Colombia – A land of enchantment and discovery

Colombia. A land of enchantment and discovery.

A country formerly torn by civil war, and united by a strong desire for progress.

The booming metropolis of Bogota… Medellin’s City of the Eternal Spring…. The Spanish Colonial Architecture of Cartagena…

Colombia is passion! A passion for life, for music, and for country. And a people sustained by a passion for work, commitment, and ingenuity.

Today’s Colombia is a nation of excellence and entrepreneurship. An example of progress to the world, Colombia is one of the most well-developed countries in Latin America.

21st century Colombia is a success story driving economic growth in the region over the next decade. Come witness the transformation, (and the) people and companies behind it. A new business destination for a new global economy. This is… A New Colombia.

Colombia ranks solidly with the group of progressive, industrializing countries worldwide that have well-diversified resources. Displaying outstanding economic stability over the last decade, Colombia has shown a trend of positive GDP growth and has been the least economically volatile country in the region. It is definitely a leader in reforms that facilitate business.

Since President Alvaro Uribe took power in 2002, the dramatically improved security situation has given both Colombian companies and international investors the confidence to invest in Colombia.

Much of Colombia’s economic future hinges on the upcoming free trade agreement with the United States, an important step that has yet to be ratified.

It cannot be denied that Colombia has a very serious image problem. But while certain problems continue to play out in the background, Colombia welcomes the world with open arms and a promise of peace and stability.

BANKING & TRANSPORT
Sprawling. Towering. Manic. This is Bogotá, Colombia’s engaging capital. Forward-thinking and progressive, this is where the nation gravitates to.

Bogotá is one of the safest cities in Latin America. Free-market policies and relatively low levels of corruption have given birth to a very strong middle class and some of the nation’s finely education and ambitious professionals.

While the United States suffered an economic recession in 2008, Colombia continued to increase the size and depth of the financial sector and the development of the banking and capital markets.

The Colombian banking system is well positioned to profit from core banking activity. One only needs to look into the growing number of new entrants to the market to show the dynamism of the country’s banking sector.

Colombia is well connected to the United States and the rest of Latin America through an extensive air network. The national airline, Avianca, was founded in 1919, making it the oldest commercial airline in Latin America and the second oldest in the world.

The port of Cartagena on the Caribbean Sea. With a highly developed infrastructure, Colombia is an ideal export platform. The excellent, strategic location of Colombia makes for an unbeatable equidistant point for the markets of the continent, allowing for shorter transit times, faster delivery, and very competitive international cargo transport services.

Colombia’s government has announced a massive infrastructure investment program for 2009, which should help drive the construction sector forward, and shelter it from some of the worst effects of the global economic downturn. While much of the investment relies on private capital, it is forecasted that the construction industry value will exponentially increase over the coming years. How important is public-private partnership in the sector?

INDUSTRY
The city of Medellin in the province of Antioquia. The City of the Eternal Spring. this attractive region was settled by Europeans in the early 17th century, drawn to its fertile terrain and moderate climate.

Antioquia is Colombia’s region of the future, where rugged individualism and passion for industry collide, and create a glorious explosion of style and class. Its people, called paisas, have earned a reputation for sharp-eyed entrepreneurship and a heightened sense of identity.

Medellin has developed a wide industrial base. Medellin is known as “Colombia’s Manchester,” because of its textile mills and clothing factories, and now accounts for over 60 percent of textile production in the country.

Medellin’s industrial power extends to other manufacturing sectors as well, such as electronics and appliances. Colombians are extremely patriotic of their country, and prefer to support local brands over imported ones. One name synonymous with Colombia is Industrias Haceb, a success story in the region.

NATIONAL RESOURCES
Colombia is a nation rich in natural resources, and in the Los Llanos Basin, oil exploration and extraction is booming. Colombia is the tenth-largest supplier of oil to the United States. While it has about 1.75 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, potential oil reserves, however, are believed to be much larger, and the government is looking into further foreign investment in this area.

Ecopetrol, the largest and primary petroleum company in Colombia and one of the top three principal petroleum companies in Latin America, is also active in heavy industry of non-oil related products such as polypropylenes and plastics. But the can it compete with its international counterparts in terms of quality?

The second reason products in Colombia are of good standards is the premium engineering of the manufacturing infrastructure. While years ago Colombian industries have looked into foreign engineers and contractors to develop their plants, the resurgence of strong local firms has put both national and international companies on an even keel.

Just who is Juan Valdez? The symbol of Colombia’s best-known legal export: coffee. In 1959, the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia launched a campaign with this fictional character to symbolize and personify the hardworking and dedicated Colombian “cafeteros”, or coffee farmers, that depend on coffee for their livelihood.

The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation ensures the welfare of the many people delivering the best quality coffee possible. In Colombia, as in the rest of the world, corporate self-regulation and assistance to the less-privileged has become part of the majority of its companies’ business models.

Back in Medellin, companies such as EPM are using corporate social responsibility strategies that facilitate universality of services, sustainable human development in communities, and social employment generation.

Health standards in Colombia have improved greatly since the 1980’s. The structure of public health-care funding was transformed by shifting the burden of subsidy from providers to users.

Without a doubt, Colombia’s best asset is its human capital. It is a highly entrepreneurial country, with a growing and flexible workforce. Colombians get a head start compared to their Andean neighbors due to the government’s focus on entrepreneurial education at an early age.

TOURISM
With breathtaking beauty everywhere you look and the warmth of South America’s happiest people putting you at ease, you may find it difficult to leave. Colombia is an easy country to fall in love with, and it may well become the most memorable experience of your life.

Colombia is magic. And some of the warmest and happiest people on the planet. Colombians love their country, and will do everything for you to fall in love with it as well. So goes the tourism tagline, “El riesgo es que te quieras quedar.” The only risk is wanting to stay.

Colombia is safe. Colombia is booming. Colombia is passion. Always moving forward, the country’s still most startling feature is its optimism. A new Colombia is emerging. Bienvenido a Colombia!

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