Colombia's population is the third largest in South America, with 39 million people. More than two-thirds of the population live in the cities, with the remainder residing in rural areas.
Most Colombians have a mixture of Spanish, Indian, and African ethnic heritage, from groups which have coexisted over four centuries.
Colombia's economy has been characterized by continuing modernization and internationalization. Colombia has shown strong sustainable growth by strengthening its physical and social infrastructures through investment programs geared toward education, technology and research and development.
Despite a severe armed conflict, which has occurred through five decades and displaced over two million Colombians, the economy has continued to remain strong due to government budgeting, reduction in public debt, and efforts to increase exports.
The government is widely considered pro-business. It continues to take steps to reduce high unemployment and to lower inflation and interest rates.
Colombia is a member of the Andean Pact and plays an active role in other regional and international organizations.
Colombia is the second oldest democracy in South America. The Senate, composed of 102 members, is elected by popular vote, as is the 166-member Chamber of Representatives. The country is divided into 32 departments, in addition to the Capital District of Bogota.
Foreign direct investment in the country has increased, due to the opening of the economy and the negotiation of various trade agreements, but the lack of public security is a serious concern for investors.
The guerrillas have little popular support, but are well-armed with weapons funded by the drug trade, extortion, and ransom money from kidnappings, which present security problems for individuals and for corporations. Indeed, lack of security and threat of kidnappings has caused some upper and middle-class Colombians to seek safety in other countries.