STRATEGY

WHY INVEST IN COLOMBIA?

  • Political stability
  • Strategic geographical position & infrastructure
  • Strong & growing economy
  • Ease to do business & low barriers to Foreign Direct Investment
  • Strong international trade platform
  • Important human resources
  • Attractive real estate industry
  • COVID-19 Impact

The Colombian government takes place within a framework of a presidential participatory democratic republic. The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) classifies Colombia as the second Latin American country in terms of personal security and adequate protection of private property.

During the 1990s, Colombia was characterized for its precarious integration to the global economy. Since then, there has been a strong turn in the focus of its commercial policy with the purpose of diversifying its commercial partners and protect its foreign investment. According to the economic integration strategy expressed in the constitution and in its development plan, the objective is to consolidate Colombia as a country one hundred percent reliable and attractive for the development of business with foreign investment.

The signing of the peace agreement with the biggest Guerilla Organization, FARC, in 2016 has contributed to the country’s political stability.

Colombia benefits from a strategic geographical location with access to the Caribbean and Pacific, connecting it to the different markets in the region but also to Southeast Asia. It lies in the middle of five time zones and is within a 6-hour flight from Miami, New York, Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile. In addition, Colombia has a modern port and airport infrastructure which facilities trade. It includes 11 airports, including the El Dorado International Airport, eight draught ports to the Pacific and Atlantic and access to approximately 700 ports around the world through its 4.500 maritime exports routes (ProColombia, Routes and Tariffs – Tools for the Colombia Exporter, 2020).

In the last years, the government launched several major infrastructure programs, focused on roads, airports, railways, rivers, and canals. The most recent was the fourth generation (4G) program, launched in 2014, and the biggest investment initiative in the country’s history encompassing 29 projects to build or renovate 5.000 km of roads, 775 bridges and 41 tunnels at a cost of about $13 bn (The Financial Times, 2020). The program is approximately 40 % done and expected to be completed in 2024. Over half of the projects have foreign funding, including from groups such as The Spain’s Grupo Ortzi, UK’s John Laing and China Harbour Engineering Company.

The Colombian government is currently outlining the 5G program, which will focus its $5bn capital expenditure on road, rail and river transport, including the dredging of the Magdalena River and the renovation of the Canal del Dique. Part of phase II will include the upgrade of Bogotá’s main airport and the expansion of the highways linking the southern cities of Popayán and Pasto.

Colombia is the 32nd largest economy in the world and the 4th in Latin America, with a GDP of 828 Billion USD in 2020 (IMF April 2020). Colombia’s GDP per capita has grown by approximately 25% over the last 10 years, and its economy is projected to grow faster than most countries in Latin America, supported by oil exports, steady consumer consumption, an expanding middle class, the development of an interstate highway system and other key infrastructure programs, as well as expanding exports. The Colombian economy has demonstrated a stable performance in the last decades, with the inflation and unemployment rates having registered a downward trend since 2015, remaining within the target range. 

Source: World Bank, Oxford Economics, 2020

Colombia built its economy on coffee exports in the early twentieth century but has since then diversified considerably. Today, agriculture represents 7% and manufacturing 13% of output. Consumption dominates the Colombian economy at ca. 70% of GDP. Colombia’s major export today is oil, which accounts to approximately 40% according to Oxford Economics. The US is Colombia’s largest export destination, accounting for 31% of exports in 2019.

Colombia ranked 67th out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 in the , and as the third in Latin America, after Chile and Mexico. It made starting a business easier and faster by simplifying requirements for incorporating a new company and continues to be the leader in the region in terms of the number of reforms implemented. Colombia also made trading across borders easier by digitizing the responsibility card, one of its required export documents.

#11 Getting Credit

#13 Protecting Minority Investors

Colombia has a diverse and open economy, with macroeconomic stability underpinned by investment levels of rating agencies. The Colombian government actively encourages FDI and it establishes the same investment regulations on foreign investors as it does on national ones. The country ranks 12th among developing countries in receiving FDI, and 25th globally, with 11.0 USD billion.

