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A Glimpse of Colombia

As the youth missions team continues to share of their experiences and learning, one may wonder what Colombia is like. Who are our brothers and sisters in Colombia, and what is life like for them?

Did you know?

    1. The official name of Colombia is the Republic of Colombia. “Colombia” is derived from the last name of the explorer Christopher Columbus. the proper way to pronounce Colombia is ColOmbia (long O), and not ColUmbia (short U).

    2. 99% of the population speak Spanish, the official language of Colombia. There are also many indigenous languages spoken throughout the country.

    3. Colombia shares a land border with 5 countries including Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru, and is the only country in South America that has a coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

    4. Colombia is split into 32 ‘departments’ or provinces, covering 5 geographical regions: Andean, Caribbean, Amazonian, Orinoquian, and Pacific, with 1/3 of its land mass covered by the Amazon rain forest. Colombia is also classed as a “megadiverse” country, ranking as the 2nd most biodiverse country in the world. It has the highest amount of species by area in the world, including the most endemic species of butterflies, the most orchid species, the most amphibian species and more species of bird than all of Europe and North America combined.

    5. Bogota, Colombia is a metropolitan area that has over 10 million people and is situated 8,675 feet above sea level; it is one of the highest cities in the world. It serves as the main economic engine of Colombia, and is a mecca for street artists. The government not only tolerates graffiti, but also encourages and sponsors street art.

      And, in case you were wondering, it is currently 1 hour behind Harrisburg in time (noon in Harrisburg = 11 am in Bogota).

    6. The Government of Colombia is a republic with separation of powers into executive, judicial and legislative branches. Its legislature has a congress, its judiciary has a supreme court, and its executive branch has a president.

    7. The currency of Colombia is called the Colombian peso. One US dollar is currently worth approximately 3,047 Colombian pesos.

    8. The area covered by modern day Colombia was originally inhabited by the indigenous tribes Muisca, Quimbaya, and Tairona. In 1499 the Spanish arrived making the area a Spanish colony called New Granada.

    9. As a former colony of Spain, Colombian culture, architecture, food habits, language, and its constitution have all been influenced to a degree by Spain. The Spanish brought Catholicism, Africans, the feudal encomienda system, and a caste system that favored European-born whites. The coexistence of Spanish colonizers, indigenous tribes and African slaves though gave origin to Colombia’s present day cultural landscape.

    10. According to The World Bank, “Most Colombians have never lived in a country at peace. The stage of one of the longest armed conflicts in the world, Colombia has put up with this internal struggle for over 50 years, which has claimed thousands of lives and forced millions from their homes.” Progress in the last decade has been made though to bring peace to this beautiful tropical nation. (How Ads Helped End Colombia’s Civil WarRivers of LightOperation Christmas, You Are My Son)

    11. According to The World Bank, “Colombia has advanced much…[in]…the fight against poverty. Even during conflict, the country has grown more than the Latin American average, and has cut extreme poverty rates by half between 2002 and 2014.  More than 6 million people left poverty and, for the first time ever, more Colombians are considered to be middle class than in poverty.”

    12. Tourism to Colombia has increased by 250% in the last decade, and Bogota is the main recipient of foreign visitors (business and travel). Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Colombia each year for tourism, business, university studies, and volunteer work. Security in Colombia has improved significantly over the last decade, including in tourist and business travel destinations such as Bogota, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Medellin, and Cali.

    13. 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.

    14. The Colombian national anthem is played on the radio and television every day at 6am and 6pm by law (Act 33 of 1920).

    15. One of the most popular choices for breakfast in Colombia is Changua. It’s simply a milk soup with an undercooked egg.

    16. Oatmeal is not a breakfast cereal, but a juicing material. Many Colombians love to drink Avena, which is oatmeal juice.

    17. While reports vary, it is estimated that 80-90% of the country is Catholic.

    18. 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.

    19. Bandeja Paisa is probably the most well known meal and is the national dish of Colombia; it is originally from the Andean region of the country where the people are called “Paisas.” Bandeja is Spanish for “platter.” Bandeja Paisa often includes beans, white rice, chicharrón, carne en polvo, chorizo, fried egg, ripe plantain, avocado and arepa.

    20. Stands selling fruit and juices are found throughout Colombia, especially on the Caribbean coast.

    21. In the country that supplies a large proportion of the world’s coffee, there is a surprising lack of Starbucks. Only a couple Starbucks locations exist in Colombia. Instead, Colombia has Juan Valdez Cafes.

    22. It’s completely normal for children to drink coffee after meals in Colombia. Cafe con leche (coffee with milk) is an after dinner treat for little ones, while strong black coffee is the norm for adults.

    23. 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.”

    24. The traditional national sport of Colombia is called Tejo. It is a team sport that involves launching projectiles at a target.

    25. The most popular sport in Colombia is futbol (soccer). The Colombian national team won the 2001 Copa América (South American Championship).

    26. Other popular and successful sports of Colombia include roller-skating, weightlifting, baseball, boxing, motorsport and cycling.

    27. Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, at 13,000 m, is the world’s highest coastal mountain range.

    28. Colombia is the world’s leading source of emeralds and its world-renown for its coffee.

    29. The finest quality emerald, a green gemstone, is found only in Colombia. The country has more than 150 mines currently producing these high-quality emeralds.

    30. Colombia is not only baked by the tropical sun from above, but also from down below by the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region of volcanoes.