Key Country Facts
Colombia, the northern tip of South America, is a tropical and isothermal country founded in 1810. The capital is Bogotá, the center of South America’s largest network of bicycle routes at over 180 miles in length. The primary religion is Catholicism and the main language is Spanish. Its top exports are oil, coal, nickel, gold, flowers, coffee, bananas, tropical fruits, textiles and clothing, and its largest trading partner is the United States.
Colombia is the only country in South America with a coastline on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Also fascinating is that Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world after Brazil, which is ten times larger in size.
Zona Rosa District, Coffee Plantation
A misconception about Colombia is that the country is extremely dangerous to visit. While dangers still do exist and travelers should exercise caution to protect their personal safety and belongings, crime rates have dropped significantly since the 1990s and the U.S. Department of State sends officials to many major cities throughout the year without incident. The city Medellin, once the murder capital of the world with 17 murders every day in 1991, has now become one of the country’s main cultural hubs and is a popular tourist destination along with the capital, Bogotá.
The moment you arrive in Bogota you will smile as it’s a city with tremendous energy and vibe. I was escorted around Bogota and its surroundings by Nadja Grote who runs the company AlternativeColumbia.com.
Bogota is absolutely choked by traffic which can challenge any visitor’s patience. Before visiting, its best to decompress and just enjoy, paying no attention to the world’s worst city-wide traffic jam.
I started off my time in Columbia with a bike tour through the central city. Weaving through the city’s streets was both energizing and incredibly informative. We visited many different parts of the city, new and old, learning its history along the way. The following two days I visited a coffee plantation, located about 2 hour outside of Bogota (strongly recommended). I helped some migrant farm workers pick carrots, cut bacon at a carniceria and hauled potatoes at the city market.
One of Bogota’s coolest hidden treasures was the Garbage Museum. Overall, a wonderful place and I am eager to return to see Medellin and the mountain coast.