Gold, platinum, and emeralds are just some of the precious metals and minerals of Colombia's natural resources. However, rebel insurgent and paramilitary-run drug trafficking rings support the wealthiest populations in Colombia, leaving much of the country's potential unrealized. Hope is found in the fight against river blindness, a painful and debilitating disease on the verge of elimination in the Americas thanks to Carter Center efforts. It also is found in ongoing Carter Center-supported dialogue initiatives between Colombia and its neighbors.
The Carter Center, together with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has supported the work of a dialogue group composed of distinguished citizens from Colombia and Ecuador to improve relations between the two countries since September 2007.
Latin America has made great strides to control river blindness, so that now — provided treatment and health education initiatives continue — permanent blindness from the disease is no longer a threat. Yet, until two decades ago, those who suffered from this painful and devastating disease had no hope for treatment.
QUICK FACTS: COLOMBIA
Size: 1,138,910 square kilometers
Life expectancy at birth: 75 years approximately
Ethnic groups: mestiz, 58 percent; Caucasian; and others
Population below poverty line: 34 percent
GDP per capita: $10,700 USD
(Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook 2013; The World Bank 2006)