Last updated on September 1st, 2021 at 11:47 am
My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!
Demographics about Colombia
In 2018, the DANE (National Administrative Authority for Statistics) conducted a census that obtained the following data on Colombia.
The DANE found 48,258,494 people in the census in Colombia, who are distributed as follows:
Women: They make up 51.2% (24,685,207) of the total population.
Men: 48.8% (23,573,287) of the total population.
During this period it was found that for every 100 women there were 95.5 men.
This year (2021) the Colombian population is estimated to be 51,049,498 people. DANE estimates that Colombia will reach its peak population of 63,197,004 in 2064.
Population distribution by age
At the 2018 census, the 48,258,494 Colombians were distributed as follows:
People aged 0-14: 22.6 percent of the total population.
People aged 15 to 64: 68.2 percent of the total population.
People over 65 years of age: 9.1 percent of the total population.
Dwelling and households
While these two concepts sound similar, they are different. DANE defines this as follows.
For DANE, a dwelling is “a structurally separate and independent place that is occupied or is intended to be inhabited by a family or a group of family members who live together or not, or by a person living alone”.
They make it clear that a dwelling can be “a house, apartment, a room, group of rooms, hut, cave or other shelters that is or can be used as an accommodation”.
For the year 2018, a number of 13,480,729 dwellings was determined, which is a significant increase compared to the 10,390,207 recorded in the 2005 census.
DANE defines households as “a person or a group of people who live in all or part of the home and who have come together to sleep and/or eat together”.
In 2018 it was found that there were 14,243,223 households, which is also an increase compared to 2005 when there were 10,570,899 households. The 14,243,223 households were distributed as follows:
1-person households: 18.5% of the total number of households in the country.
2-person households: 21.7% of the total number of households in the country.
3-person households: 23.2% of the total number of households in the country.
4 -person households: 19.5% of the total number of households in the country.
Households of 5 people or more: 16.8% of the total number of households in the country.
Access to basic utilities
An important factor in a country’s development is whether the majority of people have access to certain public services such as electricity, water, sewerage, natural gas, garbage disposal, and internet access.
The percentage of people who had access to these services for 2018 was as follows:
Natural gas: 66.8%
Garbage collection: 81.6%
Where do the Colombians live?
The 2018 census found that the population of Colombia is distributed as follows:
- Cabecera municipal (urban areas): 77.1%
- City centers and rural areas: 9%
There are different types of poverty and this is what nations are trying to measure. This is defined as multidimensional poverty that takes into account factors such as access to good health care, the quality of housing, the type of employment a person has, etc.
For 2019, the DANE results indicated that at least 17.5% of the national population was affected by some form of multidimensional poverty.
The situation is even worse in rural areas, where 34.5% of the people show some degree of multidimensional poverty. The situation is better in urban areas, where 12.3% of the population suffered some form of multidimensional poverty.
Colombia’s most populous cities
According to the 2018 DANE census, the 5 most populous cities are Colombia
Bogotá: 7,412,566 inhabitants.
Medellín (Antioquia): 2,427,129 inhabitants.
Cali (Valle del Cauca): 2,227,642 inhabitants.
Barranquilla (Atlántico): 1,206,319 inhabitants.
Cartagena (Bolivar): 973,045 inhabitants.
I recommend reading my blog about the biggest cities in Colombia.
Minorities and ethnic groups
Colombia is characterized by its multiculturalism, with a large number of ethnic groups distributed as follows:
There are 102 indigenous communities in Colombia. These people are descendants of the Amerindians who originally inhabited the American continent. In 2018 there were 1,905,617 indigenous people in Colombia, which is 4.4% of the population.
Black or Afro-Colombian population
This is the name given to the group of people who are directly descended from the black Africans who immigrated during the Spanish conquest. In 2018 there were 2,950,072 Afro-Colombians in Colombia, which is 6.7% of the population.