Colombia ranked 52nd and 57th in the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 2019 and the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2019, respectively. It ranked 1st in Latin America in Market Efficiency, Managerial Practices and Corporate Government and 2nd in Business dynamism. A dynamic and growing foreign sector is also evidenced in Bogotá, Colombia’s capital. The Financial Times ranks Bogotá on 4th place of Latin America´s future regions right behind São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro.

Colombia has also achieved an investment grade rating from the three main credit rating agencies, Standard & Poors (BBB-), FitchRatings (BBB-) and Moody’s (Baa2). The corona pandemic has caused a gradual gradation in Colombia in 2020.

Source: World Bank, Doing Business, Pro Colombia, Financial Times 2020

Being the only NATO Global Partner in Latin America and member of several global and regional institutions, including the UN, the WTO and the OAS, Colombia is a regional actor in international affairs. The country has signed 19 bilateral investment treaties and is the Latin American Country with the most “Free Trade Zones”, giving it access  to sophisticated markets, an increase in quantity and diversity of exports, the transfer of technology and the improvement in the quality of production, which have exponentially contributed to improving the country’s attractiveness. Colombia has access to 60 countries and more than 1.5 billion consumers through its network of trade agreements.

The Government is committed to offering investment incentives and stability to investors. The investment landscape has improved exponentially in the last 10 years and is now considered one of the new countries with the best investment expectations.

105 Free Trade Zones in 2018

19 Bilateral Investment Treaties

Colombia is also a member state of the Pacific Alliance and the 37th member of the OECD, a sign of economic stability, transparency and government discipline.

37th Member

Colombia is a market with a strong purchasing power, characterized by a growing and young population, declining poverty and a growing middles class. With ca. 50 million inhabitants, Colombia is the 3rd most populated country in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico, as well as the second largest Spanish-speaking population worldwide. More than half of the country’s population is under 28 years of age. Colombia has 12 cities with more than 500.000 inhabitants and 27 with more than 250.000.

Colombia´s capital Bogotá is a rapidly growing metropolis: while the population was 6.4 million at the turn of the century, this number increased to 9 million until today and is expected to continue to grow to 11.4 million living in the greater metropolitan area until 2035.

Bogotá is also a very attractive city for young people, as the sixth biggest, partly widely renowned, Universities have a combined number of 80.000 students. These universities are all located around the colonial historic center in the middle of downtown Bogotá. Generally, the country is characterized for having a high-quality superior education.

30.8%

Share of population belonging to the middle-class

Source: ProColombia, Poverty indicators, middle class (DANE) and GDP (World Bank)

Colombia is the third destination in Real Estate Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean (FDI Markets). Between 2009 and 2019 the region had 305 bigger (wie hoch?) real estate investment projects and Colombia had 65. Fitch Connect estimated that Colombia will have the highest growth rates in the construction sector compared to the main countries in the region. The residential and non-residential construction segment in Colombia represents around 50% of the value of the sector. Firstly, government-sponsored programs are encouraging the construction of new homes for lower-income Colombians. Meanwhile the growth of middle class is galvanizing demand for medium-income housing across all regions of the country.

The dynamic population growth taking place in Colombia is reflected in the real estate market, where the demand for housing space has been increasing in the last couple of years. Especially the need for housing for the urban population has grown which among other reasons is attributed to the high GDP.

While the market for commercial spaces already is largely saturated, the high demand in the residential sector triggered the start of various housing projects in the center. Besides the completion of the so far highest building, the Torre Batacá BD with 57 floors and a height of 240 m, other residential towers are being developed in its direct proximity. Bogotá is becoming greener and more livable and due to the difficult traffic situation; the population is increasingly looking to live and work in proximity to each other. As a result, there is an opportunity to develop unique residential units in and around the historic center which target the changes in demography and lifestyle habits impacting demand for housing.

The consequences of the coronavirus for the economy of the South American country are very clear. The IMF estimates that Colombia’s economy will shrink by 7.8% in 2020: Colombia is experiencing its first recession in more than 20 years. The country has suspended its budget deficit limits for 2020 and 2021 and, like Germany, has allocated billions in bonds to cushion the economic damage.

