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[GOVERNMENT
COLOMBIA


adapted to its production. Tobacco was cultivated in New Granada and Venezuela in colonial times, when its sale was a royal monopoly and its cultivation was restricted to specified localities. The Colombian product is best known through the Ambalema, Girardot, and Palmira tobacco, especially the Ambalema cigars, which are considered by some to be hardly inferior to those of Havana, but the plant is cultivated in other places and would probably be an important article of export were it possible to obtain labourers for its cultivation. Banana cultivation for commercial purposes is a comparatively modern industry, dating from 1892 when the first recorded export of fruit was made. Its development is due to the efforts of an American fruit-importing company, which purchased lands in the vicinity of Santa Marta for the production of bananas and taught the natives that the industry could be made profitable. A railway was built inland for the transportation of fruit to Santa Marta, and is being extended toward the Magdalena as fast as new plantations are opened. The growth of the industry is shown in the export returns, which were 171,891 bunches for 1892, and 1,397,388 bunches for 1906, the area under cultivation being about 7000 acres in the last-mentioned year. Yams, sweet potatoes, cassava and arracacha are chiefly cultivated for domestic needs, but in common with other fruits and vegetables they give occupation to the small agriculturalists near the larger towns.

The pastoral industry dates from colonial times and engages the services of a considerable number of people, but its comparative importance is not great. The open plains, “mesas,” and plateaus of the north support large herds of cattle, and several cattle ranches have been established on the Meta and its tributaries. Live cattle, to a limited extent, are exported to Cuba and other West Indian markets, but the chief produce from this industry is hides. The department of Santander devotes considerable attention to horse-breeding. Goats are largely produced for their skins, and in some localities, as in Cauca, sheep are raised for their wool. Swine are common to the whole country, and some attention has been given to the breeding of mules.

Minerals.—The mineral resources of Colombia are commonly believed to be the principal source of her wealth, and this because of the precious metals extracted from her mines since the Spanish invasion. The estimate aggregate for three and a half centuries is certainly large, but the exact amount will probably never be known, because the returns in colonial times were as defective as those of disorderly independence have been. Humboldt and Chevalier estimated the total output down to 1845 at £1,200,000, which Professor Soetbeer subsequently increased to £169,422,750. A later Colombian authority, Vicente Restrepo, whose studies of gold and silver mining in Colombia have been generally accepted as conclusive and trustworthy, after a careful sifting of the evidence on which these two widely diverse conclusions were based and an examination of records not seen by Humboldt and Soetbeer, reaches the conclusion that the region comprised within the limits of the republic, including Panama, had produced down to 1886 an aggregate of £127,800,000 in gold and £6,600,000 in silver. This aggregate he distributes as follows:—

16th century £10,600,000
17th  ” 34,600,000
18th  ” 41,000,000
19th  ” 41,600,000

According to his computations the eight Colombian departments, omitting Panama, had produced during this period in gold and silver:—

Antioquia £50,000,000
Cauca 49,800,000
Tolima 10,800,000
Santander 3,000,000
Bolívar 1,400,000
Cundinamarca 360,000
Magdalena 200,000
Boyacá 40,000
  —————
  £115,600,000

Three-fourths of the gold production, he estimates, was derived from alluvial deposits. Large as these aggregates are, it will be seen that the annual production was comparatively small, the highest average, that for the 19th century, being less than £500,000 a year. Toward the end of the 19th century, after a decline in production due to the abolition of slavery and to civil wars, increased interest was shown abroad in Colombian mining operations. Medellin, the capital of Antioquia, is provided with an electrolytic refining establishment, several assaying laboratories, and a mint. The department of Cauca is considered to be the richest of the republic in mineral deposits, but it is less conveniently situated for carrying on mining operations. Besides this, the extreme unhealthiness of its most productive regions, the Chocó and Barbacoas districts on the Pacific slope, has been a serious obstacle to foreign enterprise. Tolima is also considered to be rich in gold and (especially) silver deposits. East of the Magdalena the production of these two metals has been comparatively small. In compensation the famous emerald mines of Muzo and Coscuez are situated in an extremely mountainous region north of Bogotá and near the town of Chiquinaquirá, in the department of Boyacá. The gems are found in a matrix of black slate in what appears to be the crater of a volcano, and are mined in a very crude manner. The mines are owned by the government. The revenue was estimated at £96,000 for 1904. Platinum is said to have been discovered in Colombia in 1720, and has been exported regularly since the last years of the 18th century. It is found in many parts of the country, but chiefly in the Chocó and Barbacoas districts, the annual export from the former being about 10,000 in value. Of the bulkier and less valuable minerals Colombia has copper, iron, manganese, lead, zinc and mercury. Coal is also found at several widely-separated places, but is not mined. There are also indications of petroleum in Tolima and Bolívar. These minerals, however, are of little value to the country because of their distance from the seaboards and the costs of transportation. Salt is mined at Zipaquirá, near Bogotá, and being a government monopoly, is a source of revenue to the national treasury.

