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Colombian Culture

Columbia, South America… No, it’s Colombia!

The change of a single letter makes a big difference. It could be Columbia, the beautiful capital of South Carolina, which according to Google has around 140,000 inhabitants and is known as the city of “Soda” simply because someone started calling it by the abbreviation “Cola,” and it ended up as Soda City. Today, it is promoted as a lifestyle for the city, replacing the old city slogan of “We are Columbia.”

However, I believe that the phrase “We are Colombia” would suit us very well, don’t you think?

It could also be Columbia in Missouri, a small city of about 120,000 inhabitants located in Boone County and home to the famous University of Missouri. Like the abbreviation for the state of Missouri (Mo), the city took on the abbreviation “CoMo” to identify itself, with a slogan of “the unexpected” or better yet, “what you don’t expect,” which could also serve Colombia very well.

We also have the famous Columbia University in the beautiful city of New York, which is a symbol of global education and one of the most important academic references in the United States. Its classrooms have been graced by figures from multiple disciplines such as Amelia Earhart, the aviation pioneer, or the writer Isaac Asimov. Entrepreneurs like Warren Buffett, chess player José Raúl Capablanca, General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, scientist and Nobel Prize winner in Physics Enrico Fermi, or economist and Nobel Prize winner in Economics Milton Friedman have also passed through its halls. And many leaders, from Alexander Hamilton or John Jay, two of the founding fathers of the United States, to presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt. Figures such as editor Joseph Pulitzer or poet Federico García Lorca, and more recently, artists like Alicia Keys or leaders like Barack Obama, have also been part of Columbia.

With more than 96 Nobel Prizes in its history, the name of Columbia University is globally recognized.

But curiously, searches for “Columbia” first lead us to the famous clothing brand Columbia, synonymous with outdoor adventures, mountains, hiking, and sports.

So it’s not surprising that many English speakers confuse Colombia with Columbia.

And this is where the magic begins: Colombia is a country of nearly 50 million inhabitants, with one of the most important biodiversities in the world, with over 67,000 species of registered flora and fauna, and hundreds of thousands more to be discovered. It boasts the highest number of bird species (1,921), hundreds of mammals (492), 532 reptiles, and over 800 amphibians and 3,200 butterflies.

It’s a country that permanently maintains all climates in its thermal floors, from the hot beaches of the Caribbean and the humid jungles of Chocó and the Amazon, to the paramos and the snow-capped peaks at over 4,500 meters above sea level. Floodable savannas like the Orinoco, fertile valleys along the Magdalena and Cauca rivers, as well as plateaus and cultivable mountains that have produced the world’s best coffee and over 400 varieties of fruits.

Colombia: A Country of Colors and Contrasts.From the sea of the Seven Colors in San Andres to the multicolored river of Caño Cristales, or the myriad shades of green in the coffee-growing mountains, Colombia is a land of vibrant hues and striking contrasts.

But undoubtedly, what sets Colombia apart is its people – always friendly and warm towards visitors, eager to share a cup of coffee or a vallenato song. It’s a country of many cultures that have blended together to embody the “real maravilloso” of Gabriel García Márquez, where echoes of “Macondo” can be found in every corner of Colombia.

Ricardo Ramírez

February 2024

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