Oxford Economics expects Colombia’s budget deficit to widen to 5.7% of GDP in 2020 and the current account deficit to rise to 3.7% as tax revenues fall and imports fall sharply due to a sharp drop in domestic demand. In the short term, the economy will be severely disrupted by the coronavirus crisis, while the «twin» external and fiscal deficits will be exacerbated by the collapse in global oil prices this year. After almost six months of lockdown for Colombia, including a system of rotating closures by locality and gender («pico y cédula»), the quarantine of Colombia and Bogotá ended on 1 September.

The Colombian government takes place within a framework of a presidential participatory democratic republic. The International Institute for Management Development (IMD) classifies Colombia as the second Latin American country in terms of personal security and adequate protection of private property.

During the 1990s, Colombia was characterized for its precarious integration to the global economy. Since then, there has been a strong turn in the focus of its commercial policy with the purpose of diversifying its commercial partners and protect its foreign investment. According to the economic integration strategy expressed in the constitution and in its development plan, the objective is to consolidate Colombia as a country one hundred percent reliable and attractive for the development of business with foreign investment.

The signing of the peace agreement with the biggest Guerilla Organization, FARC, in 2016 has contributed to the country’s political stability.

Colombia benefits from a strategic geographical location with access to the Caribbean and Pacific, connecting it to the different markets in the region but also to Southeast Asia. It lies in the middle of five time zones and is within a 6-hour flight from Miami, New York, Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile. In addition, Colombia has a modern port and airport infrastructure which facilities trade. It includes 11 airports, including the El Dorado International Airport, eight draught ports to the Pacific and Atlantic and access to approximately 700 ports around the world through its 4.500 maritime exports routes (ProColombia, Routes and Tariffs – Tools for the Colombia Exporter, 2020).

In the last years, the government launched several major infrastructure programs, focused on roads, airports, railways, rivers, and canals. The most recent was the fourth generation (4G) program, launched in 2014, and the biggest investment initiative in the country’s history encompassing 29 projects to build or renovate 5.000 km of roads, 775 bridges and 41 tunnels at a cost of about $13 bn (The Financial Times, 2020). The program is approximately 40 % done and expected to be completed in 2024. Over half of the projects have foreign funding, including from groups such as The Spain’s Grupo Ortzi, UK’s John Laing and China Harbour Engineering Company.

The Colombian government is currently outlining the 5G program, which will focus its $5bn capital expenditure on road, rail and river transport, including the dredging of the Magdalena River and the renovation of the Canal del Dique. Part of phase II will include the upgrade of Bogotá’s main airport and the expansion of the highways linking the southern cities of Popayán and Pasto.

Colombia is the 32nd largest economy in the world and the 4th in Latin America, with a GDP of 828 Billion USD in 2020 (IMF April 2020). Colombia’s GDP per capita has grown by approximately 25% over the last 10 years, and its economy is projected to grow faster than most countries in Latin America, supported by oil exports, steady consumer consumption, an expanding middle class, the development of an interstate highway system and other key infrastructure programs, as well as expanding exports. The Colombian economy has demonstrated a stable performance in the last decades, with the inflation and unemployment rates having registered a downward trend since 2015, remaining within the target range. 

Source: World Bank, Oxford Economics, 2020

Colombia built its economy on coffee exports in the early twentieth century but has since then diversified considerably. Today, agriculture represents 7% and manufacturing 13% of output. Consumption dominates the Colombian economy at ca. 70% of GDP. Colombia’s major export today is oil, which accounts to approximately 40% according to Oxford Economics. The US is Colombia’s largest export destination, accounting for 31% of exports in 2019.

Colombia ranked 67th out of 190 economies in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020and as the third in Latin America, after Chile and Mexico. It made starting a business easier and faster by simplifying requirements for incorporating a new company and continues to be the leader in the region in terms of the number of reforms implemented. Colombia also made trading across borders easier by digitizing the responsibility card, one of its required export documents.

#11 Getting Credit

#13 Protecting Minority Investors

Colombia has a diverse and open economy, with macroeconomic stability underpinned by investment levels of rating agencies. The Colombian government actively encourages FDI and it establishes the same investment regulations on foreign investors as it does on national ones. The country ranks 12th among developing countries in receiving FDI, and 25th globally, with 11.0 USD billion.

