Colombia is South America’s second most populous country, located in the North West of the South American continent. A country that is characterised by its vast variety in biodiversity and topography. It is home to many original cultures and boasts a long and often adventurous history.
A country that has spawned countless men of genius. The novels by Gabriel García Márquez set mainly on the Caribbean coast. The Sculptures by Fernando Botero in the centre of Medellín, the hometown of the country’s most famous living artist.
The country’s history goes back over many thousands of years before the country was conquered by the Spaniards, it was inhabited by many indigenous civilisations. The remains of these cultures are visited by us on our tours. Be it the Archaeological Park of San Agustín, Tierradentro or Ciudad Perdida in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, all these places showcase Colombia’s cultural wealth. Bogotá’s Gold Museum also offers a fascinating insight into Colombia’s rich history.
The 16th Century marked the start of Colombia’s era of colonisation. The capital was founded in Bogotá. The walled city of Cartagena was the main slave market. Popayán was also of importance during the colonial period, the city is situated on the road to Quito, a strategically important South American route.
With the Spanish conquest came the homogenisation of cultures. The Spanish brought in slaves from Africa. Gran Colombia was a multi-cultural multi-ethnic state. In The Andes, you can feel the European ancestry. The Caribbean culture echoes the fusion of indigenous people and Africans. The Pacific culture is a mix of African roots and Amazonian traditions.
Colombia is home to 87 ethnic groups, that in turn speak 64 native languages. In Colombia, Afro-Colombians, mestizos, Gypsies and many other immigrants from different regions live side by side.
On the Caribbean coast you can hear the accordion infused rhythm of vallenato. Valledupar is the birthplace of vallenato music. Champeta, a type of reggaeton can also be heard in Cartagena.
Cali and Barranquilla are the capitals of salsa music. The Feria de Cali is the most famous salsa festival in the world. From Cali, there are numerous groups such as Grupo Niche, Son de Cali, Guayacán. The best-known representative of “Tropical Salsa” from the coast was Joe Arroyo, who passed away in 2011.
Colombia has also contributed its share to the international Latin pop scene with Shakira and Maía from Barranquilla, and Medellín’s Juanes.
Colombia is the only South American country with two ocean coasts. To the north it borders Panamá, To the east and southeast, Venezuela & Brazil, To the south and southwest, Perú and Ecuador. The country lies near to the equator which determines the climate. From the cool and spring-like Andean regions, to the hot Caribbean region Colombia boasts a broad range of climates. Colombia is not a country of four seasons, rather its tropical location makes it either rainy or not rainy, often with 4 seasons in just one day.
In recent years climate change has made the rainy seasons less predictable. Colombia’s days are always the same length, a little over 12 hours of sunlight per day year round
The country has several islands. San Andrés and Providencia in the Caribbean, Gorgona and Malpelo in the Pacific.