This is the native population that still lives on the islands of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina. These people are the product of the racial mix between indigenous people, Spaniards, French, English, Dutch, and Africans. In 2018 there were 25,515 Raizales in Colombia, which is 0.05% of the population.
This is the name given to the inhabitants of the municipality of San Basilio de Palenque in the department of Bolívar. This place was the first free city during the American colonial era. Slaves who managed to escape arrived here. The Palenquero language is spoken in this area. In 2018 there were 6,637 people identified as part of the Palenquero people in Colombia, which is 0.1% of the population.
Also known as gypsies, these people are nomads and have their own language called Romanes. They are descendants of India. Their arrival in Colombia and America dates back to the time of the Spanish conquest (15th century), it is said that some members of this community were on board the ship of Christopher Columbus (who is considered to be the discoverer of America). From that moment on, their descendants began to arrive in different territories of the continent.
Currently, Romas can be found in various departments such as Bogotá, Santander, Bolívar, Valle del Cauca and the Atlantic. In 2018 there were 2,649 people identified as part of the Roma people in Colombia, which is 0.006% of the population.
Colombia is a predominantly Catholic country. According to the text “Characteristics and attitudes of Colombians according to their religion”, the people in this country belonged to these religions in 2016:
Catholic religion: 73.7%.
Other religions: 9.1%.
Evangelic religion: 6.9%
Protestant religion: 2.9%
According to the World Bank, there was a birth rate of 14.65 births per 1000 people in Colombia in 2019.
In 2020, DANE recorded 619,504 births (51.3% male and 48.7% female). A curious fact is that due to the exodus of Venezuelan migrants coming to Colombia because of the political problems in that country, 1 in 10 registered births in the country has a Venezuelan mother.
According to the World Bank, the death rate in Colombia in 2019 indicated that 5.6 people died for every 1,000 people. In 2020, 296,800 deaths were recorded.
The education system in Colombia is divided as follows:
- Pre-school education
- Basic education: divided into primary (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade) and secondary (6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade).
- Secondary education (tenth and eleventh grades)
- Higher education (undergraduate and postgraduate).
Here is some data on Colombian education.
According to the last census carried out by DANE, in 2018 the majority of the Colombian population stated that they can read and write. These data are divided into the following age groups:
- 0 to 9 years old: 40.60% of these people stated that they can read and write.
- 10 to 19 years old: 97.30% of these people stated that they can read and write.
- 20 to 29 years old: 96.57% of these people stated that they can read and write.
- 30 to 39 years old: 95.96% of these people stated they can read and write.
- 40 to 49 years old: 94.50% of these people stated that they can read and write.
- 50 to 59 years old: 92.47% of these people stated that they can read and write.
- 60 to 69 years old: 88.71% of these people stated that they can read and write.
- 70 to 79 years old: 82.35% of these people stated that they can read and write.
- 80 to 89 years old: 74.97% of these people stated that they can read and write.
- 90 to 99 years old: 70.51% of these people stated that they can read and write.
- 100 years and over: 73.50% of these people stated that they can read and write.
Formal education (pre-school to secondary education)
According to the latest data from DANE, there were more than 9 million enrollments in formal education in 2019. These are divided as follows:
- Preschool education: 995,969 children were enrolled in this modality.
- Primary education: 4,182,201 children were enrolled in this modality.
- Basic secondary education: 3,134,890 children were enrolled in this modality.
- CLEI (Ciclos Lectivos Especiales Integrados): These focus on specific courses for teenagers and adults. This modality recorded 646,389 registrations.
According to the National Higher Education Information System (Snies), 843,767 new students were enrolled in 2018.
Interestingly enough, university enrollments have decreased in recent years.
Year 2016: 952,988
Year 2017: 912.468
Year 2018: 843.767
The decline in enrollments has no specific cause, but economic difficulties, the increase in annual enrollments and, above all, the drop-out rate are the causes that influence this phenomenon.
