Wikijunior:South America/Colombia

Part of Wikijunior South America project

Colombia is in the northwest of South America. It borders Venezuela to the east, Brazil to the southeast, and Peru and Ecuador to the south. It also has a short border with Panama.

Colombia is a country in the northwest of South America. It is home to forty-eight million people. This includes nine million or more people living in the capital Bogota D.C. (Bogota Distrito Capital = Capital District of Bogota). Nearly three-quarters of the Colombian people live in cities, as compared to under two-thirds at the year 1955.

Of the people, 1.4% are indigenous Amerindians. They live in the eastern lands and around the country. A third have less than 15 years of age, two-thirds are aged between 15 and 64 years, and five percent have more than 64 years. The average Colombian man today has an expected life 67 years; the average Colombian woman today has an expected life 76 years. For each 1000 Colombians, 22 babies are born each year, and 5 people die each year.

Most Colombians live in western Colombia in the valleys and basins of the Andes Mountains.

Culture of Colombia


Colombians are generally close to their families, especially because of the Catholic faith of most Colombians. Many families are extended as well as nuclear. Godparents (padrinos) are particularly important. They give money and help the family of the child in his or her upbringing.

Many women in Colombia are working outside the home, and are professionals and in high positions in government, education, etc.

What are Colombia's national symbols?


The flag of Colombia has yellow, blue and red stripes. The yellow is wider than the other two and represents the native gold, blue indicates two oceans and red represents the blood spent in the struggle for independence from Spain.

The Coat of Arms of Colombia contains a shield with numerous symbols. Perched on top of the shield is a condor holding olives. The national flag is draped on each side of the shield. On the shield itself, there are ships, a Phrygian cap, a pomegranate and two horns of plenty containing fruit and gold and silver coins.

The city of Bogotá is high in the Andes mountains.

What are some famous places in Colombia?


Bogotá is the capital of Colombia, as well as the county's largest city with more than eight million inhabitants. The first European settlement was in 1538, but it was a population center for the native Muiscas long before that. Bogotá is the business hub of the nation and is home to Colombia's stock market. It also has many schools, Universities, and colleges.

What important events have happened in Colombia?


There were two main groups living in Colombia before Spanish Colonization. They were the Carib and the Chibcha. A Chibchan tribe called the Muisca lived in the region where Bogota is now. The Muisca traded salt, emeralds, beans, maize and other crops with other tribes.

The first permanent Spanish settlement, at Santa Marta, was founded in 1525. In 1549, Santa Fe de Bogota became the capital of New Granada. New Grenada was what the Spanish called the area that is now Colombia.

In 1819, forces led by Simon Bolivar won Colombia’s independence. At first, Colombia, Venezeula, Panama and some other nearby areas were all part of a country called Gran Colombia (Greater Colombia). Venezuela and Ecuador split off from Colombia first. Later Panama revolted, and gained its independence.

In the last forty years of the twentieth century, there was civil war in Colombia. This war continues today. The main combatants are the Colombian military, independent private armies (called paramilitaries), and two different rebel groups. The Colombian government is working to disarm the paramilitary and disarm or defeat the rebels.

What is the natural environment like in Colombia?


Colombia is very close to the equator and parts of the country are very hot. The country also has many high mountains and the higher the altitude the cooler the climate. Colombia has less than 1% of the world's area, but 10% of the species in the world can be found there. There is a wide variety of birds there too. Almost 15% of the world's species of birds are found in Colombia.

What types of things are exported from Colombia?


Colombia exports oil and petroleum products. Colombia is also renowned all over the world for its coffee. The coffee is mainly grown in volcanic soil on plantations in the Andes mountains. Colombia has many delicious native fruits that it sells. Colombia produces tropical fruit juices and concentrates. Cut flowers are another product that Colombia is famous for, they are sold to the rest of the world. Colombia is also famous for their roses. They ship roses all across the world for countries to sell.

What is school like in Colombia?


Most Colombian kids go to primary school between the ages of 6 and 11. Primary schooling is paid for by the government and mandatory for all kids. Still, some kids in this age group do not go to school, especially in rural areas. School is conducted in Spanish. There is often Catholic religious instruction as well as instruction in mathematics, science, reading, and writing.

In rural areas there may be many different ages in the same classroom. Because many of the students in rural areas are poor some must frequently miss school so they can work. Some rural Colombian schools are "New Schools". They provide guidebooks that allow students to work self-directed at their own pace with assistance from an instructor and other students. Students of all ages will sit at a large table each working on a different course of study from their guidebooks.

Only half of Colombian kids continue their education into secondary school. Secondary school starts at age 11 and continues for six years. Unlike some other countries, there is no vocational training in secondary school. Colombia has twenty-four public Universities, so there are opportunities for good students to pursue higher education.

What is the food like in Colombia?

Bandeja paisa is a dish with beans, rice and a fried egg.

Colombians eat a wide variety of meats, vegetables, and fruits. The biggest meal of the day happens at midday. One very common dish is called Ajiaco. It is a type of chicken soup. It typically contains chicken, corn, potatoes, sour cream, capers, and avocado. Bandeja paisa is a dish from a mountainous region named Antioquia. This dish typically has many different types of foods and large portions, it is served on large trays. Typically, bandeja paisa includes beans, rice, ground meat, spicy sausage, fried egg, corn cakes(arepas) and pork skin(chicharon). It is usually accompanied by avocado, and tomato.


A unique musical style in Colombia is called cumbia. It comes from Ghana, Africa, and is a combination of folk and dance. Many working people enjoy it. The costumes associated with cumbia are colourful.

In the north part of Colombia, vallenato is played. Vallenato is a musical genre characterized by instruments like accordion, guacharaca, etc. Big vallenato singers are: Diomedes Diaz, Los Hermanos Zuletas, Los Betos, Ivan Villazon, El Binomio de oro, etc. Today, there are a lot of new and great vallenato singers.

Champeta is another type of music develop in the Atlantic Coast, especially in Cartagena. At the beginning it was rejected because it was considered not appropriate, since the singers came from low-status families, the content in it was not appropriate and its dancing was very sensual. Today is well recognized and played in most of Colombian cities.


Some of the national sports include soccer, tennis, baseball, and bicycle racing, and also competitive skating. The indigenous people contributed the ancient game TEJO! to Colombia. The players use a heavy metal disk and throw it at a distance to a triangular piece of paper (usually pink) filled with gunpowder, and Boom! The aim of the game is to cause many explosions for your throw.

Who are some famous people from Colombia?


The famous novel writer: "Gabriel Garcia Márquez", is a national from this country. The international pop music star Shakira is also from Colombia. A famous Colombian painter named Fernando Botero is noted for his portraits. In the portraits, his subjects look very fat. The actor and comedian John Leguizamo was born in Colombia before immigrating to the United States. Also the famous singer Shakira was born in Colombia.