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Colombia is a country that surprises all those who come to visit.

It passed from being skipped for many travelers during their South America trip, to being one of the top destinations of the world.

Colombia is well known for its people, green landscapes and beautiful beaches.

It is also popular for being one of the countries where it is easier to learn the Spanish language.

Still, many don’t know much about Colombia, except what they have heard in the media or from other people.

So, here are some things you probably didn’t know about our country:

What is Colombia’s most famous for?

1. Colombia has the second-highest number of native Spanish speakers

Top 12 countries with the largest number of native Spanish speakers worldwide

Top 12 countries with the largest number of native Spanish
speakers worldwide Source

Around 480 million people around the world speak the Spanish language.

After Mexico, Colombia is the country with the largest number of native Spanish speakers in the world, with over 49 million.

More than 99.2% of Colombians speak Spanish, but there are also 80 different indigenous and Creole languages.

About 850,000 people in Colombia are speakers of native languages.

In  San Andres and Providencia, Creole English is spoken by 20,000 – 30,000 people. A blend between English, Spanish, Kwa from the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo, and Igbo from Nigeria.

Colombia is becoming one of the most popular destinations for learning Spanish.

It is often said that Colombians speak one of the most neutral Spanish in the world. By “Colombian Spanish” people normally refers to the dialect spoken in Bogota.

2. Coffee Cultural Landscape, a World Heritage site

Things You Probably Didn't Know About Colombia : Coffee

Yes, you know Colombia produces the best Coffee in the world.

It is the third-largest exporter of coffee after Brazil and Vietnam.

Colombia produces around 12% of the world’s coffee.

In 2011, UNESCO declared the “Coffee Cultural Landscape” of Colombia, a World Heritage site.

An exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape that is unique and representative of a tradition that is a strong symbol for coffee growing areas worldwide.

This landscape comprehends The coffee-growing axis (Eje Cafetero), about 1.2% of the Colombian territory, where most of the coffee harvest is produced.

3. Nevado del Ruiz and the Ring of Fire

Things You Probably Didn't Know About Colombia : Volcano Ring of fire

Colombia is part of the Ring of Fire, also referred to as the Circum-Pacific Belt.

The Ring of Fire is a 40,000 km, horseshoe shape of countries in the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes.

Seventy-five percent of Earth’s volcanoes—more than 450 volcanoes—are located along the Ring of Fire. 90% of Earth’s earthquakes occur along its path.

Nevado del Ruiz lies within the Pacific Ring of Fire. This volcano is located 29 kilometers west of the capital city Bogotá and is known for the eruption in 1985, one of the deadliest Volcanic Eruptions Since 1500 A.D.

4. Famous emeralds

Things You Probably Didn't Know About Colombia : Famous Emeralds

Colombian emeralds are well known for their brilliance and deep color.

It is the world’s leading producer, 60% of the world’s fine Emeralds come from Colombia.

The country has more than 150 mines churning out high-quality emeralds.

The most valuable emerald in the world is The Tena Emerald found in Muzo, in 1999.

Colombian emeralds are also famous throughout history:

  • The Crown of Andes, estimated to be worth $2.5 million and on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
  • The Chalk Emerald, it became the centerpiece of a diamond and emerald necklace owned by Indian Maharani, Sita Devi.
  • The Mogul Mughal Emerald. One of the largest emeralds known. It’ on display at the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar

5. Cycle Path Network and Sustainable Transportation

Things You Probably Didn't Know About Colombia : Sustainable Transportation

Colombia’s capital city, Bogota, has one of the biggest cycle path networks in the world. It is by far the most bike-friendly city in South America.

And for the last couple of years, the Colombian government has been committed to strategic public transport systems.

Take for example Medellin, famous for its innovative sustainable transport and awarded the 2012 Sustainable Transport Award.

6. “Megadiverse” Country

Things You Probably Didn't Know About Colombia : Biodiverse Country

Colombia is listed as one of the world’s “megadiverse” countries. It hosts close to 10% of the planet’s biodiversity.

There are 17 megadiverse countries in the world and Colombia is the second country with the most biodiversity per square kilometer.

Flowers

Colombia is the second largest fresh cut flower exporter in the world after the Netherlands. 95% of Colombia’s flower production is exported.

It is also the top supplier of flowers to the United States.

Worldwide, Colombia ranks first in orchid species diversity

Birds

Colombia has the greatest bird diversity in the world.

There are 1851 confirmed bird species in the country, equivalent to 20% of the global total.

Humpback Whales

Colombia is the world’s top destination for whale watching.

