Meet the People
Colombia's people represent a mix of ethnic groups. About 58 percent are mestizos (people of mixed European and Indian ancestry). Another 20 percent are of European (primarily Spanish) ancestry. About 14 percent are mulatto (people of mixed European and African ancestry); 4 percent are of African ancestry; and 3 percent are a mix of African and Indian. Pure-blooded Indians survive in scattered settlements and account for only 1 percent of the population.
Language. The official language of Colombia is Spanish, the language spoken by the early colonial settlers. However, Colombia's constitution recognizes the languages of Colombia's native Indian groups.
Religion. About 95 percent of Colombians belong to the Roman Catholic Church, which exercises considerable influence and holds a privileged legal status. Small Protestant and Jewish communities exist as well.
Education and Libraries. Elementary education is free and required by law for a minimum of five years. There are some large, modern school buildings in the cities, but many schools in the countryside have only one or two classrooms. Religious instruction is required in all public schools. The largest is the National University of Colombia, in BogotÃÆÃâÃâÃÂ¡. The National Library, founded in 1777, administers town and village libraries throughout the country.
Dress. A traditional sleeveless Colombian garment is the ruana, or poncho. It consists of a square of material, usually wool, with a slit in the center for one's head to slip through. Handwoven fiber hats and fiber shoes, or alpargatas, are also typically worn.
Sports. Soccer (futbol in Spanish) is the favorite national sport. Tejo is a Chibcha Indian game similar to pitching horseshoes. Baseball, long played on the Caribbean coast, is becoming equally popular in the interior. Crowds also turn out to watch bullfights and cockfights, traditional Spanish sports, as well as long-distance bicycle races and horse races.
In Columbia, European ancestry exists in many ethnic groups. Name all ethnic groups represented in Colombia. For more of a challenge, think about and answer the following: The percentages of people who are of just African ancestry and just Indian ancestry, is significantly lower than those who are mixed with European blood. Why do you think this has happened?