As mentioned in El Tiempo newspaper, it is estimated that by 2020 45% of young people who start a degree will not complete it. This is the main cause of the decline in enrollments.
According to the latest report by the Ministry of National Education entitled “Destination of quality higher education” (2012), it is mentioned that there were 81 universities in the country this year. At this point, 60% of these facilities were private and 40% public.
In addition to universities, there are other colleges in Colombia that offer other degrees:
- Technologists: The Ministry of National Education defines this as a degree “related to technological programs”.
- Technicians: Similar to a university program, they focus on a specific area but last less long and focus more on the practice of a profession.
In 2012, the Ministry of National Education found that there were 286 higher education institutions, of which 81 were universities.
When it comes to health, there are some interesting statistics:
The DANE defines life expectancy as “the average number of years a person would live provided existing mortality trends were maintained over a period of time”.
In 2021, life expectancy for men is 73.32 years. Women live to be around 79.75 years old, an average of 6 years longer than men. According to DANE, life expectancy will increase to 76.39 years for men and 82.2 years for women by 2050.
Life expectancy development in Colombia
Thanks to medical advances and the improvement of the quality of life in various nations, life expectancy as a global phenomenon has increased. Colombia has been increasing steadily, life expectancy has increased steadily over the past 30 years. In 1990 Colombians (men and women) lived an average of 69.8 years, in 2019 it was 77.2 years.
The following table shows the development of life expectancy in Colombia over the past 30 years.
Life expectancy development in Colombia (1990-2019)
Use of psychoactive substances
Psychoactive substances are defined by the PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) as “natural or synthetic compounds that act on the nervous system and cause changes in the functions that regulate thoughts, feelings and behavior”.
Contrary to popular belief, the use of psychoactive substances, or more precisely drugs, is not that widespread in Colombia.
In 2019, DANE conducted the National Survey on Psychoactive Substance Use (ENCSPA), which looked at 169,344 people between the ages of 12 and 65 to identify the most commonly used substances:
- Alcohol: 84% of the respondents stated that they had consumed this substance.
- Tobacco (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, etc.): 33.3% of the respondents stated that they had consumed this substance.
- Marijuana: 8.3% of respondents said they had used this substance.
- E-cigarettes: 5% of respondents said they use this substance.
- Cocaine: 2.1% of the respondents stated that they used this substance.
- Sedatives: 1.8% of the respondents said they used this substance.
- Inhalants: 1.6% of the respondents stated that they use this substance.
- Ecstasy: 0.7% of the respondents stated that they had used this substance.
- Basuco: 0.5% of the respondents stated that they had used this substance.
- Heroin: 0.1% of the respondents stated that they had consumed this substance.
Death from psychoactive substances
Another fact that proves that the use of psychoactive substances is not as widespread in Colombia is that deaths from overdose of these substances are low.
Deaths from Overdose from Psychoactive Substances in Colombia, 2010-2017:
- 2010: 0.64 deaths per 100,000 population.
- 2011: 0.63 deaths per 100,000 population
- 2012: 0.63 deaths per 100,000 population
- 2013: 0.62 deaths per 100,000 population
- 2014: 0.62 deaths per 100,000 population
- 2015: 0.63 deaths per 100,000 population
- 2016: 0.65 deaths per 100,000 population
- 2017: 0.67 deaths per 100,000 population
Remarks: Death from psychoactive substances includes overdoses of alcohol or any drug, such as Cocaine, Marijuana, etc.
Thanks to the above data, in the period (2010-2017), Colombia was the country in Latin America that recorded fewer deaths from this cause, as we can see in the Ourworldindata timeline below.
Obesity and malnutrition
In Colombia, the National Nutrition Survey (ENSIN) is carried out from time to time. The last one took place in 2015 and determined the extent of obesity and malnutrition in different age groups. The results were:
Children aged 5-12 years (malnutrition).
- 7 out of 100 children were chronically malnourished.
