Interesting Facts about Colombia: Part I

Today, I am going to start a series of posts that will focus on interesting facts about Colombia with the aim of introducing you to information about this beautiful country that isn’t common knowledge for most people. Hopefully, these “interesting facts” will make you want to travel and explore this country for yourself even more!

The first interesting fact about Colombia I want to share with you is:

Colombia Tours

 Like Colombian coffee, Colombian flowers are of high quality and are prized around the world. Flowers, according to Asocoflores (the Colombian Association of Flower Exporters), are the most important and top-ranked non-agricultural product in Colombia1.  In the United States, three out of every four cut flowers is imported from Colombia1. Total, around 80% of flowers imported to the United States come from Colombia. And, while Colombia exports to around 88 different countries around the world, a whopping 76% of the flowers exported by Colombia go the United States1. “62 percent of all of the roses sold; 92 percent of carnations sold; 93 percent of all chrysanthemums sold; and 97 percent of all alstroemerias sold” in the United States are Colombian3. If you bought roses for Valentine’s Day this year in the United States, chances are you bought Colombian roses as over 500 billion of them were shipped in 2013, for this romantic holiday.

Roses in Bogota

Roses in Bogota

Colombian flowers first became a major export product in the late 1970s and 80s when carnations, chrysanthemums, dahlias, and roses were grown for export2. During the 70s and 80s, Colombia became the second largest flower industry in the world, after the Netherlands, with the United States acting as its principle buyer2. Since then, the Colombian flower industry has continued to flourish, grow, and diversify thanks to increasing flower exports and external demand for Colombian-grown flowers.

According to Colombia Reports, there are two major influences that have continued to support and spur the Colombian flower industry1. The first one is TLC (Free Trade Agreement) that was approved between Colombia and the United States. The TLC was approved in October 2011, and it went into effect in May 2012. The first item exported from Colombia to the United States under the agreement was—you guessed it!–a plane full of flowers that was highly celebrated on Colombia national news channels. The second influence has been the U.S.’s support of the war against drugs1. In order to decrease the amount of coca plants being grown, both the U.S. and Colombian governments encouraged the cultivation of flowers instead of coca1. Due to this initiative, there are more Colombians involved in the flower industry.

Hydrangea in Parque Arví, Medellin

Hydrangea in Parque Arví, Medellin

The majority of Colombian flowers grown for export are cultivated in the savannah around Bogota and in the department of Antioquía4. In fact, as of 2010, 76% of flowers cultivated for export came from Bogota and 19% came from Medellin4. The reason these zones are used is because of their relatively mild climate and consistent daily hours of sunlight (approximately 12 hours a day). If you are itching to get an up-close look at these beautiful and exquisite flowers and how they are grown, your best bet is to attend the Feria de las Flores in Medellin. The Feria de las Flores is an annual festival in Medellin that celebrates flowers. You’ll be able to see export quality flowers on exhibition in several places around the city, as well as observe them in the intricate silletas, incredible flower arrangements created to be carried on a person’s back, that are paraded through the city during the festival.

Until the next “fun fact,”

Paige M. Poole

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