10 Ways to Describe Colombians

Colombians, like their motherland, are a unique bunch of people. In this post, I am going to tell you 10 different ways I would describe Colombians.

1. Polite

Colombians are extremely polite by nature, some regions more than others.  The words “please, ” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” are words you’ll definitely want to use frequently here and are also words you’ll hear quite frequently in many different ways. The variety of ways you can say and will hear “you’re welcome,” in particular only goes further to show how highly Colombians value politeness. A few of the ways you can say “you’re welcome” are:

  • de nada (of nothing)
  • fue un placer (it was a pleasure)
  • para servirle (to serve you)
  • a la ordén (at your service)
  • con gusto (with pleasure)

2. Coffee Lovers

Being one of Colombia’s most famous national products, coffee is everywhere in Colombia, and Colombians can’t get enough of it. Most Colombians have a tinto, a small serving of black coffee (about the size of a shot), with or without sugar, about every hour or so. And, Colombians love coffee so much that there are even traveling coffee vendors who walk the streets selling tintos from around 5:30am until about 9-10pm.

Tinto at the famous Colombian coffee chain, Juan Valdez Café

Tinto at the famous Colombian coffee chain, Juan Valdez Café

3.  Soccer fanatics

Not only do Colombians love their coffee; they also love their soccer—A LOT! Right now, most Colombians are rooting for the national soccer team who has done extremely well in the 2014 World Cup classification games. Even so, each Colombian has his/her own personal favorite team, which most likely corresponds to the Colombian department they were born in. The soccer rivalries in Colombia are fierce, and Colombians are very passionate about showing pride for their team(s).

Celebration after Junior, Barranquilla’s soccer team, won the national championship

Celebration after Junior, Barranquilla’s soccer team, won the national championship

4. Happy

Colombia was deemed the happiest country in the world in 2013, and Colombians demonstrate that happiness all the time1.

Dancer in Barranquilla’s Carnaval celebrations—can’t you see the happiness on her face?

Dancer in Barranquilla’s Carnaval celebrations—can’t you see the happiness on her face?

5. People centered

Colombians as a whole put people before anything else. By that, I mean they will be late to an appointment if it means finishing an important conversation, because the person they are currently with is more important than an appointment regulated by time. In fact, Colombians are so people centered that time almost always takes the back seat.

6.  Very nationalistic & patriotic

Colombians are VERY proud to be Colombian. You’ll find many Colombians wearing bracelets, earrings, and other pieces of jewelry as well as carrying keychains, bags, and wallets with nationals emblems and colors on them daily. You’ll also hear the national anthem played everyday at 6pm, no matter where you are in the country.

Breakfast plate at the national chain restaurant Crepes & Waffles

Breakfast plate at the national chain restaurant Crepes &Waffles

7. Regionalistic

Now, this may seem a bit ironic considering I just described Colombians as nationalistic, but Colombians are both—nationalistic and regionalistic. While Colombians love their homeland, they also love the specific regions of Colombia they hail from—the regional foods, traditions, dress, sayings, accents, and manners.

8. Family centered and oriented

Just like coffee and soccer, Colombians also love their families. Most Saturdays and Sundays are devoted to family time and most Colombian families are tight knit with as many as 3 or 4 generations living under the same roof.

9. Clean

Colombians are very clean. Colombians might be the most shower/bath oriented people I’ve ever come across. A daily bath is important here, as it is in most places, but many Colombians bathe multiple times in the day. And, in some regions if you don’t bathe multiple times in the day you’re considered dirty!

10. Creative

Colombians are a very creative group of people—creative and resourceful. Even when there are supposedly no jobs, for instance, Colombians create new jobs. You’re sure to come across some of the most oddball, out of the norm jobs during your time in Colombia. And, the amazing thing is, most of these crazy jobs are created based on some sort of unique demand that’s been seen, and they turn out to be at least somewhat successful.

Paige M. Poole



About the author:

“Paige M. Poole is an Alabamian and traveler at heart who has settled, for now, in Barranquilla, Colombia, and earns her living as an English professor at the Instituto de Idiomas (Language Institute) at la Universidad del Norte (University of the North). When not teaching English, she enjoys blogging, traveling, relaxing on the beach, and spending time with her partner and two cats, Milo and Sophie.  You can see more of Paige’s traveling experiences in her personal blog www.trotamunda.wordpress.com 

65 thoughts on “10 Ways to Describe Colombians

  1. Re # “People Centered”. This reminded me of a recent incident: I had to visit an ER and an 80+ year old colombiana acquaintance insisted on accompanying me and making sure I was seen to.
    After the ER doctor had checked me, we were waiting in the hall for radiology and she stopped him and started chatting about how her father had been involved in the hospital, I had gone to the school where she had worked etc. etc. She was really bending his ear, but he was SO polite and respectful. After at least 20 min he had not excused himself so I said , “Well, we should let Dr. E. go because there is a waiting room full of people.” He was not anxious however and waved his hand to indicate ‘no problem’. Dona Isabella went on for almost 10 min while he listened courteously to the life story of a woman he didn’t know and who had demanded to know “How old he was” when he first walked in!

