Colombia Collage

Colombia Seen From The Other Side

A new Word Cup Soccer and a new way to discover Latin-America and each of the countries that makes up this part of the continent. Brazil opened the door for the world to know a little more about Latin Americans, especially, Colombians.

It is impossible to hide the social problems that Colombia has been living through because of the violence, a byproduct of the Drug war. But, at the same time, it is impossible to say that all Colombians produce and consume these kinds of substances. Actually, countries which have suffered this kinds of problems know how painful it is for our society, and how embarrassing it is when the rest of the world points out your flaws and not your strengths.

As a Colombian who has been living in a multicultural city, like Melbourne, I would like to share with friends from different nationalities some positives reasons to keep in your mind when the word “Colombia” is heard.

1. The great moment for our soccer team! My apologies for the people who do not follow this sport, but in middle of the World Cup Soccer and the great moment that Colombians soccer players are living through, it is impossible to oversee this moment. During the last three weeks, when people ask me: “Which country are you from­?” and I answer “Colombia”, the reaction is different to that of previous times. Now I hear: “hey, you are doing really well”, “your team is amazing”, “good win”, “fantastic soccer players” and “you must be happy”. It is a great pleasure to hear these good comments.

However, in reference to sports, Colombia is not only just about soccer.  Recently we celebrated one of the most important victories of a great Colombian athlete: Nairo Quintana and his performance in the Giro d’Italia. He was the champion of this event and is known as the best climber in the world. The second and third places were also occupied by Colombians.

It will also be unfair if we do not mention Catherine Ibargüen, she won a silver medal at the London 2012 Olympics in the triple jump competition; on 15th August 2013 she won IAAF World Championships in Moscow in the triple jump competition.

2. According to Mongabay.com, one of the world’s most popular environmental science and conservation news sites, Colombia is the second country with the Highest Biological Diversity in the world with 54.649 species, exceeded only by Brazil with 59.85. Not bad for a country that is 1/8th the size of Brazil! You can expect to find a diverse range of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals. The violet-crowned woodnymph, the brown-breasted parakeet, the colorful puffleg, the Santa Marta warbler, the white-tipped quetzal and the white-sided flowerpiercer are just a few, keen to hear about more? check this!

It is important to mention that in the top 10 of the most megadiverse countries, five are Latin American!

3. Colombia is also known to be one of the happiest countries in the world! Hard to believe but it is true. According to The Happy Planet Index (HPI), which uses global data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint to calculate happiness, Colombia is third in the happiest in the world. The top of the list is another Latin American: Costa Rica. Second place is Vietnam.

This is a new way to understand happiness in the world, it is not only related to money, rather our interaction with the environment and our perception of well-being.

Other countries such as El Salvador, Panama, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guatemala are part of the ten happiest countries as well.

4. Although the rest of the world may not believe this, in approximately one million square meters, Colombia has everything: The world’s highest coastal range, deserts, dense forests, majestic rivers, magic mountains and the best of Atlantic and Pacific Coast. In South America, only Colombia has coast in two oceans.

Even though we cannot hide the sad reality about our past, not all Colombians are drug producers, not all of us sell it and we do not consume it. We stand behind an an unfair reputation which is only spread through ignorance. Colombia is sport,megadiversity and happiness among many other great things!

Colombians, like the rest of Latin Americans, are influenced by passion for our culture, our landscape, our language and for life.

Angélica Benjumea
Angélica Benjumea is a Social Communicator and Journalist, specializing in Organizations, Social Responsibility and Development. During her professional experience she has worked in PR, Journalism and as a Communication and Social Responsibility Consultant. Angélica arrived to Australia in 2012, during this time she has studied English, Certificate of Business and Diploma of Management. "I have opened my eyes and my mind to a beautiful new Australian way of life and I love exploring the different cultures and it feels amazing to be here!" “A diverse and everchanging world captives me in the process of continuing to grow as a professional. In my years of experience as a journalist and consultant in social responsibility and communications I have not stopped learning as I continue to wonder about the endless amount of possibilities that I still don't know”.