Colombia is considered to be the “Athens of South America,” referring to its cultural richness. Perhaps thanks to their many writers, including Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the author of 100 Years of Solitude. Colombian painter Fernando Botero, in 2010, donated a $700 million collection of art to Colombia. It is housed in a museum now in downtown Bogotá.
A study commissioned by the Latin American Chamber of Commerce (2000) details Bogotás special advantages:
- Bogotá, like the other main Colombian cities, is a thriving and tranquil city. Bogotá was recently found to have a lower crime rate than important cities like Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
- The high cultural standards of the city have won her the description of the ‘Athens of South America’.
- The infrastructure of roads and mass transport systems is considered one of the most advanced in Latin America and is being copied by other cities.
- The city is surrounded by forest covered mountains, and amongst its many parks and sporting facilities it possesses the largest inter-urban park in the world and the largest number of scenic cycling routes of any Latin American city.
- This fall, the World Health Organization will recognize Bogotá as an example of reduction of violence in the last eight years. The Mayor of Bogotá will address the opening session of the 2002 W.H.O. meeting in Brussels.
- Linguistic strength; the Spanish spoken in Bogotá is recognized as among the best of the Spanish-speaking countries; only in Colombia will you find a branch of the Spanish Royal Institute of Castilian.
From the preeminent author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, we have the term magical realism describing his surrealistic and colorful style of writing in his Colombian novels. It is also the theme for the ProColombia web site which is the only web site you will need to explore the country and its riches.
In the category of overall biodiversity Colombia is #2 in the world, behind Brazil. The famous Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as well as three chains of the Andes Mountains provide a contrasting multitude of habitats for flora and fauna.
An April report from the Economist magazine outlines one growth sector of Colombia: birdwatching. There are more species of birds in Colombia than in any other country in the world; even outclassing huge Indonesia and even bigger Brazil.
Colombia has the greatest number of internally displaced people (within its borders), in the world. (U.N. 2016). Now, as a Security Council special mission monitors and verifies the ceasefire and disarmament, and former guerilla militias defend their ideas in a democratic manner, Colombia is making progress and already seeing increased foreign investment, tourism, and growth.
But, with 7.4 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, living in a scattered network of refuge camps, make-shift villages and facilities, there is work to be done. They are vulnerable, and the Red Cross International and Brookings Institute at the London School of Economics have provided recommendations on ways to help in their Project on Internal Displacement:
Generating a supply of public housing
Supporting family and neighbor networks
Raising the level of awareness of the host community about IDPs
Training for jobs in the formal sector, and enhancing their connection to the economy’s formal work sector.