Colombia

The northern tip of South America, Colombia, a tropical and isothermal (relatively stable temperatures) country founded in 1810. The population is over 47.12 million (2013) and 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. The time zone is the same as Eastern Standard Time.

A fun fact about Colombia is that it is 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.

A misconception about Colombia is that the country as a whole is extremely dangerous to live and travel in. 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.

Niger

Zarma kids and community Jim's Perspectives: This is one of those countries that I was apprehensive about visiting last year, particularly after four Rangers were killed here. However, felt completely safe here and it’s evident that the capital of Niamey (pronounced...

Saudi Arabia

At a local home in Riyadh, in the men's salon Country Information: In the desert country of Saudi Arabia, the capital is Riyadh. There are approximately 30,000,000 people living here. The official language of Saudi Arabia is Arabic. The majority of the population...

France

On our "Backroads" bike trip from Provence to Cannes in France Jim's Perspectives: I've lost count of how many times I have visited this gem of a country. Some of the more memorable time were as a young man right out of college, I took two summers to improve my...