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Colombia: Geopolitical Interests
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Background and Traditions of the Armed Forces > Geopolitical Interests > Isla de San Andrés and Isla de Providencia


Although by the 1980s Colombia had not developed a distinctive geopolitical doctrine, such concerns did exercise some influence in the formation of the country's foreign and military policies. Colombia shares land borders with five countries -- Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador. The country also has lengthy coastlines on the Pacific Ocean and in the Caribbean Sea. United States military planners also have considered Colombia to be important because of the latter's proximity to the Panama Canal, a classic geopolitical choke point.

In the late 1980s, Colombia's two dominant geopolitical concerns centered on its claims to sovereignty over the San Andrés and the Providencia archipelago, islands lying off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, and over maritime territory lying off the Guajira Peninsula and in the Golfo de Venezuela. Both of these disputes were caused by vaguely defined territorial limits dating from the colonial epoch. In 1988 the Nicaraguan government maintained its claim to the islands but accepted Colombia's de facto occupation of the island chain. Colombia's conflicting claim with neighboring Venezuela, in contrast, had on several occasions brought the countries to the brink of war. The possibility that the Colombian maritime claims included seabed oil deposits helped maintain the dispute. These two areas of conflicting territorial claims continued to reflect the national will to maintain control over, if not expand, Colombia's national territory.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Colombia was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Colombia Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 150 of 188


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