Uramba Bahía Málaga National Natural Park is one of the favorite places for humpback whales to give birth to their babies.

Annually from July to November, Humpback whales flee the cold South Pole for the warmer waters of the Colombian Pacific.

Wax Palm Tree

Quindio wax palm, Colombia’s national tree, is the world’s tallest palm tree. It can grow up to 60 meters tall.

Tropical fruits

According to the Humboldt Institute, Colombians could eat a different fruit every day for more than a year.

Yes! You are reading well.

We could spend a whole year trying different fruits. In Colombia, there are over 400 edible native species.

If you want to know more about Colombian fruits read our post “15 exotic fruits you have to try in Colombia”.

7. Unique geography

Climate

Thanks to its geographical proximity to the equator, Colombia doesn’t have typical seasons like spring, summer, fall, or winter.

Instead, there are only two seasons, rainy and dry season. This makes the weather stays more or less the same all year round in each region.

Snow-capped mountains with ocean view

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (5,710m) is the world’s highest coastal mountain range.

Páramos (moorland)

The world’s largest páramo is in Colombia. Sumapaz páramo is located just a couple of hours from Bogota.

Paramo is one of the world’s most important ecosystems, nestled in mountains between the treeline and glaciers and one of the fastest evolving ecosystems on Earth.

Colombia is one of only three countries in the world to be home to paramo and more than 60% of these moorlands are found in our country.

Islands

There are approximately 74 islands in Colombia, including oceanic, river and lake islands, cays, and islets.

One of those is the world’s most densely populated island: Santa Cruz del Islote

The Pacific Ocean & Caribbean Sea

Colombia is the only country in South America that has coastlines on the North Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Amazonia

Amazonia is a vast 643,000-sq-km slice of rainforest accounting for a third of Colombia’s total area – about the size of California – and spread over some eight of the country’s departments.

Most of Amazonia’s area is unreachable and untamed.

8. Other interesting facts about Colombia

National Anthem

It is mandatory for radio and public television in Colombia to play the National Anthem every day at 6 am and 6 pm.

National Holidays

Colombia has 18 National holidays. It is one of the countries with the most National holidays in the world.

It’s Colombia, not Columbia

Most people misspell “Colombia”, probably because some other names are spelled with an “u”, like British Columbia or how the word sounds in English.

Just remember, Colombia is named after Cristoforo Colombo or Cristobal Colón in Spanish (Christopher Columbus in English), the explorer who began the European colonization of the Americas.

The Willys Jeep

Why is the Willys Jeep the most iconic car in Colombia?

Cien años de Soledad

Why should you read “One Hundred Years of Solitude”?

We really hope you enjoyed this post.

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We have talked about Colombia’s diversity in the past.

About its food, people, and music.

And we know, it is precisely our rich cultural diversity one of the reasons people decide to visit Colombia and to learn Spanish.

Colombia is a big country. There is so much to see and so much to do!

If you want to explore and experience deeply our cultural richness you would need to visit all five regions. The Caribbean coast, the Pacific coast, the Andes Mountain Range, the Grassland Plains, and the Amazon Rainforest.

Which requires quite some time…

Luckily, you can visit and live in Bogota. The city where you can get a full immersion into Colombian culture.

Where is Bogota?

Bogota is the capital of and the largest city in Colombia. It is also the third-largest city in South America after São Paulo (Brazil) and Lima (Peru).

With its many universities and libraries, Bogota is known as the “Athens of South America”.

It is the political and cultural centre of the country. It is a place of convergence for people from all over the country and from all over the world.

Every year people move to the capital city to either study or to work. Therefore a good part of its population is not local, and as a result, it is very diverse and multicultural.

Bogota is the country’s beating heart. It is said that it is the melting pot of Colombia.

Here all cultures have a place.

What is Bogota known for?

Bogota brings together the best of the country; its music, its food, its art, its people. The cultural offer is infinite.

There is a broad array of local and international restaurants. There are many parks with concert facilities, and beautiful mountains surrounding the city where you can do day-hikes.

For art lovers, there are around 58 museums and over 70 art galleries.

There are also events such as ArtBo (International Fair of Art of Bogotá), La Feria del Millón (Art festival for both up-and-coming artists and first-time art buyers) and Barcú (International Fair of Arts and Culture).

In Bogota, you can find sounds and vibes from the Caribbean at festivals like Colombia al Parque or night clubs like La Negra. And, the flavours of the Pacific and Amazonia region in restaurants like Petronio or Mini-mal.

You can also find the Colombian best coffees. There are places where you can do coffee tasting, or book stores where you can sit and enjoy a reading afternoon such as Wilborada 1047.

