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Total population
c. 53 million
Regions with significant populations
 Colombia 49,353,448[1]
 United States 1,081,838[2]
 Venezuela 721,791[3]
 Spain 354,461[4]
 Ecuador 89,931[5]
 Canada 76,580[6]
 Chile 48,894[7]
 Panama 41,885[8]
 Italy 17,968[9]
 Argentina 17,576[10][page needed]
 Costa Rica 16,600[11]
 Mexico 13,922[12]
 United Kingdom 12,331[13]
 Germany 13,283[14]
 Sweden 12,078[15]
 Australia 11,318[16]
 Israel 3,127[17]
Spanish. Ethnic languages are official within their territories.
Predominantly Roman Catholic, minorities of Protestant and other religions. Native people are mainly animist, some from Middle East who are nationalized Colombian citizens are Muslims especially of Druze.
Related ethnic groups
other Latin Americans

Colombians or Colombian people (Spanish: colombianos) are the people associated with Colombia, a vast multiethnic country in South America, and those who identify with the Colombian cultural and/or national identity. Colombians are predominantly Catholics and are a mixture of Europeans, Amerindians, Africans, and Middle Easterners.[citation needed]

Ethnic groups[edit]

Indigenous Colombians[edit]

The Wayuu represent the largest indigenous ethnic group in Colombia.

Originally, the land encompassing the country's territory was inhabitant in its entirety by numerous Amerindians. Colombia's indigenous culture evolved from three main groups—the Quimbayas, who inhabited the western slopes of the Cordillera Central; the Chibchas; and the Kalina (Caribs). The Muisca culture, a subset of the larger Chibcha ethnic group, famous for their use of gold, were responsible for the legend of El Dorado. Today they encompass a roughly 3.4% minority.[citation needed]

Before the Spanish colonization of the region that would become the country of Colombia, the territory was the home to many different indigenous peoples. Today more than fifty different indigenous ethnic groups inhabit Colombia. Most of them speak languages belonging to the Chibchan and Cariban language families.[citation needed]

Historically there are established 567 reserves (resguardos) for indigenous peoples and they are inhabited by more than 800,000 people; the 1991 constitution established their native languages as official in their territories, most of them have bilingual education (Native and Spanish). Some of the largest indigenous groups are the Wayuu,[18] the Arhuacos, the Muisca, the Kuna people, the Witoto, the Páez, the Tucano and the Guahibo. The departamentos with the biggest Indian population are Cauca, Guajira and Guainia.[citation needed]

Mestizo Colombians[edit]

49% of the Colombian population is mestizo, or of mixed European and the earliest Amerindian ancestry.[citation needed]

European Colombians[edit]

The European immigrants were primarily Spanish settlers, and a small number of other Europeans who arrived during the 19th and 20th centuries (i.e. German, English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Swiss, Danish, Norwegian, French and Italian, and also many North Americans migrated to the Caribbean region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and in smaller numbers Polish, Lithuanian, Czech, Croatian and Serbian communities immigrated during the Second World War and the Cold War).[citation needed]

Middle-Eastern Colombians[edit]

Most of the Arab Middle Easterners came from Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Palestine escaping from the repression of the Turkish Ottoman Empire and financial hardships. When they were first processed in the ports of Colombia, they were classified as Turks because what is modern day Lebanon, Syria and Palestine was a territory of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. It is estimated that Colombia has a Lebanese population of 700,000 direct descendants and 1,500,000 with partial ancestry. Most of the Syrian-Lebanese established themselves in the Caribbean Region of Colombia in the towns of Santa Marta, Lorica, Fundación, Aracataca, Ayapel, Calamar, Ciénaga, Cereté, Montería and Barranquilla near the basin of the Magdalena River. Many Arabs adapted their names and surnames to the Spanish language as a way to adapt more quickly in the communities where they arrived. For example, of Arab origin are the families Guerra (originally Harb), Domínguez (Ñeca), Durán (Doura), Lara (Larach), Cristo (Salibe), among others surnames.


Afro-Colombian children.

10.6% of Colombians are full black African or mulatto (of mixed black African and European ancestry). Black Africans were brought as slaves, mostly to the coastal lowlands, beginning early in the 16th century, and continuing into the 19th century.[citation needed]

Immigrant groups[edit]

Because of its strategic location Colombia has received several immigration waves during its history. Most of these immigrants have settled in the Caribbean Coast; Barranquilla (the largest city in the Colombian Caribbean Coast) and other Caribbean cities have the largest population of Lebanese, Italian, French, and Gypsy descendants. There are also important communities of American and Chinese descendants in the Caribbean Coast. Most immigrants are Venezuelans, mostly based in Bogotá, Colombia's capital.[19]


There are 101 languages listed for Colombia in the Ethnologue database, of which 80 are spoken today as living languages. There are about 500,000 speakers of indigenous languages in Colombia today.[20]


The educational experience of many Colombian children begins with attendance at a preschool academy until age five (Educación preescolar). Basic education (Educación básica) is compulsory by law.[21] It has two stages: Primary basic education (Educación básica primaria) which goes from first to fifth grade – children from six to ten years old, and Secondary basic education (Educación básica secundaria), which goes from sixth to ninth grade. Basic education is followed by Middle vocational education (Educación media vocacional) that comprises the tenth and eleventh grades. It may have different vocational training modalities or specialties (academic, technical, business, and so on.) according to the curriculum adopted by each school.

