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Background: 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, but insurgents continue attacks against civilians and large areas of the countryside are under guerrilla influence or are contested by security forces. More than 31,000 former paramilitaries had demobilized by the end of 2006 and the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) as a formal organization had ceased to function. In the wake of the paramilitary demobilization, emerging criminal groups arose, whose members include some former paramilitaries. The Colombian Government has stepped up efforts to reassert government control throughout the country, and now has a presence in every one of its administrative departments. However, neighboring countries worry about the violence spilling over their borders. In January 2011, Colombia assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term.
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate): $283.1 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 4.4% (2010 est.); 0.8% (2009 est.); 2.7% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $9,800 (2010 est.); $9,500 (2009 est.); $9,500 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 9.3%; industry: 38%; services: 52.7% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 45.5% (2009);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 0.8%; highest 10%: 45% (2008);
Labor force: 21.27 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 18%; industry: 13%; services: 68% (2010 est.);
Unemployment rate: 11.8% (2010 est.); 12% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $74.2 billion; expenditures: $83.9 billion (2011 est.);
Industries: textiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, cement; gold, coal, emeralds;
Industrial production growth rate: 5.5% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 50.58 billion kWh (2007);
Electricity - consumption: 38.59 billion kWh (2007);
Electricity - exports: 876.7 million kWh (2007);
Electricity - imports: 39.4 million kWh (2007);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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(Weekly supplement to El Tiempo), Bogotá
(Weekly political-cultural magazine), Bogot
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After 50 years of war, Colombia may finally be waking from its nightmare, but not everyone is pleased with negotiations between President Santos and the FARC.
The FARC rebels and the Colombian government took another important step toward ending armed conflict and finding alternatives to drug policy.
El Quimbo hydropower dam project will create renewable energy for Colombia, but it will flood the region and displace about 3,000 people.
Latin American leaders have been pressuring Washington to rethink the drug war policies that have cost untold lives and money in a losing battle.