Demography and economic geography
State located in the northwestern tip of South America. Colombia (48,929,706 residents, According to an estimate by UNDESA, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, of 2014), affected by high growth rates for decades, is going through a phase of demographic transition, as shown by the constant decline in population growth rates (1% in 2014). The decline in the fertility rate, which in the 1960s was 6 children per woman and today is 2.3 children, is the result of increasingly widespread literacy, family planning services and urbanization. From a social point of view, Colombia is characterized by a large gap between income and a concentration of wealth, while over a third of Colombians live below the poverty line. Furthermore, several rural areas and some peripheral departments are still involved in episodes of civil war, which, which began decades ago, cannot yet be considered over.
Economic conditions. – In recent years, Colombia, which is on the way to becoming the second largest economy in South America, has shown good indicators and positive growth (+ 6.6% in 2011, + 4.2% in 2012, + 4% in 2103, + 4.8% in 2014). Unemployment, although high (9.3% in 2014), shows signs of retreat, while inflation is under control with an annual variation of + 2%. In addition, the government has promoted programs to revive the economy and has carried out a tax reform that allows it slightly more room for maneuver. Foreign investments are on the rise, as the country is now considered a good emerging market, and free trade agreements with numerous states are also growing. But alongside these positive notes, negative factors continue to be present, which hinder further development of the country. For Colombia 1998, please check constructmaterials.com.
As regards the exploitation of mineral resources, oil plays a key role: the state oil company has been partially privatized and this has helped to attract large foreign capital and increase production (52.9 million tons in 2013). Colombia has also obtained notable successes in the production of coal (85.5 million tons), of which there are enormous reserves (second only to those of Brazil in South America); in the last decade the quantity extracted has doubled and the export of coal, a commodity whose internal consumption is minimal, produces about a quarter of the income that the country derives from foreign exchanges.
At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the stability of the Colombian political system was ensured by the presidency of the conservative Álvaro Uribe, elected for the first time in 2002, and reconfirmed in the 2006 elections with 62% of the votes. The main problem of Colombia continued to be the intertwining between the Marxist guerrillas – led mainly by the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) and the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) -, drug trafficking and far-right paramilitary formations which, after the 2005 agreements which provided for their demobilization, had converted into criminal groups. This intertwining also involved the United States, allies of the government in the fight against drug trafficking, and the neighboring countries Venezuela and Ecuador, due to the frequent penetration of the FARC into their borders and their ambiguous relations with the guerrillas, but also because they feared to be the real objectives of US aid to Colombia, especially after the granting of seven military bases to the United States in 2009.
Unlike the policy of agreements with the paramilitaries, Uribe rejected the hypothesis of a political solution with the guerrillas, concentrating, rather, on decisive military action, aided by the United States. The successes in this field – including, in July 2008, the liberation of politics Ingrid Betancourt, hostage of the FARC since 2002 – increased its popularity, not even scratched by the scandals that involved her government: in 2007 it was discovered the involvement of dozens of elected to Congress in the activities of the paramilitaries (scandal of the ‘parapolitics’), while in 2008 the killings of over 500 civilians carried out by the army in the previous months and attributed to the FARC to discredit them (‘false positives’ scandal) came to light.
Denied by the Constitutional Court the possibility of Uribe’s third candidacy, in the 2010 elections his Partido social de unidad nacional (known as Partido de la U) nominated former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, who in the ballot he defeated, with the 69% of the preferences, Antanas Mockus, from the Green Partido. Santos joined the fight against the guerrillas with respect for legality, while continuing military operations against them, which led to the killing of the head of the FARC Alfonso Cano (Nov. 2011).
In September 2012, Santos announced the start of a new peace process with the FARC. The negotiations took place in Havana, with Venezuela as a super partes observer, but they proceeded very slowly and were accompanied by continuous attacks and killings on both sides. After the agreement on agrarian reform (May 2013), a preliminary agreement was also reached on the transformation of the FARC into a political party (Nov. 2013) and one on drug trafficking (May 2014).
