Colombia Fast Facts

Colombia: A Rising Star in the Americas manizales-colombia

Population: 47,220,856

Capital City: Bogota

Climate: Tropical along coast and eastern plains; cooler in highlands

Time Zone: GMT-5

Language: Spanish (official)

Country Code: 57

Coastline: 3,208km

Colombia: The Strikingly Beautiful Country With Something for Everyone

Lush green coffee plantations along the Andes Mountains, sparkling crystal beaches, and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta—the 18,700 foot, snow-capped mountain which is only 26 miles from the Caribbean Coast.

The country is the second most bio-diverse in the world. Located in the north of South America, it has coastline on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, borders the Darien jungle to its west, and the Amazon to its east. With 1,889 species of birds, Colombia is home to 20% of all species on earth. Tucked away in the eastern part of the country is Caño Cristales, the river dubbed a “liquid rainbow.” This river of five colors is one of the country’s many natural gems.

All this gorgeous scenery is a backdrop to one of the best things about Colombia–its warm, accepting people. Happy to share their country with foreigners, the Colombians will welcome you into their communities with music, dancing, interesting local food, and of course festivals. Nearly every city and town has a festival to celebrate some aspect of Colombian life.

Medellín, Colombia

Medellín, Colombia’s second largest city, hosts Feria de las Flores (flower festival) in August, followed by the International Jazz Festival in September. And every December they present the most spectacular display of Christmas lights in the world.

Life in Colombia varies from laidback, relaxing beach living in the coastal town of Taganga, to the culture-rich capital city of Bogotá, filled with theaters, churches, and the Gold Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of Pre-Columbian gold artifacts. Trendy nightlife, upscale shopping, and an array of imaginative restaurants can be found in both Bogotá and Medellín, as well as several other large cities. Many cities in Colombia offer a first-world lifestyle for significantly less than the cost of living in the U.S.

Healthcare in Colombia is top-notch. América Economía, Latin America’s premier financial publication, reported in 2015 that 22 Colombian hospitals ranked as being in its top 43 in all of Latin America.

The people of Colombia and its government have worked hard to overcome the former, harsh reputation of the country. More than two decades have passed since the infamous days of Pablo Escobar and much of the country is now vibrant and thriving. Multinational companies in the technology, mining, banking, and healthcare sectors have a major presence in Colombia.

Getting from one area of the country to the other is rather easy. Bus travel is inexpensive. However, due to the mountainous area around most of the country, journey times can be long. On the positive side, you can spend the hours soaking in all the magnificent scenery. Many airlines provide services between major cities. Domestic flights are reasonably priced and make for much shorter transit, allowing you to spend more time exploring your destinations.

Colombia is steadily growing as a popular retirement haven. Expats report being happier and healthier and their cost of living is a lot lower than it was back home. When Wendy and Darren Howarter decided to move to Colombia, their friends and family thought they were crazy. Two years on, they have an “incredible life that we love” in Medellín.

“We bought our very own Medellín apartment with a pool, gym, and Turkish spa, in a great neighborhood,” Wendy says. “With two bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and an enormous balcony, it cost less than $135,000. The same apartment in a similarly sized city, such as Chicago, would have cost at least twice as much. It’s great to be able to enjoy a bottle of wine with our new friends—expats and locals—on our balcony, or better yet, poolside.”

Find Out More From Our Colombia Correspondent

From the Archives of Colombia

Mountains, Beer, and Entrepreneurial Opportunity in Colombia

Mountains, Beer, and Entrepreneurial Opportunity in Colombia

“I was drawn to live in a place surrounded by mountains,” says Todd Morrill. Although originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Todd, 36, attended college in Boulder, Colorado and became enamored with the beauty and tranquility of the mountains. It was this love of the mountains that ultimately brought him to Colombia.

Discover A World of Travel Possibilities When You Live Overseas

Discover A World of Travel Possibilities When You Live Overseas

When you move overseas, you don’t just benefit from the better weather, lower cost of living, and the affordable healthcare…you also open up a world of travel possibilities. During our working lives, we’d take those one- or two-week trips, and were lucky enough to see a few highlights. But when you live in a foreign country, you have the opportunity to use this new location to travel to other countries as well as to explore the place you’ve chosen to live. This happened to me when I moved to Nicaragua.

Irresistible Medellin: The City That Has Something For Everyone

Irresistible Medellin: The City That Has Something For Everyone

The city of Medellin, Colombia is many things to many people. For some it is the “City of Eternal Spring” where the weather is always just right and the songbirds are hard at work in the flowers and trees that line the streets. For others, it is a city of innovation where local universities churn out award-winning projects and top-notch students. And for yet others, it’s a place of historical treasure with a past full of gold, colonialism, and a stunning recovery after decades of turmoil.

Medellín, Colombia: City Living For 60% Less Than Our Costs Back Home

Medellín, Colombia: City Living For 60% Less Than Our Costs Back Home

By |
March 2, 2016

After years of promising ourselves that “someday”…“in the future”…“later” we would have a different lifestyle, my husband, Mike, and I finally boarded a plane to go in search of our piece of paradise. On the advice of an acquaintance we met while checking out Ecuador, we decided to “swing by” Medellín, a neighbouring city in Colombia, for a couple of weeks.

Low-Cost, Luxury Living in Medellín, Colombia

Low-Cost, Luxury Living in Medellín, Colombia

Cost of Living
By |
December 26, 2015

My daily life has improved immensely since moving to the charming “City of Flowers” in Colombia. I feel calm and peaceful, unlike many of my friends living in U.S. cities. Every morning I wake up to the cheerful sound of birds. From my balcony I can hear the gentle trickle of the stream running past my apartment. I love to take these quiet mornings to practice yoga at a nearby studio and then head to my favorite coffee shop, Pergamino. It’s pleasantly quiet in the mornings when I go to read a book or write in my journal while I sip the best coffee in town for less than $1.

One of the Best Places in the World to See Christmas Lights

One of the Best Places in the World to See Christmas Lights

Best Places
By |
December 25, 2015

Boasting an epic display of over 30 million lights, it is no surprise that Medellin, Colombia has been rated by National Geographic as one of the top 10 places to view Christmas lights in the world. The festive season in Medellin officially starts on November 30 at midnight, with an elaborate firework celebration. It’s called La Alborada and marks the night when EPM (the city’s public utilities company) who designs and sponsors the lights, turns on the extravagant displays and the locals chime in to celebrate with an incredible spectacle of homemade fireworks seen (and heard) throughout the whole valley of Medellin until dawn.

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