Colombia Economy and Culture

Colombia’s economy

Colombia’s economy has seen high growth. It is made easy for foreign companies to invest in the country. Large companies such as Siemens, Microsoft, Renault, Bayer and BASF have their base in Colombia for their South American trade. Colombia has signed free trade agreements with several countries.

Coal, petroleum, nickel and emeralds

The economy relies heavily on coal and oil. Colombia is the world’s ninth largest hard coal producer and Latin America’s fourth largest oil producer (the country is in 20th place worldwide). If prices fall here, the economy will be in trouble.

In terms of nickel production, Colombia ranks 11th worldwide and 1st for emeralds.

Problems of the economy

Another problem for the economy is the lack of or poor infrastructure: at least a third of all roads are unpaved. Unemployment is quite high at 9 percent. Income is unevenly distributed. Poverty, drug trafficking and an overall insecure situation also make economic growth difficult. Drug cartels, i.e. associations of people who deal in drugs, exert a great deal of influence, and drug-related crime is high.


Industry generates 32.6 percent, although only 21 percent work here. There are factories for clothing, food, beverages, and chemicals. Petroleum is processed in refineries. Gold, coal, nickel and emeralds are mined. Colombia is the world leader in the extraction of emeralds.


60.3 percent of economic output comes from services. 62 percent of people work in this area. These include trade, finance, transport, energy, telecommunications and tourism.

Despite the politically uncertain situation, many visitors come to Colombia every year – and the tendency has been increasing since things started to improve here. In 2003 around 500,000 tourists came, in 2014 it was 2.5 million.

Electricity comes mainly from renewable energies. 68 percent is generated by hydropower.

Coca instead of coffee

Many farmers illegally cultivate coca bushes, the leaves of which are used to make the drug cocaine. They hope they’ll make more money with it than with coffee or bananas. Around 70 percent of all cocaine is produced in Colombia.

Agriculture in Colombia

Agriculture in Colombia only generates 7.2 percent of the total economic output (GDP). 17 percent of the working population are employed here.

Coffee is grown on large plantations. Colombia is the fourth largest coffee producer in the world (after Brazil, Vietnam and Indonesia).

Coffee, flowers and bananas

In addition, cut flowers (2nd place in world production, 2013), bananas (9th place in world production 2017), pineapples (9th place in 2017), rice, tobacco, corn, sugar cane, palm oil and cocoa are grown. Most of the livestock are cattle.

Guadua bamboo

Guadua bamboo is mainly grown for personal use. The stalks are light, elastic and yet stable. They are used to build houses and bridges. But you can also use it to make paper, furniture or toys.

Typical Colombia?

To celebrate

Colombians are happy and they like to party. There are many festivals throughout the year. In Medellín, for example, the flower festival is celebrated in summer. There are then many parades and processions. You hear music and dance. Carnival is also celebrated for several days.

Music and dance

Do you know shakira She is a Colombian pop singer and is well known all over the world. We also know the singer Juanes. But you can also hear traditional music in Colombia, for example cumbia, which is also a dance. Cumbia is played with flutes, accordion, maraca rattles and drums. Like its related Vallenato, Cumbia comes from the Caribbean coast. Salsa music and the accompanying dance are also very popular. Music is omnipresent, even on the bus.

Tagus river

Exercise is another popular pastime, both watching and active. In addition to soccer, cycling and inline skating, the Tejo is very popular. Tejo is based on an old Indian game. You have to throw the Tagus, a disk made of iron, into a circle. There are the mechas, pockets filled with powder. If you hit one of them, it explodes.

And what are the names of the people?

What are the names of the people in Colombia? Most of the surnames are Rodríguez, followed by Gómez, González, Martínes and García. The most common female names are María, Luz and Ana. Girls these days are especially fond of being called Valentina, Daniela, Mariana and Natalia.

Many men are called José, Luis, Carlos and Juan. The boys are particularly fond of Santiago, Sebastián, Alejandro, Nicolás and Samiel. Incidentally, most children have two first names.

Then there are two surnames: that of the father and that of the mother. That can lead to quite long names, like: Adriana Clemencia del Corazón de Jesús y de la Santísima Trinidad. Poor Adriana will have a hard time filling out a form…

Sunday is family day

The life of a family can of course also be very different in Colombia. There are poor and rich families. Families in the city live differently from those in the country. Many Indians still keep their old traditions. The family is very solid. You do a lot together and Sunday is family day anyway. All in all, everything is more relaxed: Nobody comes here on time, you shouldn’t get stressed!

Nice and warm here!

If you came to Colombia, you would probably notice something else first: That it is pretty hot here. This is especially true for the coastal region, but also in the higher cities like Bogotá or Medellín it is a lot warmer than here. And something else is different: there are a lot of street stalls in the cities. All kinds of food and drink are sold there, for example fresh fruit juices.

Colombia Culture