Spanish is the national language of Colombia, but on the islands of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, English is a second, official language spoken.
Approximately 47,662,951 people live in Colombia.
The currency is the Colombian Peso.
The capital city is Bogotá.
The country spans across 1.141.748 kilometers squared, making Colombia the fourth-largest country in South America.
It’s the size of Texas and California combined and the 26th largest nation in the world.
Colombia is also the only country in South America with two coastlines — one on the Pacific Ocean and the other on the Caribbean Sea. This unique position helps to generate business and trade and has contributed to turning Colombia into the third largest economy in South America.
• Colombia isn’t as dangerous as you probably think it is. For a long time up until the end of the 20th century, it was considered dangerous for foreigners to travel through Colombia for fear of abduction. These fears are unwarranted in the 21st century and Colombia has made great strides in terms of national security, resolving long-standing problems with rebel groups and drug-traffickers.
• If you love coffee, you must visit Colombia and you must be prepared to never want to leave. Colombia produces some of the best coffee in the world. Even when buying a quick coffee in a polystyrene cup on the street, you can’t go wrong. The taste is difficult to match.
• Colombians are incredibly friendly. If you’re planning to stay in country for a long period of time — to work, to study, to act as a volunteer, or to complete an internship, — Colombia is one of the best countries in South America for making friends and integrating yourself into the local community.
The President of Colombia is both the head of state and the head of government. Legislative power is held by both the government and the two chambers of congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives of Colombia.
Education in Colombia is divided into four basic levels — preschool or nursery, primary education, secondary education, and university. The Ministry of Education is responsible for the development of the curriculum and oversees the implementation of the same in all educational institutions across the country. Public education, provided by the state, is a little less expensive than private educational options, and in Bogotá there are many bilingual primary and secondary schools owing to the growing expat community — parents with bilingual children.
The public healthcare system in Colombia deals with the prevention and treatment of all kinds of illnesses — both physical and psychological. The state provides public services offered by medical staff, nursing clinics and other kinds of allied health professionals.
• San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina — The archipelago, home to the three islands San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, is famous for its sea of seven colours, its palm trees and its happy-go-lucky population. It’s the perfect place to go swimming, lounge around in the sun and dine on fresh, tasty seafood prepared by locals.
• Cartagena — Recognised by UNESCO as a National Heritage Site for Culture and History, Cartagena is one of the most popular spots in Colombia to live and work as a foreigner. It’s situated on the coast and so combines the added pleasures of sun, sand, and surf, to a town-like city setting. Its tropical, Caribbean vibe is intoxicating.
• Santa Marta — Founded in 1525 by Rodrigo de Bastidas, Santa Marta was the first bay to be officially founded in Colombia. Its popular thanks to its long, challenging, deep-forest trekking options, and its incredible variety of indigenous flora and fauna. Every July, Santa Marta celebrates its famous Party of the Sea. It’s a great time to visit.
• Is a visa required?: Depending on your country of origin. For more information, please check this website: http://www.projectvisa.com
• Allocation of Tourist Visa: Tourist Visa is received at the airport of Bogotá
• Duration of Tourist visa: Lasts up to 90 days
• Tourist Visa Extension: It is possible to extend by leaving the country and flying in again or by paying an extension fee
• Passport validation: Must be valid for at least 6 months
• Return/onward flight ticket: Required upon entering the country
• Confirmation of Funds: Declaration of sufficient funds will be required
• Currency: Colombian Peso
• Inform Banks: Give the dates of travel and destinations to prevent security blocks on your bank and credit cards
• Cash: Always take enough cash to cover your expenses for the first week in case there is a problem with your bank cards or access to ATM’s is limited.
• Credit Options: Good idea to have at least two different credit/debit card options i.e. MasterCard, Visa, Maestro, or Cirrus.
• Travellers Cheques: Will only be able to exchange in major cities and best to take them in Dollars
• Western Union: If at any time you have any problems in accessing money you can use Western Union transfer. Money can be sent from your home country and received in Colombia the same day.
• Vaccinations: Measles vaccination obligatory; Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A&B + Typhoid strongly recommended
• Malaria medication: Not necessary, may be useful just in rural regions in the far north
• See local GP: If vaccinations or medication is required see the doctor 4-6 weeks before your departure
• Less than 4 weeks before you leave: You should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines and other medications and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while travelling.
• Check the following for up to date information: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
''Thanks to some Colombian friends I was able to fully discover Cartagena – a beautiful city with a lot of things to do and see, an amazing historical centre, its castle, beaches… My experience in the city and the language institution has been extremely positive. The teachers at the school are really friendly and highly qualified! I also took Salsa classes and was able to make a lot of new friends because people here are really warm-hearted and open-minded.'' Spanish course. Dimitri, Germany
''My stay in Cartagena is going to come to an end soon and I am looking back to a lot of nice and interesting experiences! Cartagena is like a completely new world for me – totally different from any other place I have visited so far! The city is extremely vivid and diverse and has become kind of a second home for me. My guestfamily received me in a very friendly and welcoming way. Classes were entertaining and efficient at the same time. The teachers have been really kind and some of them have become really close friends! Thanks to everyone for this awesome time!'' Spanish course. Sarah, Switzerland
''I was introduced to cartagena by some French and Spanish friends. The things I like most about Cartagena are its people and architecture. I really enjoyed eating in the little street stands because I have never done this before. I decided to learn Spanish because I really love Southamerica and am of the opinion that it is very important to know the language to truly immerge into the local culture.'' Spanish course. Odile, Francia
''Last year I decided to study Spanish because knowing this language would not only benefit my academic formation but also my personal and cultural one. After some research I found out that Colombia was considered to be the best country for foreigners to study Spanish. Furthermore I found it really interested to discover the cultural differences between my home country Brazil and Colombia. I got the chance to live and study in Cartagena for one month and it was an overall enriching and positive experience! Friendly and open-minded people, beautiful beaches, good music and food and a lot of interesting history made my stay unforgettable!'' Spanish course. Sarah, Brazil