Essential Info for Colombia

Population: About 49 million

Capital city: Bogotá

Other major cities: Cartagena, Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla. 

Neighbouring countries: Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Panama. 

Geography: Colombia forms part of a region known for earthquakes and volcanic activity. The Andes mountain range dominates the country and most of the urban centres are set in the mountains. There are large coastal areas and deserts along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, as well as vast areas of Amazonian jungle shared with Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Colombia also has a few remote islands near Nicaragua. 

Major religions: Roman Catholicism and other denominations of Christianity

Political system: Multi-party democracy

Main language: Spanish

Money: The Colombian Peso (COP) is divided into 100 centavos.

Tipping: Tipping is common for foreigners, but locals rarely tip. Tipping in a restaurant is usually 10 percent of the bill, but some restaurants automatically add a service charge. Porters and hotel service staff are usually tipped around 1 USD for their services and some hotels charge a 15 percent service charge to the bill.

Time: GMT-5

Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat blade attachment plugs and three-pin (two flat blades with round grounding pin) plugs are used.

Internet domain: .co

International dialling code: +57

Emergency contacts:  123 (medical, fire and emergencies), 112 (local police)

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right-hand side. Public transport includes mini-bus taxis, metered taxis and buses. Taxis are easy, safe and relatively cheap. Ride-sharing services are becoming increasingly popular in major cities. Getting a driver’s licence will often include a series of tests and a large amount of paperwork. Contact the local Colombian consulate before departure in order to jumpstart the process and avoid drawn-out complications.

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