- The problem is even more acute in the country’s poorest households, with 11 out of 100 children reported to be chronically malnourished.
- The situation is even worse for the indigenous communities: 30 out of 100 children are chronically malnourished.
Children between 5 and 12 years of age (obesity)
- 24.4% of the children were overweight.
Adolescents aged 13 to 17 (malnutrition)
- 1 in 10 teenagers in the country had chronic malnutrition.
- 36.5% of indigenous adolescents were chronically malnourished.
Adolescents aged 13 to 17 years (obesity)
- 17.9% of the adolescents were overweight.
Adults between 18 and 64 years of age
- 1 in 3 adults was overweight.
- 1 in 5 adults was obese.
- 56.4% of the population were overweight in some way.
Tourism in Colombia has grown exponentially in recent years. For a long time, this country was not a tourist attraction because the violence in Colombia caused fear among many potential visitors.
If we go back to the beginning of the 20th century, we can see that Colombia was one of the Latin American countries that received the least tourism (see map below). For example, in 2001 this nation received about 616,000 tourists, while Brazil numbered more than 4 million.
The number of tourists in Latin America can be found in the timeline of Ourworldindata.
The situation in this sector has improved over the past few decades. Decreasing violence and better strategies have attracted large numbers of tourists. According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism (CITUR), the country has seen steady growth in tourism since 2012. In 2019, Colombia received 2,814,025 foreign tourists as we can see in the table below.
As you all know, COVID-19 has hit the tourism sector very hard worldwide, which is why only 791,673 tourists were registered in 2020.
Most visited departments in Colombia
Since 2020 and 2021 are difficult and exceptional years for tourism, we show the departments most visited by foreigners in 2019.
According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, the most visited departments in 2019 were:
- Bogotá: with 1,259,414 tourists.
- Bolívar: with 530,178 tourists
- Antioquia: with 438,530 tourists
- Valle del Cauca: with 198,849 tourists
- San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina Islands: with 98,603 tourists
Reasons for foreigners to travel to Colombia
According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, the main reasons for traveling to Colombia in 2019 were:
- Education: 2.12% of tourists traveled to the country for this reason.
- Work: 14.24% of tourists traveled to the country for this reason.
- Other reasons: 6.27% of tourists came to the country for this reason
- Religious reasons: 0.05% of tourists came to the country for this reason.
- Health reasons: 0.76% of tourists came to the country for this reason.
- Transit (staying in the country for a day to catch another flight): 4.03% of tourists traveled to the country for this reason.
- Vacation: 72.38% of tourists came to the country for this reason.
- Visiting family or friends: 0.15% of tourists traveled to the country for this reason.
This type of crime has plagued Colombia for years. To use a year as a benchmark, in 1996 74.8 people per 100,000 people were recorded as homicides, the worst rate of any country in the region.
Despite the high homicide rates, Colombia has shown a positive trend in recent years, as can be seen in the graph below, which shows how homicides have decreased every year since 2002 (with the exception of 2011 and 2012 when there was a slight increase in this type of crime).
The latest data on OurWorldinData shows that 29.7 people died for every 100,000 inhabitants in 2017. This is still a fairly high rate, but nothing compared to previous years.
Colombia is still lagging considerably behind when it comes to implementing and observing human rights.
OurWorldinData shows a timeline on which it is possible to analyze the respect and implementation of human rights in the different countries, with the score ranging from -3.8 (the worst score in the region) to 5.4 (the best).
In Colombia it is obvious that from 1997 to 2004 we had the worst value in all of Latin America:
2003: – 2.56
In Colombia there was a positive development from 2004 to 2017 (last date with data). In 2017, the nation scored -0.89, a value that is still low but shows an evolution compared to previous years, such as in 2002 when the country scored – 2.54.
Drug related offenses
Drug trafficking is also one of the evils afflicting Colombia. Sadly, this is the land of Pablo Escobar, the world’s most powerful drug trafficker, and the most feared drug cartels like the Medellín and Cali cartels.