  2. Ms Paige M Poole, thank you for the great article about Colombia. You are !00% correct on every aspect of it. We are exactly what you’ve just described, and much more.
    Thanks again,
    Will, 100% Colombian

  3. “Colombians are so people centered that time almost always takes the back seat”. Loved how you managed to include what might be our worst defect (because we ARE always late) while complimenting us at the same time. I’m happy to see another foreigner falling for the Colombian charm, and wanting to let others know about it 🙂

  4. Paige,

    The article you posted touched my heart deeply. I am a Bugeño that lives in south Florida for the past 14 years. I love Colombia with all my heart, and even though I call the U.S. My home. I miss all those little things from Colombia that make it such a heart warming place. I guess you could say that Colombia is a country that feeds your soul. Thank you for such kind words.

    • That’s not true…I’m Colombian, and at least in my region coffee has been always a tradition, and you have to know that Juan Valdez is a brand created for the export quality coffee, we don’t hear about that guy very often… So don’t assum… And If you’re Colombian, you should read more about your own country culture…

    • JuanValdez Was Created By The Colombian Federation Of Coffee Growers In 1958. Colombian People Are Used To Drink Coffee From Our Infancy And We Are Very Proud Of It. Of You Want To Say Something, Please Do Your Homework First.

    • Andy, i do not know how old are you but it seems that you are too young because of what you said. Let me tell you that my breakfast back in 196….was a delicious cup of coffee. So we the Colombians are COFFE LOVERS!!!! 100%.

      • jmmm I think there’s a little truth to both sides of the debate here. Yes Colombians are coffee lovers but “a tinto every hour” is ridiculous. Just like many other countries that are branded ‘coffee lovers’ some Colombians drink a lot of coffee, some a little and some not at all. Definitely cannot agree that Juan Valdez introduced them to coffee, that’s just as ridiculous as a tinto an hour. Can agree Colombia produces beautiful coffee.

    • I’ve actually always wondered about this. I was born in Bogotá but raised in England, and my family never drank coffee. We were more into aromaticas, and lately teas as well. A cousin told me you can’t really drink great coffee in Colombia, where the world’s greatest coffee grows, because all the good stuff gets exported (how’s that for irony?). I know the character of Juan Valdez was created in the 50s (by a New York ad agency, lol) but the cafes are a more recent addition, and soon the country will have starbucks.
      So is coffee culture a new thing now, or is my family just weird?

      • I remember drinking coffee since I was 4 hahaha it has always been part of my breakfast. I think your lack of coffee drinking might be due to be raised in England as I’ve been living in London the past 4 months and I’ve definitely increased my tea drinking and i’m not drinking as much coffee as before. I definitely think that you can get good Colombian coffee in Colombia. so maybe your cousin didn’t know where to find it? Not everyone drinks coffee in Colombia but a great part of the population does although my family also drank aromaticas lol those were great 🙂

      • To be short and blunt, and use your own words: your family is weird. Colombians, on average, drink seas of coffee daily.

        Your cousin is partially right, if you consider “the best stuff” to be really at a level no-one, bar the true connoisseur or gourmet coffee drinker, can tell. On average, we drink very, very good quality coffee, even if what gets exported is really, truly gourmet level stuff. Domestic coffee off the shelf any supermarket in Colombia is better quality than most top of the line stuff bought in an average supermarket in the US or Europe.

        Cafes are a very old tradition in Colombia, and they have been very popular since early in the 20th century. The quality of the brewed stuff has indeed improved dramatically since even before the introduction of the Juan Valdés shops, but is indeed a recent phenomenon, dating back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, with the “apertura”. Traditional brew is really crappy stuff, and the type of coffee you get on a cup in the coffee growing region hacienda (not the one for tourists, mind you but the stuff locals drink regularly) is a ghastly, overcooked, acid and horribly diluted concoction sweetened with tons of panela, thereby destroying any taste left in the stuff. Good quality brew is increasingly popular in the country, and Juan Valdés has done quite a lot to make it more popular.

      • I think EtMoi family’s is not weird at all. It really depends from where your family is (which part of Colombia). I grew up in Barranquilla, and I didn’t drink coffee as a child, except for a Cafe con leche (Latte machiato) a few times a year. In my family, only adults will drink tinto, and not every day. When living in Bogota, I noticed that most people will take tinto a few times a day, and everybody (including kids) will drink cafe con leche for breakfast.

