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12 Interesting Facts About Colombia,The Land of Coffee and Emerald

Gold Museum Bogota

Colombia was our first destination in South America. We were a little bit wary about Colombia because of warnings we received from some of our friends who had been and had lived in Colombia about crime and robbery. But the capital city of Colombia, Bogota, with its Soho style red brick houses and the queen of the Caribbean Coast, Cartagena, with its Spanish colonial heritage style, a maze of cobbled alleys, balconies covered in bougainvillea totally amazed us. Despite its bad reputation we found out that Colombia is one of the most beautiful countries in South America.I would like to share some interesting facts I found out while I was in Colombia. Click here to read  all of my articles about Colombia.

1. Delicious Street Foods

Arepa, Empanada, Obleas, tropical fruits, grilled skewer meats, cheese and marmalade  are some of the street foods you will see on the stalls in Colombia. The most popular and well-known street food is Arepa. It is made of white corn tortilla and it is roasted. There are many types of it but mostly it is filled with cheese (queso).

 Empanada is a folding dough or bread with stuffing consisting of a variety of meat, cheese, vegetables, fruits, and other things. Its originally from Portugal. You can see Empanadas everywhere in South America. Each country in South America cooks it with their own style and ingredients.

2. Coffee and Cheese!

Colombia is the third biggest coffee producer in the world, after Brazil and Vietnam with 11.6 million bags of coffee production. You will see many coffee shops all around the country. But do not be surprised if a coffee  or hot chocolate is served with a piece of cheese. I didn’t have a chance to try this but it is very common and an old Colombian breakfast tradition.

3. Villa de Leyva- One of the Oldest Colonial Town in South America

It is a little and cute colonial town that was founded on June 12, 1572 by Hernán Suarez de Villalobos. You can reach there by bus in 3.5 hours (from Bogota). The Plaza Mayor of town is 14000 m2. It is the largest square in Colombia and believed to be the largest entirely cobbled square in South America.

4. Gold Museum of Bogota

Gold  mining has existed in Colombia since around 325 BC. Gold lured the Spanish invaders and forwarded them to gold mine areas in Colombia. The gold museum of Bogota has 55,000 Pre-Hispanic gold works but only  6,000 pieces are on display. It is a must see attraction in Bogota!

5. The Country of Emerald /The Cheapest Emerald

Do you know Colombia produces %60 of the world’s emeralds? In Bogota there is an Emerald District where you can find many Emerald shops. Prices vary from 10 USD to 4 million USD depending on the carat, color, cut and clarity of the stone. But do not forget to check the sellers official papers and licences if you are going to buy any emeralds.

6.  Metal Fences inside the Windows

Unfortunately, there is still burglary and thievery in Colombia. The iron protection gratings in Bogota were inside the windows. The wealth and rich people in Bogota live close by the high mountains where we stayed during our travel and we didn’t face any problem.

7. Tropical Fruits

Colombia has a very fertile country. You will find and taste a wide variety of fruits, especially in Cartagena. We tried some of them but for sure you need time and an empty stomach to try all of them. You will see many fruit stalls in the country where you can get freshly chopped fruit salads or fresh fruit juices.

8. The Longest Bicycle Road in South America

The total length of the bicycle road is 300 kilometers in Bogota. The usage of bicycle quintuplicated since the bicycle road constructions started. Now between 300,000 and 400,000 people make a bicycle ride every day in Bogota.

9. Vendors on Streets Sell Cellphone Minutes

In Colombia the cell phone calls are expensive. So people buy minutes from “minute sellers” on the street to make personal calls.

10. A Biodiverse Country

Colombia is the 2nd most biodiverse country in the world, after Brazil. Colombia is also home to 1,879 bird species and it makes Colombia the country with the highest diversity of birds in the world.

colombian_birds

11. Bogota is 4th Highest Capital in the World

At 8,660 ft / 2630 meters above the sea level Bogota is the 4th highest city overall and the highest city with a population of more than 3 million in the world.

Country Capital Altitude (m) Altitude (ft)
 Bolivia La Paz (and Sucre) 3640 (and 2750) 11,942 (and 9,022)
 Ecuador Quito 2850 9,350
 Bhutan Thimphu 2648 8,688
Colombia Bogotá 2630 8,660

12. Plastic Surgery is Popular

Well, here is the final interesting fact I have to offer you. Colombian women love round shapes and are not afraid to change their bodies if they’re not happy with it. Colombia is the 5th most popular hub for cosmetic surgery.

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