AFS Colombia hosts participants in different parts of the country such as small towns and big cities. From the coasts in the north to the plains in the east, going through the Andean mountain range, you will always be able to see a new culture, full of music, sports, art, nature and fun.

Get to know more about this beautiful country!

Here are the hidden treasures of Colombia in Encanto by Disney!

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Country brief

Official Name:
Republic of Colombia / República de Colombia

Official language:
Spanish (Although there is one department where English is the official language and there are more than 68 local languages).

Government:
Unitary presidential constitutional republic

Capital City:
Bogotá

Population:
49,996,445

Currency:
COP (Colombian Peso) 5,000 COP = 1 USD (Approx.)

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The traditional national sport of Colombia is called Turmeque, mostly knew as Tejo. It is an indivitual or a team sport that involves launching objects at a target.

Orquidea

The traditional national sport of Colombia is called Turmeque, mostly known as Tejo. It is an individual or a team sport that involves launching objects at a target.

Palma de cera

The wax palm is Colombia’s best-loved tree and is so symbolic, it’s the country’s national tree.

Andean Condor

The Andean condor is the national animal of Colombia and is one of the largest birds of prey in the world, weighing as much as 20 to 25 pounds. Adults can reach heights of four feet, with a wing span of up to 10 feet

What to expect

An agreement with the Ministry of Education authorizes schools to admit AFS participants as “guest students”. AFSers must attend school regularly. They are expected to take part in all academic activities that regular students are required to.

Officially, schools cannot provide a guest student with a transcript of grades, but many schools will submit certificates to deserving AFS students. We place students in either public or private schools.

AFS Participants are the ambassadors of our organization. It’s very important for us to promote positive learning experiences for all and maintain good relationships with educational backgrounds. Most of our schools have an academic calendar that begins in February, ending classes by the end of each year. However, schools are very flexible and willing to host participants with diverse academic backgrounds and calendars.

Five things you need to know

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Rich history

Colombia has a long and exciting history. From the complexity of the indigenous peoples’ social organization and technology, to the Spanish conquerors who built some jaw-dropping cathedrals and fortresses to protect the coast against pirates, the history is multifaceted. The museums and other cultural institutions are instructive, well-maintained, and certainly worth a visit.

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Breathtaking landscapes and wildlife

National Geographic describes it as «The ‘gateway to South America’ because it sits in the northwestern part of the continent where South America connects with Central and North America. It is the fifth largest country in Latin America and home to the world’s second largest population of Spanish-speaking people.

Colombia is a land of extremes. Through its center run the towering, snow-covered volcanoes and mountains of the Andes. Tropical beaches line the north and west. And there are deserts in the north and vast grasslands, called Los Llanos, in the east.

Dense forests fill Colombia’s Amazon Basin, which takes up nearly the country’s entire southern half. In northwest Colombia, a warm, wet, jungle-filled area called the Chocó reaches across the Panama border.»

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Awesome dishes

Colombia has some rare and delicious cuisine that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. The arepas, corn patties filled with meats and cheeses are a must everywhere you go.  For example, Bandeja Paisa is not for vegetarians as it contains different meats such as beef, pork, sausage, fried eggs, rice, beans, and plantains.

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Culture in every corner

Colombians have a unique culture, and it is possible to explore and experience their history in the small traditional towns all over  the country. Unwind and de-stress while learning about the history, culture, and lifestyle of the Colombian people past and present.

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People worth meeting

Colombia’s diversity really shows through in its people. From the kids playing on the isolated beaches of La Guajira, to the indigenous people of the Pacific coast, Colombia is as diverse in population as it is nature. There is one thing that all Colombians have in common, however: their genuine smile.

A little bit of history

Colombia is named after Christopher Columbus, even though he never set foot on Colombian soil. It was Alonso de Ojeda, one of Columbus’ companions on his second voyage, who was the first European to set foot on the land in 1499.

Before that the territory was inhabited by various indigenous tribes. Nowadays, there is a population of 1,378,884 Native Colombians (3,4% of the population). 

