The only risk is wanting to stay.

History of Colombia

Colombia is a country that has a very diverse population, delicious foods, and as a matter of fact, it has a very rich, interesting history. In the land that makes up Colombia today, there were many people who thrived their. Some the main groups consisted of Carib, Arawak, Tairona, and Muisca. The area where these people lived and worked soon became a part of New Granada, a kingdom established in 1717. However, many people resented the controlling power that the kingdom. Many people started to rebel against the kingdom and it’s laws to help achieve independence. However, independence was not yet achieved until Simón Bolívar. He created many resistance army troops to take down the kingdom. Finally, the kingdom was defeated. A new kingdom was created, by Simón Bolívar, called Gran Colombia. Gran Colombia included Panama, Ecuador, and Venezuela. However, in 1830, Venezuela and Ecuador had withdrawn, which left Panama. With the support of the United States, Panama was able to become independent as well in 1903. What was left of Gran Colombia was then what Colombia is today.

The country of Colombia fought six wars between members and supporters of Colombia’s government. The most violent yet famous civil war is referred to as “La Violencia.” “La Violencia” created guerillas. These are tiny independent groups that are involved in irregular fights, generally against larger forces. These units used violence to pressure governments to give up power. Wealthy landowners funded paramillitaries to help protect valuable land. Later on, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the drug industry escalated. Two major drug cartels were the Medellín (the drug lord is pictured above) and Cali cartels. Two organizations, the FARC and the AUC, offered protection for the drug cartels. In return, these two organizations requested money to be given. The FARC organization had also been involved with politics, putting many candidates in many different elections. The paramillitaries were furious when the FARC refused to step down from power. This sparked conflict. Between 1984 and 1987, 3,000 candidates of the FARC were murdered by death squads related to the AUC. Despite a troublesome past, Colombia is a beautiful country with a rich culture.

Top 10 Things to do in Colombia

1. The Coffee Triangle: This is the place for coffee lovers. The Coffee Triangle is the most famous producer of coffee in the world. This tourist spot is a piece of land located in the middle of Colombia. The coffee beans are grown, picked, roasted, washed, and packaged right here!

2. The Amazon Rainforest: This is a lush, green forest for anyone who loves nature. You will be able to view over 1,500 bird species, jaguars, pink dolphins, and much more.

3. Plaza Bolívar: This is a historical place to visit. Created by Simon Bolivar, this charming building has a very different architectural style with a very interesting past, including an invasion of guerillas.

4. Cartegena: This city is the jewel of Colombia. It has a lively crowd of people and well preserved colonial buildings. This city is very famous for it’s beauty as well.

5. Tayrona National Park: This place is like a piece of heaven. Here, you can find gorgeous beaches, and there are many places where you can hike and swim. Then, at night, you can stay in cabañas. However, do be sure to bring your own water and food, as for these essentials are not provided.

6. Museo del Oro: This is the most famous museum in Bogota, yet the most intriguing in all of South America. “Museo del Oro” means the Museum of Gold in English. This name is perfect for the museum because of the amount of gold that is displayed. Here you can also find interesting artifacts and tools from Colombia’s tribes, and other Hispanic cultures.

7. Valle de Cocora: This place is filled with wax palms, which is what it is famous for. The scenery here consists of frequent mist rolling over green hills and country sides. You can experience and see the beauty of this nature scenery by horse back as well.

8. Bogota: If you are looking for a city to visit, try Bogota. It is the capital of Colombia with a very diverse population and an interesting past. This city was filled with drugs and crime, but is now a beautiful city with a charming life to it.

9. Cali: Cali is another city that is full of amazing places to visit. It has a very rich past, and many historical centers to see and learn from. It is the third largest city in Colombia and happens to be very lively at night.

10. San Andres Island: This island is truly paradise. This island is surrounded in crystal blue, clear waters. Many species of fish and coral live in the waters. White sanded beaches are embedded with shells. This is the island that you should visit.