Colombia ranked 52nd and 57th in the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 2019 and the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2019, respectively. It ranked 1st in Latin America in Market Efficiency, Managerial Practices and Corporate Government and 2nd in Business dynamism. A dynamic and growing foreign sector is also evidenced in Bogotá, Colombia’s capital. The Financial Times ranks Bogotá on 4th place of Latin America´s future regions right behind São Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro.

Colombia has also achieved an investment grade rating from the three main credit rating agencies, Standard & Poors (BBB-), FitchRatings (BBB-) and Moody’s (Baa2). The corona pandemic has caused a gradual gradation in Colombia in 2020.

Source: World Bank, Doing Business, Pro Colombia, Financial Times 2020

Being the only NATO Global Partner in Latin America and member of several global and regional institutions, including the UN, the WTO and the OAS, Colombia is a regional actor in international affairs. The country has signed 19 bilateral investment treaties and is the Latin American Country with the most “Free Trade Zones”, giving it access  to sophisticated markets, an increase in quantity and diversity of exports, the transfer of technology and the improvement in the quality of production, which have exponentially contributed to improving the country’s attractiveness. Colombia has access to 60 countries and more than 1.5 billion consumers through its network of trade agreements.

The Government is committed to offering investment incentives and stability to investors. The investment landscape has improved exponentially in the last 10 years and is now considered one of the new countries with the best investment expectations.

105 Free Trade Zones in 2018

19 Bilateral Investment Treaties

Colombia is also a member state of the Pacific Alliance and the 37th member of the OECD, a sign of economic stability, transparency and government discipline.

37th Member

Colombia is a market with a strong purchasing power, characterized by a growing and young population, declining poverty and a growing middles class. With ca. 50 million inhabitants, Colombia is the 3rd most populated country in Latin America, after Brazil and Mexico, as well as the second largest Spanish-speaking population worldwide. More than half of the country’s population is under 28 years of age. Colombia has 12 cities with more than 500.000 inhabitants and 27 with more than 250.000.

Colombia´s capital Bogotá is a rapidly growing metropolis: while the population was 6.4 million at the turn of the century, this number increased to 9 million until today and is expected to continue to grow to 11.4 million living in the greater metropolitan area until 2035.

Bogotá is also a very attractive city for young people, as the sixth biggest, partly widely renowned, Universities have a combined number of 80.000 students. These universities are all located around the colonial historic center in the middle of downtown Bogotá. Generally, the country is characterized for having a high-quality superior education.

30.8%

Share of population belonging to the middle-class

Colombia is the third destination in Real Estate Investment in Latin America and the Caribbean (FDI Markets). Between 2009 and 2019 the region had 305 bigger (wie hoch?) real estate investment projects and Colombia had 65. Fitch Connect estimated that Colombia will have the highest growth rates in the construction sector compared to the main countries in the region. The residential and non-residential construction segment in Colombia represents around 50% of the value of the sector. Firstly, government-sponsored programs are encouraging the construction of new homes for lower-income Colombians. Meanwhile the growth of middle class is galvanizing demand for medium-income housing across all regions of the country.

The dynamic population growth taking place in Colombia is reflected in the real estate market, where the demand for housing space has been increasing in the last couple of years. Especially the need for housing for the urban population has grown which among other reasons is attributed to the high GDP.

While the market for commercial spaces already is largely saturated, the high demand in the residential sector triggered the start of various housing projects in the center. Besides the completion of the so far highest building, the Torre Batacá BD with 57 floors and a height of 240 m, other residential towers are being developed in its direct proximity. Bogotá is becoming greener and more livable and due to the difficult traffic situation; the population is increasingly looking to live and work in proximity to each other. As a result, there is an opportunity to develop unique residential units in and around the historic center which target the changes in demography and lifestyle habits impacting demand for housing.

The consequences of the coronavirus for the economy of the South American country are very clear. The IMF estimates that Colombia’s economy will shrink by 7.8% in 2020: Colombia is experiencing its first recession in more than 20 years. The country has suspended its budget deficit limits for 2020 and 2021 and, like Germany, has allocated billions in bonds to cushion the economic damage.

