20 things that you probably didn't know about Colombia
1. Colombia is one of seven countries that the United Nations has identified as major future food exporters. Just about any crop, from broccoli to mangoes, is grown somewhere in Colombia.
2. Colombia is bound by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean to the north. The Amazon runs along its southern border, and the Andes run north to south, giving the country a huge variety of climates and ecosystems.
3. Per square foot, Colombia is the most bio-diverse country in the world. It has more species of birds and frogs than any country in the world, as well as over 2000 plant species that have yet to be identified.
4. It is particularly well-endowed with orchids: it has more varieties than any other country in the world, many of which cannot be found anywhere else.
5. Almost a quarter of Colombians are black. In South America, only Brazil has a larger Afro population.
6. Colombia is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Only Haiti, Sierra Leone, Namibia and South Africa have less equitable income distribution.
7. Colombia is the oldest parliamentary democracy in South America.
8. The FARC – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia –are the world’s biggest and oldest guerrilla army. They have been at war with the Colombian government since 1964.
9. Since 2002, Colombia has been the third biggest recipient of American military aid in the world, surpassed by only Israel and Egypt. Until recently, the Colombian army was getting almost $1 billion a year from Washington.
10. Colombia is the only country in the world to produce marijuana, opium poppies and coca (the source of cocaine, of which Colombia remains the world’s biggest producer).
11. Medellin, home of the legendary late cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar, is today one of the safest cities in South America.
12. Colombia is the second biggest exporter of cut flowers in the world (the Netherlands is the biggest)
13. It is the fourth biggest country in South America. It is about the same size as France, Spain and Portugal combined, or Texas and California put together.
14. Colombians get 70% of their electric power from hydro. Their country’s rivers and winds are capable of supplying their energy needs twice over.
15. Colombia has more freshwater than the United States and Canada put together.
16. The isolated villages of the Pacific department of Choco receive more rainfall than anywhere else on earth.
17. The Pan American Highway, which runs the length of the Americas, is only broken once: by the Darien Gap, a near-impenetrable jungle on the border between Colombia and Panama.
18. Pico Colon is the highest coastal mountain in the world. It rises to over 5700m, yet it’s only 30 miles from the Caribbean Sea.
19. Though still young, Colombia’s adventure sports business is destined to grow, thanks to the fantastic diving, snorkelling, kite-surfing, windsurfing, paragliding, mountaineering, caving, abseiling, rafting, canoeing, and mountain biking opportunities on offer.
20. Corinto, in the department of Cauca, is the only place in the world where chickens have learned how to swim, which they do in order to mate with the ducks that live on an island in the local river.