Colombia

Colombia

Use High Level of Caution

The Republic of Colombia is located in northwestern South America with coastlines on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Neighbouring countries include Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Panama. The population is about 47 million people.

Colombia's government is a republic with a president as chief of state and head of government. Colombia has the fourth largest economy in Latin America, but inequality and poverty are still widespread with about half of the population living under the poverty line.

Since the 1960s, government forces, left-wing insurgents and right-wing paramilitaries have created the longest sporadic armed conflict in South America. The cocaine trade aggravated the situation in the 1980s. In the last decade, the violence has decreased significantly with demobilization of many paramilitary groups. As a result, Colombia's homicide rate decreased by almost 50 percent between 2002 and 2006. However, due to narcotics-related violence, the urban homicide rate, particularly in the city of Medellín, has increased in the past couple of years. Although kidnapping and homicide rates in urban areas have dropped in recent years, travellers should exercise caution at all times in certain urban areas and zones.

Tourist attractions include seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the cities of Cartagena and Santa Marta, and various colonial towns.

Currency COP: Colombian peso
Language Spanish
Capital Bogota
Recent Alerts 1
Latest Alert November 11, 2017 - Mudslide and flooding cause deaths in Cauca Department, Colombia

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in Colombia. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Hepatitis A

There is a significant risk for hepatitis A virus exposure in Colombia through contaminated food or water. Infection can still occur at tourist destinations and resorts.

Hepatitis B

The risk of acquiring hepatitis B in Colombia is low.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in Colombia, especially when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas and staying with friends or relatives.

Yellow Fever

There is a risk of transmission of yellow fever in some areas. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended for all persons 9 months of age or older, except those travellers who are travelling only to the cities of Barranquilla, Cali, Cartagena and Medellin. The vaccination is not recommended for travellers whose itineraries are limited to all areas at altitudes greater than 2,300 meters, the department of San Andrés y Providencia, and the capital city of Bogota.

Malaria

Areas with malaria in Colombia include all areas at altitudes less than 1,700 meters (5,577 ft). There is no risk for malaria in the cities of Bogotá, Medellin and Cartagena. In 2016, 94 percent of all reported cases of malaria occurred in the departments of Choco, Narino, Antioquia, Buenaventura, and Cauca.

Dengue Fever

Dengue fever outbreaks occur regularly in the tropical and semi-tropical areas of Colombia.

Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis occurs mostly in the rural areas of Colombia.

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is acquired by exposure to contaminated water, usually through recreational water activities or after flooding. This infection occurs in Colombia, mainly in the Urabá area.

Chagas Disease

American trypanosomiasis (“Chagas disease”) may occur in rural areas of Colombia. The risk of travellers acquiring this disease is low unless staying in very poor quality housing or camping.

Chikungunya Fever

Chikungunya fever has occurred in this country.

Rabies

Rabies occurs in Colombia. Travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk.

Zika Fever

There is transmission of the Zika virus in this country.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to Colombia.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to hepatitis A for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

Unvaccinated travellers are at risk of exposure to typhoid fever in this country through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities, rural areas, or staying with friends and family.

Yellow Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of transmission of yellow fever in some areas. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended for all persons 9 months of age or older, except those travellers who are travelling only to the cities of Barranquilla, Cali, Cartagena and Medellin. The vaccination is not recommended for travellers whose itineraries are limited to all areas at altitudes greater than 2,300 meters, the department of San Andrés y Providencia, and the capital city of Bogota. This country requires a certificate of yellow fever vaccination for travellers over 1 year of age travelling from countries/territories at risk for yellow fever transmission, including travellers transiting through Colombia and travellers having transited for more than 12 hours through an airport in a country/territory at risk for yellow fever transmission. Travellers over 1 year of age, departing Colombia and travelling to countries/territories that require the International Certificate of Vaccination or prophylaxis for yellow fever as published by WHO, must provide proof of vaccination against yellow fever by presenting a certificate of vaccination as a condition for entry.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, bikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) who may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk and should be vaccinated.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

The risk of hepatitis B is low, however, the vaccination is recommended.

