Welcome to the Colombian Culture Guide!

This page, like all of our cultural guide pages, will forever be a work in progress. Please check back at a future date for additional information. If you have cultural or culinary expertise when it comes to Columbia, please do share! We’d love for you to email us at with your thoughts.


The Republic of Colombia is a South American country and named after the infamous explorer, Christopher Columbus. Before colonial conquest, the territory was inhabited by indigenous peoples but now they only make up 3.4% of the population. Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world and houses over 10% of the planets biodiversity. The diversity of the country is overwhelming, from its modern skyscrapers and cities to the Amazon forest and archeological ruins, it has so much to offer. It is known for its aromatic coffee and what many consider to be the best in the world. It is very likely that you have already had a taste of Columbia without even knowing it.

Columbia has had a long and troublesome past with violent conflict mainly associated with drug cartels. It wasnt a tourist destination until recently as there has been a huge turnaround towards stability and restoration of peace. It is now a popular tourist destination where one can explore the beaches of both the Atlantic and Pacific ocean or climb the worlds tallest seaside mountain Pico Cristobal Colon. If art is an interest, Columbia is the fashion capital of Latin America and hosts the worlds largest theater festival, Festival Iberoamericano.

Hablas espaol?

Spanish is the official language of Columbia, but English also has official status in the Santa Catalina, Providencia and San Andres Islands. It is said that Columbias spanish is to be the clearest in the world and that Colombians dont typically have a strong accent. Here are some greetings in Spanish to help you on your way:

Colombian Cuisine

The staple foods of Colombia include red beans, rice, empanadas and plantains. There are many different styles of cuisine which are dependent on the region and have an array of cultural influences such as Arab, African, Spanish, Indigenous and Asian. One dish that is traditional to the capital city Bogota is Ajiaco, which is a Colombian style chicken soup. Please see the recipe for Ajiaco at the bottom of this page. In Colombia, dining etiquette is very formal and decorum and presentation are very important. You are invited to begin to eat once the host says buen provecho which translates into have a good meal. There are similar table manners as in North America like not putting your elbows on the table. Using a toothpick at the table is also considered impolite. One thing that is a bit unusual is that all food is eaten with utensils; even when an apple is eaten, its usually cut into little pieces with a knife and fork.

Religious Beliefs

In Columbia, the majority of the population is Christian and mostly Roman Catholic. Other religions practiced in the country include indigenous religions as well as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Its obvious that Columbia is diverse with its many cultural and religious influences. This also makes it all the more difficult to pinpoint certain aspects of a country because of this fact. The most effective way of getting to know about a country is asking someone who is from the country that you want to learn about. So, when your student arrives have a list of questions and ask away!

Please take into account that the information is a very basic introduction and by no means stereotyping all Colombian students you may meet!