10 Things Many People do not Know About Colombia

May 2015

14 moveable piece1 – World’s largest gold museum – The Museo del Oro in Bogotá has a collection of more than 20,000 pieces of gold from before the invasion of the Spanish. These are the pieces that the indigenous wore and used. Early visitors to the area saw and then came back to get any way they could. While the museum has much, one must remember that more was probably loaded on ships for Spain. But what is most important is that the well designed displays help today’s visitors understand the country.2.

2 – Bogotá is older than any city in the United States – The capital city of Colombia recently celebrated it’s 476th birthday. Saint Augustine in the U.S.A. is 27 years younger. The best part is that the Candelaria area of Bogotá retains the early sights and feel.

Botero Statue in Medellin, Colombia

Botero Statue in Medellin, Colombia

3 – World renown artist, Fernando Botero, is Colombian – In our travels we frequently run into pieces by Fernando Botero. His large sculptures are in New York City, Paris and Singapore as well as other countries. Botero received the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award in 2012. In his home city of Medellín, Colombia there are many of his pieces. And if you visit the Candelaria area mentioned above you will find his museum with many of his art pieces. And of course the Museo Nacional in Bogotá has a large collection as well. Most people will recognize his work as being “fat figures.”

4 – Novelist Laura Restrepo is Colombian – Many people know the work of Gabriel Garcia Márquez and that he is Colombian. However the country has another skilled writer, Laura Restrepo. Most of Restrepo’s works covers politics and history, especially of Colombia. The style of her writing reports or shows the story rather than tells the story. Readers become engaged in what is happening. She knows her stuff having not just looked at things from a standpoint of an educated elite, but one who explored what went on with others that might be different than her. In 1982 she became a member of the government group that negotiated with one of the Colombian terrorists, M-19. From that experience came her book Story of a Fascination. She of course has won many awards

Cathedral del Sal5 – Underground Cathedral – Sure other countries have salt mines. But Colombia has the only one housing a Roman Catholic cathedral 200 meters underground. Yes, they have Sunday services there with as many as 3,000 people attending. But the cathedral, which is noted as part of modern architecture, is surrounded by more. There is a park and of course the stations of the cross carved into the salt. It is located in the city of Zipaquirá which is a short drive from Bogotá. The English speaking taxi owner we wrote about earlier says that a large part of his business is driving tourists to the site. But another way is to take a train ride from Bogotá which operates on the weekend.

6 – Multiple coasts – Colombia is the only South Flowers y fruitxcfAmerican country to have coasts on both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. The later is through the Caribbean Sea. Buenaventure is a major shipping port on the Pacific side. In Santa Marta, on the Caribbean, you can see numerous ships waiting to load coal. Many cruise ships stop in the Caribbean port of Cartagena.

7 – Fourth most biodiverse country in the world – Colombia is considered one of the most diverse countries. Scientists come from around the world to study the 45,000 – 51,000 species of plants, 1,800 birds, 583 amphibians, 3,800 butterflies, as well as large quantities of mammals and reptiles.

8 – Borders five countries – Panamá use to be part of Colombia. It now borders it. The liberator of the country, Simón Bolívar, had originally thought to make Colombia along with Venezuela and Ecuador one country. But instead they are now neighbors. While Venezuela has the most land sharing with Colombia (2,050 Km) Peru and Brazil are close with 1,800 Km and 1,644 Km respectively.

9 – Largest fashion show in Latin AmericaColombiamoda The next one (26th) is July 28-30, 2015.  The 25th annual Colombia Moda event included 670 brands, 6,300 buyers (1,700 of them from other countries) all coming together to generate around US$250 million worth of business. More than 15,000 visitors

10 – Known for medical tourismIn 2013 over 50 thousand people came to Colombia for medical treatment.  International Living magazine believes not only that Colombia’s excellent and affordable health care has contributed to the rise in expat communities, but that it is also better than that in the United States and Canada. Colombia’s second largest city, Medellín, is known for plastic surgery while the capital of the country is excellent for taking care of the heart.