After the successful completion of all the basic and middle education years, a high-school diploma is awarded. The high-school graduate is known as a bachiller, because secondary basic school and middle education are traditionally considered together as a unit called bachillerato (sixth to eleventh grade). Students in their final year of middle education take the ICFES test (now renamed Saber 11) in order to gain access to higher education (Educación superior). This higher education includes undergraduate professional studies, technical, technological and intermediate professional education, and post-graduate studies.

Bachilleres (high-school graduates) may enter into a professional undergraduate career program offered by a university; these programs last up to five years (or less for technical, technological and intermediate professional education, and post-graduate studies), even as much to six to seven years for some careers, such as medicine. In Colombia, there is not an institution such as college; students go directly into a career program at a university or any other educational institution to obtain a professional, technical or technological title. Once graduated from the university, people are granted a (professional, technical or technological) diploma and licensed (if required) to practice the career they have chosen. For some professional career programs, students are required to take the Saber-Pro test, in their final year of undergraduate academic education.[22]

Public spending on education as a proportion of gross domestic product in 2012 was 4.4%. This represented 15.8% of total government expenditure. In 2012, the primary and secondary gross enrolment ratios stood at 106.9% and 92.8% respectively. School-life expectancy was 13.2 years. A total of 93.6% of the population aged 15 and older were recorded as literate, including 98.2% of those aged 15–24.[23]


The National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) does not collect religious statistics, and accurate reports are difficult to obtain. However, based on various studies and a survey, about 90% of the population adheres to Christianity, the majority of which (70.9%) are Roman Catholic, while a significant minority (16.7%) adhere to Protestantism (primarily Evangelicalism). Some 4.7% of the population is atheist or agnostic, while 3.5% claim to believe in God but do not follow a specific religion. 1.8% of Colombians adhere to Jehovah's Witnesses and Adventism and less than 1% adhere to other religions, such as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Hinduism, Indigenous religions, Hare Krishna movement, Rastafari movement, Orthodox Catholic Church, and spiritual studies. The remaining people either did not respond or replied that they did not know. In addition to the above statistics, 35.9% of Colombians reported that they did not practice their faith actively.[24][25][26]

While Colombia remains a mostly Roman Catholic country by baptism numbers, the 1991 Colombian constitution guarantees freedom and equality of religion.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Departmental Administrativo National de Estadística". Retrieved 2017-03-10. 
  2. ^ The Hispanic Population: 2010 U.S. Census Bureau
  3. ^ INE (2011). "Población nacida en el exterior, por año llegada a Venezuela, según pais de nacimiento, Censo 2011" (PDF). (in Spanish). 
  4. ^ Población (españoles/extranjeros) por País de Nacimiento, sexo y año Instituto Nacional de Estadística
  5. ^ [ “Estadísticas y Distribución Espacial de la Migración en el Ecuador según Censo 2010
  6. ^ Statistics Canada (2011). "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables". 
  7. ^ "Casen 2013 : Inmigrantes Síntesis de Resultados" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  8. ^ Población nacida en el extranjero en la República, por grupos de edad, según sexo y país de nacimiento Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censo de Panamá
  9. ^ {{cite web| in Italia. Popolazione residente in Italia proveniente dalla Colombia al 1° gennaio 2017. Dati ISTAT.
  10. ^ Censo nacional de población, hogares y viviendas 2010: Resultados definitivos [National Population, Household Census 2010: Final Results] (PDF) (in Spanish). 1. Buenos Aires: National Institute of Statistics and Census of Argentina. 2012. ISBN 978-950-896-420-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April 2016. 
  11. ^ 385.899 extranjeros viven en Costa Rica La Nación
  12. ^ INEGI (2010). "Conociendo...nos Todos" (PDF) (in Spanish). 
  13. ^ "Country of Birth Database" (XLS). Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  14. ^ "Anzahl der Ausländer in Deutschland nach Herkunftsland (Stand: 31. Dezember 2014)". Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  15. ^ "Utrikes födda efter födelseland, kön och år: Colombia, 2016" [Foreign born by country of birth, gender and year: Colombia, 2016] (in Swedish). Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  16. ^ Department of Social Services (2011). "The Colombia-born Community". 
  18. ^ EPM (2005). "La etnia Wayuu". Empresas Publicas de Medellin (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  19. ^ "Aumenta El Numero De Inmigrantes Venezolanos En Colombia 017591". Retrieved 2017-08-10. 
  20. ^ The Languages of Colombia Archived 16 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Colombian Constitution of 1991 (Title II - Concerning rights, guarantees, and duties - Chapter 2 - Concerning social, economic and cultural rights - Article 67)
  22. ^ "Ministerio de Educación de Colombia, Estructura del sistema educativo". 29 June 2007. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007. 
  23. ^ "UNESCO Institute for Statistics Colombia Profile". Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  24. ^ Beltrán Cely, William Mauricio. "Del monopolio católico a la explosión pentecostal'" (PDF) (in Spanish). Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Facultad de Ciencias Humanas, Centro de Estudios Sociales (CES), Maestría en Sociología. ISBN 978-958-761-465-7. 
  25. ^ Beltrán Cely, William Mauricio. "Descripción cuantitativa de la pluralización religiosa en Colombia" (PDF). Universitas humanística 73 (2012): 201–238. – 
  26. ^ "Religion in Latin America, Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region". Pew Research Center. November 13, 2014. 
  27. ^ Colombian Constitution of 1991 (Title II – Concerning rights, guarantees, and duties – Chapter I – Concerning fundamental rights – Article 19)