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Land of mystery: there's so much to know about Colombia | © Pedro Szekely Flickr
Land of mystery: there's so much to know about Colombia | © Pedro Szekely Flickr

12 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About Colombia

Picture of Taran Volckhausen
Updated: 19 February 2017

As any Colombian will be quick to tell you, there’s much more to this South American nation than its most famous representatives Pablo Escobar and Shakira. From spectacular biological diversity to peculiar cultural quirks, here are 12 amazing things you didn’t know about Colombia.

Mega diversity is the word

Per square foot, Colombia has more biodiversity than any other country on the planet. With elevations ranging from sea level to the soaring peaks and the lush Amazon rainforest, Colombia has a huge amount of biological ecosystems and amazing natural treasures.

Many fine feathered friends

Bird watchers who come to Colombia are in paradise. With nearly 2,000 different species of birds, this country has more types of feathers than anywhere else in the world.

Snowy mountains coming out of the sea

The mountain range of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta touches both the sky and sea. Its tallest peak, Pico Cristóbal Colón reaches 18,700 feet.

Always the right time for coffee

Not only is Colombian coffee drunk around the world, but Colombians also drink their fair share as well. Their habits surrounding this caffeinated drink, however, are a bit different than in the north, as coffee is drunk at all times of day. It’s even served to children.

Colombians don’t just speak Spanish

Colombia is not only rich in biological diversity, but in cultural diversity as well. In addition to Spanish, there are somewhere between 60 and 80 different native languages spoken, with an estimated 850,000 speakers spread across the remote regions of the country.

Men on the coast really like donkeys

Talk to Colombians about the Caribbean coast and the costeños who live there, and the conversation will generally steer toward to a peculiar penchant for big-eared beasts. According to the rumors spread by the costeños themselves, it’s not uncommon for young men on the coast to have their first intimate encounters with a donkey rather than a woman.

National sport Tejo combines gunpowder and beer

In this game that is native to Colombia, contestants launch metal disks across a room trying to hit packets of gun powder lodged into a clay surface. Additionally, contestants must purchase at least one case of beer in order to play the game, and the loser is the one who pays for it.

More rainfall than anywhere else

The isolated Pacific coast, known as the Choco, claims the most rainfall of anywhere on Earth. In fact, the town of Loro in the Choco registers an average of 520 inches (over 43 feet) of rain per year.

Peace agreement ended 50 years of armed conflict

The longest running armed conflict in the western hemisphere was officially ended late last year with the signing of a peace agreement between the government and the country’s largest and oldest guerrilla army the FARC. Additionally, peace talks with the country’s second largest guerrilla army the ELN started this month.

Christmas lasts for a whole month

Everyone loves Christmas, but Colombians love it more. Colombians start their Christmas celebrations on December 7 and the party doesn’t stop until the new year. The month includes various holidays in addition to New Years and Christmas, such as “Day of the Little Candles,” the unofficial start of Christmas, where families light candles together outside their homes.

Cheese goes with everything

In Colombia, everything from fruit salad to hot chocolate requires a healthy serving of cheese. Don’t ask why. It’s just the way it is. However, there is a cheese paradox: in a country where nearly everything is cheaper than the United States, cheese isn’t.

It’s Colombia, not Columbia

The number one way to grind a Colombian’s gears is to spell the country Columbia. For some reason all north Americans want it to spell it this way, but it’s definitely incorrect. So, don’t do it.