Colombian people are a mixture of ethnicities, predominantly Spanish and European, African, from the Andean region from Ecuador and also the Middle East. Depending on where you are in the country, the mix or emphasis varies and it's difficult, for me at least, to put my finger on what exactly a Colombian is because I honestly believe that there is no such thing. They're different depending on region and the individual.
One of the most important discovering that I'm making after spending more time here, is that too me, Colombia can at times feel like a different country altogether when you get in a plane and get off in a different part of the country. The look, food, culture, architecture and economy may all have changed to some degree.
The majority from the Spanish colonists, but also from numerous other European countries such as Portugal, Italy and France.
There is no doubt that the European descendants still hold the power in Colombia ad that there is, to a certain degree, a racist tendency on a national level.
Black Africans were shipped to the famous slave port of Cartagena and represent a small minority, especially along the coast where there is a discernible difference from Medellin for example.
There are still a little under one million indigenous people in Colombia from several different groups. These live predominantly in Cauca, Guajira and in Guainia. One of Lina's best friends here in Medellin recently visited such a group in the Amazonas which is in fact extremely difficult and dangerous due to the challenges in obtaining a visa in order to end the territory but also because of the prevalence of guerrilla groups in that area. While having contact with the “outside” world, the people of this very small community lived according to their traditional ways of thousands of years.
When my mum first visited she asked how Colombians looked before traveling here. The truth is that it's virtually impossible to give a short answer because there's such variety and a lot of mixtures ranging from mulatto, white from German descent, Spanish-looking, indigenous Andean Indian, Middle Eastern (think Shakira) and Lebanon and black African.
They pretty much come in all shapes and sizes – sorry, but I just can' do any better than that although it is true that the majority have dark hair and brown eyes. Not all though and even the body types vary a lot.
The majority of Colombian people are officially Roman Catholic. There are other groups such as Pentecostal and Eastern religions are also represented, but in very small quantities. Colombian people still seem to cling to a lot of the customs of their religion but I've been surprised to see that the faith is not very strong, especially in the younger generations.
Something that has surprised me to the extreme is how they celebrate Christmas. Before, I imagined a very conservative and serious event and time of the year but to my surprise, it's just as tacky, no, more-so, as anywhere else you go. It's all about getting drunk, loud music, flashing colored lights on the outside of houses and all sorts of traditional foods such as Natilla that is a sweet custard and Buñuelos, deep fried dough balls with cheese.
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