Santa Marta


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Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park, © Can Stock Photo / ildi

Colombia is officially known as the Republic of Colombia and is named after Christopher Columbus.  It is a constitutional republic.  The country is bordered by Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru, plus frontage on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.  The Spanish arrived in 1499 and colonized the local Muisca, Quimbaya, and Tairona tribes.  After Spanish rule ended in 1810, the country partnered with Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama at various times, but has been independent since 1903.  Spanish is the official language and Colombia has a population of over 45 million.  The capital and largest city is Bogota.  The port city of Cartagena is very active.   Colombia is ecologically diverse, with exposure to ocean front environments, Andes highland areas and Amazon rainforest. Despite the diversity in geography, the bond to Simon Bolivar is consistent throught the land.  Bolivar is the primary emancipator of Hispanic South America from Spain.  Expect to find a Plaza de Bolivar in most cities.  You can also expect a Cathedral and a Gold Museum nearby, so reference to these does not provide any clear indication of the city involved.

Colombia was dominated by drug cartels in the latter decades of the 21st century, but has seen remarkable changes since 2010 and the country is now a poplar and safe tourist destination.  The most notorious cartel in that period was the Medellin Cartel operated by Pablo Escobar.  Escobar's death in a gun fight in 1993 signalled the beginning of the end of the cartel era.  Colombia it still remains as the highest producer of cocaine in the world despite significant declines in production.


Visas are required from some countries, however many travellers will find that their country is exempt on the list of countries requiring a visa to enter Colombia or check your specific country at VisaHQ.   For a list of exempt countries, visit Project Visa.  In general, visas are not required for North America, Australia and western Europe.  When visiting Cartagena by cruise ship, no documentation other than a passport is required.


Colombia's currency is the Colombian peso:


The climate of Colombia is mainly influenced by elevation.  Temperatures in Bogota will be cool year round, while Cartagena is consistently hot and humid.  In general, October is the rainiest month in Colombia.

View Colombia map