When people think about Colombia, they think about salsa, beautiful women, Pablo Escobar, and coffee. Maybe they also think about the colonial charm of Cartagena, the fun nightlife of Medellín, or the majestic Andes mountains. But there is so much more to this country!
Some things are funny, some are weird and others unique. Many are surprising. Here are 20 fun facts about Colombia you probably didn’t know before:
1. Chocolate With Cheese
For this first fun fact about Colombia, we have a sweet, salty, and savory combination you probably haven't seen anywhere else.
“Chocolate con queso” - hot chocolate with cheese. This is the ultimate hot drink for breakfast. Many Colombians melt savory cheese in a pot of hot chocolate and drink it. Or they dip in pieces of cheese while enjoying a fresh cup of hot chocolate.
A bit quirky and different maybe, but don't knock it before you try it! It's definitely one of the more interesting things to try in Colombia!
A Cup of Delicious Chocolate with cheese
2. Third Highest Capital
Did you know that Bogotá is the third highest Capital in the world? It lies atop the Andes Mountains 2,640 meters above sea level. In second place is Quito in Ecuador and in the first place is La Paz in Bolivia.
The location of the sprawling city high in the mountains not only gives it beautiful surrounding scenery but can also mean it gets a bit chilly sometimes. Well, you already know from above one of the best ways to warm up!
Although it often takes a back seat to the better known destinations of Medellín and Cartagena, Bogotá, as the cultural center of the country, is well worth a visit too. Doing a city tour
or tour of the wonderful Gold Museum
are some of the top things to do there.
3. Murder City
Medellín was once “the murder city of the world
” with 17 murders every day in 1991. The high rate of violence stemmed from the drug trade and Colombia's internal conflict and Pablo Escobar's hometown was possibly the most affected of Colombia's cities. However, in more recent years the city has seen a drastic turn around, and is a true success story of transformation.
In 2013 the city was nominated for “the most innovative city in the world
” by the Urban Land Institute, among things like the creative ideas for urban living and the Orquideorama for growing orchids. It's also now one of Colombia's most popular and best destinations with lovely weather year round and lots to do and see.
If you plan to visit yourself, you can learn more about the city's darker history and turn around in a Pablo Who? Tour
, an Urban Transformation Tour
, or a Tour to Comuna 13
, once one of the most affected neighborhoods by the violence.
Comuna 13 in Medellin
4. Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll
Neither her hips nor roots lie!
Shakira, a singer, songwriter, dancer, businesswoman, and philanthropist, is one of Colombia's most famous people. In 2012 she sold more than 125 million
records in Spanish and English, and continues to be well beloved around the world.
She was born and raised in Barranquilla - a city located on the northern Caribbean coast of Colombia. She does lots of outreach work and has built a number of schools for low income communities.
5. Two Coasts
Here's a fun fact about Colombia I bet you didn't know. Colombia is the only country in South America that has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. There are more than 300 beaches that locals and tourists can take advantage of.
The Caribbean Coast is more well known and has lovely white sands beaches with crystal clear water at places like the Rosario Islands and Tayrona National Park. Meanwhile, the lesser traveled Pacific Coast is a bit more rugged, but also has many amazing and largely undeveloped and unspoiled beaches. You can even see whales from the June to October migratory season, one of the most unique experiences in Colombia or anywhere.
A Caribbean Beach
6. Milk Soup
Here's another food fun fact about Colombia. Colombians love soup, and there are many different kinds of soups the locals eat at different daytimes.
An especially unique one is Changua. It is a breakfast soup which is made with milk and undercooked eggs. It is a mixture of water and milk, chopped potatoes and one egg, which is allowed to cook for about a minute. It is especially popular in Bogotá and the interior of the country. Like the cheese and chocolate, it's a bit different, but if you're feeling adventurous, try it yourself!
7. Amazon Jungle
We've mentioned mountains and oceans, but Colombia is amazingly naturally diverse.
In fact, one-third of the country is Amazon Rainforest. The Amazon Jungle is a moist forest that covers about 40% of the South American continent. The majority of the forest - 60% - is contained in Brazil, followed by Peru with 13% and Colombia with 10%.
Much of the Colombian Amazon is unreachable, but you can visit the town of Leticia, which can be a jumping off point to explore the river or nearby indigenous communities. For a really neat experience, check out our Amazon Jungle Experience
or our Path of the Anaconda
8. 27 Times the Size of the Netherlands
Another fun fact about Colombia that you probably didn't know is just how big the country is. The land’s surface is equivalent to the sum of France, Spain, and Portugal or equivalent to 27 times the size of the Netherlands! It is the 25th largest country on earth.
9. Alcohol Prohibition
Wait, don't worry alcohol is not totally prohibited in Colombia! However, another fun fact about Colombia is they do occasionally ban alcohol sales.
The government prohibits alcohol during major events in order to limit disturbances. This is most commonly imposed during political elections. Article 13 in Decree 415
states that no alcohol should be consumed or sold during the set period over the weekend of Congressional elections, and usually bans on the sale of alcohol are enacted for presidential and local elections.
So, be aware you might have to take a night off of partying if you visit Colombia during an election.
