6 Myths about Colombia travellers get wrong

Colombia is a country known for its war, drugs and violence but do you really know what Colombia is like? Here are 6 myths about Colombia busted:

1. Colombia’s biggest export is cocaine

Thanks to Pablo Escobar, when the world thinks of Colombia they instantly think of drugs and cocaine. In the 80s and 90s there was a good reason for this, but Colombia has come a long way from the cocaine smuggling days. Colombia’s top exported products are actually raw materials, such as coal and petroleum, and agricultural exports such as coffee, bananas and flowers. Colombia’s year round isothermal climate and the ability of farmers to grow produce in regions with varying weather patterns and terrains (mountainous, coastal, dry plains, sub tropical rainforest and high altitude) means that it has some of the freshest produce in the world, direct to the consumer.

2. Colombia is largely rainforest

Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world, after Brazil. Yes the amazon rainforest runs through the bottom of the country but Colombia has so much more to offer. Colombia has two coastlines, one with the Caribbean Sea and the other with the Pacific Ocean, both of which have beautiful beaches and crystal clear water. The Caribbean coast is home to a group of 30 islands called Islas de el Rosario located just off the coast of Cartagena, the majority of the islands are uninhabited and are part of a National Park. The Andes mountain range runs vertically through the country with Bogota being the highest city, at 2,640m (8,660ft) above sea level making it the 4th highest capital city in the world. Colombia also has tropical grassland allowing unique wildlife to breed and is home to over 70 species of water bird.

3. Colombia is run by Mafia and Gangs

Again Colombia has a long history of gang related violence, mafia dominated towns and bribing but again this is just a media portrayal. Yes Colombia has been at war with crime syndicates for a long period of time and has seen its fair share of violence but the country is moving on from this. There is still gang, drug and violence problems but these are now confined to two major cities on the Pacific coast, Buenaventura and Cali. There are a lot more cities and places to visit which are free from gang, drug and mafia problems.

4. Colombia is an unsafe place to visit

Colombia is as safe as any other country in the world. Obviously within every country there are dangerous parts, parts of Los Angeles and New York are dangerous and have drug, violence and gang problems, but we don’t say the whole of America has these problems because of it, so why should we say that Colombia does? I would say the most dangerous thing about going to Colombia is that you might actually like it! Every city has violent parts, but as long as you act sensibly and cautiously (the same way you would in New York or London) you will minimise the chance of any problems arising.

5. Colombian people live in tree houses

I once heard someone ask a Colombian this question, to which I laughed. Colombia may not be the richest country but that doesn’t mean the whole population is poor. Colombia has its fair share of upperclass malls, modern apartment blocks and super rich three story houses. The difference with Colombia is that there is no middle class in society, you either have a large amount of money or a little. Although this is true, I believe Colombia is home to some of the nicest, kindest and happiest people in the world. Everyone is content with what they have, even if it is only very little, people make the most out of the situations in which they live. Yes people have aspirations and dreams but they also never complain about what they don’t have- Colombia isn’t a consumer society. Travel outside of the large cities and towns and you will find quiet countryside, farmers who are totally self-sustainable and make the most out of everything they own.

6. All Latin American countries are the same 

This is the same as saying all European countries are the same, which everyone knows is untrue. Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile are all individual countries with different cultures, languages (varieties of Spanish and Portuguese) and customs. Colombia is considered one of the more developed Latin American countries in terms of schools, medicine, businesses and exports.

6 Myths about Colombia travellers get wrong

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