Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is the only South American country with coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Three mighty north-south Andean cordilleras separate the western coastal lowlands from the almost empty eastern jungles, with 54 percent of Colombia’s land but only 3 percent of the people. Most Colombians are of mixed ethnicity; about 20 percent claim European descent. Native Indians, about one percent of the population, live in the eastern jungles.
The Andes contribute to the concentration of Colombia’s people into separate clusters. Some live in the Caribbean lowlands in cities like Barranquilla and Cartagena; some live in isolated mountain valleys in cities like Cali and Medellin. Bogotá, the capital and largest city, is in a remote mountain basin at 2,500 meters (8,200 feet).
Farmers raise world-renowned coffee on the Andean slopes. Colombia sells much of the world’s emeralds and considerable amounts of gold, silver, and platinum and has the continent’s highest coal production—most from the Guajira Peninsula.
Colombia has had a turbulent history. Civil war (1899-1902) claimed 100,000 lives, and La Violencia (1948-1957) cost 300,000 more. Hundreds of thousands more succumbed to the decades long armed civil conflict (1965-2016) that officially ended in 2016 when the Colombian government and a leading guerrilla organization agreed to terms of a peace accord. Now, the people of Colombia are navigating the delicate waters of reconciliation, reintegration and reparations.
South America Mission’s hope is redemption and reconciliation in Colombia as local churches flourish, presenting to the communities where they exist the ultimate model of redemption and reconciliation found in the grace and mercy of God through Christ.