MDM ColombiaWorking document June 2011
Colombia is the third most populous country in Latin America, with 43.5 million inhabitants (in 2009).It has a very diverse cultural heritage that includes Spanish colonists, Africans brought as slaves, andthe native indigenous population. The Colombian territory was a Spanish colony for over threecenturies, and gained its independence in 1810. Colombia is a constitutional republic made up of 32departments and a capital district.For many years, the liberal and conservative parties dominated the national government and were theonly two political forces accepted by the constitution.
However, since the late 1970s they have lost popularity and several independent parties have appeared. Traditional parties currently have a majorityin Congress, but the recently elected president (Juan Manuel Santos, 2010–2014) represents the SocialParty of National Unity (
Partido de la U
), a recently formed coalition.Although Colombia is one of the most resilient democracies of Latin America, with a history of almostuninterrupted elections,
it has struggled for decades to maintain democratic values in the midst of along-lasting internal armed conflict that deeply harms the country in political, social, and economicterms. The conflict between the guerrillas, the paramilitary, and government forces over land controlhas raised the level of violence and the illegal drug trade has affected the national economy incorrosive ways.With GDP increasing over the past few years and an income per head of US$ 4,930 in 2009,
Colombia is classified by the World Bank as an upper-middle income country. It is also considered thefourth-largest economy in Latin America. However, over 46 percent
of the total population lives below the poverty line, and the country has the second-largest
internal displaced population in LatinAmerica, with an estimate of between 3.3 million and 4.9 million people
displaced by the internalarmed conflict.The world economic crisis has hit the country in a very modest way. Since 2008, the inflation rate hasfallen from 7.67 percent to 2.31 percent in 2010. GDP per head has also shown a positive trend over the past years and the unemployment rate has remained stable (see Table 1).
The results of a plebiscite held in 1957 established the liberal and conservative parties as the only political parties. For thefollowing 16 years they alternated in the presidency, with regular elections every four years.
Colombia had uninterrupted elections from 1830 to 1953, when General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla led a coup d’état and became president. However, he stayed in power for only three years, as he was ousted. In 1958 elections were called again.Since then, presidential elections have been held every four years.
World Bank Data, GNI per head, Atlas Method, 2009,at http://bit.ly/fBZCNz(accessed 1 December 2010).
CIA World Factbook
, 2008,at http://bit.ly/1J7ZTF(accessed 1 December 2010).
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and Norwegian Refugee Council,
Building momentum for land restoration
, Geneva, November 2010, p. 7.
There is a debate regarding the actual size of this population. The lowest figure comes from the government’s Registry of Displaced People (
Registro Único de Población Desplazada
, RUPD) and the highest is provided by the Consulting Officefor Human Rights and Displacement (
Consultoría para los Derechos Humanos y el Desplazamiento
, CODHES), a civilsociety organization that puts together a variety of sources, including under-registry people and intra-urban displacement.
National Statistics Department (
Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística,
DANE), [publication date?], athttp://bit.ly/h0fHON(accessed 5 December 2010); DANE and CNTV, “
Anuario Estadístico de la Televisión en Colombia
”(Statistical Yearbook for Television in Colombia), 2009, pp. 11, athttp://bit.ly/eVVTnd(accessed 5 December 2010)(hereafter DANE and CNTV, “