85 Interesting Facts About Colombia

Last updated on August 17th, 2017 at 05:23 am

Colombia, which is located at the northern tip of South America, is a country of lush rainforests, towering mountains and coffee plantations. There is so much to this country. Let’s explore it!

85 Interesting facts about Colombia

#1. The theme of most children’s games, El Dorado, is actually a mythical city in ancient Colombia. Legend has it that a king used to spray himself with gold powder and then jump off from a golden boat into a lake in order to appease an undersea god.

#2. Colombia loves anything and everything that has something to do with Futbol (soccer). Without Futbol, its iconic yellow jerseys, its heartthrob, James Rodriguez, or without its unique goal dance, Colombian people couldn’t get a peaceful night’s sleep.

#3. The caffeine-drenched country loves to dance. The golden rule of Colombia: If you hear music, start moving.

#4. The music is also thumping and pumping in Colombia. World-famous pop singer Shakira hails from good old Colombia.

#5. Colombia is named after the legendary Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer – Christopher Columbus.

#6. Colombia shares land borders with 5 countries: BrazilEcuadorPanamaPeru, and Venezuela.

China has the most neighbors – 16 (North Korea, Russia, Mongolia, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Macau and Hong Kong).

#7. Starbucks opened its 1000th store in Latin America, and the first in the city of Medellín, Colombia. However, the company’s first store was inaugurated in Colombia in the capital city of Bogotá in 2014.

#8. Colombia is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world namely: Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, United States and Venezuela.

#9. It is mandatory for radio and public television in Colombia to play the national anthem every day at 6 am and 6 pm.

#10. Almost 60% of the Amazon rainforest lies in Brazil, 13% lies in Peru, and 10% lies in Colombia.

#11. Cano Cristales – the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow”, is a river in Colombia located in the Serrania de la Macarena province of Meta. This river’s bed changes color between yellow, green, blue, black, and especially red, beginning the end of July and through November.

Caño Cristales, Colombia.
Caño Cristales, Colombia. The river that changes color. Image credit – Fotur.org

#12. Coffee is not native to Colombia. Although they shipped 840,000 tonnes of it to other countries in 2015.

#13. With the second largest Spanish-speaking population, Colombia is also nicknamed “gateway to South America”.

#14. Archeologists estimate that humans settled in Colombia some 20,000 years ago.

#15. Age is an important factor in Colombia. The older you grow, the more powerful your voice becomes. Elders are deeply respected and revered in this tropical nation.

#16. Not lazy, but fun loving: Colombia, with 18 national holidays, came second in the “countries with the most national holidays” list. In case you are wondering who could top that, it’s India (21).

#17. Bogota, the capital of Colombia, is a mecca for street artists. The government not only tolerates graffiti but also encourages and sponsors street art.

Bogota, Colombia
Interesting facts about Colombia, Bogota (Capital City). Not so many skyscrapers. Image credit – Diego F.

#18. Colombia hosts the world’s largest theater festival, the Iberoamericana.

#19. Colombia is a place of fun, frolic, and festivity. It loves its holidays, organizing salsa parades, flower parades, carnivals and more.

#20. One out of every five butterfly species is found in Colombia.

Colombia Fun Facts

#21. The most popular choice for breakfast in Colombia is Changua. It’s simply a milk soup with an undercooked egg (Yes, it’s milk soup; you read it right.)

#22. Drinking coffee in Colombia is a cheesy affair. Here, for an unknown, weird reason, people put blocks of salty cheese into their coffee when they are finished drinking it, and eat the mushy blobs of coffee soaked cheese.

#23. Coffee is gulped down like water. While Colombian kids are given a nice coffee milkshake, they grow up to go pure black.

#24. Oatmeal is not a breakfast cereal, but a juicing material. Yes, Colombians love to drink down the Avena, which is literally oatmeal juice.

#25. Colombian women are very edgy about their curves.

#26. Here’s something about drugs: 15 tons of raw pure cocaine — that’s how much white powder just one man shipped into the U.S. alone each day, at one point in time.

#27. The King of Coke, Pablo Escobar, was born and bred in Colombia. During his heyday, he collected revenue to the tune of $420 million, weekly. That’s more than the monthly salary of all the CEO’s of all the top Fortune 500 companies put together.

#28. Pablo Escobar was so rich he offered $10 billion to waive off Colombia’s National debt.

#29. With so many happy-go-lucky chemicals flowing around, Colombia is reported to be the happiest place on planet earth. Maybe it’s time to revamp the World Drug Policy.

History

#30. A Nobel Laureate and a best friend of revolutionist Fidel Castro, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, was from Colombia. He is the author of “Love in the Time of Cholera,” which is the most-sold Spanish novel in history. Seems like Colombia colonized Spain, and not the other way around.

