What Are The Major Natural Resources Of Colombia?

A coffee plantation in Colombia.
A coffee plantation in Colombia.

The republic of Colombia is a nation located in the northwestern part of South America and having some of its territories in Central America. In 2017 the nation's gross domestic product was roughly $309.2 billion. At the time, the Colombian gross domestic product was the 39th highest in the world according to the World Bank while its per capita gross domestic product was the 86th highest in the world. According to the IMF, the country is an upper middle-income economy and it is among the largest economies in Latin America. Like most other countries in South America, Colombia’s economy is shaped by its natural resources like land and a wide array of mineral resources vital to its economic success. The natural resources in Colombia range from arable land to minerals such as gold and coal. Most industries in the country are driven by agriculture and commodities. Some of the top export items from Colombia include coal, petroleum, coffee, and gold.

Arable Land

In 2015, arable land made up roughly 1.5 % of the nation's entire territory. Since 2004, the size of arable land in Colombia has been fluctuating significantly due to several factors such as the variation in the country's weather patterns. Despite the variation in the size of arable land in the country, agriculture continues to contribute significantly to the country's gross domestic product. According to the Colombian government, in 2015, the agricultural sector contributed roughly 9.3% of the country's gross domestic product. The Colombian labor department estimates that in 2013, close to 6.6% of the country's labor force was directly involved in the country's agriculture sector. Some of Colombia's most important crops include maize, tobacco, and coffee.


Historical evidence indicates that coffee has been growing in Colombia for a long time. In the modern era, coffee is one of Colombia's most important crops. The Colombian government estimates that roughly 2.3 million Colombian people were involved in the coffee sector. Colombian coffee is mainly grown for the export market with the primary buyers of Colombian coffee being nations such as the US, Italy, and France. A region in Colombia has been designated as a coffee growing is due to the large scale of coffee grown in the region. The axis spans across several Colombian departments, for example, Tolima and Caldas and many cities such as Ibague and Manizales. In the mid-1980s, coffee accounted for roughly 51% of Colombia's exports, however, in subsequent years coffee's contribution to the nation's exports decreased significantly. By 2006, coffee accounted for roughly 6% of Colombia's total exports. The major challenge facing the Colombian coffee sector is the fluctuation in global coffee prices. The fluctuation in global coffee prices significantly affected the Colombian coffee industry in 2003. To overcome the challenges facing the Colombian coffee sector, the government implemented reforms in the management of the country's coffee sector. The reforms were relatively successful as the amount of coffee grown in Colombia has increased significantly. The Colombian government is actively urging the Colombian people to consume more coffee to create a broader local market for the local coffee industry.


According to data from the Colombian government, in 2016 flower production accounted for roughly 4.2% of the country's agricultural output. At the time, the Colombian labor department estimated that close to 200,000 people were employed in the Colombian flower sector. More than half of the workers in the Colombian flower industry are women. In 2010, there were roughly 300 companies engaged in flower production in Colombia. Most of the flower companies in Colombia, close to 80% according to some estimates, are owned by the Colombian people. Some of the flower varieties grown in Colombia include roses, chrysanthemums, and carnations. Most of the flowers in Colombia, roughly 82% according to some estimates, were sold to the US. The EU purchases roughly 9% of the flowers produced in Colombia. The development of the Colombian flower industry flourished with very little government involvement.


Colombia has large quantities of different mineral resources of great economic importance to the country's economy. Some of the essential minerals in Colombia include coal, gold, and nickel. Minerals have been vital to the Colombian economy for a significant period with gold being highly valued by ancient Colombian communities. In the modern era, gold is exploited in some areas in Colombia such as Cajamarca. In 2008, the Colombian government estimated that 34,132 pounds of gold had been produced in the country. From 2007 to 2008, gold production in the country increased by roughly 34%. One of the major gold mines in Colombia is the La Colosa mine, which is believed to have roughly 806,250 pounds of gold deposits. The major challenge facing the Colombian gold mining industry is the impact it has on the environment.


Colombia has different varieties of gemstones found in different parts of the country. The most important gemstone mined in Colombia includes emerald. Due to the high demand for emeralds all around the world, the Colombian government has invested heavily in improving the country's gemstone mining industry. Most of the emeralds in Colombia are extracted from two departments Cundinamarca and Boyacá, both of which are situated on the eastern edge of the country. The major challenge facing the Colombian gemstone industry is the large number of smugglers in the country.


One of Colombia's most important natural resources is coal which is mainly mined in the northern region of the country. In 1981, Colombia produced roughly 4 million tons of coal. In subsequent years, Colombia's coal production has been increasing significantly. In 2006, the Colombian government estimated that the country had produced roughly 65.6 million tons of coal. Most of the coal in Colombia, roughly 95% according to some estimates, has exceptionally high heat content. In the 21st century, the Colombian government has reduced its participation in the coal industry. Due to the reduced government participation, both local and foreign companies have invested heavily in the Colombian coal industry.

Oil And Gas

Colombia has been blessed with vast quantities of oil and natural gas, which contribute significantly to the country’s economy. Most of the oil produced in Colombia is sold to other nations with the US buying most of Colombia's crude oil. In 2006, oil in Colombia contributed roughly 26% of the nation's exports. The Colombian government has invested heavily in improving the country's oil and gas sector.

Challenges Facing The Colombian Economy

The Colombian economy faces several challenges with the major one being corruption among public officials. Another major challenge that faces the country is the fluctuation in global oil prices.


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