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International Coffeehouses: Colombia

This guide will provide links to resources related to the countries featured in the International Coffeehouses.

Colombia street view

Facts in Brief

Country flag


The Republic of Colombia lies in the north-west of South America, with the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Its continental neighbours are Venezuela and Brazil to the east, and Peru and Ecuador to the south, while Panama connects it with Central America. The coastal areas have a tropical rainforest climate, the plateaux are temperate, and in the Andes mountains there are areas of permanent snow. Total average annual rainfall is 2,676 mm (105 ins). The language is Spanish. Almost all of the inhabitants profess Christianity, and around 87% are Roman Catholics. The national flag (proportions 2 by 3) has three horizontal stripes, of yellow (one-half of the depth) over dark blue over red. The capital is Bogotá.

Population: 50,000,000 (2020 estimate)

Religion (2018 estimate): Colombia is primarily Christian, with 73% of the population representing Roman Catholicism and 14% Protestant. 10% of the country identifies as non-religious.

Language: most Colombians speak Spanish and it’s the country’s official language

Colombia declared independence from Spain on July 20, 1810 which is now celebrated as its independence day. Their independence was recognized on August 7, 1819.

Image Citation: Country Flag (Colombia), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 29 October 2020 from

Citation: Location, Climate, Language, Religion, Flag, Capital (Colombia), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 29 October 2020 from

The Land 

The Coastal Lowlands - Pacific coast

The Caribbean Lowlands stretch along the coast of the Caribbean and is where most trade occurs. Because of this, 20% of people live here. 

The Andes Mountains cover western Colombia

The Eastern Plains - cover about 60 percent of Colombia but only 2% of the people live in this region. 

Images from World Book Online

Harvesting Coffee Beans

Harvesting Coffee Beans

"Coffee ranks among Colombia's most important export crops. Colombia is one of the largest coffee-producing countries in the world. The worker shown here picks coffee beans on a farm in Sasaima, near Bogota."

Harvesting coffee beans [Online image]. (2020). In World Book Advanced, Retrieved from

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

"Colombia was settled by Spaniards in the early 1500's. The port city of Cartagena, shown here, still has buildings dating from the colonial period. The Spanish explorer Pedro de Heredia founded Cartagena in 1533."

Cartagena, Colombia [Online image]. (2020). In World Book Advanced, Retrieved from

Bogotá, Colombia

Bogotá, Colombia

"Bogotá is the capital and largest city of Colombia. The Santamaría bullring, shown here, is one of the city's key points of interest. The Park Towers, designed by Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona, rise beside the bullring."

Bogotá, Colombia [Online image]. (2020). In World Book Advanced, Retrieved from

Caño Cristales

Caño Cristales

"The waters of Colombia's Caño Cristales (Crystal Spout) bloom with vibrant color each autumn. The river's colors come from black rocks, green algae, yellow sands, and blue waters. The distinctive vibrant red comes from a tropical riverweed called macarenia clavigera that has adapted to the river's rushing waters and rocky riverbed."

Caño Cristales in south-central Colombia [Online image]. (2020). In World Book Advanced, Retrieved from

World Book online logo

World Book Online

A general encyclopedia covering a wide range of topics. It is part of the Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL).

Music Books from UT's Catalog

Colombian Music at a Glance

Colombia is known as “the land of a thousand rhythms” for its rhythmic and musical diversity. Across a dozen geographical and cultural regions, Colombia’s musical genres and instruments vary greatly. Just a few genres include Cumbia, Vallenato, Currulao, Juga, and Champeta. Some instruments used in Colombian music include the accordion, the tambora bass drum, the guitar, and Llanos’ harp.

Image: A blind man plays the accordion to entertain spectators gathered to watch the 53rd Vuelta a Colombia

 A blind man plays the accordion to entertain spectators gathered to watch the 53rd Vuelta a Colombia, which took place against a backdrop of civil war and violence. The bicycle race is guarded along its entire route by heavily armed Colombian soldiers as it crosses provinces controlled variously by the Revolutionary Army of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Paramilitaries (AUC).

Music of Colombia

Image: Folk Music of Colombia Luna Roja

Image: Music of Colombia Album Art

The Sound Of Colombia

Image: Afro-Hispanic Music from Western Colombia and Ecuador

Books from the UT Collection


A typical meal in Colombia can include: 

Appetizer -  a favorite soup, ajiaco, made with chicken, potatoes, and guasca (Galinsoga parviflora)

Main Dish - bandeja paisa (red beans, white rice, ground meat, chicharon (fried pork belly/rounds), fried egg, plantain, chorizo (pork sausage), arepa (corn biscuit), black pudding, avocado and lemon

Side dish - papas criollas al horno (roasted Andean potatoes)

Dessert - bocadillo (guava jelly - Colombian confection made with guava pulp and panela)

Map of Colombia

Colombia map

Image Citation: Country Map (Colombia), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 29 October 2020 from

Colombian Literature

Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014) was a Colombian novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, and journalist. Known as Gabo or Gabito throughout Latin America for being one of the most significant writers of his time, Márquez won the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature. His work popularized the style known as magic realism, the use of magical elements and events in ordinary and realistic situations, and can be seen in One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967), Chronicle of a Death Foretold (1981), and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985). Márquez was called the greatest Colombian who ever lived by former Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos.

Literature Cont.