Bogota, cultural heritage

In addition, Bogota was named the UNESCO City of Music in recognition of its rich musical heritage and the innumerable festivals held throughout the year.

Read also our post about Colombian music “10 Colombian music genres you need to know about!”.

In Bogota, you will be 2.600 meters “closer to the stars”.

Yes, it is one of the highest capitals in the world, located 2.600 meters above sea level (8.612 feet).

It is a city that will always exceed your expectations. Check out why:

Cultural diversity in Bogota

Bogota not only attracts people from other regions of Colombia.

It also attracts people from non-Spanish speaking countries who are keen to immerse themselves in the Colombian culture and to learn Spanish.

Rolos, as people from Bogota are known, are reputed to have one of the most neutral and clearest accents in the Spanish-speaking world. They have also an internal reputation for being distant or “cold” -as it usually happens with people from capital cities-. However, you would be surprised by how friendly, polite and open-minded Rolos are.

Tip: In Bogota, many people prefer to use the formal “usted” instead of “tú”, even between good friends and family members.

To know more about the differences between Spanish from Colombia and Spanish from Spain read our previous post “Top 5 differences between Spanish from Colombia and Spanish from Spain

Why learn Spanish in Bogota?

If you want to learn or improve your Spanish before starting your trip around Colombia, there is nothing better than spending some time in Bogota.

Why?

In Bogota you will meet people from Cali, Medellín, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Chocó, Bucaramanga, Pasto and many other Colombian cities.

You will have time to talk to them when buying street food, visiting local fruit markets, or having drinks at one of the city’s trendy rooftops.

You will get familiar with the different accents, dialects, and talking speeds. Also, you will learn the most common Colombian slang and expressions.

One thing is for sure, you will never get bored in Bogota! A city full of art, fashion, food, culture, history, music, and unique experiences.

See you there!

Learn Spanish in Colombia: In-Class & Online Courses

 

One of the things people like the most when visiting Colombia is to discover the different cultures within the country.

Each region has its own traditions, its unique customs, and its own accent.

There is plenty of music, food, and people wherever you go.

We often hear people saying they like Colombians or they like Colombian Culture, but what do they really mean?

Colombian culture is fascinating. It has been the result of the country’s location and the influences of other cultures over the years.

Let’s look back into history!

How did the cultural mix start in Colombia?

Since the “La Conquista” period, Colombia has been an important point of arrival for immigrants coming to South America. For instance, Spanish and Africans. They settled in the country for more than two hundred years.

As a result, three new racial groups emerged:

  • Mestizo, from the mix of indigenous and Europeans.
  • Mulato, from the mix of Africans and Europeans.
  • Zambo, from the mix of indigenous and Africans.

Later, during the 19th and 20th centuries, immigrants from the Middle East arrived in the country. They, and their descendants, are known as Arab-Colombians.

They settled mainly in the Caribbean region and, still today, they have an important influence in the region’s culture (i.e. food, music and traditions).

Now, let’s move to the present.

What races and ethnic groups are in Colombia today?

There are four ethnic groups in Colombia:

Out of those groups, indigenous groups play a crucial role in the country’s diversity. It is very important to highlight the diversity within these groups.

There are 87 different indigenous groups located in almost all departments of the country, 27 out of the 32 departments. Which explains why some demographers say Colombia is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the Western Hemisphere and in the World.

Now, let’s talk about languages

Languages also play an important role in Colombia’s cultural diversity. Why is that?

In Colombia, 99% of the population speaks Spanish, yet, there are plenty of people who speak it as a second language.

The exact number is not clear but according to experts, there are about 70 indigenous languages still spoken in Colombia and more than 750,000 people speak them.

Besides Spanish and indigenous languages, there are also two kinds of Creole languages. Creole is a language that has developed from another.

The first one is the Creole spoken in the islands of San Andres and Providencia. It is a blend between English, Spanish, Kwa (from the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo) and Igbo (from Nigeria).

The second one is the Palenque Creole, or Palenquero. It is a blend of Spanish language and Kikongo (from Central Africa, RD Congo and Angola).

With all these influences, you might be wondering how Colombians look like. Don’t you?

Colombians reflect indeed the blend between Spanish, African and indigenous. Some of them reflect as well as their Arabs roots.

Let’s better explain it with pictures. It might give you an idea of the diversity of Colombian people.

As you could see, Colombians are a fascinating blend of people and cultures.

That is why every day more people have decided to visit the country and start their journey with an immersion of the Spanish language.

There is no better way of experiencing a country than by talking to its people!

Are you one of those passionate about world cultures? Let us know on our social media channels @ilikespanish