10. 6 AM/PM: Same Song Every Day
Every day at 6 AM and 6 PM the radio and public television play the national anthem - by law. Colombia's national anthem, is actually incredibly long. Fortnuately though, the radio uses the shorter format, which is also used at international events and the Olympic Games or the World Cup.
11. Plastic Surgery
Colombia is well known for its beautiful people. Many, probably most of them, are naturally beautiful. However, many also have had a little, let's say, help, in attaining that beauty.
The country is ranked in the top 10 in the world for performing the most medical procedures in the categories of face, head, buttocks, breasts, body, and extremities. Bogotá, Cali, and Medellín are the cities where most of the cosmetic procedures take place. The price of one surgery is between $2.000-5.000 USD. In fact, due to well trained and experienced doctors and cheaper than prices, some people come to Colombia from other countries for plastic surgery.
12. A Lot of Holidays
Colombians love to have a good time! They are also very Catholic. Those two factors combine to mean there are lots of holidays in Colombia.
Colombia is in 2nd place in the world for the most national holidays. In total, they have 18: 12 Catholic and 6 Civic holidays. They trail only India, which has 21 holidays.
13. The Colours Of The Nation
No list of interesting facts about Colombia is complete without noting the meaning of its flag. The Colombian national flag was officially adopted on December 17th in 1819. The flag has three horizontal bands of yellow, blue and red. Every color has a different meaning:
- red: symbolizes the bloodshed in the war for independence
- yellow: symbolizes the natural riches of the country
- These two colors were adapted from the Spanish flag
- blue: signifies liberty as well as sovereignty
The National Flag
14. Megadiverse Country
Jungles, oceans, mountains, even deserts, we've already mentioned the amazing diversity of habitats and environments of Colombia. Therefore, this next fascinating fact about Colombia should come as no surprise.
Colombia is the 2nd most biodiverse country in the world. It even ranks first in number bird species. The nation also has the most species of butterflies and orchid species. It has a whopping 7,000 different species of beetles! It represents more than 10% of all the species of Fauna and Flora on earth.
15. Gigantic Palm Trees
The country has the tallest Palm trees in the world - the wax palm. Some of these majestic trees can measure up to 60 meters tall. They are Colombia's national tree and just another example of the amazing natural diversity the country has to offer.
There are about 14 species of Wax Palm in the world and 7 of them are in Colombia. One of the best places to view them is in the Cocora Valley
A Wax Palm Tree
16. Stay At Home
In many countries like the US, UK, and others in Europe, it's common for children to move out once they hit 18, with parents curring the cord for their kids to strike out on their own. However, that's not quite the case in Colombia.
It is common for young adults to live at home until they are ready to marry because it is too expensive to live alone and the average salary is very low compared to the rent of a flat.
17. Coffee Exporter
You've undoubtedly heard about Colombia's famous coffee!
Colombia is the third largest exporter of coffee in the world after Brazil and Vietnam, though highest in terms of the arabica bean. In 2015 they shipped 840,000 tons
of coffee to other countries.
An especially interesting fact about Colombia is the reason it is able to produce and export so much coffee. Besides the temperate climates at altitude in much of the country, one region in particular has a special advantage. It has two rainy seasons, which also means it can have two harvests during the year. This is the Eje Cafetero
, or coffee region. While coffee is grown in many other areas of the country, a lot is produced here.
National Coffee Beans
18. Pink Dolphins
While you can see whales and normal gray dolphins in the seas of Colombia's coast, you can also see a unique species of dolphin.
Colombia is home to many pink river dolphins. The Amazon River dolphin is one of the unique animals that can be spotted in the country, and can be seen in the Amazon River as well as other rivers in the Amazon basin. There are even places in the region of Guaviare where you can swim with them!
19. Happy Sweet 15
We have all heard of the Sweet 16 birthday for girls. However, in Colombia and much of the rest of Latin America, the big birthday for young girls comes a year earlier.
When a girl turns 15, the celebration is called “La Quinceañera” (The 15-year-old). This birthday is celebrated differently than the other birthdays because it honors the transition of the 15-year-old from child to woman. Families often have large parties. The ceremony begins with a waltz. During the celebration, the girl dances with 15 men - starting with her father.
Feliz cumpleaños La Quinceañera
20. Pink Sauce
And to close, what could be better than a final fun fact about Colombia related to food!
You'll likely see a special pink sauce on all sorts of things in Colombia, from hot dogs to shrimp cocktails. This pink sauce is also known as salsa rosada. It is a simple mix of mayonnaise and ketchup as well as natural orange or lime juice and brandy or rum. It is really popular among the locals. They serve it with various snacks and seafood.
Interesting Facts about Colombia Conclusion
Now you know a 20 fun facts about Colombia, ranging from the unique, the weird, to the informative. And this is just a small selection of facts about Colombia - the country has a lot more to offer and to discover. Hopefully, your interest was aroused to learn much more about this beautiful and interesting country.
Of course, the best way to learn more about Colombia is to come and see it yourself. If you are interested in coming to see the biodiversity and unqiue culture of Colombia, or you just want to try a few odd foods, we would love to help you do it! Get a quote
on a personalized trip or check out all the great Colombia travel experiences