Oxford Economics expects Colombia’s budget deficit to widen to 5.7% of GDP in 2020 and the current account deficit to rise to 3.7% as tax revenues fall and imports fall sharply due to a sharp drop in domestic demand. In the short term, the economy will be severely disrupted by the coronavirus crisis, while the «twin» external and fiscal deficits will be exacerbated by the collapse in global oil prices this year. After almost six months of lockdown for Colombia, including a system of rotating closures by locality and gender («pico y cédula»), the quarantine of Colombia and Bogotá ended on 1 September.

VALUE PROPOSITION​

Investing in Colombia – a great opportunity at the right moment

We operate in two very demand-driven, stable and promising markets with growing global importance: real estate and agroforestry. This is where the so far unsaturated investment opportunities for German investors come to life:

    • to purchase at the right moment in time and in a still deregulated market in a metropolis.
    • to develop economically.
    • to generate an increase in value over the long-term or to rent out to an affluent middle class for good prices.

fair investments with high returns, on a long-term basis and in fantastic locations.

Bogotá’s centre as a future market: increase in value of the properties; valid estimate: doubling within 10 years.

Non-regulated market: Good chances of negotiation, prices not fixed according to fixed standards of the different urban areas, but rather based on, for example, the personal motives of the seller.

Debt capital market situation: Purchasing power is limited for many Colombians, as interest on debt capital is 16 % p.a. plus a repayment of 2 – 3 % p.a. This results in an advantage for European investors.

High returns: Ratio of purchase price per rentable area m² (approx. 420-660 USD/m²) and rent per m² (approx. 9-14 USD/m²) very advantageous.

Low construction costs, property taxes and homeowners’ fees: approx. 950 – 1200 USD/m² for high-quality construction.

Improved currency situation for investors from euro countries: Colombian peso has fallen by 20% over the last three years (from COP 3,050 to COP 3,650 per USD).

Considerable price differences within Bogotá:

In the north of the city approx. 8-10.000 USD/m² purchase price, in the centre, our region, currently approx. 2,400 USD/ m².

Construction risks (e.g. construction stop, construction damage): Investors pay into a trust through which the construction development is carried out. After completion, ownership is transferred to the investors. Good implementation team.

Legal risks: Our team of local lawyers checks the ownership and previous owners of the property. Expropriations are a thing of the past and occurred mainly in rural areas.

Non-renting: Over the next ten years, demand for newly built apartments in the city centre is expected to increase and converge with the market in the north of the city.

Currency risk: The rental or sales income in Colombian pesos is pooled in an account in Colombia and exchanged for euros at a favorable time. Hedging on both geography and currency.

Tax risk: Clearly regulated tax system, government is keen to attract foreign direct investment, so a deterioration in taxation is not expected at present.

KNOWLEDGE PORTAL COLOMBIA

In the temperate zones, coffee is one of the main crops and also Colombia´s most important agricultural export commodity. Besides that, citrus and other fruits, tomatoes, corn, beans, yucca and other crops are grown there. In the hot regions, cotton, bananas, rice, sugarcane, cocoa and tobacco are harvested. In the colder zones, potatoes, wheat, and barely, vegetables, fruits and flowers make up the principal agricultural products.

This typical meal from Colombia is a thick chicken soup with different kinds of potato and corncobs which usually is topped off with fresh cream and capers and served with avocado and a small portion of rice. The base taste of Ajiaco is provided by the herb “guasca”, the “gallant soldier”.

Bogotá is Colombia´s biggest city and also its capital. Bogotá occupies the 27th place of the 64 fastest growing metropolises with more than 6 million inhabitants. The city is the traffic hub as well as the economic and cultural center of the country with internationally renowned universities, museums and historical monuments.

Colombia has a population of 48.2 million (2015) of which approximately 70% live in the metropolitan areas and cities of the Andes region and on the Caribbean coast. The low plains in the east are almost uninhabited. Today, approximately 200.000 inhabitants still belong to indigenous tribes. They live on the peninsula Guajira, in the drainage areas of the Orinoco and in the Andes high-valleys. About 20% of the population are white, 50% are Mestizos and about 30% are Afro-descendants.