Manufactures.—The Pradera iron works, near Bogotá, carry on some manufacturing (sugar boilers, agricultural implements, &c.) in connexion with their mining and reducing operations. Pottery and coarse earthenware are made at Espinal, in Tolima, where the natives are said to have had a similar industry before the Spanish conquest. There are woollen mills at Popayan and Pasto, and small cigar-making industries at Ambalema and Palmira. Hat-making from the “jipijapa” fibre taken from the Carludovica palm is a domestic industry in many localities, and furnishes an article of export. Friction matches are made from the vegetable wax extracted from the Ceroxylon palm, and are generally used throughout the interior. Rum and sugar are products of a crude manufacturing industry dating from colonial times. A modern sugar-mill and refinery at Sincerin, 28 m. from Cartagena, was the first of its kind erected in the republic. It is partially supported by the government, and the concession provides that the production of sugar shall not be less than 2,600,000 ℔ per annum.

Commerce.—In the Barranquilla customs returns for 1906 the imports were valued at $6,787,055 (U.S. gold), on which the import duties were $4,333,028, or an average rate of 64%. According to a statistical summary issued in 1906 by the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, entitled “Commercial America in 1905,” the latest official return to the foreign trade of Colombia was said to be that of 1898, which was: imports 11,083,000 pesos, exports 19,158,000 pesos. Uncertainty in regard to the value of the peso led the compiler to omit the equivalents in U.S. gold, but according to foreign trade returns these totals represent gold values, which at 4s. per peso are: imports £2,216,600, exports £3,831,600. In his annual message to congress on the 1st of April 1907, President Reyes stated that the imports for 1904 were $14,453,000, and the exports $12,658,000, presumably U.S. gold, as the figures are taken from the Monthly Bulletin of the Bureau cf American Republics (July 1907). An approximate equivalent would be: imports £3,011,000, exports £2,637,000; which shows a small increase in the first and a very large decrease in the second. The imports include wheat flour, rice, barley, prepared foods, sugar, coal, kerosene, beer, wines and liquors, railway equipment, machinery and general hardware, fence wire, cotton and other textiles, drugs, lumber, cement, paper, &c., while the exports comprise coffee, bananas, hides and skins, tobacco, precious metals, rubber, cabinet woods, divi-divi, dye-woods, vegetable ivory, Panama hats, orchids, vanilla, &c.

Government.—The government of Colombia is that of a centralized republic composed of 15 departments, 1 federal district, and 4 intendencias (territories). It is divided into three co-ordinate branches, legislative, executive and judicial, and is carried on under the provisions of the constitution of 1886, profoundly modified by the amendments of 1905. Previous to 1886, the departments were practically independent, but under the constitution of that year the powers of the national government were enlarged and strengthened, while those of the departments were restricted to purely local affairs. The departments are provided with biennial departmental assemblies, but their governors are appointees of the national executive.

The legislative branch consists of a senate and chamber of deputies, which meets at Bogotá biennially (after 1908) on February 1st for an ordinary session of ninety days. The Senate is composed of 48 members—3 from each department chosen by the governor and his departmental council, and 3 from the federal district chosen by the president himself and two of his cabinet ministers. Under this arrangement the president practically controls the choice of senators. Their term of office is four years, and is renewed at the same time and for the same period as those of the lower house. The chamber is composed of 67 members, elected by popular suffrage in the departments, on the basis of one representative for each 50,000 of population. The intendencias are represented by one member each, who is chosen by the intendant, his secretary, and 3 citizens elected