White Colombians are the Colombian descendants of European and Middle Eastern people. According to the 2005 Census 85% of Colombians do not identify with any ethnic group, thus being either White or Mestizo, which are not categorized separately. It is nevetheless estimated that 37% of the Colombian population can be categorized as white, forming the second largest racial group after Mestizo Colombians (at 49%).
|approx. 17,519,500 |
(37% of the Population)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Throughout the nation, especially in the Andean Region and the major cities.|
|Predominantly Colombian Spanish|
(Spanish · German · English · Basque · French · Italian and some other languages are spoken by minorities)
|Predominantly Christianity (Roman Catholic, Protestant, other Christians), Atheism, Islam, and Judaism|
Numbers and distributionEdit
The various racial groups exist in differing concentrations throughout the nation, in a pattern that to some extent goes back to colonial origins. Whites tend to live mainly in urban centers, like Cali, Medellín or Bogotá, and the burgeoning highland cities. Paisa Region and Bogotá metropolitan region have a larger percentage of White Colombians.
The presence of Whites in Colombia began in 1510 with the colonization of San Sebastián de Urabá. In 1525, settlers founded Santa Marta, the oldest Spanish city still in existence in Colombia. Many Spaniards came searching for gold, while others established themselves as leaders of the social organizations teaching the Christian faith and the ways of their civilization. Catholic priests would provide education for American Indians. Within 100 years after the first Spanish settlement, nearly 95 percent of all Native Americans in Colombia had died. The majority of the deaths were due to diseases from Europe, such as measles and smallpox. Some natives were also killed in armed conflicts with their new neighbours.
Immigration from EuropeEdit
Basque priests introduced handball into Colombia. Besides business, Basque immigrants in Colombia were devoted to teaching and public administration. In the first years of the Andean multinational company, Basque sailors navigated as captains and pilots on the majority of the ships until the country was able to train its own crews.. In Bogota, there is a small colony of thirty to forty families who emigrated as a consequence of the Spanish Civil War.
The first German immigrants arrived in the 16th century contracted by the Spanish Crown, and included explorers such as Ambrosio Alfinger. There was another small wave of German immigrants at the end of the 19th and beginning of 20th century including Leo Siegfried Kopp, the founder of the famous Bavaria Brewery. SCADTA, a Colombian-German air transport corporation which was established by German expatriates in 1919, was the first commercial airline in the western hemisphere.
In December 1941 the United States government estimated that there were 4,000 Germans living in Colombia. At least 7,000 German Jews joined their ranks in Colombia's burgeoning cities. There were some Nazi agitators in Colombia, such as Barranquilla businessman Emil Prufurt, but the majority was apolitical. Colombia asked Germans who were on the U.S. blacklist to leave and allowed Jewish refugees in the country illegally to stay.
There had also been Italian immigration, however it is to a much lesser degree than to other Latin American countries such as Venezuela, Argentina or Brazil. Today, 14,216 Italians live in Colombia (2011 "Anagrafe Italiani iscritti estero - AIRE").
Genetic research determined that the average Colombian has an admixture of 65% European, 31% Amerindian and 4% African ancestry, with White Colombians having 71% European, 27% Amerindian and 2% African ancestry.
Immigration from the Middle EastEdit
Colombia was one of early focus of Sephardi immigration. Jewish converts to Christianity and some crypto-Jews also sailed with the early explorers. It has been suggested that the present day culture of business entrepreneurship in the region of Antioquia and Valle del Cauca is attributable to Sephardi immigration.
The largest wave of Middle Eastern immigration began around 1880, and remained during the first two decades of the 20th century. They were mainly Maronite Christians from Lebanon, Syria and Ottoman Palestine, fleeing financial hardships and the repressions of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. When they were first processed in the ports of Colombia, they were classified as Turks.
During the early part of the 20th century, numerous Sephardic Jewish immigrants came from Greece, Turkey, North Africa and Syria. Shortly after, Jewish immigrants began to arrive from Eastern Europe. Armenians, Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians and some Israelis continue since then to settle in Colombia.
More than 700,000 Colombians have partial Middle Eastern descent. Due to poor existing information it's impossible to know the exact number of people that immigrated to Colombia. A figure of 50,000-100,000 from 1880 to 1930 may be reliable. Whatever the figure, Lebanese are perhaps the biggest immigrant group next to the Spanish since independence. Cartagena, Cali, and Bogota were among the cities with the largest number of Arabic-speaking representatives in Colombia in 1945.
White Colombians are mainly of Spanish descent, who arrived in the beginning of the 16th century when Colombia was part of the Spanish Empire. During the 19th and 20th centuries, other European and Middle Eastern peoples migrated to Colombia, notably Lebanese people but also Germans, Italians, Lithuanians, French, and British among others.
The most predominant religion is Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism. Under 1% practice Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Despite strong numbers of Christian adherents, 35.9% of Colombians reported that they did not practice their faith actively.
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- Francisco de Paula Santander - first President of Colombia (1832-1837), known as "the man of the laws".
- Juan Manuel Santos - President of Colombia (2010-2018) and Nobel prize winner
- Antanas Mockus - former Bogota major (Lithuanian ancestry).
- Juanes - musician (Basque ancestry).
- Andrés Mercado - singer.
- Shakira - singer (Lebanese, Spanish and Italian ancestry).
Television and entertainmentEdit
- Manolo Cardona - actor
- María Helena Doering - actress (German ancestry)
- Juan Pablo Gamboa - actor (British American ancestry)
- Aura Cristina Geithner - actress and model (German ancestry)
- Diana Golden - telenovela actress
- Mauricio Henao - actor
- Natasha Klauss - actress (German ancestry)
- Kristina Lilley - American-born, Colombian-raised actress (European-American and Norwegian ancestry)
- Maritza Rodríguez - actress
- Isabella Santo Domingo - actress
- Geraldine Zivic - Argentine-born, Colombian-raised actress (Serbian ancestry)
- Rufino José Cuervo - writer.
- Jorge Isaacs - writer and politician.
- Rafael Pombo - writer.
- Julio Flores - poet.
- José Asunción Silva - poet.
- Sergio Esteban Vélez - journalist (Spanish ancestry).
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez - writer and Nobel prize winner
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