The most important port city of the country was appointed as UNESCO world heritage in 1994. Many of the buildings from the colonial age are still preserved and especially the historic center displays the city´s Caribbean flair and joie de vivre with its colorful houses so that Cartagena belongs to Latin America´s most beautiful colonial towns. The headland “Bocagrande”, located right next to the historic town, stands in stark contrast. This very modern part of town consists of fancy hotel complexes and its skyline could be seen as the little sister of that in Miami.

(see also Marañón) Since the 1960s, Colombia is conducting research in the technical and agro-industrial development of the cashew´s value chain. In Colombia the cashew is known as “Marañón”. In the year 1988 the Colombian agricultural research institute Corpoica imported different cashew kinds from the main cashew producer Brazil to conduct a qualitative selection for the local climate conditions. In 1994 ten outstanding species were selected and joined with the Colombian mother plant and grafting process. In 2008 another three species were selected that convinced through high harvest yields and a good export quality. Since then the seedling are reproduced in Corpoica´s tree nurseries and under specialist supervision. In the year 2015 the project “MAS Marañón Vichada” was founded by Corpoica, the renowned university Los Andes and Vichada´s government. In the context of this project, experts from the cashew sector teach about topics like the cultivation of the plantation, the processing of cashews and the marketing to important players by doing practice-oriented workshops. The goals of this project are, to establish the cashew value chain in Colombia, save resources by dividing work processes and thus promote the cashew market all together.

Most of Colombia´s areas it are very humid, in the hot coast regions on the Pacific Ocean there is about 500 centimeters of rain per year. The Caribbean is a little bit dryer. In the Andes there are three climate zones, the tierra caliente (hot lowland), the tierra templada (temperate highlands) and the tierra fría (cold highlands). A special characteristic of the lastly mentioned zone is the spring climate all around the year.

1539: Founding of the city “Santa Fé de Bogotá”

1550: The government of the Viceroyalty of Spain “New Granada” is constituted

1739: New Granada (with Bogotá as capital) is compromised of the present countries Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama.

1801: Alexander von Humboldt reaches Colombia in his research trip in South America (1799 – 1804)

1810: Begin of the independence fights

1819: Simón Bolivar declares the Republic of Colombia and establishes Colombia´s independence

1919: German and Colombian pilots found SCADTA (today: Avianca)

1948: Jorge Gaitán, presidential candidate of the Liberals is assassinated; begin of the country-wide popular uprising “El Bogotazo”; peasants create guerilla groups; wave of violence until 1953

1958: Liberals and Conservatives agree on division of power: a strict 2-party-system, the “Frente Nacional”

1964-68: Founding of the guerilla groups: FARC, ELN and EPL; Trigger is also the Bishop´s Conference in Medellin: Theology of Liberation

1985: Nationalist guerilla group M-19, seize Palace of Justice; during recapture try of the police half of the judges of the supreme court are killed

1989-90: Government establishes peace agreement with M-19 and EPL; AUC kill Luis Carlos Galán, presidential candidate of the Liberals

1993: Worldwide known drug lord Pablo Escobar is killed

2002-10: President Álvaro Uribe fights guerillas with help from the US; Demobilization of paramilitaries results in amnesty for many of them ´

2010: Supreme court prohibits Uribe another candidature, Juan Manuel Santos is elected as new president

2016:

August 29th: After four years of negotiations the peace agreement is established between the government and FARC

October 2nd: Referendum about peace agreement: “no” wins narrowly, voter participation: 37%

October 6th: Juan Manuel Santos receives the Nobel Peace Prize End of November: Revised peace agreement is ratified by the Colombian senate and the house of representatives and instantly comes into effect

Colombia is rich in ecological treasure like almost no other country on this planet. 10% of the known flora and fauna of the world are located on only 0.8% of the from the sea not covered area. For the conservation of these biotopes which represent important resources for the entire world, there were natural parks established that are especially protected and administered by the ministry of environment.

Colombia is the fourth-biggest economy in South America and has access to the international markets. Classified as emerging country and as country of medium to higher income, it is applying for the integration/admittance/accession to the OECD. The admittance etc is expected to take place in during the year of 2017.

