In Colombia you will notice a great disparity between the wealthiest members of society – who live a lifestyle akin to that of their counterparts in Europe’s capitals – and the rest of the population: the poor city residents who live in dangerous neighbourhoods, and below them on the poverty scale the rural poor, particularly those who live in isolated areas where armed conflict still goes on.

When interacting with Colombians, Westerners will note that sincerity in expression, often expressed via good eye contact, is valued more highly than the typical steady stream of pleases and thank-yous.

Tipping ten percent at mid-range restaurants is the norm; some establishments will ask you if you’d like for the tip to be included when you ask for the bill, while some add it on automatically. For short taxi trips, round up to the nearest thousand pesos.

The machismo often ascribed to Latin American culture is present in Colombia, though a significant number (around 30 percent) of politicians and diplomats are female. The country’s Catholic roots run quite deep and are apparent in sexual attitudes among both men and women, though there is some flexibility – and contradiction – in views toward gender and sexual orientation.

Essentials

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Colombia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

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