Hello everyone! We are pleased to welcome you to our lovely country, COLOMBIA! Colombia is known for its flora, fauna, incredible cuisine, and its friendly people. Below you will find more information about our country.
Colombia is a land of diversity and wonders, offering a vast assortment of attractions. Situated in the north, Colombia is one of the safest countries to travel in South America. Due to its mountain ranges, Colombia has some of the most diverse vegetation, wildlife, and temperate zones in the world. Being the most mega diverse country per square kilometer on the globe. In fact, Colombia has been named as one of the top ecotourism destinations due to having the greatest bird diversity on the planet! Whether you are visiting the Caribbean island of San Andres or the rich coffee plantations of Quindío, Colombia offers a spectacle at every corner!
Although the culture varies as much as its landscapes, you are bound to find heartwarming people anywhere you go. From coasts to mountain ranges, its people’s hearts beat with pride for their country and are more than happy to show you why Colombia is so special to them. Colombia is the third most populated country in Latin America, and it has one of the most diverse ethnic and linguistic cultures in the world. Nonetheless, Spanish is the main language, with a growing population of English speakers. Its capital, Bogotá, is home to eight million inhabitants and an array of industries, hotels, and restaurants. Other large cities include Cali, Medellin, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga. If ecotourism and sports activities are your preference, most city centers are only about 30 minutes away from the countryside.
The Health Care System in Colombia has been through many reforms and changes throughout the years. It was ranked #22 out of 191 countries by the World Health Organization. According to the annual list of Latin America’s top hospitals, more than half are here in Colombia. Due to its affordability, Colombia has become a popular spot for medical tourism.
By law, every Colombian citizen has the right to basic health insurance which covers medical, dental, and vision care. There are two types of health care providers, public and private. The public plan goes by the name of EPS (Entidades Promotoras de Salud). Most citizens opt for private plans if they want a more premium and swift service. A single health care plan can cover a person and beneficiary, and in many cases a whole family for no extra cost.
There are currently over 50 universities in Colombia that offer a medical program. In most universities, entry is based on a national test known as the “ICFES”. Aspiring doctors must compete with the highest scores in all of the nation, therefore making it a very competitive process. Medical school can last from six to seven years, which includes basic sciences, clinical rotations, and a year of internship or “internado”. Once the program is completed, students graduate with a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree.
Colombia has over ten international airports. El Dorado International Airport, located in Bogotá, is one of the largest and most important in Latin America. Air fare within the country can be relatively inexpensive and an economic way to see Colombia. When travelling within each city, buses and taxis are very reliable and easy to use. Bogota, Medellin, and Cali boast mass transit bus systems in which you can add credits to your bus pass. In smaller cities, buses are also readily available and inexpensive. Most bus fares are less than $2,000 Colombian Pesos (COP), equivalent to $0.70 USD. In fact, most Colombians commute to work or school by bus. When travelling with a larger group or if you are unsure on how to get to your destination, taxis are a good option. Most taxis have time and distance meters and will charge you a fair price. If distances are short, the taxi driver will charge you a flat rate of about $4,000 COP or $1.50 USD. If time isn’t an issue, walking is another option. Areas around universities and city squares are safe and enjoyable to walk. You can find local shops, cafes, and food stores that you would otherwise miss by bus or taxi. We do advise that you carry some cash to pay for food and transportation as it is the preferred method of payment. If in doubt, remember to ask for directions as Colombians are very friendly and eager to help.
Colombia is a land of immense diversity where any trip can become an adventure! Colombia has a lot to offer; below we listed the most popular places to visit based on each region.
- Museo del Oro
- Bogota Botanical Garden
- Museo Botero
- Museo Nacional de Colombia
- Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy
- Villa de Leyva
- San Gil
- Parque Nacional del Chicamocha
- Zona Cafetera
- San Agustín
- Valle del Cocora
- Ciudad Perdida
- Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona
- El Cabo de la Vela
- San Andres
- Caño Cristales
- Amazon River
- Isla Gorgona
Colombia is culturally diverse, with customs and traditions varying between each region. Nonetheless, locals are more than happy to show you their way of life. Below you will find some of the main cultural differences that you will encounter.
Some meetings may start ten to fifteen minutes after the scheduled time in order for everyone to arrive. Lunch time is from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., and most families will meet for lunch. Additionally, banks, government establishments, and institutions are closed at these hours.
When meeting someone for the first time, Colombians will usually shake your hand. Afterwards, a kiss on the cheek is a friendly and acceptable way to say hello and goodbye. If you are uncomfortable with this gesture, go for the handshake! It is not considered rude if you decline a kiss on the cheek. When asking for something or ent
ering an establishment, we recommend saying “Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening” as a formality. In Spanish, this would be “Buenos días, buenas tardes, o buenas noches”, respectively.
Many stores and restaurants are family-owned businesses. Because of this, cash is the preferred form of payment. We recommend carrying pocket money for your daily needs.
Colombia is very safe to travel, but one should always be savvy. Make sure to keep all expensive valuables safe or at home. We recommend keeping your cell phone and electronic devices tucked away in your bag while not using them, especially in city centers.
Colombia has 18 national holidays, and they are mostly celebrated on Mondays. Holidays are perfect opportunities to go out and travel. This also means most people will be travelling to tourist destinations. Therefore, we recommend travelling during the week for a less crowded experience.
Coffee is at the heart of every gathering. People will invite you to grab a “tinto” or small cup of black coffee. When invited to someone’s house, make sure to bring something to share. Most people bring crackers, cookies, or cake. In some cases, during the December season, small cookies and wine are shared among friends.
Colombian food is varied, and it is likely you will find something to meet your eating preferences. Most prepared food is seasoned with salt, but very few spices. Most Colombian food will have a starch (potato, rice, pasta or yucca), protein (chicken, meat, fish, pork, or lamb), and a side of salad. Natural fruit juices accompany most meals. You can ask the establishment if the juice is made with filtered water. If not, we recommend opting for bottled water or soda. The truth is that Colombian food is delicious and comforting! Make sure to try empanadas, arepas, tamales, and the different soups that characterize each region. We also recommend trying the fresh fruits and vegetables as most produce is chemical free, organic, and exotic!
We are excited to meet you and show you everything Colombia has to offer. If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact one of our representatives or visit our webpage https://www.ascemcol.org/. See you soon!