Essay title: Colombia
Colombia has the highest amount of kidnappings in the world. The guerilla kidnap people and then ask their family money. They do this with Colombians and with foreigners. Many Colombians are afraid to travel in their own country.
Backpackers have been traveling the country and almost never get into trouble. You need to stay away from certain areas, but generally, backpackers are not specifically targeted.
Foreigners live in Colombia happily. You DO have to be careful traveling the country. If you work for a LARGE company (say, oil), you are more of a target. If you are just an English teacher you are not much of a target.
Most travelers in Colombia never have problems.
The last few years (2003, 2004, 2005), it has become safer to travel due to actions by the governement to secure the roads.
And here are some basic rules around safety:
Dont get paranoid. Dont let safety fears ruin your visit.
Dont take night buses, unless you are pretty sure its safe. Take day buses.
If you are the worrying type, just take flights between cities. The main danger in Colombia is being kidnapped (doesnt happen often but when it does its bad), kidnapping