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Area: 1.14 million sq km
Population: 45.7 million
Languages: Spanish
Religions: Christian
GNI per capita: US$4,660
Currency: 1 Colombian peso = 100 centavos
Colombia’s history has been marred by political and social unrest. The country won independence from Spain after a revolution in 1810. It experienced civil war and lost control of Panama at the beginning of the 20th century. Lively debate continues to this day between the conservative and liberal factions of the Colombian government.
The weather in Colombia varies from hot and wet along the coast and in the valleys to quite cold at higher elevations. During the rainy season, overflowing rivers and poor sanitation combine to spread diseases like malaria and yellow fever.
Colombia is rich in natural resources and beauty. In addition to being the leading producer of emeralds, it also is home to the world’s largest platinum deposits. Many people consider Colombian coffee to be the best in the world. Colombians farm about 150,000 coffee plantations, mostly on the mountain slopes between 2,900 and 5,800 feet above sea level. They export the rich beans to countries all across the globe.
Although primary education is free, educational facilities are limited. About 30 percent of all school-age children do not attend school because of a shortage of educational facilities. Families may frequently move to find seasonal work or better opportunities, making it difficult for children to stay in school.