Colombia’s census authority released preliminary data that has been more than 13 years in the offing, providing a first look at how the country has shifted since the 2016 peace deal.
The much awaited 2018 census, which takes the pulse of Colombia’s population, is the first since 2005.
Census bosses have come under fire for delays in collecting and publishing the data, according to a report by LAFM. Authorities said that they have struggled to collect data for a number of reasons including lack of cooperation and security issues in areas like Catatumbo, a rural zone of Colombia riddled with violence, and military operations.
Smaller than predicted
The preliminary 2018 census data released this week by the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) shows that Colombia’s population stands at 42.8 million people — expected to increase to 45.5 million by the end of the year. That number is vastly lower than the 50 million people previously estimated.
The preliminary report breaks down the make-up of the country, movement of its inhabitants, literacy rates, living conditions, and shows shifts in that data.
And the country has shifted.
A changing Colombia
In the past 13 years, more Colombians have moved into dense city areas and larger municipalities and from rural areas, though 15.1% of the the population still lives in rural zones. Literary rates have increased more than 3% in those years, now standing at about 95% of the population.
And since 1964, Colombia’s average population has grown older. Children and young teenagers once made up a large chunk of the Colombian population, but the data shows that more people are living to older ages, with majority of Colombians now between the ages of 15 and 59. Women in the country still make up more than half of the population as they have for more than 50 years.
While the vast majority of Colombians have access to electricity, sewage, trash collection and other health services, less than half of the population still doesn’t have access to the internet.
Unsurprisingly, given that Colombia has and continues to face highest levels of internal displacement in the world according to the UN, the figures reflect the heavy population movement. Now, as a mass exodus of Venezuelans flee to Colombia, many of Colombia’s departments are also seeing large levels of immigration.
While the data remains incomplete, the information should inform official’s decisions and public policy. It also shows how the country has shifted since times of war and the 2016 peace accords between the Santos administration and FARC guerillas.