The FARC, F.A.R.C-E.P. (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo – Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People´s Army), is a Colombian guerilla movement that since 1964 led an armed conflict against the Colombian state, its representatives, the Colombian Army as well as against rightwing paramilitary groups and drug cartels. Between 2002 and 2008 the Colombian guerilla movement was systematically weakened by the military. The current government under president Juan Manuel Santos was able to successfully end the peace talks, lasting form October 2012 until November 2016, with a peace agreement. Consequently, the FARC will participate as political party in the politics of the country.

For a long time, there has been a cooperative and increasingly close relationship between Colombia and Germany. Germany is the trade partner for Colombia in the EU and the bilateral trade exchange has shown a clear increase in the last years. In addition, numerous large German companies are present in Colombia and some of them also have their own production sites there. In the context of the cooperation for development, both nations agreed on the aspect of “sustainable development” as the new main focus in November 2012. Further focuses include “peace development”, “crisis prevention” and “protection of resources and the environment”. Moreover, approximately 1900 Colombian students study at German universities and in the cities of Baranquilla, Bogotá, Cali and Medellin there are German schools that are certified as schools of excellence and have an outstanding reputation, which all proves that also the academic relationship between the two countries is very close.

Colombia´s indigenous population accounts for 3.4% of the total population which corresponds to about 1.6 million. The population of the department of Vichada, where the agriculture and forestry project form the Colombia Companions is located, is composed of 39.6% of indigenous people. The indigenous groups try to maintain their traditions and own languages which like in other parts of the world is very difficult.

Colombia´s second largest city, Medellin, was elected by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) as the most innovative city of the world in the year 2012. Medellin was able to dominate the world cities New York and Tel Aviv. The Institute referred to the drastic decrease of the murder rate from 6500 cases in 1991 to 778 cases in 2005 which therefore is far below the average of Latin American major cities. Furthermore, the libraries, galleries and the infrastructure were highlighted. Medellin has an elevated metro that connects the city and the surroundings as the only city in Colombia. It also has two cable car lines that connect the poor districts on the mountain sides with the inner city.

There is a positive investment climate with increasing foreign investment and a growing tourism sector. This is especially attributed to the continuous improvement of the security conditions and the stabilizing economic frameworks: a rising Gross Domestic Product, decreasing poverty and a low unemployment rate. In addition, the ambitious reforms in the business regulation helped the country to become one of Latin America´s most demanded investment countries: rank 53 (of 190) on the list of “Ease of Doing Business” by the World Bank, the third highest rank in the region Latin America & Caribbean and first rank (of 32) in the category “Protection of small investors”.

The Pontifica Universidad Javeriana was founded in 1623 and thus is one of the oldest universities of the country. The university is located in Bogotá with a prominent neighbor: The Universidad de los Andes is only a couple hundred meters away in Bogotá´s old town and is one of Latin America´s most renowned and prestigious universities.

Whoever travels along Colombia´s coasts should definitely stop at one of the numerous usually mobile juice trolleys. Colombia´s agriculture offers a wide variety of fresh and exotic fruits such as pineapple, tree tomato, lulo, passion fruit among others. The juices are prepared however desired with milk or water, with sugar or without and served at a low price.

Colombia is considered a bridge to Central America due to its strategically optimal location. As the most northern country of South America Colombia is the only country in South America that has access to both the Pacific as well as to the Atlantic Ocean. An important location factor which facilitates the trade with the main trading partners USA and China and makes the country to a hub of the region.

(see also: Cashew) Marañón is the Spanish translation for Cashew. The nuts are gaining increasing popularity in Colombia. Despite the fact that the cashew tree which comes from the Amazonian region is a native tree, there still only exist few conventional plantations in Colombia. The required cashews are mostly imported from Brazil and the USA. The local cultivation and the processing of cashews are supported by the project “MAS Marañón” which is among others supported by the Colombian government and is supposed to help replace the imported products.

Gabriel José García Márquez (* March 6th 1927 in Aracataca, Colombia; † April 17th 2014 in Mexico-City, Mexico) was a Colombian writer, journalist and Literature Nobel Prize Winner. García Márquez made popular the style of magical realism which integrates magical elements into realistic situations. Many of his works had the topics of individual isolation as well as Latin America´s isolation.

President Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize of 2016 for his efforts of ending the 50- year guerilla war. With the award Oslo´s committee added that the recognition also belongs to numerous victims of war and the Colombian people who did not give up the hope for peace.

One of the five geographical regions in Colombia is the Orinoquia (also named Llanos Orientales) which is located on the foot of the Andes in the East of the country and extends until the border river Orinoco. The Orinoquia is one of the last original regions on the planet as 76% of its area is covered with natural and semi-natural Ecosystems. The region has one of the most extensive biodiversity of freshwater fish and birds in the world. 32.4% of the entire water occurrence in the country are found in the Orinoquia. The department of Vichada, in which the agriculture and forestry project is located, is part of this region.

In April 2011, Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Mexico signed the Pacific Alliance (span. “Alianza del Pacífico). The members pursue the goals of a customs union, freedom of travel and visa as well as a joint stock exchange. In addition, they act like a community of interest with a stronger negotiating position towards the USA, Europe and especially Asia.

After four years of negotiations between the Colombian Government and the FARC, the nation voted against the peace agreement only with a narrow majority in a referendum on October 2nd 2016. The representatives of the “si”-camp around president Santos directly started talks with the “no”-camp of ex-president Uribe to discuss the reasons for the failure. After renewed negotiations and the revision of the agreement, the Colombian senate and the house of representatives approved the deal in November 2016. The contract includes the agricultural reform, the political participation, the end of the conflict, the drug trade, victims and legal immunity and the implementation of the contract´s contents. In addition, peace negotiations with the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional), the second guerilla group in Colombia, are currently underway.

Besides Gabriel José García Márquez (see Márquez), the singers Shakira and Juanes, the soccer player Carlos Valderrama, the once richest man of the world and drug lord Pablo Escobar and the sculptor and artist Fernando Botero belong to Colombia´s famous faces/names.

The majority of the Colombian population is catholic. Colombians are very religious – at all times during the day you can see people praying, almost all churches have daily mass, you can see bus drivers make the sign of the cross before going into sharp turns or when passing churches. Other religions in Colombia include Protestantism, Judaism, Islam and the Rastafarian belief.

The security situation has improved massively since 2002. The situation in most of the metropolises in Colombia (especially in Bogotá) is comparable to the situation of other Latin American cities.

Tamales are a culinary specialty consisting of a mixture of corn puree often with meat, rice and vegetables which are wrapped in Banana leaves and then cooked.

The Colombian Congress declared Tejo as national sport in June 2000. It is a sociable game where to teams compete against each other. The modern version of the indigenous game called Turmequé, has been played for more than 500 years, predominantly in the Departments of Cundinamarca and Boyacá. The goal is to throw a metal disc into a board covered with clay and hitting one of the four gunpowder pockets, thus causing a small explosion and a loud sound.

Colombia´s most important export goods include coal and crude oil. Colombia is main supplier of high grade emeralds. Platinum, gold and silver also play a role. Further important export goods include coffee, cut flowers, tobacco, as well as food products such as bananas, rice, corn, sugarcane and cocoa beans. Significant industry sectors include textile manufacturing, metal processing and the chemical and petrochemical sector. The most substantial import goods are motor vehicles, equipment for the telecommunication, chemical products and precursors, metal and steel goods, paper and cardboard, polyethylene and agricultural products. The most significant trade partner is the US that acquire about 40% of the Colombian goods. Second most important trade partner are the states of the Andean Community (Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru), followed by the European Union. The trade with the People´s Republic of China is gaining importance.

Colombia is home to eight sites, which were recognized as world heritage by the UNESCO

  1. Harbor, fortification and monuments of the city of Cartagena de Indias (1984)
  2. National Park Los Katíos (1994)
  3. Historical center of Santa Cruz de Mompox (1995)
  4. Archaeological park of Tierradentro (1995)
  5. Archäologischer Park von San Agustín (1995)
  6. Islands and nature reserve Malpelo (2006)
  7. “Coffee Triangle” – Growing regions in the western and central cordilleras (2011)
  8. Qhapaq Ñan – The Incas road-system in the Andes (2014)