Proud of cultural and intellectual tradition

BFP Magazine

Travelling Colombia

Proud of cultural and intellectual tradition

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Anyone who has kept up with the news knows that Colombia is a perpetual cycle of unrest and violence. Drug running, guerrilla warfare, right-wing death squads, kidnappings, and devastating earthquakes plague this midsize South American country, and bombings, once only seen in the countryside, now rock major cities such as Bogot‡. But Colombia is a bewildering paradox, and bad news is just one part of the story.

If you were to look at the country purely from a travel point of view, you might be surprised to find that Colombia is one of South America's gems, a country bestowed with magnificent landscapes as diverse as Caribbean and Pacific beaches, tropical rainforest, and snowcapped Andean peaks that tower over fertile valleys. From a historical standpoint, few Latin countries boast better museums or more handsome colonial architecture. Colombians are proud of their long-standing cultural and intellectual tradition that has produced noted writers such as Gabriel Garc’a M‡rquez and artists such as Fernando Botero. The country has wonderful cuisine, a rich variety of native musical styles, and a population that is ethnically diverse, somewhat sentimental, and always ready to greet you with a warm smile.

And herein lies the paradox. How could a country with so much to offer find itself torn by such violent terror and poverty? Should you as a traveler risk visiting such a country, and if so, where and how should you go? For the answers to these questions, it helps to have an understanding of historical and current events that have shaped, and disfigured, this enigmatic nation.

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