Colombia Economy and Society

Colombia Economy

Economic development

Colombia’s economy is the fourth in Latin America. It has experienced an average annual growth of 5.5% since 2002. In 2007, 20.5 million Colombians served as a labor force in the economy, with an average income of US $ 6,700, producing US $ 319,500 million for the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, inequality in the distribution of wealth keeps 49.2% of Colombians living below the poverty line, to which is added the deficient pension system, unemployment (11.2% in 2007) and underemployment.

The Colombian business sector is a member of the National Association of Industrialists (ANDI), which tries to maintain groups of companies from the same economic sector so that they can act in common agreement for development. The national currency is the Colombian Peso.

In 2007, agriculture in Colombia contributed 11.5% to the national GDP and 22.7% of the workforce was dedicated to agriculture, livestock and fishing. However, Colombia’s main export product is oil, whose reserves estimated at 1,506 million barrels are developed by Ecopetrol (14%) and public limited companies.

Barrancabermeja is the first center of the oil industry in this country that in 2006 produced 550,000 barrels of oil per day and supplies 265,400 barrels per day for the country’s consumption, as well as through the refinery installed in its metropolitan area, it serves between the 40 and 60% of the demand for derivatives of this important resource.

Other important exploitations are those of coal and gold, but also that of emeralds whose production leads the world. Likewise, the textile, food and automotive industries stand out, as well as the production of petrochemicals, biofuels, steel and metals.

Colombia’s exports in 2007 amounted to US $ 30,580 million, most of which were sent to Venezuela, Ecuador and 35% to the United States, its main trading partner.

On the other hand, imports reached a figure of US $ 31,170 million, coming mainly from the United States, Brazil, Mexico, China, Venezuela and Japan.

In 2006, the service sector represented 52.5% of Colombia’s GDP, while 58.5% of 20 million Colombians were part of the labor force in this sector.

As for tourism in Colombia, according to the MCIT, that year about two million people entered the country, most of them from the Americas and Europe. Internal tourism, for its part, had an increase of 7.44% compared to 2005.

Social development


The indigenous cultures settled in the country at the arrival of the Spaniards, the European culture (from Spain) and the African cultures imported during the colony are the basis of the Colombian culture, which also shares fundamental features with other Hispanic American cultures in manifestations such as the religion, music, dances, parties, among others.

Culturally, Colombia is a country of regions in which heterogeneity is due to various factors such as geographic isolation and difficult access between the different areas of the country.

The most important subregions or cultural groups are the “cachacos” (located in the Cundiboyacense highlands), the “paisas” (settled in Antioquia, the Eje Cafetero), the “llaneros” (residents of the Eastern Plains), the “vallunos” (Valle del Cauca area) and the “Costeños” (located on the Caribbean Coast), among others, whose customs vary according to their influences and ancestry.


During the so-called boom of Latin American literature, successful writers emerged, led by the Nobel Prize for Literature Gabriel García Márquez and his magnificent work One Hundred Years of Solitude, Eduardo Caballero Calderón, Manuel Mejía Vallejo and Álvaro Mutis, the only Colombian awarded the Cervantes and Príncipe de Asturias.

Other prominent contemporary authors are William Ospina and Germán Castro Caicedo, the writer who sells the largest number of books in Colombia after García Márquez.


According to Educationvv, the largest ethnic group in Colombia is the mestizo, which makes up 58% of the total population. The second group is that of whites with 20%, followed by the Afro-Colombian who with 10.6% represents the third largest black population in America, after the United States and Brazil. Indigenous people make up 3.4% of the national population and Gypsies 0.001%. The proportions of the different indigenous ethnic groups vary widely depending on the region.

The Kogi, Sanha, Wayúu, Kankuama, Chimilas and Ikas or Arhuacos ethnic groups are found in the Colombian Caribbean region. The Kuna, Embera, Waunama and Kwaiker groups are found in the Colombian Pacific region.

In the Amazon region there are the Tikunas, Huitotos, Coconucos, Andokes, Muinanes, Salibas, Yakunas, Cubeos, Curripacos and Tucanos. In the Andean region there are the Yukos, Baríes, U’was, Guambianos, Paeces, Sibundoy and Muiscas. In turn, in the Orinoquía region are the tunebos, tiniguas, guayaberos, achaguas, piapocos, sálibas, guahibos, piaroas, betoyes, yaruros and puinaves.

The ethnic diversity in Colombia is the result of the mixture of Amerindians, Spanish settlers and Afro-descendants. Among immigrants, the largest groups are those from the Arab world, Spain, Italy, Germany, Costa Rica and China, as well as Jews and Gypsies.

At the end of the 19th century, Barranquilla received a large number of European immigrants (Germans, French, Italians), Arabs from the Middle East (Lebanon and Syria), Americans, Japanese, Cubans and Chinese, among others, who were dispersed throughout the national geography.

In Maicao, Guajira, there is the largest Arab and Muslim community in Colombia; descendants of Arab immigrants also have a strong presence in the department of Córdoba, Barranquilla, Valledupar, Bogotá and Valle del Cauca. Immigrants from other Latin American countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Peru and the Antilles, among others, also have a presence, although minimal in Colombia.

Colombia Economy