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For other uses, see Colombians (disambiguation).
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Total population
c. 50 million
Regions with significant populations
 Colombia 46,344,696 [1]
 United States 908,734 a[2]
 Venezuela 721,791[3]
 Spain 145,490 b[4]
 Canada 76,580 c[5]
 Chile 48,894[6][7]
 Mexico 13,922 d[8]
 Germany 13,283[9]
 United Kingdom 12,331 e[10]
 Australia 11,318 f[11]
 France 10,556 g[12]
 Israel 3,127[13]
Spanish and other native languages. English also official in San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina islands.
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

a Colombian American

b Colombians in Spain
c Colombian Canadian
d Colombian immigration to Mexico
e Colombians in the United Kingdom
f Colombian Australian

g Colombians in France

Colombians (Spanish: Colombianos) are the people of the Republic of Colombia, a multiethnic country in South America, and those who identify with the Colombian cultural and/or national identity. Colombians are predominantly Christians and are a mixture of Europeans, Amerindians, Africans and Middle Easterners.

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.

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.

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,[14] 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.

Mestizo Colombians[edit]

Main article: Mestizo Colombian

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

European Colombians[edit]

Main article: White Colombian

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, Dutch, English, Irish, Italian, Belgians, Swiss, French, Portuguese and also many North Americans migrated to the Caribbean region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and in smaller numbers Polish, Lithuanian, Hungarian and Croatian communities immigrated during the Second World War and the Cold War.


Main article: Afro-Colombian
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.

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, German, French, Portuguese 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.[15]


Main article: Languages of Colombia

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.[16]


Main article: Education in Colombia

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.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19]


Main article: Religion in Colombia

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.[20]

While Colombia remains a mostly Roman Catholic country by baptism numbers, the 1991 Colombian constitution guarantees freedom and equality of religion.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Departmental Administrativo National de Estadística". Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  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. ^ Avance de la Estadística del Padrón Continuo a 1 de enero de 2015 Instituto Nacional de Estadística
  5. ^ Statistics Canada (2011). "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables". 
  6. ^
  8. ^ INEGI (2010). "Conociendo...nos Todos" (PDF) (in Spanish). 
  9. ^ "Anzahl der Ausländer in Deutschland nach Herkunftsland (Stand: 31. Dezember 2014)". 
  10. ^ Country of Birth Database OECD
  11. ^ Department of Social Services (2011). "The Colombia-born Community". 
  12. ^
  14. ^ EPM (2005). "La etnia Wayuu". Empresas Publicas de Medellin (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  15. ^ Aumenta el número de inmigrantes venezolanos en Colombia | NTN24
  16. ^ The Languages of Colombia[dead link]
  17. ^ Colombian Constitution of 1991 (Title II - Concerning rights, guarantees, and duties - Chapter 2 - Concerning social, economic and cultural rights - Article 67)
  18. ^ "Ministerio de Educación de Colombia, Estructura del sistema educativo". 29 June 2007. 
  19. ^ "UNESCO Institute for Statistics Colombia Profile". Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  20. ^ Beltrán Cely, William Mauricio. "Descripción cuantitativa de la pluralización religiosa en Colombia" (PDF). Universitas humanística 73 (2012): 201–238. – 
  21. ^ Colombian Constitution of 1991 (Title II – Concerning rights, guarantees, and duties – Chapter I – Concerning fundamental rights – Article 19)