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Colombians (colombianos in Spanish), are citizens of Colombia. A Colombian can also be a person born abroad to a Colombian parent or legal guardian as well as a person who acquired Colombian citizenship. Colombia is a multiethnic society, home to people of various ethnic, religious and national origins. As a result, majority of Colombians do not equate their nationality with their ethnicity, usually embracing and espousing both simultaneously.

Flag of Colombia.svg
Total population
c. 52 million
(2018 estimate)
Regions with significant populations
 Colombia 49,996,445[1]
 United States1,081,838[2]
 Argentina17,576[12][page needed]
 Costa Rica16,600[13]
 United Kingdom12,331[16]
Languages of Colombia Spanish (99.2%)
Indigenous languages (>0.01%)
Religion in Colombia

Roman Catholic majority followed by Protestant, Atheism, Deism, Agnosticism, and Irreligion.

Minorities: 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

The majority of the Colombian population is made up of Old World immigrants and their descendants. Following the initial period of Spanish conquest and immigration, different waves of immigration and settlement of non-indigenous peoples took place over the course of nearly six centuries and continue today. Elements of indigenous Amerindian and more recent immigrant customs, languages and religions have combined to form the culture of Colombia and thus a modern Colombian identity. In this regard, Colombia and Colombians share many cultural similarities with their South American neighbors: Brazilians, Venezuelans and others.


Ethnic groupsEdit

Indigenous ColombiansEdit

The Wayuu represent the largest indigenous ethnic group in Colombia.

Originally, Colombia's territory was inhabited entirely by Amerindian groups. Colombia's indigenous cultures 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 and famous for their use of gold, were responsible for the legend of El Dorado. Today indigenous people comprise roughly 3.4% of the population in Colombia.[21] 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 567 reserves (resguardos) established for indigenous peoples and they are inhabited by more than 800,000 people. The 1991 constitution established that their native languages are official in their territories, and most of them have bilingual education systems teaching both native languages and Spanish. Some of the largest indigenous groups are the Wayuu,[22] the Arhuacos, the Muisca, the Kuna people, the Witoto, the Páez, the Tucano and the Guahibo. The departaments (departamentos) with the biggest indigenous population are Cauca, La Guajira and Nariño.[citation needed]

Mestizo ColombiansEdit

Estimates of the mestizo population in Colombia vary widely, as Colombia's national census does not distinguish between white and mestizo Colombians. According to the 2005 census, the mestizo and white population combined make up approximately 85.9% of the Colombian population, but there is no official estimate of the mestizo population exclusively. Among Colombians, people with mestizo skin tones are sometimes referred to as "trigueños/as”.[21]

White ColombiansEdit

White Colombians are primarily descended from European immigrants, who were primarily Spanish settlers, and a small number of other Europeans who arrived during the 19th and 20th centuries. These migrations primarily brought Irish, English, Scottish, Dutch, German, Swiss, Danish, Norwegian, French and Italian, and North Americans immigrants, who migrated to the Caribbean region. There are smaller numbers of Polish, Lithuanian, Czech, Croatian and Serbian communities that immigrated during the Second World War and the Cold War.[citation needed]

Arab ColombiansEdit

Many Colombians are descended from Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Palestine, who moved to Colombia to escape the repression of the Turkish Ottoman Empire and/or financial hardships. When they were first processed in Colombia's [ports, they were classified as "Turks". It is estimated that Colombia has a Lebanese population of 700,000 direct descendants and 1,500,000 who have partial ancestry. Most Syrian-Lebanese immigrants 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 Arab-Colombians adapted their names and surnames to the Spanish language to assimilate more quickly in their communities. Some Colombian surnames of Arab origin include: Guerra (originally Harb), Domínguez (Ñeca), Durán (Doura), Lara (Larach), Cristo (Salibe), among other surnames.

Asian ColombiansEdit

The majority of Asian Colombians are descended from China, India, Japan, and Korea. During 1928, Japanese families settled in Valle del Cauca where they came as farmers to grow crops. Then in 1970 to 1980, it was estimated that there were over 6,000 Chinese in the country. Their current communities are found in Bogota, Barranquilla, Cali, Cartagena, Medellin, Santa Marta, Manizales, Cucuta and Pereira. Other Asian groups include Indians, Koreans, and Filipinos are minor but significant.


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 groupsEdit

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.[23]


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.[24]


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.[25] 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.[26]

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.[27]


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.[28][29][30]

While Colombia remains a mostly Roman Catholic country by baptism numbers, the 1991 Colombian constitution guarantees freedom and equality of religion.[31]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Departmental Administrativo National de Estadística". Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  2. ^ The Hispanic Population: 2010 U.S. Census Bureau
  3. ^ "Almost 1 million people moved from Venezuela to Colombia in just two years, study shows". Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  4. ^ INE (2011). "Población nacida en el exterior, por año llegada a Venezuela, según pais de nacimiento, Censo 2011" (PDF). (in Spanish).
  5. ^ Población (españoles/extranjeros) por País de Nacimiento, sexo y año Instituto Nacional de Estadística
  6. ^ "Extranjeros en Chile superan el millón 110 mil y el 72% se concentra en dos regiones: Antofagasta y Metropolitana" (in Spanish). El Mercurio. 2018-04-09.
  7. ^ Statistics Canada (2011). "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables".
  8. ^ “Estadísticas y Distribución Espacial de la Migración en el Ecuador según Censo 2010
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ [1] Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática del Perú
  11. ^ "Colombiani in Italia. Popolazione residente in Italia proveniente dalla Colombia al 1° gennaio 2017. Dati ISTAT".
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 385.899 extranjeros viven en Costa Rica La Nación
  14. ^ INEGI (2010). "Conociendo...nos Todos" (PDF) (in Spanish).
  15. ^ "Anzahl der Ausländer in Deutschland nach Herkunftsland (Stand: 31. Dezember 2014)". Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  16. ^ "Country of Birth Database" (XLS). Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  17. ^ "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.
  18. ^ Department of Social Services (2011). "The Colombia-born Community".
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b "COLOMBIA UNA NACIÓN MULTICULTURAL" (PDF). (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-01-21.
  22. ^ EPM (2005). "La etnia Wayuu". Empresas Publicas de Medellin (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2008-02-29.
  23. ^ "Aumenta El Numero De Inmigrantes Venezolanos En Colombia 017591". Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  24. ^ The Languages of Colombia Archived 16 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  25. ^ Colombian Constitution of 1991 (Title II - Concerning rights, guarantees, and duties - Chapter 2 - Concerning social, economic and cultural rights - Article 67)
  26. ^ "Ministerio de Educación de Colombia, Estructura del sistema educativo". 29 June 2007. Archived from the original on 29 June 2007.
  27. ^ "UNESCO Institute for Statistics Colombia Profile". Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ Beltrán Cely, William Mauricio. "Descripción cuantitativa de la pluralización religiosa en Colombia" (PDF). Universitas humanística 73 (2012): 201–238. –
  30. ^ "Religion in Latin America, Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region". Pew Research Center. November 13, 2014.
  31. ^ Colombian Constitution of 1991 (Title II – Concerning rights, guarantees, and duties – Chapter I – Concerning fundamental rights – Article 19)