#31. Colombia started off as the Viceroyalty of New Granada, but soon broke up to become the Republic of Colombia. It still broke down into the Nueva Granada and then into United States of Colombia. But finally, in 1886, the Republic of Colombia came into being. Too much nationalism for a country its size!

#32. The government of Colombia found a $2 billion Spanish shipwreck under the sea near its coast. Spain, which looted them in the first place, has demanded the money back in an international dispute. Good logic: once you do steal it, it is yours.

#33. Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, at 13,000 m, is the world’s highest coastal mountain range. Incidentally, it’s on the run, and has moved more than a thousand miles in the last 170 million years.

#34. Initially, people who went to find the treasures of El Dorado never returned. Maybe they were all broke. Moral of the story: Always book your return flight…eh..ship.

#35. But then luck struck Spain, and Spain struck a mountain. Spain discovered a mountain, Cerro Rico, filled with silver….precious silver. Using free local labor plus hardworking llamas, they mined down the mountain, rock by rock.

#36. All the hard work did work out, and Spain finally mined out silver, lots and lots of silver. The funny irony is; they dug so much silver that for their generation, silver became worth nothing….literally.

#37. Colombia is drenched in Spanish influence. Though a former colony of Spain, Colombian culture, architecture, food habits, language, and its constitution are all more or less influenced by Spain.

Colombia Map
Interesting facts about Colombia: Colombia Map

#38. Colombia is the world’s leading producer of Emeralds. The finest quality emerald, a green gemstone, is found only in Colombia. The country has more than 150 mines churning out high-quality emeralds.

Did you know?

#39. Colombia is not only baked by the tropical sun from above, but also fried from down below. It lies above the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region where volcanoes and earthquakes are as natural as birds and bees.

Interesting facts: the Pacific Ring of Fire
The Pacific Ring of Fire. Image credit – Universe today

#40. Tejo is the native and national sport of Colombia. Beer is so common in this game, it’s almost a rule. The game consists of trying to throw a metal disk at a sack filled with gunpowder while being dead drunk.

#41. It’s ColOmbia, and not ColUmbia. Mind your pronunciation because Colombians have a very fine ear for details.

#42. Everyone and everything are sweet in Colombia, including its local alcohol, Aguardiente. It is made from sugarcane and is the best drink to enjoy the Colombian sun.

#43. In fact, Colombia is so passionate about its sugar that it went to war with Peru over it. The eight-month war, known as the Leticia War, started due to a dispute in the sugar trade.

#44. Colombia is even home to many pre-Columbian archaeological sites dating back to before there were European settlements.

#45. When the Spanish came to conquer South America, their foreign European diseases killed most native people, even before any war.

#46. The economy of Colombia is mainly dependent on manufacturing and agricultural exports such as bananas, cut flowers, sugar and coffee. Manufacturing exports include textiles, chemicals, garments, and metal products.

#47. Colombia is the third largest exporter of coffee in the world after Brazil and Vietnam.

#48. Colombia has been a contributor of very important advances in medicine, biology, geology, physics, mathematics, anthropology, and psychology.

#49. The National Police is a branch of the armed forces and was formed in 1891 in order to enforce the federal laws of Columbia.

#50. There are two major organizations in Colombia these days. They are guerilla organizations known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia and the Army of National Liberation.

#51. The social security system was developed in 1843 and only applied to military personnel.

#52. Colombia practices a free-market economy that has greatly benefited the country due to foreign investment and foreign trade.

#53. The official language of Colombia is Spanish. All Colombians speak Spanish except for certain populations that live in the Amazonian basin. That’s a higher percentage than Spain itself. In that sense, they are more Spanish than Spanish people themselves.

#54. A Venezuelan by the name of Francisco Miranda designed the national flag in 1806.

Flag of Colombia.
Flag of Colombia. Image credit – CIA

#55. The red and yellow colors of the Colombian flag were adapted from the Spanish flag and the stripe of blue symbolizes the ocean that separates the country of Colombia from Spain. The condor signifies liberty as well as sovereignty, the yellow symbolizes the natural riches of the country while the red symbolizes the blood shed in the war for independence.

Cultural facts

#56. Colombia is comprised of many regional cultures. Many of the indigenous groups of Colombia have embraced the Spanish cultural influences.

#57. The architecture of the nation reflects Spanish colonial origins from the seventeenth century. There is evidence of Castilian and Moorish architecture in many of the cities in the region.

#58. Colombia is considered to be a hierarchical society and people earn respect due to their position and their age.

#59. The details in the many churches in the country reflect the Medieval and Renaissance eras in Spain.

