Colombia has 40 million inhabitants, with an urban population
of around 70% . The country is mainly Roman Catholic. The official language is
Spanish and it is widely used with very few exceptions. In the San Andres &
Providencia islands English is also native and various indigenous groups around the
country have preserved their own languages.
The ethnic mixture in Colombia -stemming from indigenous,
African and Spanish roots- have given Colombia a strong and wide range of cultural
elements that can be appreciated on many aspects of everyday life.
Music clearly represents the various influences, being
a very important part of the colombian culture.
The music from the Andes region has indigenous as well as spanish influence, played mainly
with string and wind instruments. In contrast, the music from the coasts has a clear
african influence, with drum rhythms predominating. Salsa, cumbia and
vallenato are very popular styles in the whole country, and have now reached global
Colombian musicians such as Shakira and Carlos Vives are now
well-known names internationally, promoting the country's rhythms around the world. Artist
Fernando Botero has taken colombian painting and sculpture to the best-known museums and
galleries of the world, while colombian literature is well represented with writers like
Alvaro Mutis and Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Just a few examples
of Colombia's rich heritage and culture.