Columbia or the Republic of Columbia, located in northwestern South America, is the fifth-largest country on the continent. The state was named after a famous explorer Christopher Columbus and emerged after the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830, along with Venezuela and Ecuador. The country is notable for its unique geographical position, climate, culture and traditions, cuisine, and architecture.
Colombia is known as a country of great geographical contrasts. Each of the countries’ natural regions is characterized by its unique characteristics and climatic differences, though generally the climate of Colombia is defined as a tropical one. It is the only country on the continent that has maritime borders with both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It also borders on such counties as Brazil, Equador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. There are five main climate zones, namely the Carribean Coast, the Pacific Lowlands, the Andes Mountains, the Eastern Plains, and the Amazon Rain Forest (Boraas, 2002, pp. 9-20). According to McColl (2014), the Andean highlands are the “most densely populated region of Colombia (p. 190).” The Andes Mountains are formed by three mountain ranges, namely the Occidental, the Central, and the Oriental ones (Blackford, 2011, p. 10). Some of the mountains are volcanos, and a few of them, including The Galeras Volcano, are still active.
Colombia is famous for its diverse cuisine due to a great number of indigenous tribes inhabiting the territory of the country. Traditional meals are ajiaco that is a traditional chicken soup with potatoes, corn, avocado, guasca, and sour cream, arepas that is a cornmeal bread, and sancocho de gallina – chicken soup with corn and vegetables. Generally, most Colombian dishes contain meat, fresh vegetables, and seafood. As for desserts, they mostly consist of coconuts, corn, and cocoa. For instance, tourists can taste such desserts as arroz con coco that is coconut rice pudding and postre de tanas, milk with sugar raisins, and cinnamon. Among the most unusual dishes one can taste in this country are roasted ants and guinea pigs.
There are also a lot of places of interest in the country that attract thousands of tourists every year. One of the most famous architectural monuments of Colombia is Las Lajas Cathedral in Ipiales. It is a neo-Gothic church built at the beginning of the twentieth century on the bridge above the river gorge so that the gorge cliff forms one of the walls of the building. Another favorite place of interest is San Augustin – the area covered with numerous rock statues that are considered to have been left after an ancient pre-Colombian civilization.
Moreover, Colombia has a number of unique customs that tourists often consider to be rather extraordinary and strange. For instance, a traditional Colombian drink Aguardiente is sold in both a glass bottle and a cardboard container. Among groups of friends, there is a common tradition, to buy a cardboard container and to drink in turns straight from the box (Wooldridge, 2017). Another tradition unusual for most people is celebrating Christmas for the whole December, starting from the Day or Night of the Candles on December 7 to the last Novena on Christmas Eve. As for the gender roles, traditionally, in Columbia, men were considered to be breadwinners, while the main roles of women were those of wives and mothers. Nevertheless. In the recent years, gender roles have changed, especially in urban areas, since women have a chance to hold high-paying jobs and occupy higher positions in society.
Colombian government pays much attention to the development of the educational system. In the country, basic education is compulsory, and completion of the program of middle vocational education that includes the tenth and the eleventh grades gives a student a bachiller’s diploma (Immerstein, 2015). Further, young people can either start working or enter a university.
All the things considered, Colombia is a country which geographical location, culture, places of interest, and social division make it unique. Moreover, due to the diversity of indigenous nationalities living on its territory and the country’s rich history, it has exceptional cuisine and customs followed by many generations. All these factors contribute to the fact that thousands of tourist come to visit it and to explore a new culture every year.