Despite the bloody protests, in the summer of 2013, of thousands of farmers, miners, truck drivers and public workers against the free trade policies of the government, which penalized the country’s producers subjected to competition from foreign countries, in the presidential elections of 2014 Santos won the ballot 51% of the votes and was re-elected.
In terms of foreign policy, after the break in 2007, when Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was excluded from the role of mediator with the FARC, relations with Venezuela had a new crisis in July 2010, when Uribe accused him of protecting and hosting the guerrillas. Santos, on the other hand, decided to ease tensions with neighboring countries: therefore, he normalized relations with Venezuela and resumed those with Ecuador, interrupted since 2008, when the Colombian army bombed a FARC camp in Ecuadorian territory. Furthermore, in April 2011, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru formed the Pacific Alliance, which promoted greater integration in the field of free circulation of goods, services, capital and people and projected the signatory countries towards the area of Asia-Pacific.
The Colombian architectural heritage includes, in addition to significant expressions of Spanish colonialism, indigenous, European, Indian, African influences, British and French models of the era of independence, but also an interesting modern and contemporary architectural experimentation; an articulated stratification, therefore, which reflects the country’s complex social and political history. An attitude of rupture with the past, in response to the growing need for profound cultural changes, has meant that contemporary architecture reflects diversity and vitality, in search of forms that testify to the ongoing rebirth process. The Colombia has thus invested heavily in architecture and urban sustainability. Hence the numerous, successful projects to renovate public transport in order to discourage the use of private transport. Hence also, for example, the establishment of an extraordinary number of new schools – 56, of which 43 are private – accredited by the Ministry of Education, five of which have earned the prestigious recognition from the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects).
It was above all groups of young emerging architects who gave a new structure to the cities, among which Bogotá and Medellín stand out. In the architectural panorama of Medellín, the projects of the library parks – cultural and social centers, born from the combination of libraries and open areas for public use, with the function of reception centers for a society increasingly in search of safety and protection – have had the greatest social impact. The project piloted by the EDU (Empresa de Desarrollo Urbano) saw the construction of the following buildings in Medellín: the Biblioteca de empresas públicas by Felipe Uribe de Bedout (2005), the San Javier Library by Javier Vera (2006), the León de Greiff Library by Giancarlo Mazzanti (2007), the Parque Tomás Carrasquilla Library by Ricardo La Rotta Caballero (2007), the Parque Belén Library by Hiroshi Naito (2008), the Parque Biblioteca Fernando Botero by G Ateliers Architecture (2009). The España Library was built in Santo Domingo, the work of Mazzanti (2007). Given the success of the operation, the library parks project for Medellín has had a second phase which, since 2008, has seen the construction of the following structures again: Parque Biblioteca Manuel Mejfa Vallejo de Guayabal (2011), Parque Biblioteca Doce de Octubre (2013),
Among the recent projects, all in Medellín, still stand out: the Punta de Piedra residential complex by Ana Elvira Vélez and Juan Bernardo Echeverri (2006); the Orquideorama botanical garden by Plan B Architects (2006); the Café del Bosque by Lorenzo Castro and Vélez (2007); the Colegio La Independencia by Felipe Uribe de Bedout (2008); the Coliseo de Medellín by Felipe Mesa and Mazzanti (2010); the Complejo acuático by Edgar Mazo, Sebastian Mejia and Luis Callejas (2010). Finally, in the capital Bogotá we should mention: the Julio Mario Santodomingo building, the work of the Taller de Arquitectura de Bogotá (2007); the Campus El Nogal of the Colombian University of Architecture by Taller de Arquitectura de Bogotá and Daniel Bonilla Arquitectos himself (2011); the Bogotá International Convention Center by the Canadian studio Saucier + Perrotte Architects (2011).