Colombia - Country history and economic development

1821. Gaining independence from the Spanish empire, Colombia emerges from colonial rule as part of Gran Colombia, together with Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama.

1859. Emergence of the Liberal Party. Tobacco accounts for 28 percent of exports while gold's share is down to 33 percent.

1860S-70s. Liberal constitution establishes liberal economic principles and quasi-federal autonomy to provinces. The 1870s marks efforts in railroad building. The Conservative Party is founded. By late 1870s coffee production, carried by rail and financed by banks, becomes even more important.

1886. A conservative constitution is promulgated, marking a major swing toward a more centralized state.

1898. Coffee reaches 50 percent of exports.

1899. Colombia's greatest civil war ruins the country. Coffee-producing areas are greatly affected, and chaos shakes the economy.

1903. Panama is separated as a consequence of the war, supported by U.S. intervention. After the war, Congress reforms monetary system, budget, customs, tariff legislation, and some protectionist policies .

1904-09. Rule of dictator Rafael Reyes. His conservative administration starts reconstruction under economic orthodoxy.

1910-30. Bipartisan consensus emerges with constitutional reform. Paper money is banned, and minority party representation established. Coffee production takes place on larger farms, and has a greater impact on the domestic economy.

1920s. A strong coffee export trend (11.3 percent of world production by 1930) allows for the tripling of public spending, mostly in infrastructure.

1930-46. Known as the Liberal Republic, this is a period of social reform, slower economic development, and growing tension between the parties. The collapse of coffee prices is partially compensated for by greater exports and the strengthening of domestic industry. Liberal dissident Jorge Eliecer Gaitan rises to prominence.

1946. Split in Liberal party ends the period of liberal rule. Gaitan dominates the Liberal party.

1948. Assassination of Gaitan leads to a virtual civil war known as "The Violence" (1948-66).

1950. Extreme Conservative Laureano Gomez comes to power, unleashing terror against liberal insurgencies in the countryside. Exports start a diminishing trend.

1953. A military coup supported by both traditional parties brings in General Rojas Pinilla. Political calm is affected by a downturn in coffee prices and a weak economic performance.

1958. Beginning of the National Front, under which Liberals and Conservatives alternate the presidency and share government posts at all levels.

1960s. After economic difficulties and currency instability, the largest post-war economic expansion period comes after 1964.

1969. Colombia joins the Andean Pact, a trading agreement among several South American countries.

1974-84. A period of economic instability and political stability. An increase in coffee prices reduces foreign exchange constraints, allowing an upward trend in income, lower unemployment, and an increase in international reserves. After 1980, a collapse in coffee prices produces slow growth, an industrial setback, rising unemployment, and an increase in deficits.

1987-89. Political violence starts again; prominent politicians are kidnapped or assassinated by drug dealers trying to overthrow the government.

1990-94. The Cesar Gaviria administration opens up the economy and leads the approval of a new constitution.

1994-98. The Ernesto Samper administration begins under accusations of campaign financing by drug dealers. The pace of economic reforms slow down, while the narcotics business and the guerrilla activities grow.

1998-2000. Peace negotiations with the guerrillas begin under President Andrés Pastrana. Plan Colombia against illicit drug production and trafficking is launched.

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