Have you ever wondered what Colombia is famous or infamous for? What things should you know before visiting?
Colombia is becoming very popular among travelers. We’ve spent 31 days in the country, left with beautiful memories and a desire to come back again.
Whether you plan to visit or just want to learn something about Colombia, this article is for you. You will find some surprising and interesting facts about Colombia will help you understand the country.
Nature of Colombia
One-third of Colombia is covered with the Amazon rainforest. Most of these areas are only accessible by plane or foot.
Only two seasons
Colombia is a tropical country located just north of the Equator which means there aren’t four seasons. Temperatures are stable throughout the year and only thing that changes is a rainy season with a dry season. Some parts of Colombia have the same weather all year round, such as Medellin. “City of the Eternal Spring” is its nickname.
World’s most beautiful river
Liquid Rainbow or The most beautiful river in the world is in Colombia. It is quite hard to get there. Only transportation is a plane and then horseback ride or donkey. It’s a regular river for most of the year and turns to rainbow colours between September and November. In this period river plants change colour to red and with the colours of river bedrock, water reflection creates River of Five Colours.
High coastal range
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in northern Colombia, is the world’s second highest coastal mountain range. You can get from the sea level to 5,700 m elevation in only 42 km. Areas within this mountain range are the world’s most irreplaceable protected areas due to its endangered species habitat.
Wax palm, symbol of Colombia
Wax palm is a national tree and symbol of Colombia. Colombian government set up Los Nevados National Natural Park which Cocora Valley is a part of. You can go hiking in Cocora Valley, the protected forest reserve, and be surrounded by 45-meter tall wax palms, the tallest palms on the planet.
Colombia belongs to a group of 17 megadiverse countries. These countries have more than 5000 biological species. It has one of the highest number of species by area in the world, including butterflies, amphibian species and has more bird species than Europe and North America combined.
Coffee region named a heritage site
Colombia is the biggest producer of Arabica coffee beans in the world. Counting all types of the coffee, the country is the third biggest producer of all. Coffee plants require high altitudes, warm but not sunny weather to grow the best harvest. UNESCO rewarded Colombian coffee cultural landscape as Heritage Site.
People & culture
Colombia not Columbia
Colombia (Spanish) and Columbia (English) were used to describe new world discovered in the 15th century now known as North and South America. Many people misspell Colombia for Columbia. The country, Colombia, is from Spanish and therefore writing Columbia is a big mistake and Colombians may feel offended.
Happiest place in the world
Colombia is for many years one of the happiest countries in the world. People filled out a survey based on their feeling of being happy or unhappy. More than 85% Colombians feel happy.
Second most holiday days
Looking for a place to work? Go to Colombia. Colombians have the second most Bank Holidays in the world which are usually celebrated on Mondays. Who knows, maybe long weekends and balanced work and personal life is the secret to the happiest nation in the world.
Women are bosses
There are only three countries in the world where it is more likely to have female boss instead of a man. In Colombia 53% of bosses are women. Only one country has a more women bosses ratio – Jamaica, where 59 out of 100 bosses are women.
One of the biggest patriots
Colombians are one of the biggest patriots, television and radio have to play the National anthem at 6 am and 6 pm every day. Maybe the government doesn’t want people to forget the lyrics.
President awarded a Nobel Prize
Current Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos was awarded Nobel Peace Prize for signing a deal with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). This deal will help to end guerrilla wars in Colombia. Colombian Congress approved the deal despite more than half of Colombians voting against it.
More Spanish speaking ratio than in Spain
In Colombia, 99.2% people speak Spanish compared to Spain where 99% people speak Spanish. Colombia is a country which has the second biggest ratio of Spanish speaking people right after Mexico.
Greatest Colombian who ever lived
Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote the most-sold novel in Spanish language and won a Nobel Prize for literature. He was a great friend of Fidel Castro. At his funeral, Marquez was described as “the greatest Colombian who ever lived”.
Country of dances
There is actually only one dance that originated in Colombian northern part and that is cumbia. All other famous dances such as samba or reggaeton were imported from the Caribbean islands. Colombia is great with adopting dances and making them popular.
Transformation in progress
Former murder capital of the world Medellin lost its title which now belongs to Caracas in Venezuela. Medellin gained the title “thanks” to Pablo Escobar’s drug wars and transformed to a great city that welcomes visitors and was declared the World’s Most Innovative City in 2012.
Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar once offered to pay of Colombian government debt of $10bn. Some say that the statement is only a rumor and has never been offered by Escobar.
Biggest cocaine producer
Colombia is world’s biggest cocaine producer. For a long period of time, it ranks within first 3 places followed by Peru and Bolivia. The Colombian government is able to confiscate about 80% of it every year. Around 100 tons makes it to the market.
Only in the USA, almost half a million people die every year from smoking American tobacco. Cocaine mainly from Colombia kills roughly 15,000 people. Was the War on Drugs led in the right countries, for the right cause or should the USA rather ban tobacco instead?
History of Colombia
City of gold
When Europeans came to South America and heard stories about the city of gold called El Dorado, it inspired many to go on a hunt for this place. Legendary place of untold riches was never found and most expedition expected it being hidden in Colombian Andes.
Colombia is by far the biggest producer of emeralds. Emerald belongs to the most precious gemstones. Every second emerald on the planet comes from Colombia. Emerald trade was a big contributor to civil problems that ended in 2016 by peace deal between government and FARC.
Interesting facts about Colombian Cities
Medellin city center
Medellin city center is a really strange place and not the best place for kids. Street vendors sell porn DVDs right on the streets. Prostitutes offer their services right next to the church’s entrances. At least redemption is right next door.
World’s theatre capital
World’s biggest theatre festival Iberoamericana is held every other year in Bogota. You can see theatres from all over the world performing concerts, circus or arts during 17 days. Therefore Bogota is called world’s theatre capital.
One of the highest capital cities
Bogota is fourth highest capital in the world. It lies at an elevation of 2625 meters. Within cities bigger than 3 million people, it is the highest. Half of the world population lives below 200 meters of elevation.
Bogota has the largest network (300km) of biking routes in South America. Every Sunday city of Bogota closes 75 km of public roads for motorized traffic and let cyclists, roller-bladers, and runners use it without traffic restrictions. This event is probably the biggest sport event happening every week. A car-free initiative that is spreading around the world – Mexico City, Paris, Singapore and many more are participating in a traffic free environment for at least one day a month.
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