#60. It’s a big deal when a girl turns 15 in Colombia. But for a boy, it’s a regular birthday. There’s also a name for the special occasion, “La Quinceañera,” and the party that follows is named “Fiesta de Quince.”

#61. Here are some gifting manners in Colombia: For a casual visit, bring a fruit or chocolate. For something elegant, bring imported alcohol. And for a girl’s 15th birthday, only gold.

#62. In Colombian culture, flowers as a gift should only be sent in advance (roses are well liked), while making sure not to include lilies and marigolds, no matter how much of a discount you get. They are only reserved for funerals. 

#63. In Colombia, eyes are everything. Real Colombian men look deep into the eyes while shaking hands.

#64. Upon meeting and departing it is considered to be courteous to shake both hands. A man should also wait for a woman to extend her hand.

#65. Arranged marriages are no longer common in Colombia but residents are encouraged to marry within their class. Men and women are free to date whomever they wish but they need to have a chaperone.

#66. Most couples date for at least a year before getting married. Most couples are married in the Catholic Church.

#67. Most domestic units consist of a mother, a father, and their children. Upper-class families tend to have many children.

#68. In Colombian households, the father is typically the head of the household and the women raise and educate their children as well as take care of all the homemaking responsibilities.

#69. Lower and middle-class wives normally have to work in the city or in the fields.

#70. Ninety-five percent of the Colombian population are members of the Roman Catholic faith. Over 85 percent of urban Catholics attend mass regularly.

#71. Art is a very large part of the Colombian culture. Many foundations and private individuals are strong supporters of Colombian art.

#72. Colombia began to develop literacy after the Spanish arrived and its literature is still a strong influence.

#73. Natives of the Andes created very detailed and intricate artwork over 2,000 years ago. After becoming colonized, native influences were replaced by European styles.

#74. Colombia has a very diverse music scene. Vallenato is a type of Colombian dance and style of music that originated on the Atlantic coast.

#75. Building relationships is very important in Columbia.

#76. Most Colombians have a maternal and paternal surname and both are typically used. It’s important to refer to people by the correct title and surname so as not to come across as rude.

#77. After friendships become more established greetings become warmer. Women will kiss on the right cheek and men will embrace each other and pat each other on the shoulder to show affection.

#78. Parks are pretty much limited to only the larger towns and cities that were originally founded by the Spanish. Many people gather in these parks to engage in visiting, and other activities and benches are placed close together to encourage socializing.

#79. It is quite common for children to live at home until they are ready to marry. The elders are respected for their life experience and age.

#80. The family is always the very center of the social structure of Colombian culture.

Food culture in Colombia

#81. Bandeja Paisa, the de facto national meal of Colombia, is not only a meal but a mini representation of the country itself.

#82. Most of the families considered to be of middle-class eat meals that reflect Spanish and indigenous traditions. A day normally consists of a light breakfast, a bigger midday lunch, and a lighter meal in the early evening.

#83. Dinner for the middle-class normally includes fresh fruit, a main dish with fish or meat with rice or potatoes, and a homemade soup.

#84. Specialty dishes are eaten at holidays and a dish associated with the capital is known as ajiaco which is a special stew.

#85. Lower income families eat more carbohydrates that end in a sweet dessert made from panela which is a type of brown sugar

Quick Facts Colombia

Independence20 July 1810 (from Spain)
Capital CityBogotá, D.C
(4°35′N 74°4′W)
Largest CityBogotá, D.C
(4°35′N 74°4′W)
Total area1,138,910 sq km
Population47,220,856 (July 2016 est.)
DemonymColombian
Official LanguageSpanish
PresidentJuan Manuel Santos
Vice PresidentÓscar Naranjo
BordersBrazil, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.
CurrencyPeso (COP)
ReligionCatholicism
Life expectancy75.48 years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
National anthem"Himno Nacional de la Republica de Colombia" (National Anthem of the Republic of Colombia)
National symbolAndean condor
National colorsyellow, blue, red
Climatetropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands
Terrainflat coastal lowlands, central highlands, high Andes Mountains, eastern lowland plains (Llanos)
Natural resourcespetroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds, hydropower
Agricultural land37.5%
Birth rate16.3 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate5.4 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratio0.98 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$14,200 (2016 est.)
Industriestextiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, cement; gold, coal, emeralds
Exports$33.64 billion (2016 est.)
petroleum, coal, emeralds, coffee, nickel, cut flowers, bananas, apparel
Imports$47.15 billion (2016 est.)
industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products, fuels, electricity
Time ZoneCOT (UTC−5b)
Internet country code.co
Calling Code+57
Drives on theRight
Data sourcesCIA, Wikipedia
Table last updatedMay 24, 2017

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