Conventional Name: Republic of Colombia
Short Name: Colombia
Surface: 2.070.408 km2, divided into 1.141.748 km2 of continental territory and 928.660 km2 of maritime territory
Population: aprox. 45 million. Ethnic groups: 58% Mestizo, 20% White, 21% Afro Colombian, 1% Amerindian
Capital City: Bogotá D.C.
Local Hour: (- 5 hours GMT)
Electricity Power : 110V
Language: Spanish is the official language. English is also official in San Andrés and Providence islands. The 72 languages and dialects of ethnic groups are also official in their regions.
Religion: Based on various studies, more than 95% of the population adheres to Christianity, the vast majority of which (between 81% and 90%) are Roman Catholic. About 1% of Colombians adhere to indigenous religions and under 1% to Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism.
Government: The government of Colombia takes place within the framework of a presidential representative democratic republic as established in the Constitution of 1991. In accordance with the principle of separation of powers, government is divided into three branches: the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch.
Currency: Our national currency is the "Peso Colombiano". There are 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000 and 50.000 pesos bills and 50, 100, 200, 500 pesos coins.
Economy: Colombia's market economy grew steadily in the latter part of the twentieth century, with gross domestic product (GDP) increasing at an average rate of over 4% per year between 1970 and 1998. The country suffered a recession in 1999 (the first full year of negative growth since the Great Depression), and the recovery from that recession was long and painful. However, in recent years growth has been impressive, reaching 8.2% in 2007, one of the highest rates of growth in Latin America.
Banking & Shopping hours: - varies a lot within the country - Banks are usually open from Monday to Friday from 09:00 am to 4:00 pm. Stores are open normally from Monday to Friday from 09:00 am to 9:00 pm and Saturday from 09:00 am to 8:00 pm. Malls are usually open seven days a week from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Offices: From 09:00 am to 06:00 pm.
Jan 1st – New Year's Day
Jan 10th – Epiphany
March 21st– St. Joseph's Day
Apr 21st / 22nd – Holy Week
May 1st – Labor Day
Jun 6th – Ascension Day
Jun 27th – Corpus Christi
Jul 4th – Sacred Heart
Jul 20th – Independence Day
Aug 7th – Battle Of Boyaca
Aug 15th – Assumption Day
Oct 17th – Columbus Day
Nov 7th – All Saints
Nov 14th Cartagena Independence
Dec 8th -Immaculate Conception
Dec 25th -Christmas
Geography: The geography of Colombia is characterized by containing five main natural regions that present their own unique characteristics, from the Andes mountain range region shared with Ecuador and Venezuela; the Pacific Ocean coastal region shared with Panama and Ecuador; the Caribbean Sea coastal region shared with Venezuela and Panama; the Llanos (plains) shared with Venezuela; to the Amazon Rainforest region shared with Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador.
Colombia is the only South American country which borders both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Transportation: Colombia’s most important airport besides Cali, Medellin, Cartagena, Barranquilla and Pereira is the “El Dorado” airport in Bogotá. Because of its central location in Colombia and America, this airport is the biggest and most important one, preferred by national land transportation providers, as well as national and international air transportation providers.
Colombia has a good network of national highways. The Pan-American Highway travels through Colombia, connecting the country with Venezuela to the east and Ecuador to the south.
Very well working urban transport systems have been developed in Bogotá (Transmilenio) and Medellín (Metrocable).
Communication: Since being liberalized in 1991, the Colombian telecommunications sector has added new services, expanded coverage, improved efficiency, and lowered costs. As a result of increasing competition, Colombia has a relatively modern telecommunications infrastructure that primarily serves larger towns and cities (telephone, fax, email, internet and courier services).
International direct dialing can be accessed from anywhere in the country. Colombia dialing code is 57, and the Bogotá city code is 1. “Locutorios” are stores where telephone calls can be made in prívate booths with metered calls. International calling cards are also widely available. You can find “Cyber Cafes” (Internet Cafes) in the major Colombian cities.
Food & Beverage: Colombian cuisine varies among its many distinct regions. In Bogotá and the Andean region, “ajiaco” is a traditional dish. It is a soup made of chicken, corn, many different types of potatoes, avocado, and “guascas”, a local herb. Along the Caribbean coast, pork, fish and coconut rice are common dishes. In the Llanos of the east, barbecued meat is common, due to the cowboy-like culture. And In the Amazon, Brazilian and Peruvian influences can be seen in the local food.
Colombians typically eat three meals a day: a large breakfast, a medium lunch between 12-2, and a light dinner.
Colombian coffee is well known for its high standards in taste compared to others.
Culture: Colombian culture bears the influences of several other cultures (e.g. Spanish and African culture) and is very diverse and colorful. It is a sum of several important factors like the geographical location, its colonizers, the religious groups, etc. These are all reflected in the language, daily lifestyle, religion and in many other aspects of Colombian life. Bigger cities, especially Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Cartagena are well-known for its broad cultural offer in cinemas, theatres, arts expositions, music halls and literature presentations.
Sports: Football and cycling are the most popular sports in Colombia. In 2011 the FIFA U-20 world cup was held in Colombia. Professional Cycling in Colombia became very popular after the triumphs of Martín Emilio "Cochise" Rodríguez in European cycling competitions. There are many other professional sports leagues as well as amateur leagues for numerous sports. Professional Sports achievements are subject to national pride for Colombians.
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