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Introduction: Colombia was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others are Ecuador and Venezuela). A four-decade long conflict between government forces and anti-government insurgent groups, principally the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) heavily funded by the drug trade, escalated during the 1990s. The insurgents lack the military or popular support necessary to overthrow the government, and violence has been decreasing since about 2002. However, insurgents continue attacks against civilians and large areas of the countryside are under guerrilla influence or are contested by security...

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Narcotics: Colombia is major global supplier of cocaine, marijuana and heroin. The illicit narcotics trade is estimated to be worth around 5-10 per cent of GDP. The activities of the drug cartels continue to have a negative impact on security, the formal economy and the environment. Cartels challenge Government control seeking to secure significant areas for cultivation and trafficking. The uncontrolled use of fragile tropical and jungle ecosystems to grow coca has caused considerable environmental harm, as has the indiscriminate use of chemicals and ...

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History, Government and Political Conditions: During the pre-Columbian period, the area now known as Colombia was inhabited by indigenous societies ranging from hunters and nomadic farmers to the highly structured economy of the Chibchas, who are considered to have been one of the most developed indigenous groups in South America.

Santa Marta, the first permanent Spanish settlement, was founded in 1525. The city of Santa ...

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International Relations: Relations with Neighbours

Colombia's relations with other countries in Latin America are generally good. Relations with Venezuela and Ecuador, strained in the last years of Uribe’s Presidency, have recovered thanks to the more conciliatory tone taken by President Santos. Santos’s push for improved neighbourly relations has been driven not only by the recognition that many of Colombia’s internal problems spill over its borders, but also by his desire to position Colombia as a regional leader. Other significant steps towards this goal have seen a Colombian, Maria Emma Mejia, becoming Secretary General of UNASUR, and, ...

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In the late 1980s, Colombia remained a nation of paradoxes. The bearer of one of the strongest democratic traditions in Latin America, it was also subject to recurrent bouts of political violence and terrorism. A highly urbanized and industrialized country, its social structure continued to be influenced by an elite that traced its lineage to an earlier, more agrarian period. Despite a dynamic ...

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Area Handbook Series
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