  5. Paige, thanks for the amazing words for my beloved Colombia. I live in Asheville, NC a year ago…. and I still miss all what you say every single day. I have shared this with my workmates. THANKS A LOT!!!

  6. Super especial encontrar gente como usted que pudo quedarse a vivir en nuestro país y que comparta todo lo hermoso que somos los colombianos . Deben ser infinitos los que no han podido quedarse y se han ido muyyy tristes. Pero eso sí….. garantizado que regresan siempre a visitarnos. Deberías publicar esto también en Español (que supongo ya lo sabes y con acento costeño :)) para que muchos puedan disfrutarlo.

  7. Although Juan Valdez is the most famous coffee, I rather drink OMA coffee. Is richer and stronger. We are Colombianos and as such my friends, we always differ In opinion with each other (with no intend of fighting mostly) just to prove why we are right. I’m proud of being from Colombia. Tolimense pura

  8. Loved your blog as I used to live in Colombia, in bogota, teaching English at a bilingual catholic school. I have many fond memories of my time there. I now live in New Orleans, La where I teach wildlife education around the city. But one thing I miss about Colombia is the food!! Ajiaco, pan de yuca, sancocho, bunuelos, arepas con queso, Arequipe, Colombiana (softdrink). I even miss aguardiente. I miss the music and nights out dancing. I loved watching older couples at novena parties dancing a sexy rhumba or salsa like they were fused at the hip. Enjoy your time there. It is an incredible country and the people are wonderful. I spent a few weeks backpacking around the country while in Christmas holiday. Truly a blessing to meet so many generous and kind and fun living and loving people. I hope to get back there one day w my kids. It’ll always be a special place to me!

  9. Thank you very much for those words, the respect that your giving to our country and the great service that you’re providing to these young men and women at La Universidad del Norte. God Bless

  10. Best article ever!!! Thank you very much, I feel so Proud to be Colombian 😄👍❤ everything is 💯% true. I will pass to my children, they born here in USA but they love Colombia ❤

  11. My mother is Colombiana and I believe she’s a neat freak lol! I really get tired of the ‘cleanliness’ seriously…. There’s like 4 or 5 different kinds of soap in our house! But she cracks me up and knows how to motivate… My mom always finds a way to cook the traditional foods too! She goes to several grocery stores to make sancocho and other foods. I went to Bogota in 2007 and just Loved it there! Hospitality is a big thing there 🙂

  12. A Wonderful entry! I’m Colombian and have been living in the Uk for 14 years now,Here I wake up every morning to salute the day with my favorite drink: a cup of the best coffee in the world luckily the one harvested to be the best and exported from Colombiia to Europe! All of the qualities you described in Colombians are kept in my Anglo -Saxon family and my children love and are proud of being half Britt//half Colombian,You can tell they are a reflection of the culture they were brought up in because of their gentile manner, politeness,folkloric mood, consideration for others and love for rich food!!! Oh boy how we miss you dear homeland! This is home but our heart remains there..Blessings to our dear land…

  13. Thanks for such a beautiful and well written article. You have described us in the way we the Colombians love to hear and listen about Our lovely country.

  14. I’m also American and I’ve visited Bogota. These things are all true and the world should aspire to be more like Colombia. I’m proud just to know Colombian people.

  15. #5 was a nice way to say we are always late for everythig and that For us being 5 to 30 mins. late is no big deal. LOL… Everything is so true in your article. I know for a fact that you don’t really know another county until you get to live in it for at least a few years and very nice to know you feel this way about Colombia vs. other peole who talk about but have never been there. Thanks!

  16. Que puedo decir! Soy y somos colombianos! La Tierra del campesino pujante y sonador, la Tierra donde se crea una finca en el cielo y un terruño de amor en el Sol! Tierra de grandes cientificos, musicos, pintores, poetas y bohemios que sueñan con un pais en Paz ! Tomemonos un tinto y Seamos amigos!

  17. I have been traveling to Colombia every year for the past 9 years and absolutely love the place and people. I will only say one thing…colombians are never on time. Atleast here in NYC, we say they are on “Colombian time”. Aside from that, my wife is from Cali, we have a home and finca there and I look forward to celebrating Christmas there every year.

  18. we also have a twisted sense of humour (like mexicans) sometimes it missunderstood by people that take things very seriously ( they think that we don´t care: i talk by experience i have been told this in europe) but the fact that we have been though a lot of crap has given us the sense and the perspective to actually value and take seriously the things that really matters, family a laughter and the encounter of happiness in the Little things.