According to Semana magazine, the following crimes were committed during the drug trafficking boom (1980s and 1990s):
- 623 attacks in which 402 civilians were killed and 1,702 wounded.
- 550 police officers killed.
- 100 bombs that are placed in supermarkets, banks, schools, etc.
- More than 90 bombs in different parts of the country.
- A car bomb on the premises of the DAS (it was a state secret service) resulted in 700 injuries and 70 deaths.
- Bomb in an Avianca machine. 111 people died.
Between 1989 and 1993 alone, 15,000 people died. If you are interested in how the whole situation of violence in the country has changed in recent years, I invite you to read my blog about myths of Colombia.
Colombia is considered the country with the second largest biodiversity on the planet (only behind Brazil). Some interesting facts are:
According to SiB Colombia, there were around 58,312 animal species in the country in 2020.
So far it is not possible to determine exactly how many species there are in this country. The SiB Colombia website mentions that “one of these approximations, carried out by Arbeláez-Cortés (2013), estimates that there could be between 200,000 and 900,000 species in Colombia”.
As we can see in the graphic below, nine new species were discovered in Colombia every year during the 2007-2015 period, which shows the country’s incredible biodiversity.
There are currently 1,999 bird species in Colombia (recorded). This means that 20% of all bird species in the world are found in Colombia. To date, 82 endemic species (only found in this area) have been discovered. There are also an estimated 158 migratory birds.
According to SiB Colombia for 2021, there are 528 species of mammals in Colombia, including 58 endemic species.
According to SiB Colombia, there will be 4013 recorded fish species in Colombia in 2021. 109 of these species are threatened with extinction to some extent.
According to SiB Colombia for 2021, there are 11,764 insect species in Colombia. We are the country with the second largest diversity of butterflies in the world, with 4059 species registered.
To learn more about it, check out my blog on Endemic Animals in Colombia.
We are the country with the second largest number of plants in the world. According to SiB Colombia, we will have 26,232 registered plant species in 2021, of which 6,206 are endemic. We are the country with the most orchids in the world with around 3179 species.
Colombia is characterized by the fact that there are several climatic zones that are distributed over the various areas of the national territory. This is due to the so-called thermal floors, in which the temperature varies depending on the altitude.
These are the thermal soils present in Colombia and the percentage of the territory in which they are located:
Warm floor (+25 °C)
It is characterized by an altitude of 0 to 1000 meters above sea level. The warm floor is the most common in the country and covers 80% of the country’s area.
Tempered floor (24 – 18 °C)
This thermal soil covers areas with an altitude of 1000 to 2000 m above sea level and is found on 10% of the national territory.
Cold floor (18 – 12 °C)
The cold ground is characterized by an altitude of 2000 to 3000 meters above sea level. It occurs on 7.9% of the country’s area.
Paramo floor (12 – 0 °C)
The paramo soil is located in the areas with an altitude of 3000 to 4000 m above sea level. It covers 2% of the national territory.
Glacier floor (-0 °C)
The last thermal floor is the glacier floor and is located in areas with an altitude of more than 4000 m above sea level. This thermal soil is found on 0.1% of the national territory, in certain places such as the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
If you want to know more about it, you can read my guide on Colombia’s climate for travelers.
Some of Colombia’s export products are:
Typically more than 800,000 barrels of oil have been produced per day for the past decade. In 2020, the worst average in recent years was recorded at 781,300 barrels per day.
One of Colombia’s most important export goods is coal. According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, this fuel accounted for 55.9% of total sales in Colombia in 2019 (from January to November).
Colombia normally produces more than 100 million tons. 115 million tons were produced in 2018 and 105 million tons in 2019.
Coffee is one of Colombia’s flagship products. According to the coffee association, 13.9 million bags of coffee were produced in 2020. As for export, 12.5 million bags of coffee were shipped overseas in 2020, which means that the majority of the coffee produced is for export.
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