• Colombia’s 47 million people enjoy the world’s 28th largest GDP (fourth largest in Latin America).

Colombia has a large indigenous population, with over one hundred distinct groups and just under two million people (many living in reserves or resguardos): the biggest populations live in La Guajira, Cauca and Nariño departamentos, while the Amazon region contains the most groups.

Colombians enjoy booze, with aguardiente (an anise-flavoured spirit) the most popular (especially in the Andes) and rum more prevalent along the Caribbean coast. Bizarrely, Scotch whisky, in the form of “Old Parr” (no longer sold in the UK), is also widely drunk.

Gabriel García Márquez (1927–2014) is Colombia’s only Nobel Prize winner – he won for literature in 1982.

Arrested in Venezuela in 2012, Daniel “El Loco” Barrera was the last of Colombia’s major drug barons to face justice. The legacy of “cocaine king”, Pablo Escobar, lives on at his vast former estate near Medellín, populated with hippos descended from those he kept as pets.

Colombian telenovelas (soap operas) have been incredibly successful, including Betty la fea (remade as Ugly Betty in the US) and 1990’s juggernaut Café, con aroma de mujer (“Coffee, with the scent of a woman”).

Colombia has won a total of just 19 Olympic medals since 1932 (including 2 golds, one in weightlifting and the other in cycling).


Everything you need to know before you set off.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners