Colombia Country Overview
Where is Colombia located? The Republic of Colombia is located in northern South America. The republic owes its name to the adventurer Christopher Columbus. Because of its location on the time zone map, Colombia is in a world time zone called “Colombia Time” (COT). In this time zone there is a time difference of 5 hours to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). On Colombian clocks it is always 5 hours earlier than on the world clock (UTC-5). There is no changeover to daylight saving time in summer.
Bordering Countries of Colombia
According to abbreviationfinder, Colombia is a country located in the northwestern corner of South America, bordered by Panama to the northwest, Venezuela to the east, Brazil to the south and Ecuador and Peru to the southwest. Colombia shares maritime borders with Costa Rica, Jamaica, Haiti and Honduras. Colombia is a diverse country with a rich history and culture that has been shaped by its many different ethnicities.
The Panamanian border stretches for over 500 km from Cauca Valley in western Colombia all the way up to Caribbean Sea coastline in north near Cartagena city. This border lies mostly within tropical rainforest region known as Darién Gap which is home to numerous animal species such as jaguars, sloths and monkeys. Further south lies Venezuelan border which runs for nearly 2000 km from Caribbean Sea coastline down towards Amazon rainforest area near Brazilian border.
The Brazilian border stretches for almost 3000 km from Amazon rainforest region near Venezuelan border all the way up to Caribbean Sea coastline in far northeast corner of Colombia near Santa Marta city. This border area features some stunning landscapes including Amazon basin; while further north lies Andes Mountain range which forms natural boundary between Colombia and Ecuador/Peru further westward towards Pacific Ocean coastline.
The Ecuadorian/Peruvian border runs for over 2500 km from Pacific Ocean coastline up towards Andes Mountain range near Colombian capital city Bogota located within high plateau region known as Sabana de Bogotá at 2600 m above sea level; while further east lies Caribbean Sea coastline near Santa Marta city where both countries meet at Guajira Peninsula shared by Venezuela further eastward towards Atlantic Ocean.
Colombia also shares maritime borders with Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica and Honduras which are located mainly along Caribbean Sea coastline stretching from Cartagena all the way down towards Panama Canal area in far southwest corner of Colombia near Panama-Colombia island chain known as San Andrés Archipelago situated off Nicaragua coast further southward towards Central America mainland region.
As of 2023, the latest population of Colombia is 49,084,841, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).
|Population growth rate
|16.10 births per 1,000 people
|65 years and above
|Gender ratio (Male to Female)
|43.10 residents per km²
|86% of European, European-indigenous and European-African descent, 11% of African, 3% of indigenous descent (87 ethnic groups), 0.01% of Roma
|Catholics (Roman Catholic) 90%
|Human Development Index (HDI)
|79th out of 194
People in Colombia
Up to the 16th century, many different Indian peoples lived in what is now Colombia. Then Europeans, especially Spaniards, came and took the country as a colony and settled here. They took people from Africa as slaves. The ethnic groups also mixed with each other. This is how you see all skin colors in Colombia today.
Today in Colombia 49 percent of the common descendants of whites and natives, 37 percent whites and 10.6 percent Afro-Colombians, i.e. all people of wholly or partially African descent. The Afro-Colombians live mainly on the two coasts of the country.
Only 3.4 percent of Colombia’s residents are indigenous. But they are spread over 102 ethnic groups! They live mainly in the Amazon rainforest, in the lowlands of the Pacific, in the mountains in the southwest and in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the northeast.
The Wayúu are the most numerous among the indigenous peoples of Colombia. They colonize the Guajira Peninsula in the very northeast. The Ika and Kogi (in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the northeast) and the Achagua (in Orinocia, central part of the country) also belong to the indigenous peoples. The Paez live in the mountains in the southwest of the country, where there are 21 reserves. The Emberá (also called Chocó) live in the northwest. Their settlement area extends over the border to Panamá.
The Wayúu live on the Guajira Peninsula, which largely belongs to Colombia. But the Wayúu people also live in the Venezuelan area. Because it is so dry on the peninsula, you can hardly do any farming here. The Wayúu traditionally lived from fishing and hunting. Today, many mainly raise cattle that are sold in markets. The Wayúu live in villages and are organized in clans. Each clan has a specific ancestor.
Languages in Colombia
Spanish is the official language of Colombia. 99 percent of the population speak Spanish as their mother tongue. However, the Spanish spoken in Colombia is different from the Spanish spoken in Spain. There are also a number of dialects in Colombian Spanish, as you can see on the map.
Voseo – they say vos instead of tu for “you” – is spoken in only a few parts of Colombia. Much more common is the use of usted for “you” (usted is used in Spanish to sift someone). Instead of vosotros (for “you”) one says ustedes.
The Seseo is typical (c before e and i is pronounced like s, not like the English th). It is also typical that the g (before e and i) and the j, which are spoken in Spanish like the ch in “ach”, are more breathtaking in Colombia. And while in Spanish a double l (as in llamar) is pronounced as lj, in Colombia it is only pronounced as j. By the way, that’s called yeísmo. In Colombia, -ico is used as a diminutive instead of -ito. Adjectives and adverbs are also reduced in size.
Creole languages and indigenous languages
The Afro-Colombians often speak English or a Creole language. It is mostly based on English.
In a village called Palenque de San Basilio in the north (50 kilometers from Cartagena) they speak the only Creole language in Latin America that is based on Spanish: Palenquero. The village is isolated and the descendants of African slaves who live here have preserved many of their traditions. 3500 people live here, about half of them still speak Palenquero.
Palenquero is based on Spanish, but Spanish speakers can hardly understand it. It also contains many elements from the African Bantu language Kikongo, spoken in Angola and the Republic of the Congo, and from Portuguese.
Examples from Palenquero: bokaminá means “you are running ” (in Spanish: (tu) caminas). Or: to ma ría bamo pa katahena means “Every day we go to Cartagena.” (In Spanish: Todos los días vamos para Cartagena.).
Many of the indigenous peoples also speak their own languages. In total there are still 65 indigenous languages in Colombia. Most of the speakers have the Wayúu, which speaks the people of the same name.
Palenque was originally called all the villages that were founded in the 16th century by escaped slaves from Cartagena de Indias. These runaway slaves were also called “cimarrón”. With fortifications made of wooden stakes, the residents protected themselves from the Spaniards, who tried again and again to take the Palenques. They succeeded – only Palenque de San Basilio successfully fought back.