NOTE: Country Information & Maps at the bottom of the page
COLOMBIA, COUNTRY INFORMATION
The history of what is today Colombia, began in 1819, when the area was liberated by Simon Bolivar, after more than 300 years of being part of Spain's Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada.
Through its existance as a Republic, Colombia has continued to follow the educational policies established by Spain during the colonial period. It has attempted to raise the cultural level of the population and to enrich it with all the scientific and technical knowledge to be found in the most highly developed countries.
Colombia is the fourth largest country of South America with 1.141.748 km and the actual population is estimated 45 million inhabitants divided into four ethnic groups: Mestizos and Mulatos 74%, Whites 20%, Blacks 5% and pure Indians 1%. In Colombia, great care is taken to preserve the linguistic purity of the official language, Castilian Spanish. In addition to it, there are about 68 indigenous languages and dialects belonging to five major linguistic groups. Religious liberty is guareanteed by the constitution, although Roman
Catholicism is the official religion and the faith of the majority of Colombians. Despite of the activities of Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries, a number of Indians continue to follow their traditional religious beliefs.
Rapid population growth, together with industrialization, offer a serious challenge to economic planning and development. Agriculture is the basis of the Colombian economy because of the mountainous character of its territory, that allows the production of a variety of crops, ranging from those that require warm temperatures to those that can be grown in cold climates. Mining, fishing and manufacturing are in the process of development and represent potential sources of wealth.
Colombia Travel Facts
CURRENCY: The national currency unit is the Peso. Most establishments accept credit cards.
WHAT TO WEAR: In cooler areas like Bogotá , wear a light woolen suit or dress. Pullovers are recommended for evenings. In the warm zone, light and casual. A rain coat is always useful.
ELECTRICITY: 110 Volt A/C - Square plugs
OPENING HOURS: Most shops are open from 09:30 a.m. to 19:00 p.m. from monday to saturday. Bank from 9:00 - 15:00 from Monday to Friday.
TIPPING: In restaurants, bars and beauty parlors it is customary to give 10% of the total charge, if not already included in the bill
ALCOHOLIC DRINKS: Imported wines and liquors are expensive. Typical native products are "Aguardiente" (sugar cane anis) and rum
WATER: The water in Bogotá is drinkable, however we recommend to use consume bottled water. In other areas it is better to use bottled water.
CLIMATE: Colombia has a variety of climates according to the altitude:
- WARM AREA: (Tierra Caliente): below 1000 meters (3000 feet) average temperatures of 25°C to 30°C (76°- 82° F). In this area are: Cartagena, Santa Marta, San Andres, Neiva, Girardot, Leticia, Mompox,
- TEMPERATE ARES (Tierra Temblada): between 1000/2300 meters. In this area are: San Agustin, Fusagasuga, Medellin, Manizales, Pereira, Armenia, Villa de Leyva, Popayan. This is the typical coffee growing area.
- COOL AREA (Tierra Fria): between 2300/3500 meters (7900/10500 feet) with average temperatures of 8°C to 17°C (46°-62° F). In this area are: Bogota, Tunja, Pasto, Ipiales, Sogamoso, Paipa, Zipaquira.
- SNOW CAPPED MOUNTAINS (Nieves Eternas): are found from 4700meters (13100 feet) up.
The tourist may opt to take an ordinary taxi easily found in the streets or through radio taxi services. It is recommended that accredited taxi services at the airports and at points nearby the main hotels be given priority. It is not usual in Colombia to tip a taxi driver.
To make an international call, dial: 00 + operator code* + country code + area code (if there is one) + telephone number
The national language is Spanish.
Colombia has the same time zone in all of its territory (UTC-5)