Officially referred to as the Republic of Colombia, Colombia is a South American country with part of its insular region located in North America. It’s surrounded by the Caribbean Sea to the north, Brazil to the southeast, Peru and Ecuador to the south, Venezuela to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and Panama to the northwest.
If you’re planning to travel to Colombia on holiday, business, or stay, it’s important to learn a few facts about the country before you get there. This article provides you with the 13 most interesting facts about Colombia.
13 Most Interesting Facts about Colombia
Known for its numerous natural resources, great cities, and diverse culture, Colombia is one of the megadiverse nations in the world. It ranks second on the list of countries with the highest level of biodiversity in the world. This makes it a perfect place to travel or live in. Here are other interesting facts that you need to know about Colombia.
1. Home to Over 4,000 Species of Orchids
As one of the world’s largest flower producers, Colombia has a wide variety of flowers, including orchids. At least 70 percent of these flowers are exported to the United States. The South American boasts of over 4,000 species of orchid, 1,500 of which are indigenous to Colombia.
This fact has led many botanists from around the world to travel to Colombia to study the exclusive orchid species. These orchids come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, including purple, pink, and magenta. The country’s national flower is a type of orchid known as Cattleya Trianae.
This orchid derives its name from a famous Colombian botanist and environmentalist, Jose Jeronimo Triana. It’s not surprising to learn that the country’s national flower is an orchid. The extensive variety of orchids in Colombia is largely associated with the country’s warm climate. This climate allows orchids to thrive because it’s neither too hot nor too cold.
The moderate climate in the South American nation is largely attributed to the fact that the country sits right on the equator. This makes it the perfect place for the one-of-a-kind flowers to grow and flourish. So, as you tour Colombia, make sure to visit a flower shop that sells local orchids or visit one of the expansive flower farms to explore these flowers in their natural habitat.
The orchids also make Columbia a photographers paradise. Thousands of photographers flock to Columbia each year to fill photo books full of flowery shots of all varieties. If you like photography, and curating photo books then you might find something different and an edge in Columbia.
2. Highest Level of Biodiversity
It’s interesting to learn that Colombia sits in a unique place on the global map. This location makes it the second most biodiverse country in the world after Brazil. This statement is supported by the fact that a section of the popular Amazon rain forest, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains, and the feared Andes Mountains encompass Colombia. Furthermore, this country is open to sections of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
As noted above, the country sits right on the equator, which explains its tropical climate. Consequently, Colombia is a perfect breeding ground for different types of plants and animals. The country is blessed with over 60,000 species of plants and animals. During your travel to Colombia, you’ll come across many of these species, including birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians.
3. 60 National Parks
Colombia’s biodiversity is perfectly captured in its wide range of parks, some of which have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. These parks combine different terrains, including forests, deserts, mountains, marine lines, etc. This diversity makes Colombia the perfect travel destination because it has something for everyone.
When you visit Colombia, make a point of visiting the famous Chiribiquete National Park, which is also popularly known as, the “Maloca of the Jaguar”. This UNESCO World Heritage Site spreads across 4.3 million hectares, covering the Orinoquia, Amazonia, Guyana, and the North Andes provinces.
This park is home to thousands of different animal and plant species, most of which are native to the country and near extinction like the Jaguar. The park also features rock walls containing ancient rock paintings, dating back to 20,000 B.C. Over 70,000 figures are imprinted on these walls, which form at least 60 rock shelters scattered around the park.
Other attractive national parks that you can visit in Colombia include Tayrona National Park, Old Providence McBean Lagoon, Sierra Nevada de Cocuy, and Coral Islands Natural Park, among others. The country’s rich environment provides nature lovers with a rare opportunity to explore some of the most sporadic wonders of the world.
4. Home to “Liquid Rainbow”
Colombia is home to one of the world’s most fascinating natural manifestations, the Cano Cristales River, popularly referred to as “the liquid rainbow.” The river, which is 100 kilometers long, changes its colors by seasons. Its colors range from red, blue, and yellow to green, and orange.
This natural resource isn’t available anywhere else in the world. Experts believe that the vibrant colors come from an aquatic plant known as Macarenia Clavigera, which changes the color of the water by the season, especially when there’s enough sunlight. During the dry seasons, the plant hibernates, leaving the river colorless. If you want to experience the vibrant colors of the “liquid rainbow”, visit Colombia during summer.
5. World’s Second Most Celebrated Holiday
Every year, Colombia celebrates 18 national holidays, most of which are associated with religion. The unique thing about these holidays is that they‘re celebrated by all Colombians. Furthermore, the holiday cycle in this country changes every year because of the lunar cycle.
Nevertheless, some of the main holidays aren’t affected by the lunar cycle, including Christmas, Colombian Independence Day, Easter, and the Immaculate Conception. The law requires all employers in Colombia to give their employees a day off to allow them to celebrate the holidays. During Easter, everyone takes a week off work to partake in the Easter festivities.
6. National Anthem Plays Twice Every Day
The Colombian National Anthem plays on national broadcasting TV and radio stations twice every day. This requirement is in the law and it stipulates the specific way in which the stations should play the anthem. It starts with the first chorus verse, which is played twice.
This is the order in which the anthem is played in every public event, including political campaigns and sports. All Colombians are expected to know how to sing the National Anthem. This is an interesting fact because not many countries play their national anthems daily.
7. Home to Two of the World’s Largest Festivals
Two of the world’s largest festivals are celebrated in Colombia. They include the Salsa festival, popularly known as Feria de Cali, and the Flower Festival. Salsa is an annual festival that occurs between December 25th and December 30th.
It involves grand musicals, dances, and art performances. Some of the most popular concerts held during this festival include Superconecierto, which is the most common music event, and Salsodromo, which is a street carnival, containing popular Colombian cuisines, sweets, and other special treats. This cultural event is full of music, dance, and other forms of entertainment.
The Flower festival happens in Medellin and it contains flower exhibitions, parades, and flower stands erected by local flower growers. Many Colombians celebrate this festival by decorating their homes with flowers to match the theme. This festival also presents other forms of festivities, including fireworks, horse fairs, orchid expos, and art exhibitions, among others.
8. World’s Third Largest Coffee Producer
As the third largest coffee producer in the world, Colombia is a perfect destination for coffee lovers. The country boasts over 50,000 coffee farms and plantations. The country’s unique climate is perfect for coffee trees to flourish.
Coffee tasters describe Colombian coffee, which is 100 percent Coffea Arabica, as well-balanced and flavorsome. The coffee beans are ethically sourced to make every coffee brew fitting.
9. Named After an Explorer
The Republic of Colombia was named after the famous Italian explorer and direction finder, Christopher Columbus, who completed four major trips across the Atlantic Ocean, creating the way for European exploration and settlement of the Americas. Columbus traveled across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain in 1492, 1493, 1498, and 1502.
The current Colombian territory was initially occupied by the native tribes Muisca, Tairona, and Quimbaya. When the Spanish colonized the area in 1499, they named it the New Granada.
10. Coastlines on Both Sides
Colombia is the only South American country with coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This makes it a perfect destination for people who love beaches and water activities.
11. Tejo Is the National Sport
Traditionally, Colombians have considered Tejo, a team game that involves throwing objects at a target, as their national sport. But this doesn’t mean that Tejo is the most popular sport in the country. The most popular Colombian sport is soccer.
12. Leading Source of Emeralds
Colombia is the largest producer and exporter of emeralds in the world. These are gemstones and beryl minerals colored green. They acquire their color from trace amounts of chromium and vanadium.
13. Respect for the Old
In Colombia, age is highly valued. Older persons are considered to be very powerful and their voices are respected.