All drugs come from Columbia By Daniela Goldfinger

Some 4% of the world’s population has consumed cocaine in his or her life. That is almost 300 million people. Approximately half of this cocaine comes from Colombia.

Everyone knows who Pablo Escobar is. However, what he isn’t is a fair representation of all Colombians. Not everyone in the country is a coke trafficker, coke farmer, coke mule or drug lord. Also, shocking fact, coke is not legal in Colombia.

For tourists:

Drop your ideas of a coke-soaked land still lost in the days of the Escobar gang. While residents of Medellin can recall growing up in a battlefield, where even trips to buy groceries meant dodging violence, Colombia is no gangster's paradise. The coca leaf is still chewed in some rural communities, and coca leaf tea is stocked for tourists, but suggesting that Colombia hasn't moved on from its inglorious past is considered ignorant and rude. Colombia has persevered, though unfortunately so has the drug war, migrating closer to its end market -- the U.S.-Mexico border.

Colombia remains the world's biggest cocaine producer despite the government crackdown on drugs. The drug trade is worth $10 billion each year -- more than any country except for Afghanistan. Although drug money accounts for around 1% of GDP, down from 6% in the 1980s, this decline is due to the growth of Colombia's legal economy. Moreover, experts say that Colombian traffickers under the microscope have rerouted the drug trade through Mexico, and have increasingly formed allies wih thin Colombia's government which has made figures harder to report. We've picked out some incredible facts about Colombia's drug economy.

  • Colombia is the world's largest cocaine producer and accounted for 43% of global coca cultivation in 2009
  • Colombia's drug trade is worth $10 billion — one quarter as much as the country's legal exportsAlthough drug money accounts for less of Columbia's economy (1%) than Afghanistan's (30%), both countries export around $10 billion yearly
  • Colombian and Mexican drug cartels made $4.6 billion in profits from exporting to the US
  • Colombia's defense spending has gone up to $12 billion since it began its crackdown on drugs — that's about three times the defense budget of average South American countries

Colombian police pose with the body of drug lord Pablo Escobar

  • 68,000 hectares of land were used for illegal coca bush cultivation in 2009. That's the size of about 153,000 football fields
  • Nearly 90% of cocaine used in the U.S. originates in Colombia
  • Since 2001, the U.S. has spent about $6 billion to help fund Colombia's crackdown on drugs and Marxist guerrillas — that's more than the budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

BUT:That Colombia -- a country of conflict and cartels -- has largely disappeared, replaced by a rejuvenated capital of Bogota and a resilient culture that refuses to be bogged down by the dark days.

Premonitions and stereotypes should be swept aside before visiting this South American country of spectacular scenery. Today's Colombia is much more than the ugly Escobar legacy or its famed Andean coffee -- though a cup of café will most certainly reach your hands during a trip.

Thank yoU

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