Exploring Colombian Culture

Colombia, situated in the north-western corner of South America, is the only South American country with coastlines on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It has a variety of environments to explore, ranging from the snow-covered mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to desert zones in La Guajira. In the charming old heart of Bogotá, travelers can explore the colorful and historic architecture in La Candelaria.

The Colombian perception of time is quite relaxed; in general, they are not very punctual. “Hora Tipica” – Colombian time – means that the person will arrive 20 or 30 minutes late. This also goes for deadlines. Being on time for a party or social gathering usually means that you’ll have to wait a while for the other guests to start arriving! Dancing and music are also important elements of Colombian culture. Colombia has a huge variety of types of music from all over Latin America and the Caribbean.

Study abroad in Colombia Host a Colombian student in the U.S.

Columbian People and Community

Family life is extremely important in Colombian culture (as it is in many Latin American cultures due to the influence of the Catholic religion). For most Colombians, family is the basic element of community and social order. Families are very close, and they stay close. In Columbian culture, families can be conservative and protective of their children, no matter how old they are! It is not unusual to find grandparents living at home. Individual privacy is limited by the small size of the houses and the commonly big families, and therefore children usually share rooms. Colombians are very house-proud; the house is cleaned regularly and is kept in order. Although some families have full- or part-time maids, in many other cases the whole family shares the house chores, especially when parents are young.

Colombian society adopted a culture in which men occupy a dominant role within the household as breadwinner and disciplinarian and assume responsibility for maintaining family pride and position within the community. The role of machismo is an important characteristic of public life. Machismo is not synonymous with strict male dominance—it applies to the public personification of the male family head. With more women holding higher-paying jobs and occupying prominent positions in society, the role of machismo is now less dominant in urban centers but is still evident in rural regions.

Language and Communication Styles in Columbia

People in Colombia

The main language spoken in Colombia is Spanish.

Columbian Food

Arroz con leche in Colombia

A daily meal in Colombian culture consists of meat, potato, rice, and “patacon” (fried banana). Beans are also important. Fruit juices are very widely consumed, and Colombia offers a large diversity of fruit. Arroz con pollo (chicken with rice), frijoles con chicharrón (pork and beans), and sancocho (stew with chicken, fish, or meat and vegetables) are popular dishes. Coffee is the favorite drink of many. Sugar and milk are primary ingredients in popular sweets and desserts like arequipe (caramel sauce) and arroz con leche (rice pudding with cinnamon and milk). Guava jelly is a popular sweet and is usually eaten with cheese.

Explore the Programs Available in Colombia