How Developed is Colombia?

Tourist infrastructure and accommodation is better than you might imagine
How Developed is Colombia?

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Colombia is far more developed than most people realize prior to their arrival. According to IMF data from 2013, the country's GDP per capita was over USD 11,000 per year, putting it ahead of other destinations such as Peru, Thailand and the Maldives, and just behind Brazil and South Africa. It also enjoys growth rates of around 4% a year; about a third higher than the regional average of 2.9%.

Cartagena, Medellin and Bogota offer facilities and comfort on a par with levels enjoyed in any American city

There are persistent pockets of poverty in Colombian cities and many rural areas, but the number of international visitors to these parts of the country is comparatively low. Most tourists spend the majority of their time in the affluent areas of cities like Cartagena, Medellin and Bogota. In these areas, infrastructure, facilities, shops, restaurants and accommodation, are all on a par (or even greater than) the levels enjoyed in any major American city.

Colombia’s transport infrastructure is well developed, with well-serviced roads and highways connecting all major destinations in Colombia. These are all paved and are of reasonable build quality, though the lack of dual carriageways and the mountainous terrain do mean road travel is substantially slower in Colombia than in North America. There is little usable railway between cities, but Medellin does benefit from a clean and highly efficient metro system. This serves a substantial portion of the metropolitan area and even includes three innovative ski-lift style sections, which run up the mountainside into the less affluent areas. Bogota has no metro system, but pioneered the Transmilenio; an integrated network of bus routes separated off from the rest of the traffic. This system has been awarded international prizes and has spawned replicate projects in South Africa, Peru and a number of other countries.

Medical clinics are widespread and offer hygienic and professional services

Almost all urban areas have reliable water supplies; many of these are sufficiently clean to be drinkable direct from the tap. Western style flush toilets are ubiquitous. The electricity grid is extensive and all but the smaller settlements are now connected. While supply is generally reliable there are occasional outages related to technical failings or the deliberate destruction of energy towers. Healthcare facilities are also generally of high quality in these areas. Private medical clinics are widespread and offer hygienic and professional services. Colombian expertise and facilities related to the plastic surgery industry are held in particularly high esteem; the country is one of the world leaders in this field.

Standards of infrastructure, healthcare and tourist facilities are not uniform throughout the country. Urban areas and rural districts which receive a reasonable number of visitors generally enjoy a good standard of facilities. Travel to more remote off-the-beaten track destinations may involve a certain amount of inconvenience, mainly with respect to more regular service interruptions to electricity or water supplies.

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