Colombia is the fourth largest country in South America and the only country in the region to have both Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The highland area which runs down the central-western part of the country is made up of three mountain ranges that form into the single Andean range in the south. To the east, and comprising almost half the landmass, is a vast area of flat plainland and Amazon jungle. Colombia has been persistently disrupted by political violence for decades, funded in recent years by huge illicit revenue gained from drug trafficking. Oil and agriculture (including coffee) form the basis for legitimate export revenue.
Colombia is the second largest arabica coffee producing country in the world after Brazil and the largest producer of washed arabica. Coffee is grown at altitudes of between 800 to 1,900 metres. The main region is located in the western area between the central and western cordilleras. However, there are also extensive growing areas in the north east and down in the south west of the country. Qualities have been variable over the past few years due to declining investment in cultivation (stemming from low prices). There is growing availability of speciality grades though the regular excelso and supremo grades continue to be the mainstay of many a coffee blend. Harvest times vary throughout the country. Broadly speaking the west and north have their main crops in October to December. The southern region has its main crop April to June.