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The culture of Colombia is diverse and rich and is mostly derived from a sharp sense of familial and regional tradition. Geography Colombia is the only country in South America to have both Pacific and Caribbean coastlines. More than half of the country is flat, however most people live in the mountainous Andes region, with tall peaks and high plateaux. The capital, Bogotá, is located in the middle of the country. The country is divided into five major regions: Los Llanos (Spanish: the plains), El Caribe (Spanish: the northern Caribbean coast), the eastern Pacific Ocean coast, the southern Amazon rainforest, and the central Andes. Each region has its distinct culture with variations in dialect and mannerisms. Religion About 90% of Colombians are Roman Catholics. The family is, as it is with nearly all of Latin America, a highly important institution to Colombians. Members of the extended family are close and children rarely ever move far away from their parents. There is a deep sense of familial responsibility that stretches through many generations. This may be reflected in the fact that Colombia has the lowest divorce rate in the world.Traditionally, men were usually the head of the household, in charge of earning most of the family's income while women were responsible for cooking, housework and raising children. However, as in most cultures around the world, the dawn of the 20th Century brought forth a great empowerment for women, and today the majority of families (regardless of economic class) have two working parents. At a child's baptism, the parents of the child will choose godparents, padrinos. A child's padrinos will play an important role in his life, giving advice, and when needed, financial support. Society: Due to economic instability and high unemployment over the last century or so, Colombia has developed a huge rift between two economic classes (Low and High) with an almost nonexistent middle class. The Amerindian peoples of Colombia's southern regions, near the Brazilian border, live in huts of thatched palm. Bogotá is home to about 7.7 million people. Other important cities are Medellín, Barranquilla, Cali, and Cartagena. Manners and Communication: Colombian communication is diverse. There are different ways of communicating in different regions of the country. There can be differences of accent or idiom. Colombians are known for being lively and witty communicators. Figures of speech abound in Colombian Spanish. Entertainment: The country's most popular sport is football (soccer). The traditional sport of bullfighting, brought to South America by the Spanish, remains popular in Colombia; bullfighting is normally seen in national festivals or during the bullfighting season. Baseball has become popular in recent years; it is especially popular along the coast and is strongly promoted all around the country. Edgar Rentería is an example of a famous Colombian baseball player. An ancient game called tejo, inherited from the Chibcha, is also played. The object of tejo is to throw a small metal disk at a gunpowder detonator in a small circular area. The winner is calculated by the number of explosions compared to number of throws. Dancing is very popular in Colombia, with dozens of popular vibrant styles. Dancing to reggeaton is very popular in Colombia as well as in the rest of Latin America. Popular dance styles are salsa, Merengue, and Bambuco. The latter is a very complicated dance with many differently named steps. Cumbia, which originated on the Caribbean Coast, is the national dance. It should not be confused with other kinds of Cumbia that have become popular throughout Latin America. The main meal of a Colombian's day is lunch, usually eaten at about 1 or 2pm. This meal consists of three courses: a soup followed by a main course followed by either a drink or dessert. In some cases a snack is eaten after breakfast, also known as Medias Nueves, and after lunch, called Onces. Many varieties of fruit virtually unknown elsewhere are enjoyed in Colombia. There are a large variety of dishes due to the differences in regional climates. Art and literature: Colombians have been producing art for thousands of years. Ornate golden figures and jewelry from millennia ago have been discovered by both ruthless conquistadors and careful archaeological digs. Some Colombian artists, such as Enrique Grau and Fernando Botero, have received international fame, awards and wide public acclaim. The Colombian author, Gabriel García Márquez, won the Nobel Prize for his book Cien Años de Soledad (Spanish: One Hundred Years Of Solitude). It is the history of a Colombian family, The Buendias, and their small town, Macondo, through the 20th century.

Edited byjoni2006 on 17.09.2006

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