Álvaro Mutis headshot

Álvaro Mutis (b.1923)

"Known as a poet most of his life, Mutis, a native of Bogotá, blossomed as one of Colombia's major novelists during the 1980s and 1990s. He has published more than fifteen books of poetry and fiction. Mutis began publishing poetry in the 1940s, and continued in the 1950s and 1960s, describing a decaying world, often in a satirical tone. Many of his prose poems are narrated in the bitter and ironic voice of a character named Maqroll el Gaviero. One of Mutis's major books of poetry is Los trabajos perdidos (1965). He has lived most of his adult life in Mexico."

La nieve del almirante available for checkout in Hodges Library

Image Citation: "Álvaros Mutis" by Juan Manuel Herrera is licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0.

Citation: Williams, R. L. (2008). Mutis, Alvaro (1923–). In J. Kinsbruner & E. D. Langer (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture (2nd ed., Vol. 4, pp. 759-760). Charles Scribner's Sons.

Gabriel García Márquez headshot

Gabriel García Márquez (b.1927)

"Márquez is Colombia's best-known novelist and short-story writer. The two most important years of García Márquez's career are 1967, when his masterpiece Cien años de soledad (1967; One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1970) brought him overnight fame, and 1982, when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. The people, landscape, and atmosphere of the coast of Colombia are an important aspect of García Márquez's work. Many of his novels and short stories are set in the coastal towns of Colombia, portrayed either through the mythical town of Macondo or set in the colonial city of Cartagena."

Novellas. English: Collected novellas available for checkout at Hodges Library

Image Citation: "Gabriel Garcia Marquez wearing a Guayabera" by Unknown author is licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0.

Citation: Watson, Maida. "García Márquez, Gabriel (1927–)." Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, edited by Jay Kinsbruner and Erick D. Langer, 2nd ed., vol. 3, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2008, pp. 392-394. Gale eBooks, Accessed 1 Nov. 2020.


Jorge Isaacs headshot

Jorge Isaacs (1837-1895)

"More than as a poet, explorer, politician, or ethnologist, Isaacs is known as a novelist for his only and unique novel. María (1867; Maria, 1890) won him a place in history and in the hearts of millions around the world. Published in every Spanish-speaking country and translated into many languages, María caused critics to proclaim it the "most exquisite sentimental novel" and "one of the most beautiful creations and … closest to perfection" for its "clear aesthetic conscience." Latin America, in its postindependence search for identity, found itself in María's landscape and humane romantic soul."

María is available for checkout at Hodges Library

Image Citation: "Retrato Jorge Isaacs" by Gobernación Valle Del Cauca is licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0.

Citation: Suárez-Torres, J. D. (2008). Isaacs, Jorge (1837–1895). In J. Kinsbruner & E. D. Langer (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture (2nd ed., Vol. 3, pp. 877-878). Charles Scribner's Sons.

Art & Architecture

Mona Lisa, Age Twelve by Fernando Botero

Mona Lisa, Age Twelve by Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero, Colombian, born 1932. (1959). Mona Lisa, Age Twelve. [Painting]. Retrieved from

Statue at San Agustin Park

Statue at San Agustin Park

(Image: 1941). Statue at San Agustin Park. Retrieved from

Bird-form finial

Bird-form finial

Colombia, Northwest Colombia, Sinú region, Zenú culture, South American; Pre-Columbian; Sinú, South American; Columbian. (c. A.D. 500-1500). Bird-form finial. [Other]. Retrieved from

A portrait of an elderly man. by Stephan Vanfleteren

A portrait of an elderly man. by Stephan Vanfleteren

Stephan Vanfleteren. (2006). A portrait of an elderly man.. Retrieved from

Art Music, Traditional Music, and Popular Music of Colombia

Read about the Art & Architecture of Colombia!

More Databases

Barranquilla’s Carnival

Barranquilla’s Carnival is one of the biggest festivals in the world and is celebrated four days before Holy Week in Barranquilla. The festival includes: dancing (Spanish paloteo, African Congo, indigenous mico y micas); music (Colombian music, cumbia (folk traditions)), and masquerade parades. Colombia’s national congress proclaimed that the Carnival of Barranquilla is a cultural masterpiece. The slogan for the festival is “Those who live it are those who enjoy it.”

The carnival queen during the Battle of Flowers (two groups of rich families riding carriages decorated with flowers).

Congo dancing group

Alejandro Obregón

Alejandro Obregón 1920-1992

After being born in Colombia and moving to Spain, England, and Boston, Obregón decided to stay in France until about 1955. Here he painted his piece Still Life in Yellow, and within this piece we can see his personal style and technical ability. Obregón utilizes color within his geometric forms and controlled expressionism. Over the period of four decades, Obregón incorporated into his painting a repertory of themes that transcend literary reference and are unmistakably Colombian in character. His work Dead Student works as an allusion to the excesses of the dictatorship within Colombia, later won him the Guggenheim Prize for Colombia.

Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero was born in 1932 and is a Colombian figurative sculptor. His style is called Boterismo and represents people in large, exaggerated volume to suggest political criticism and humor. Because his work is around the world, he is considered the most recognized and quoted living artist from Latin America. Some of his most notable works include: Mona Lisa, Age Twelve (1959), Pope Leo X (after Raphael) (1964), The Presidential Family (1967), The Dancers (1987), Death of Pablo Escobar (1999).