In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Colombian Politics and Government

  • Introduction
  • Social Movements

Political Science Colombian Politics and Government
Mónica Pachón, Carlos Caballero Argáez
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 August 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0365


There is a well-established body of literature on Colombian politics that covers many historical processes which characterize the country’s political history. In this bibliography, we first review academic contributions about the more general and common themes in Latin American politics that explain the details of the state-building process and the evolution of political institutions: political parties, elections, the Congress, and the courts. Next, we review contributions to understanding Colombia’s 1991 constitutional reform, which represents a departure from the former 1886 Constitution, establishing the structure of the current institutional architecture. We proceed to review the literature on decentralization and reform of the economic institutions and their consequences and provide sources in case the readers are interested in sectors of the economy. Next, we turn into contributions about political culture, emphasizing clientelism and the evolution of social movements. The next part of the bibliography emphasizes the literature on political violence and armed conflict in the country, including references to its historical evolution, to understand the dynamics of the conflict, its participants, actions, differences across territories, and the link with drug traffic and a weak state capacity. We then turn to the literature analyzing the link between natural resource control and the persistence of conflict as well as the development of infrastructure. In the last part of the bibliography, we review the academic contributions of various authors in understanding the peace processes that have occurred since the turn of the twenty-first century, their results, and citizens’ perceptions of them.

General Overviews: Textbooks

There is an extended body of literature and textbooks about the Colombian economy, history, and politics; Bonnet, et al. 2010 describes the main aspects of Colombian history, culture, and various sociocultural dimensions. Bushnell 1996, Palacios and Safford 2012, Melo 2017, and Gómez Buendía 2021 provide a complete synthesis of Colombian history from pre-Hispanic times to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in Gómez Buendía’s text—explaining institutional debates on the democratic design of the country, economic development and its relationship to power and civil conflict, drug traffic, and the evolution of democratic electoral processes. Urrutia 1990 explains the impact of economic growth on Colombians’ quality of life between 1950 and 1990. Robinson and Urrutia 2007, Lora 2019, and Cárdenas 2020 explore the Colombian economic context in modern times. Caballero and Machado 2020 reviews the 21st-century economic development and performance with various emphases on macro-economic, monetary, and fiscal policies. Finally, Fedesarrollo 2021 presents a prospective report looking at the future of Colombian public policy challenges in the 2020s.

  • Bonnet, Diana, Michael LaRosa, and Mauricio Nieto. Colombia: Preguntas y respuestas sobre su pasado y su presente. Bogotá: Universidad de Los Andes, 2010.

    Describes the main aspects of Colombia, starting with a complete geographical presentation and historical account of precolonial societies, the independence from Spain, the loss of Panama, and a range of articles on social and economic issues during the twentieth century.

  • Bushnell, David. Colombia: Una nación a pesar de si misma. Bogotá: Planeta, 1996.

    A complete and classical synthesis of Colombia reviews critical important historical events and processes from the pre-Hispanic Colombian era to the end of the twentieth century.

  • Caballero, Carlos, and Germán D. Machado. “De la crisis de ‘fin de siglo’ a la del ‘coronavirus’: La economía colombiana en el siglo XXI.” Coyuntura Económica: Investigación Económica y Social 5.1–2 (2020): 15–74.

    An analysis of the Colombian economic performance of the first two decades of the twenty-first century, starting with a deep economic crisis and finishing with the pandemic.

  • Cárdenas, S. Mauricio. Introducción a la economía Colombiana. Bogotá: Fedesarrollo-Alpha Editorial, 2020.

    This book summarizes how the Colombian economy works, its performance, and the recent trends. It contains all relevant statistics to understand the past and present of the economy.

  • Fedesarrollo. Descifrar el futuro: La economía colombiana en los próximos diez años. Bogotá: Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, 2021.

    Authors in this report offer a thorough diagnostic of public policy deficits in the 2020s, and discuss the social, labor, tax, education, and infrastructure reforms needed to promote economic growth and social progress in the years to come.

  • Gómez Buendía, Hernando. Entre la independencia y la pandemia, Colombia, 1810 a 2020. Bogotá: Fundación Razón Pública, 2021.

    Presents Colombian history from its independence to the present, including the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Lora, Eduardo. Economía esencial de Colombia. Bogotá: Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial, 2019.

    This book examines the Colombian economy in modern times, from micro to macro values, and studies economic power, inequality, growth, employment, taxes, and the economy’s influence on society.

  • Melo, Jorge O. Historia mínima de Colombia. México: El Colegio de México-Turner, 2017.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctv1nhm21

    A historical recount of Colombia’s territory from the fifteenth century, reviewing all historical stages from colonialism to present times, analyzing the institutional and political changes through each chapter.

  • Palacios, Marco, and Frank Safford. Historia de Colombia: País fragmentado sociedad dividida. Bogotá: Universidad de los Andes, 2012.

    Presents Colombian history from precolonial to present times, emphasizing geographical fragmentation, societal divisions, and the hardships of integrating the country as one nation.

  • Robinson, James, and Miguel Urrutia. Economía colombiana del siglo XX: Un análisis cuantitativo. Bogotá: Fondo de Cultura Económica-Banco de la República, 2007.

    The different chapters of this book present different dimensions of the economic history and development of Colombia in the twentieth century, from macroeconomic policy to physical infrastructure and education.

  • Urrutia, Miguel. 40 años de desarrollo: Su impacto social. Bogotá: Banco Popular, Fondo de Promoción de la Cultura, 1990.

    This book focuses on the impact of economic development on Colombians’ quality of life between 1950 to 1990. Studying the lives of families, women, children, and peasants and how the country went from rural to urban in forty years.

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