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Caribbean Colombians
Caribbean Colombians
Who We Are

Colombia is the northernmost country in South America.  It is made up of mountains, forests, deserts, cities and islands
populated by equally diverse human communities.  Its coasts touch both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, the more
popular side being the Atlantic, better known as the Caribbean Sea.

Colombia’s cultural diversity began before the arrival of Christopher Columbus with multiple indigenous groups living in
different areas of the territory until the invasion of the Spaniards.   The invaders subjugated the native cultures, enforcing
the Spanish language and Catholic religion.

As the native populations who resisted domination were being decimated, the conquerors kidnapped Africans and brought
them as slaves to perform the rigorous labor, mostly farming and mining. These Africans became the third main ingredient of
Colombia’s multiethnic mix.
Marta, Valledupar and Montería, each with its own special features, folklore, cuisine and
traditions. Barranquilla is called the Golden Gate of the country, an industrial city famous for its
Carnival, while Cartagena is known as the Heroic City due to its historic military landmarks.

Colombia’s Caribbean islands of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina are actually
closer to Nicaragua and the British Caribbean than to mainland Colombia.

This archipelago’s population of about 90, 000 is a mixture of mainland Colombians and
descendants of Africans enslaved by English Puritans, pirates of the 1600s, and the more
recent Jamaicans and Barbadians who settled there after helping to construct the Panama
Canal in the early 1900s.

As a result, the island natives (“Raizales”) speak not only fluent Spanish – the national
language, but also a Caribbean English dialect, while the cuisine, traditions, religions, and last
names also continue to reflect their African and British cultures.

Still quite a secret to foreigners, Colombia’s Caribbean coastlines are treasured by wealthy
tourists from the mainland who have dubbed it “the sea of seven shades of Turquoise.”
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