If there's a country poised to be the next big ecotourism destination, it's Colombia. With an area equal to that of Spain, France, and Portugal combined, Colombia has coastlines on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, thick Amazon jungle, immense flat lands evoking the American planes, scorching deserts, and snow-capped mountain peaks. All that plus 45 million residents mean that Colombia is second only to Brazil in ecological and human diversity among South American countries.
Once considered the most dangerous country in the world, Colombia, having implemented security improvements over the last half-decade, is slowly emerging from the internecine bloodshed of the 1980s and 1990s. Indeed, it's entering an era of peace never before experienced by the country's younger generations. The homicide rates in many Colombian cities, once among the highest in the world, have fallen to levels similar to those of U.S. cities such as Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Since President Alvaro Uribe took office in 2002, political kidnappings have decreased by over 70% and a strong military and police presence have made land transportation reasonably safe again.
Thanks to this improving security situation, Colombia is a country ripe for discovery by foreign tourists. Though politically one nation, it is made up of three distinct regions, each with its own customs and traditions. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts, inhabited mostly by descendents of African slaves, are culturally linked to the Caribbean, and rich in musical tradition and spectacular tropical scenery. The central and most densely populated portion of the country, crowned by the Andes Mountains, has managed to grow and prosper despite its unforgiving terrain. Dotted by most of Colombia's largest cities, it is the economic engine of the country. The eastern portion of Colombia is sparsely inhabited by tough, hard-working farmers and traditional indigenous tribes; it's a land of vast planes, thick jungle, unmatched natural beauty, and, unfortunately, high levels of guerilla activity and cocaine production.
Like most of the developing world, Colombia is a country of contradictions. Hip yuppies dress to the nines and sip cocktails at über-upscale bars while the poorest Colombians can barely afford life's necessities. Cosmopolitan cities offer luxury condos, theater, international cuisine, and all the amenities of the modern world while many small pueblos seem stuck in the last century, stunted by high unemployment and old-fashioned attitudes. Despite all its woes -- economic, social, and political -- Colombia remains a fascinating country to visit.
Regions in Colombia
The Andes mountains form the most populated region of Colombia and contain the majority of the country's urban centres. They were also the location of the most significant pre-Columbian indigenous settlement.... read more
The Caribbean region coast extends from the Gulf of Uraba to the Gulf of Venezuela and is characterized by a massif plain that extends from the Colombian Andean Mountain range, surrounds the Sierra Nevada... read more
Top Destinations in Colombia