Colombia's Economy/ Current Events

Agriculture is a very important role Colombia's economy. Coffee is very important resource because it accounts for almost one-third of all export earnings . Flowers and bananas are also very important exports. Sugarcane, cotton, rice, tobacco, and corn are other agricultural products. Oil is transcending coffee as the country's main legal export. Colombia produces 80 percent of the world's cocaine and 60 percent of the heroin sold in the United States. Also about 90 percent of the world’s emeralds is thought to be found in the colombian mines. Half of the country is covered with rain forests and woodlands. Because of this the timber industry is very important. Inflation has decreased to its lowest levels since the last 30 years. But in Colombia unemployment still remains very high. Economic opportunities are more available to the ruling class. Many colombians participate in a large informal economy, referred to as a La Economía del Rebusque. (Culturegrams)

On March 20, 2014 Gustavo Petro mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, lost his fight to stay in office after President Juan Manuel Santos approved an order to remove him and bar him from holding public office for 15 years. He was ordered out of office by Juan Manuel Santos because he switched the garbage collection in the city to a municipal agency, taking it away from private companies. Even though Gustave Pedro (Pictured above) fought his removal the nation’s high court ruled Tuesday that it could go forward. Mr. Petro, 53, a former guerrilla, attributed his removal and his political banishment to a political establishment threatened by the fact that he might someday be elected president. In a speech from the balcony of the mayor’s office Wednesday night, Mr. Petro said his removal was antidemocratic. The handover of garbage collection in December 2011 was widely seen as a disaster. The city was ill prepared, and trash piled up in the streets. Due to this, Gustavo Petro will no longer be the mayor of Bogotá, Colombia.

5 Famous People from Colombia

1. Shakira (Pictured to the right) is a famous singer that was born in Barranquilla, Colombia. She is a Colombian singer-songwriter, dancer, record producer, choreographer and model. Shakira has won many awards including five MTV Video Music Awards, two Grammy Awards, eight Latin Grammy Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, twenty-eight Billboard Latin Music Awards, and has been Golden Globe-nominated. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and she is one of the best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 125 million records including 70 million albums worldwide.

2. Salomon Hakim was born on June 4, 1922. He was a Colombian neurosurgeon, researcher, and inventor. He worked extensively in the field of hydrocephalus. He is known for his work on neurosurgery and for the precursor of the modern valve treatment for hydrocephalus. Hakim's findings and inventions brought him global recognition. He has been invited and has given lectures in more than 85 Neurosurgery conferences around the planet in 33 different countries. He has not just impacted the country but the world.

3. Simón Bolívar was born on July 24, 1783 and was a military and political leader. Simon Bolívar played a major role in Latin America's successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire, and is today considered one of the most influential politicians in the history of the Americas. There are multiples statues and plaza squares that show his recognition and his positive impact throughout South and North America.

4. Manuel Elkin Patarroyo born on March 11, 1946 is a Colombian pathologist who created a synthetic vaccine for malaria, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that affects millions of people in tropical and subtropical regions, including parts of the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The vaccine has been successfully tested on more 40,000 people in areas which suffer malaria epidemics. He had made a major impact on this country by saving people from dying from malaria.

5. Fernando Botero Angulo (Pictured right below) was born on April 19,1932. He is a figurative artist and sculptor from Medellín, Colombia. He is considered the most recognized and quoted living artist from Colombia. He was named "the most Colombian of Colombian artists". Working most of the year in Paris, in the last three decades he has achieved international recognition for his paintings, drawings and sculpture, with exhibitions across the world. His art is collected by many major international museums, corporations, and private collectors. In 2012, he received the International Sculpture Center's Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award.

Colombian Culture

Colombians are very different in the way they celebrate their culture. Some people eat a dish called hormiga culona, which is a dish made of fried ants. When they have traditional events they love to wear bright colored, beautifully detailed, dresses (pictured below). The way they greet each other is by kissing each other on the cheek. They are very personal with everyone that they meet. Colombians also have two family names. The last name is their mother’s family name, and the second-to-last name is the father’s family name. The religious beliefs of Colombia are mostly Catholic. They teach the Catholic religion in schools. They also celebrate all of the same holidays that we do here in the United States.

Colombia's Government

Colombia is divided into 32 different states. The government is run by 102-member Senate and a 166-member Chamber of Representatives. One hundred of the Senators are elected through a proportional representation system, with the remaining two senators chosen by indigenous communities. Citizens can vote at the age of 18. Elections are often surrounded by irregularities like vote-buying, intimidation, and suspicious campaign financing. The currency of Colombia is a Peso. The constitution guarantees and generally respects freedom of religion and press, other rights like freedom of assembly and association are limited by violence. Their government is much like the way America runs the government.

Top 12 Must Haves for a Trip to Colombia

  1. International Passport
  2. Headlamp
  3. Fleece
  4. Wind Jacket
  5. Waterproof bag
  6. Hiking Shoes
  7. Sunglasses
  8. Sunscreen (high factor) (you can also buy this in Colombia)
  9. A smaller backpack for walks and activities
  10. If you wear contacts... take your glasses with you.
  11. Cap to resist the sun
  12. Colombia can have a range of temperatures. So it would be beneficial to pack a variety of summer and winter clothes for the trip to Colombia.