Colombia had a strong economy early thanks to its rich
natural resources. Until the end of the 1900s, exports were
dominated by agricultural products, mainly coffee and
tobacco, but in the last decades oil and coal have taken
over this role. In addition to export-oriented agriculture,
the industry and service sector developed strongly after
COUNTRYAAH, Colombia, compared to other Latin American states, has
enjoyed good GDP growth since the 1920s, especially in the
1960s and 1970s, but income has been unevenly distributed.
During the period 1965–70, annual growth was as high as 5.8
percent, and it remained around 5.7 percent during the years
1970–75. A sharp decline occurred in the early 1980s; GDP
growth was less than 1 per cent and per capita, even
negative. After a recovery in the late 1980s, the growth
rate during the 1990s was quite low and, during the
beginning of the 1990s, turned into a decline for the
country. Through a series of measures, such as
privatizations and cuts in public spending, as well as
efforts to increase the security of foreign investors, By
the end of the 1990s, the country was able to reverse its
negative economic development and report GDP growth again.
However, fluctuations in world market prices for raw
materials such as oil, coal, nickel and bananas pose a
threat to economic growth.
For information on GDP and other business statistics, see
A major problem is also Colombia's "parallel economy".
The illegal trade in marijuana and cocaine is large.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing
The country's cultivated area, 5.5 million ha, is very
unevenly distributed. A land reform is being prepared but
has not yet been implemented. In 2016, agriculture accounted
for 7 per cent of GDP, which can be compared with 38 per
cent in 1970 and just over 50 per cent in 1960. Just over 15
per cent of the country's employment is found in
Coffee was until 2007 the most economically important
crop, but was then passed by bananas. Colombia's share of
world coffee production amounts to 9 percent, making it the
world's third largest producer of coffee, after Brazil and
Vietnam. Coffee is grown in many places, but mainly in a
belt comprising the departments of Antioquia, Caldas, Tolima
and Valle del Cauca. Bananas are grown mainly in the Urabá
region, and today Colombia is one of the world's ten largest
Other important export crops are sugar, cotton, tobacco
and cut flowers. Sugar is grown especially in Valle del
Cauca. The most important of the crops is rice, potatoes,
maize, wheat and barley. Rice is grown in Tolima and in the
plains to the east, Llanos Orientes. About half of
Colombia's area is wooded. In recent years, the logging of
timber has increased dramatically. Livestock management is
primarily a local concern, but the livestock market in
Medellín is one of America's largest. They are working on a
return of deforested, eroded soil with infertile red soil of
mainly iron and aluminum oxides to a productive pasture with
a combination of selected grass and legumes.
Colombia is the world's largest producer of cocaine, and
large areas of the rainforest are used for illegal
cultivation of coca plants.
Colombia has a large fishing potential, yet largely
untapped. The cultivation of shrimp has increased strongly
in recent times.
Minerals and energy
Colombia has large mineral resources. Gold is mined
mainly in Antioquia but also in Cauca, Caldas, Tolima,
Nariño and Chocó. Large gold deposits were found in 1987 in
the Guainí region in the eastern part of the country. Other
minerals include silver, copper, lead, mercury, emeralds (60
percent of world production), manganese nickel and platinum.
Emeralds are mainly extracted in Muzo and Chivor.
Oil extraction has long been a problematic business, not
least because the government provided insufficient
incentives for exploration and extraction to the oil
industry, and during the 1980s it accounted for no more than
1 per cent of GDP. Significant oil deposits were made in
1986 in Arauca in the northern part of the country and
southeast thereof, in Vichada. Joint venture projects with
foreign companies enabled Colombia to produce not only for
its own consumption but also for export. During the 1990s,
oil has become the country's most important export
Colombia has Latin America's largest known coal reserves.
The production of natural gas has increased and now exceeds
its own need. The Guajira field was put into operation in
1977, and in 1994 a large gas field was discovered at
Industry, including the construction industry, employs
just under 15 percent of the workforce. The manufacturing
industry contributed significantly to Colombia's economic
boom in the 1970s, but experienced a downturn during the
difficult years of the early 1980s. It was severely affected
by foreign trade liberalization and the reduction of import
duties in the early 1990s, but has recovered to some extent.
The main industries in the manufacturing industry are the
food industry, the chemical industry and the manufacture of
transport equipment and metal products. The heavy industry
has grown in importance in recent years, thanks in large
part to the increased oil and coal production. The textile
industry dates back to the childhood of Colombian
industrialism in the early 1900s. This sector has been hit
particularly hard but also unevenly by the liberalization;
some industries, such as the leather industry, have
increased their exports. The construction industry grew
rapidly in the late 1980s but has since stagnated.
The restructuring of Colombia's economy during the 1990s
facilitated foreign investment, especially in the automotive
Colombia's traditional dependence on coffee for its
export earnings has been replaced by greater versatility. In
the early 1990s, oil took over as Colombia's most important
export commodity. Despite broader exports, the country is
still sensitive to fluctuations in world market prices for
the most important export goods: oil, coal and coffee.
Non-traditional export goods include cut flowers and orange
juice. Colombia is a member of the Andean Community. The
most important trading partners on the export side are the
USA, Panama and China and on the import side USA, China and
Colombia is visited annually by about 1 million visitors.
The poor security situation in the country has made it
difficult to attract tourists. In practice, this means that
many visits are confined to the capital Bogotá. This is
regrettable, as several of the other major cities have much
to offer. Cartagena has a well-preserved city center from
the 16th and 16th centuries, situated on what is practically
an island off the Caribbean coast. Cali is a beautiful city
with fine colonial buildings.
The country's capital Bogotá has a colonial center with
well-preserved stately palaces and lavishly decorated
churches without the nature of cultural reserves. The main
attraction is the Museo del Oro, which holds pre-Columbian
gold treasures with no equivalent in the world. From Mount
Montserrat you have nice views of the city; at its foot is
Simón Bolívar's atmospheric "mansion", today a museum.
The country's outstanding national parks and ancient
sites are other potential sights.