  19. Being a Colombian I can tell you have missed two very important items from your list: beauty pageants and soup operas. We are the country that has more beauty pageants in the entire world! and soup operas (novelas) are very popular and some of them recognized in other countries such as “ugly betty” we Colombians either love novelas or hate them! jeje

    I loved your article!

  20. What a beautiful article!! That’s what we are!!! I’ve been living in Australia just for 4 years and I miss many of this things!! I know and everybody know that we have many bad things in our country, “as all the countries”, but this kind of things, this kind of words are just fantastic!! This “news” are the kind of “news” that everyone, everywhere have to share!!! The entire world should know that we are not only drugs and guerrillas!!! In our hands is the change!! Always be proud of your country!! Talk well things of it!! Here in Australia, the Aussies always talk the beautiful things of this country, the news are almost good every day but here are many bad things and they know it, but they are not making news about it like we do in Colombia unfortunately!!! We need to change our international image!!! We are good people, we are “unique”!!! A million thanks Ms. Paige for this article, is really really nice!! Very proud to be “COLOMBIAN”!!!

  21. Paige I really appreaciate your words. It´s wonderful to hear foreing people express the way you did about my beloved homeland, even though as Colombians we recognize the problems we have. It is a grear article and I really thank you for your kindness towards my country and my people. A hugeeee hug!!!

  22. Wonderful article coming from someone who was born and raised in a different country! I feel so alive when I read all these appreciations about our wonderful country and the people. I really would love to go back on vacations again! thank you very much Ms/Mrs Paige and please keep enjoying that wonderful people, country and culture because you’re more than welcome to live those great experiences that we(some Colombians in different countries) enjoyed once in a lifetime.

    From the bottom of my heart I send you hugs and kisses

    Un colombiano enamorado de su tierra y su gente aunque este ausente!!!!

  23. paige,
    Your article touched my heart so much that i had to read it to my husband and share it with with my friends, I am costena (from cartagena) I’ve been living in louisiana for 4 yeras now and i miss my country sooooo much, when people ask me were is home for me i am so proud to say COLOMBIA, i agree 100% with everything u said, we are all that and so much more, I can’t beging to tell you how it feels to know that people(that are not colombias) think those beautiful things about us and hopefully more and more will share this way of looking at our country and culture and not just think of us as the drug manufacturing country that many people think we are, because yes every country have their problems, but we are more then just those problems.
    I have to tell you that my husband is born and raised in louisiana and he traveled to colombia first pushed by the want for new experiences and then he couldn’t stay away, he fell in love precisely with every aspect of colombias that you’ve described, so much so that he call colombia home, and cant wait to get back home as soon as the doctors give the OK (he is fighting cancer).
    Anyway, thank so much for your article!

  24. Dear Mrs Paige: Thank you one thousand times for the article!!! we Colombians are not as bad and sinister as Media shows us. Have a wonderful day 😀

  25. Yes, that is who we are…and grateful too… as I am now to you after reading this heart-warming post; it makes me love my country even more. We have a lot of political problems, millions of people living in poverty and so on and even more of the same BS developing countries suffer from, but you go ahead and knock on the door of one person living in poverty here in Colombia… we will give you our own bed and our best sheets to make you feel comfy and protected… we tend to pour out our love and charisma to foreigners because we are like little kittens; always curious about foreigners coming to our country and always eager to teach them anything or everything about our culture… always with a smile and a good hug to give.

  26. Extremely touching. Thank you so much for such as lovely description of my country. It is overwhelming to see a foreign describing my country so well. Once again, thanks 🙂

  27. I truly enjoyed your article. As both a Colombian and a proud “barranquillero” I am happy to see my countrymen have taken good care of you. We are indeed a hospitable people and enjoy making visitors feel at home.

    I can tell you have already danced cumbia, cheered for Colombia in the World Cup Qualifiers and are starting to sing vallenato! Before you know, you will have a Colombian family to call your own.

    Your article was a pleasure to read.

    One big Colombian abrazo to you!

  28. Even though this blog was written in 2013 I still want to say that I am glad that Paige appreciates our culture, how we are, what we like and love, and shared it on this blog. It will help my husband to learn more about my people and I. 🙂 It is very accurate and still current :-). I learned many years ago that in Colombia we consume 20% of our home grown coffee and the other 80% it is imported from Ecuador and Peru (instant coffee). The information can be verified on the National Department of statistics (DANE). The magazine Semana also had an article about it. We shouldn’t be surprised because what we export it’s gourmet coffee, so how can we afford it in Colombia? if we import coffee of less quality and price to consume in Colombia and we can export for a better price and quality our own coffee all people involved will get profits. I feel the sacrifice it’s worthy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s