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Colombia 2024



Cartagena was established in 1533, at the site of an indigenous Caribbean Calamarí village destroyed by the Spanish. It was later fortified by an extensive stone wall built by the Spanish to protect the city and Spain’s interests in its stolen Colombian gold and silver from other Europeans. Most of the wall remains intact, and much of Cartagena’s charm today is due to its colonial architecture and the lively mix of cultures found there. Still one of South America’s most important ports, Cartagena’s cobblestone streets and plazas pulse with music and life, and today tourism is a leading industry.

Scott Faiia © 2019
PCV Malaysia 1973–1975
Irrigation Engineering

República de Colombia

Northern South America

Area 440K mi2; 1.1M km2

Arable 1.4%

Population 49.3 (112/mi²; 43/km²)

Gov’t Presidential republic

Capital Bogota (11.8M)

GCP/Capita $14,600

Unemployment 14%

In Poverty 36%

Infant Mortality 12/1K live births (121st)

Life expectancy 75 yrs

Median Age 31 yrs

Literacy 96%

Languages Spanish (official) and 65 Amerindian languages

Religions Christian 92% (predominantly Roman Catholic), other 1%, unspecified 7%

Health 9% of GDP

Education 5% of GDP (80th)

Military3% of GDP (32nd)

Labor Force Agriculture 17%, industry 21%, services 62%

PCVs 1961–1981, 2010–present CURRENT: Yes, TTD: 5,039

Adult Books

The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself
By David Bushnell

Genre: Nonfiction; history
Publisher: University of California Press (1993)
ISBN-13: 978-0520082892

This comprehensive history traces the process of state-building in Colombia from the 19th-century struggle for independence, territorial consolidation, and reform through its recent economic development and social and political democratization. Stressing how Colombia consistently defies modern Latin American stereotypes, it examines the country’s success in maintaining economic growth and democratic government, as well as its rich artistic and literary life, even amidst the turmoil of the cocaine wars and guerilla conflict in the late 20th century.

“One of the joys of reading this book is the frequent reference to everyday life….” (Marco Palacios, Journal of Latin American Studies)

Kids' Books

Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built
By Angela Burke Kunkel, illus Paola Escobar

Format: HC, 40 pp, col illust
ISBN-10: 1984892630
ISBN-13: 978-1984892638
Age Range: 4-8 yrs / Grades Pre-K–3
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books NY, 2020

A picture book based on the life of José Alberto Gutiérrez, a garbage collector in Bogotá, Colombia, who started a library with a single discarded book found on his route.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal:
PreS-Gr 2—This is a story of literacy and two Josés, both look forward to Saturday. On that day, the older José, a garbage collector who carefully gathers books that have been discarded, will open the doors to his collection and share it with the children of their barrio, including the young boy, José. The lyrical text weaves together the daily routines of both Josés, showing elements of their day in Bogotá, Colombia, and the scenes that play out in their imaginations when they discover a new world inside a book. The digitally painted illustrations capture the joy of anticipation and discovery as well as loving details of the barrio of La Nueva Gloria, where there was no library until 2000. An author's note expands on the true story that inspired this book, as well as suggesting sources for more information about Gutiérrez. An inviting and generous story that will be a pleasure to read aloud.—Amanda Foulk, Sacramento P.L.

From Kirkus Reviews:
"The inspiring story of a man who believes in the power of books and the importance of community." —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

From School Library Journal:
An inviting and generous story that will be a pleasure to read aloud.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review

From Booklist:
"This amiable picture book offers children glimpses of Colombia as well as a role model who values books and enjoys sharing them with others…. Simultaneously published in a Spanish edition, Rescatando Palabras." — Booklist

About the Author and Illustrator:
ANGELA BURKE KUNKEL is a school librarian who lives with her husband, two children, and two rescue pups on the banks of Otter Creek in Vermont. Digging for Words is her debut.

PAOLA ESCOBAR grew up traveling from town to town in Bogota, Colombia. Paola is the illustrator of Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, an Indie Pick called "a must-have for all libraries" in a School Library Journal starred review.


Film: El olvido que seremos (Memories of My Father / Forgotten We’ll Be)
Genre: Drama, History
Director: Fernando Trueba
Country: Colombia
Release Date: 2020
Language: Spanish, Italian, English
Color: Color, B & W
Run Time: 136 minutes

An author recalls life with his father, a university professor who fought against oppression and social inequality, and the circumstances of his murder by Colombian paramilitaries.


35th Goya Awards winner, 2021
Platino Awards winner, 2021


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