Colombia has become one of the most talked about destinations in the world and its tourism industry is booming. 18 years after the enactment of the famous Plan Colombia (A package of political and military measures destined to make the country safe), Colombia is witnessing an unprecedented phase of economic prosperity and tourism influx. What was the catalyst for Colombia’s sudden and untamed rise to popularity among travellers? Here are 10 reasons why Colombia is one of the most amazing nations in the world.
1. Its breathtaking landscapes and wildlife
Colombia’s landscapes are characterized most of all by their diversity. Colombia is officially the second most biodiverse country in the world and the country which the highest number of bird species call home.
This is mainly due to the fact that the country is situated in multiple climatic zones and on two oceans. The awe inspiring Caribbean beaches in Tayrona, San Andres and Rosario Islands deliver a fantastic contrast to the high peaks and humid hills which characterize Antioquia and the surroundings of Bogotá. You can find pretty much everything in Colombia, except ski stations.
2. The fact that it feels more like a sub-continent than a country
Colombia’s diversity is not limited to landscapes and animals, it extends to the regions’ cultural heritage. Travelling across the country feels like travelling across a sub-continent or travelling across various countries. Colombia’s regions are utterly diverse when it comes to food, music, nightlife, dialects, architecture and most of all, people.
The Caribbean people are called ‘costeños’ and are much darker than the ‘paisas’ from Medellín and the ‘rolos’ from Bogotá. In short, you can find every ethnic background and cultural heritage in Colombia and the regional spirit is extremely alive yet under the umbrella of the proud Colombian nation.
3. Its splendid colonial cities and towns
Colombia has an abundance of charming little colonial towns and cities at its disposal and each one of them would merit a complete article.
Virtually every Colombian region is blessed with several picturesque little towns with cobbled alleys and beautiful colonial architecture and most major cities have an old town area. The largest and most extraordinary of these cities blending old and new is without a doubt Cartagena, a city which looks like a mixture of Seville, Havana and Miami.
4. Its mouthwatering regional cuisines
Akin to the aforementioned natural diversity, Colombia also boasts a variety of different cuisines which all have their own style and taste. There is for example the famous ‘Bandeja paisa’ (A platter with different sorts of meat, cakes, and vegetables from the region) from Antioquia which you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Colombia also has great breweries producing some fantastic high-quality craft, lager and pale ale. There is also the world-famous Colombian coffee and the not so well known but equally great Aguardiente liquor and we could go on.
In a nutshell, Colombia’s food culture is extremely diverse, which epitomizes the whole country.
5. Its gorgeous beaches
Colombia’s Caribbean beaches match anything when it comes to sheer beauty and serenity. The stretch of land between Cartagena and Santa Marta has so many amazing beaches that it is hard to choose where to spend some time in paradise. Although these beaches have become quite touristy, they are still an absolute joy to behold.
6. Its rich history and culture
Colombia has a long and exciting history from the native tribes who sat on tons of gold to the Spanish conquistadores who built some jaw dropping Cathedrals and fortresses to protect the coast against pirates.
The museums and other cultural institutions are instructive, well maintained and certainly merit a visit.
On the other hand, Colombia is one of the countries with the most national holidays in the world and its vast array of cultural festivities is amazing, the Carnival in Baranquilla being the second largest in Latin America, after Rio.
7. The mere fact that it has gone from a near failed state to one of Latin America’s most promising economies in less than 25 years.
In the eighties, the US State Department famously labelled Colombia a nation ‘close to a failed state’. The country was choking under paramilitary and drug cartel violence and the most powerful person in the country was notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar.
Today it is a completely different story. Although Colombia does still suffer from corruption, poverty and drug traffic, the country is on the rise and has become a relatively safe and prosperous economic powerhouse.
In this context, the mere fact that Colombia went from a near failed state to Latin America’s third largest economy in less than 25 years is astounding and warrants a visit.
8. Its warm, open minded and diverse population
Colombia’s population has endured a lot in the last century and the remnants of those struggles are still visible all over the country. Colombians are nevertheless a proud people with a strong sense of national and regional identity.
On the other hand, Colombians are extremely warm, kind and hospitable. Most Colombians are delighted that their country’s beauty is now finally being revealed to the world and they are thereby open minded and very eager to leave a good impression on travellers.
Another point is diversity (already mentioned in point 2.), Colombians are utterly diverse in terms of stature, colour and ethnicity, which adds to the population’s uniqueness.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that Colombia is one of the countries with the most Miss Universe and Miss World titles, which must mean that they are doing something right in terms of beauty.
9. Its incredible nightlife culture
Colombians absolutely love their dancing and party culture. Socializing and interacting in a nightlife setting is a cultural prerequisite for Colombians and therefore every town and city has a vast array of bars and discos.
In addition to the omnipresent reggaeton, bachata and salsa clubs, larger cities like Medellín and Bogotá also offer European style electro and crossover clubs which makes Colombia an absolute nightlife haven and a genuine sweet spot for party animals.
10. Its authenticity
This last point is the most threatened of Colombia’s numerous advantages. Colombia has not yet lost its sense of authenticity and charm as a result of mass tourism. This is partly due to the fact that the infrastructures and tourism industry are not yet as developed as in the South of Mexico for example.
Don’t be fooled tough, Colombia is not some kind of hidden gem that no one knows about, Cartagena is nowadays nearly as touristy as Cuba and the days of Colombia as an insider tip are long gone. Depending on how Colombia will evolve in the next few years, the country could lose some of this fantastic authenticity. This is why NOW is the time to go, in a few years, it could be too late…