Approximately 50% of the indigenous peoples of Colombia live in the La Guajira, Cauca, and Nariño Departments. While the Amazonian region of Colombia is sparsely populated, it is home to over 70 different indigenous ethnic groups

Colombia flag Motion video waving in wind. Flag Closeup 1080p HD  footage

«La tricolor»

Our country flag

In 1807, Francisco Miranda, one of the forerunners of national independence, proposed the colors yellow, blue and red to represent the territory, while going through the independence process.

Four years later the flag was adopted as the insignia of Gran Colombia and in 1813 ratified by the liberator Simón Bolívar. In 1861 it was arranged that the stripes would be horizontal and the yellow color would occupy the upper half of the flag.

Flag Day is celebrated on August 7.

Colombia’s flag meaning

Yellow: represents the wealth of the Colombian soil, as well as the sun, a source of light, and sovereignty, harmony and justice.

Blue: represents the sky that covers the Homeland, the rivers and the two oceans that bathe the Colombian territory.

Red: represents the blood shed by the patriots on the battlefields to achieve freedom, which means love, power, strength and progress. according to presidencia.gov.co

Colombia, the only risk is wanting to stay

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Gastronomy

Colombian cuisine is a compound of the culinary traditions of the six main regions within the country (Pacific, Amazonian, Andean, Orinoco, Caribbean, and Insular). It varies regionally and is particularly influenced by Indigenous Colombian, Spanish, and African cuisines, with slight Arab influence in some regions.

Furthermore, being one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, Colombia has one of the widest variety of available ingredients depending on the region.

The typical dishes can vary between fruit, meat, fish and seafood dishes. From soups to roasts, in Colombia you can enjoy dishes such as: ajiaco (variety of potatoes and chicken soup), typically from Bogota; bandeja paisa (a combination of beans with rice, avocado and six more ingredients), typically from Medellin; fillets of sea and river fish, from the pacific and caribbean coasts; to even the most exotic fruits in the world such as guanabana, chontaduro, cape gooseberry or feijoa. And of course delicious coffee!

Bienvenidos al país del realismo mágico y la magia salvaje

Quick-facts!

Colombia is the country with the second-highest biodiversity in the world, behind Brazil.

As of 2016, 56,343 species are registered in Colombia, of which 9,153 are endemic.

Famous colombians

García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez was born in 1927 in the small town of Aracataca. He won The Nobel Prize in Literature 1982.

Rodolfo Llinás

Rodolfo Llinás

Father of modern neurosurgery.

Shakira

Shakira

Her hips don’t lie.

Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero Angulo

Painting. Boterismo depicts people and figures in large, exaggerated volume

Adriana Ocampo

Adriana Ocampo

Her research contributed to the understanding of the Chicxulub impact crater.

Colombia and India are the two countries in the world with more public holidays each with 18 days a year. In Colombia they are known as ‘festivos’ and are very useful for traveling, since they are almost always on Mondays. 

We love sports

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Colombia

Where in Colombia

Colombia is situated in South America, bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Brazil. 

The Andes Mountains extend into the country in three ranges running south to north, dipping finally into the lowlands of the Caribbean coast.

Along the southern Pacific coast run marshy lowlands and rugged low mountains. The southwestern coastal lowlands extend in a trough running from the port of Buenaventura to the Caribbean. 

East of this rise the slopes of the Western Cordillera which, with the Central Cordillera range, runs north to the Caribbean lowlands from Ecuador.

Further north lies the fertile Cauca Valley, which becomes a deep gorge running between the Cordilleras to the Caribbean lowlands.

The Eastern Cordillera, the longest range, rises north of the Ecuadorean border and runs north then northeast towards Venezuela. 

Flat grassy prairies in the east along with the jungles and towering rainforests of the Amazon make up over half the country’s area. 

Colombia also claims two small islands, San Andrés and Providencia, located 700km (430 miles) north of the coast

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