Colombia

Colombia Capital: Bogota
Official Language: Spanish
Wikipedia Article

 

Introducing Colombia...

Caño Cristales - the river of five coloursColombia derives its name from from Columbus. With a population of 45 million, and a territory almost 25 times the size of the Netherlands.  It encompasses five different natural regions being the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Andean reguion, the east plains of the Orinoquian region and the Amazon reguion. It is recognized as a mega diverse country regarding flora and fauna. Colombia is rich in natural resources such as coal, emeralds, gold, oil and gas, and water resources.

The majority of the population (58%) is “mestizo”, (mixed European and Amerindian ancestry). 20% is of European ancestry only (predominantly of Spanish, with some Italian, Portuguese and German ancestry), 14% “mulato” (mixed European and African ancestry), 4% of black African ancestry only, and 3% “zambo” (mixed African and Amerindian ancestry). Pure indigenous Amerindians comprise only 1% of the population.

Landscape

Chicamocha cannon at the east AndesColombia is the gate of South America where the Pacific and the Atlantic meet. It is the only place in the world with a five color river (Caño Cristales - called the most beautiful river in the world) and a seven color sea (Providencia Island).  The only place where palms grow in the mountains between 1800 and 2600 mts height (Valle del Cocora), in the same region where one of the best coffee in the world is produced (Eje Cafetero).

Colombia is one of the countries where the Amazon forest runs through, bringing together five brother countries (Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Vezuela and Colombia) and where the mountains meet with the sea in a place that embraces our indigenous ancestors’ culture (Tayrona Natural Park).

When the Andes reach the South of Colombia they split in three branches, and among these mountains the biggest cities developed: Bogota- 2600 meters closer to the stars, Medellin - the city of the eternal spring, and the festive Cali – called heaven’s subsidiary. The beautiful Cartagena, known as the pearl of the Caribbean, combines the grace of the Caribbean with the romanticism of the colonial times.

Safety Issues

Peace without borders concert organized by Juanes in 2008 to gather Venezuelans and Colombians at the borderDespite of the difficulties of the drugs production and internal conflict, Colombia has made significant improvements in the past 10 years. The country has been able to overcome the difficulties and at the same time improve in safety, education, competitiveness, poverty reduction, and infrastructure. Drugs production has decrease in the few years, along terrorist activities derived from it.

Perhaps the most important fact is the unification of Colombians in favor of peace. Large movements have arisen to support families affected by violence, dissidents from violent groups incorporated to civil life, and the release of hostages.  Massive manifestations in different cities inside and outside Colombia are voice of a nation whose inhabitant’s main goal is  peace.

Music

Performace of Colombian CumbiaMusical diversity as well as typical dances are the expression of the ethnic differences distributed throughout the different regions. In the Amazon, the native aborigines’ music speaks of times where the sole inhabitants of Colombia were the natives. Their main legacy is the flute. In the Pacific region, the characteristic singing patterns with a strong presence of a lead voice and an answering choir come from the religious origins of this music.

The Cumbia developed in the Atlantic region is a type of music with influence from the three races: bass drums from the African people give rhythmic support; gaitas -wind instruments- come from the indigenous Colombians, and finally the melodic structure from the European dances is also present. A more recent derivative of Cumbia is the Vallenato.

Performace of Colombian CumbiaThe main instruments again reflect the three races: the accordion came from Europe, the drum from Africa and the reeder or “guacharaca” from the native Colombians, all this along a particular voice color. Finally, the Joropo, the music from the east plains, is derived from Waltz  and native Colombian influences.  Its typical ensemble is made by three instruments: the “cuatro”, very similar to the Hawaiian ukulele; the “maracas”, which are of native Colombian origin and the harp, which is played with great rhythm and speed by the locals.

The richness of Colombian music variety is reflected in the complex dances associated to the typical rhythms, and more recently in the mixed sounds of the music of modern artists such as Shakira, Juanes, Toto la Momposina, Carlos Vives, among others. In Colombia, the accordion notes of a Vallenato can mix with the drums of a “Cumbia” or a “Mapalé”, the treble of a "Guabina" or "Sanjuanero", or the harp of a "Joropo Llanero", in a party of sounds and rhythms that inevitably brings you to the dance floor.

Maybe now you can understand why Colombia is pure magic realism!!!

http://solar.physics.montana.edu/munoz/AboutMe/ColombianMusic/Intro/English_WhereFrom.html