- Population: 50 million
- Area: 1.1 million km2
- Climate: Varies from cool to hot, according to altitude
- Capital: Bogotá
- Currency: Colombian Peso
- People: 84% Mixed Race and European Descent, 10% Afro-Colombian, 3% Amerindian, 3% Other
- Main Language: Spanish
- Religion: 94% Christian (8% evangelical), 6% Other faiths/none
Colombia has highly productive farming land, as well as Caribbean and Pacific coasts, and mountain ranges at the northern limits of the Andes which are susceptible to Pacific Rim earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. Two wet winters and two dry summers per year are normal in most parts. Colombia’s high levels of bio-diversity are recognised globally, particularly for butterflies and orchids.
The fourth largest economy in Latin America, Colombia principally exports coffee, oil and emeralds. In the 1990s illegal coca growth and processing for cocaine increased substantially, with significant associated economic, social and environmental costs.
Since 2012, after over 50 years of civil war, the government has been in negotiations with illegal armed groups to find a workable peace. At the end of 2016, a peace deal was struck with FARC, the main guerrilla group. And now, in 2017, peace talks are in progress with the second-largest guerrilla group, the ELN.
The third most populous country in Latin America, Colombia celebrates creativity and colour, resourcing design and other industries. A civil war lasting over 50 years created extreme pressures and left more than eight million victims, including just under seven million victims of forced displacement. With traumatic stories dominant for many communities, the resilience and resourcefulness of Colombian society in seeking to rebuild is impressive.
A mainly strongly conservative Catholic Church is challenged by evangelical church growth, where the biggest Pentecostal denomination has 3,000 congregations spread throughout the country. Afro-American rooted groups sometimes include syncretistic ancestral worship practices, combining these with other religious beliefs.
The Latin Link Colombia team comprises a wonderful mix of people from different nations, including longer-term mission workers, Striders, and short-term Step Teams. They are involved in a wide range of ministries and are increasingly seeing Colombians mobilised into mission.
Areas of work currently include: providing support and training for church leaders; counselling and family therapy; training for children’s leaders; the development of Sunday school materials; Bible translation for the Deaf and support for families with Deaf children; student work; and care for communities displaced through guerrilla or paramilitary activity. The team even has its own singer-songwriter!
Given the extreme levels of instability that Colombia has experienced, there are ample opportunities for work in resettlement and care for traumatised communities. This could include the devising of income-generation strategies for those who have lost their principal means of earning a living, by having to move away from the land they own. Church leadership training also remains a much-needed resource at many levels.
For more information, please see the Opportunities page of our International website (this will open a new tab).