A world apart from the rest of Colombia, both geographically and culturally, the San Andrés and Providencia islands sit in the Caribbean sea near Nicaragua, with Providencia atop the third-largest barrier reef in the world. Visitors come all this way for the fantastic beaches, the best diving in Colombia, and the unique Raizal culture; 300-year-old ties to England mean that the residents of Providencia in particular speak an English-based Creole with a Caribbean lilt. On larger, busier San Andrés the Raizal culture is much more diluted, and for many Colombians, one of the island’s draws is its duty-free status, making it a much cheaper place to shop than the mainland.
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