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to Colombia.

Anti-malarial Drugs

For travellers whose itineraries include areas at altitudes less than, 1,700 meters (except Medellin, Bogota and Cartagena), the recommended anti-malarial medication is atovaquone-proguanil, doxycycline, or mefloquine. Chloraquine resistance is present.

Safety and Security in Colombia

Emergency Numbers

112
123
(571) 337-4413 Tourist police in Medellin
(571) 243-1175 Alternate number for tourist police in Medellin

Personal Safety

There is a high level of crime in Colombia. With respect to your personal safety, be cautious and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Petty crime and violent crime occur frequently in both rural and urban areas in Colombia. Avoid showing signs of affluence, and keep valuables and electronics hidden. Do not carry large sums of money and keep travel documents locked in a hotel safe rather than on your person. There have been reports of criminals posing as police officers and requesting money or personal documents. Do not hand over money or documents unless you are threatened. Request to provide the documents or money at your hotel or another public place.

Colombia has the highest kidnapping rate in the world, although kidnapping is usually targeted at Colombians. Tourists have been kidnapped, however, and usually forced to withdraw money from automated banking machines.

Main roads are generally safe during the day. Avoid road travel after dark. If possible, travel by air between Colombian cities, and try to arrange arrival times during daylight hours.

Never leave drinks or food unattended, as there have been reports of tourists being drugged and robbed. These drugs can also be administered through cigarettes, gum, aerosols, powders and other substances. Therefore, be wary of people approaching you, no matter how friendly.

Robbing passengers in taxis is common. If possible, use a reputable taxi service recommended by your hotel, and avoid hailing a taxi on the street. Do not share a taxi.

The tourist resort areas of Cartagena, San Andrés Island, and Providencia Island are generally safer areas.

In the Parque Nacional Tayrona, only visit beach areas and resorts that authorities recommend as safe. Stay at your resort since armed groups operate in the area.

Some organized tours include the “Lost City” in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Check with the tour organizers regarding the activity of armed groups in parts of the Sierra Nevada. There is some risk of kidnapping.

Some organized tours include the archaeological park at San Agustin. This destination is located in the department of Huila. Some countries advise against all but essential travel to this department. If your tour includes this site, make sure your tour operator plans to enter and leave the park on the main road through Neiva and not other routes.

There are eco-tourist destinations on the Pacific coast of Chocó. If you travel to these destinations, do not leave town to go inland or along the coast. The area is dangerous due to illegal activities of armed groups. Arrange travel to and from this area by air.

There are mined areas in Colombia. Stay on main roads and exercise caution if visiting remote areas.

If crossing the land border with Venezuela, enter or exit only at Cucuta.

If entering or exiting the border with Ecuador on the Pan-American Highway, do not stop enroute between the border and Pasto.

Avoid crossing borders between Panama and Colombia by land.

Areas To Avoid

Travellers to Colombia should avoid all travel to the following areas due to unpredictable conflict or violent crime, drug trafficking, and terrorist activity: Antioquia, Arauca, Caquetá, Cauca, Chocó, Guaviare, Meta, Nariño (including the port of Tumaco), Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Valle de Cauca (including Buenaventura port and city), and Vichada.

Travellers should avoid all but essential travel to the following areas due to an unpredictable security and safety situation: Amazonas, Atlántico (except Baranquilla and Santa Marta), Bolivar (except Cartagena), Boyacá, Caldas, Casanare, Cesar, Córdoba, Cundinamarco, Huila, La Guajira, Magdalena, Quindio, Risaralda, Santander, Sucre, Tolima, and Vaupes.

Avoid all areas that do not have established tourist industries. The risks of kidnapping, attacks, extortion, and other threats are high.

Political Unrest

Protests and demonstrations in Colombia have turned violent. Minimize safety risk by avoiding public and political gatherings and demonstrations since even peaceful protests can quickly and unexpectedly escalate and become violent.

It is illegal in some countries for foreigners to participate in protests or demonstrations.

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