Latin America

21 things you probably didn’t know about Colombia

If you haven’t been to Colombia yet, what’s stopping you? The stunning South American country really does have it all: sandy Caribbean beaches, lush jungles, awesome nightlife, amazing food… can I book my flight now?

But of course there’s more to Colombia than stunning scenery and parties, so we thought we’d give you the lowdown on the country’s history, culture, geography – everything, really – in a neat little list-shaped package.

Notebooks at the ready (quiet at the back) and get ready for a lesson in all things Colombia…

1. Colombia’s capital city is Bogotá, which was voted a World Book Capital by UNESCO (meaning it does an amazing job promoting books and reading).

2. Colombia shares borders with Brazil, Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru. How’s that for a convenient but epic multi-stop trip?

3. There are about 80 different regional languages spoken across Colombia, but Spanish is their official tongue.

4. The highest point in the country is Peak Simon Bolivar in the Sierra Nevada – a pretty impressive 5775m tall!

5. Colombia is the only country in South America that has coastlines on the North Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Two sea views for the price of one – yes please!

6. Colombia is one of the 17 most mega-diverse countries in the world, since it’s made up of highlands, rain forests and tropical grasslands. No wonder it has such an amazing array of wildlife and greenery.

7. Around 95{8105bc8a7da0e4ee2985a05e217cd0e1bef95b551bf8bafd62a449e444182173} of Colombians are Roman Catholic.

8. Colombia produces 10{8105bc8a7da0e4ee2985a05e217cd0e1bef95b551bf8bafd62a449e444182173} of the entire world’s coffee and ranks third after Vietnam and Brazil in coffee bean production. So if you’re a slave to caffeine, you know you’re going to get good stuff here.

9. The Colombian national tree, the Palma de Cera or wax palm, is the tallest palm in the world. It was officially adopted as a national symbol in 1985, under Law 61.

10. The national flag’s yellow, blue and red horizontal stripes aren’t just meant to look pretty; the yellow is said to represent the gold found by Spanish settlers in Colombia, the blue represents the shimmering seas surrounding the land and the red symbolises the blood spilled during the country’s struggle for independence.

11. The country can said to be divided into five regions: Pacific, Andes, Amazon, Eastern Plains and the Caribbean.

12. Colombia doesn’t really have seasons like we do. It’s so close to the equator that those lucky things enjoy sunlight all year (not totally jealous at all, promise).

13. You could say Colombia is the jewel in South America’s crown since17{8105bc8a7da0e4ee2985a05e217cd0e1bef95b551bf8bafd62a449e444182173} of the entire world’s emeralds come from Colombia (get the jewel joke now?), plus it was the first South American country to produce gold or silver.

14. Colombia is the world’s third largest producer of women’s lingerie.

15. Colombians sure love their fiestas; the country boasts the world’s biggest salsa festival, theatre festival, outdoor horse parade and flower parade. How do they get anything done when there’s so much incredible partying to do?

16. You love hot chocolate right? And you obviously like cheese – who doesn’t? Well we’re about to blow your mind with a pretty amazing Colombian delicacy. Yep, you guessed it: hot chocolate and cheese. Drop a few chunks into your cup, let it melt and hey presto, you’ve got a super calorific snack that you probably won’t find in many other countries.

17. Colombia has given us some pretty awesome people: hip-shaking Shakira, author Gabriel Garcia Marquez (who penned Love in the Time of Cholera) and actor John Leguizamo (of Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet fame – Google him, you’ll know) all call the country home.

18. Capital Bogota has one of the biggest cycle path networks in the world so get on your bike and take the scenic route next time you’re there.

19. This river actually exists there. It’s the Caño Cristales, also known as the River of Five Colours – don’t you just want to go there, like, right now?

20. In 2005, the Colombian town of Popayán was the first place to ever be declared a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO. So if hot chocolate and cheese isn’t your thing (you weirdo), we’re pretty sure you’ll find some incredible cuisine that’s right up your street.

21. Colombia boasts the second biggest variety of amphibians in the world, so nature lovers will be in their element here.

Ok, ok, you get it – colombia’s amazing. So get yourself over there! Check out cheap hostels, cheap flights and incredible experiences like this 12 day Colombia Highlights tour. Already been to this stunning country? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments below.