State type
Type of government
Republica democrática representativa
Administrative Division

National Level

Gobierno Central

Intermediate/Regional Level

Departamentos 32

Distrito Capital 1

Local Level

Municipios 1002

Official names of subnational and local governments

Entidades territoriales

Son entidades territoriales los departamentos, los distritos, los municipios y los territorios indígenas. La ley podrá darles el carácter de entidades territoriales a las regiones y provincias que se constituyan en los términos de la Constitución y de la ley. ...

Art. 286.


National Urban Policy

  • The Mission for the Strengthening of the System of Cities was developed during 2012 and 2013. During the first year, twelve studies were commissioned to define guidelines for national public policies aimed at increasing income, lowering the cost of living and increasing labor mobility in the Colombian system of cities: productivity, cost of living, institutional framework and financing. To complement this, during the second year, new studies were conducted on quality of life, infrastructure investment requirements and digital connectivity.

    The system of cities in Colombia is made up of 58 agglomerated and unimodal cities with economic, political-administrative and service-providing functions that are fundamental for their regions and for the country. The Mission led to the national policy to strengthen the system of cities (CONPES 3819), which seeks to establish a long-term framework to guide, articulate and make the actions of national entities in the country's cities and regions more efficient for development purposes, in accordance with the specific conditions of each place and the policies of the territorial entities.

    The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducted a comprehensive evaluation of Colombia's urban policy and its impact on sectors such as transportation, housing, land use and digitalization, among others. An update of the urban policy is in progress, the Ciudades 4.0 plan, based on the OECD's Review of the National Urban Policy of Colombia, with the support of the Ministry of Housing, City and Territory. The design of the new policy proposes a rethinking of urban areas, incorporating sectors in an integrated manner.

    National urban policy type:
    Policy temporality:
  • Colombia has two sub-national levels of government: Departments and Municipalities. Both have political, administrative, and fiscal autonomy guaranteed by the Constitution.
    This autonomy is not absolute, as it is limited by the constitution itself and by national laws and regulations with limited fiscal autonomy. However, municipalities and districts have a diverse range of instruments and sources of their resources, being able to apply rates or fees for the provision of services and compensation. There are more than 15 different local taxes, among which the Industry and Commerce Tax, the Unified Property Tax, and the Gasoline Surcharge stand out, as they are the ones that generate the highest revenue in the municipalities. Colombia is a leader in the region, together with Brazil, in the development of regulatory frameworks for urban management and land value capture. 

    Municipalities also have other types of income from:

    •Transfers, derived from the General Participation System funds. Most of Colombian municipalities are highly dependent on this type of transfers, becoming the main source of resources for small and medium-sized municipalities.
    General System of Royalties derived from the exploitation of Non-Renewable Natural Resources, which are destined for investment projects
    Access to external income: internal and external public debt, international cooperation funds and donations, Public-Private Partnerships.

  • Colombia has multiple laws that guide and create the institutions, instruments, and technical guidelines to carry out urban and rural land use planning. The territorial planning is carried out through a macro division of the territory into territorial entities, which are: the central government, the departments, the capital district, and the municipalities. Land-use planning in the country is guided by Law 388 of 1997, which establishes the technical guidelines, authorities and instruments related to the territorial ordering of municipalities and districts. Together with Law 152 of 1994 and the Law 1454 of 2011 on land management, the main institutional frameworks that direct and regulate land use and planning processes in the country are established.