Forests cover half of the country's area. The rich forest
resources have only been used to a limited extent, among
other things. because of the difficult transport conditions.
However, forestry is under development, both in the
country's eastern parts (the Amazon) and along the Pacific
The fishing along the coasts is little developed and is
run by relatively outdated methods. The fishing resources,
especially along the Pacific coast, are likely to be large,
and there is some fishing for shellfish and tuna. In catch
quantity, however, inland fishing plays the biggest role.
Colombia has significant mineral resources. Most
important are the deposits of petroleum; the most important
fields are at Barrancabermeja (De Mares), close to the
border with Venezuela (Río Zulia) and to the south of the
country (Orito/Puerto Colón). The oil is mainly used for
domestic consumption and covers most of the country's needs.
Natural gas is extracted in the Río Magdalena delta.
Colombia has the largest coal reserves in South America. The
country is also the second largest producer of gold in South
America (after Brazil), and a significant producer of
platinum, silver, emeralds and manganese. Iron ore is mined
in the provinces of Cundinamarca and Boyacá; salt extraction
takes place under state control at Zipaquirá just north of
Bogotá. In addition, there are deposits of lead, zinc,
copper, nickel and uranium.
The country has significant hydropower resources.
Hydroelectricity is strongly developed, and in 2014
accounted for 69.5 per cent of the generation of electrical
energy, compared with 17 per cent in 1960. Heat power plants
accounted for 29.6 per cent of the electricity production.
The country is self-sufficient with coal and petroleum. The
final consumption of electrical energy in 2016 was estimated
at 1444 kWh per inhabitant.
The industry was developed strongly after the Second
World War, and today stands at approx. 20% of employment
(incl. Mining) and 30% of gross domestic product (GDP).
Production is mainly concentrated in the four largest
cities: Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Barranquilla. The main
industrial sectors are the food and beverage industry
(Bogotá), the textile industry (Medellín) and the transport
industry. The heavy industry is developing. Iron and steel
mills can be found in the Paz de Río in the metropolitan
area and in Medellín. The chemical industry is extensive;
petrochemical plants can be found in Barrancabermeja, Cali,
La Dorada, Guamo and Tumaco.
Coffee is the absolute dominant export commodity and the
country is very vulnerable to world coffee prices. Other
export products include bananas, cut flowers, petroleum
products, clothing and textiles. Unofficially, the export
value of cocaine exceeded the total legal export value.
Important import goods are machinery, transport equipment
and chemicals. The United States is the most important
Transport and Communications
The mountains create great difficulties for transport,
construction of roads and railways is expensive, and
aircraft are important means of transport for longer
distances. The railways are narrow-gauge (914 mm) and are
state-owned. They have a total length of approx. 3000 km;
The most important line is the Bogotá-Buenaventura Pacific
Railway. The newest line, which links the interior of the
country to the Caribbean port city of Santa Marta via the
Magdalena Valley, was completed in 1961.
The road network has a total length of approx. 115 000
km; only a minor part has fixed cover. The main road network
consists of three north-south axes, and connects most major
cities and towns.
Río Magdalena is an important road wound. It is navigable
for a length of approx. 1500 km to Honda. However, river
traffic is hindered by low water levels during the drying
period. The main port cities are Buenaventura and Tumaco on
the Pacific, and Santa Marta, Barranquilla and Cartagena on
the Caribbean. An ore harbor for shipping coal from El
Cerrejón can be found at Bahía de Portete on the Guajira