Colombia is undoubtedly an amazing country to visit and travel through; most people who come here fall head over heels for the place and can’t wait to get back! However, as much as we love to show you the beauty, magic and diversity of our adopted homeland, it’s also important to learn about the culture, history and national identity of Colombia when you travel here. All counties have their iconic national symbols and rituals which are intricately connected to the national psyche, and the culture of the country, and Colombia is no different. What’s the national bird/flower/anthem I hear you cry! Well, you’re about to find out…
National Anthem – ¡Oh gloria inmarcesible!
This anthem, officially called the Himno Nacional de la República de Colombia, dates back to 1887, when Jose Domingo Torres, an actor from Bogota, and opera singer Oreste Sindici, used a poem written by the former Colombia President Rafael Nunez, and set it to music. It was adopted as the National Anthem in 1920, and since 1995 all TV and radio broadcasts must play it at both 6am and 6pm. The long version features the line: “Indomitable centaurs descend to the plains”…which makes the British anthem sound as rubbish as it is…
National Flag – Tricolor Nacional
The flag was adopted on November 26, 1863. With 3 horizontal stripes (yellow, blue, red), of which the yellow takes up the top half, the flag is deeply representative of Colombian history: the yellow represents the multitude of gold found in the country, the blue the 2 oceans on Colombia’s shores, and the red the blood spilled in the battle for independence. The basic design is credited to Francisco de Miranda, and went through a variety of stages before becoming the one we all know and love today.
National Bird – Andean Condor
This mighty bird sit atop the Colombian Coat of Arms, and is also the national bird or an important symbol in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile. It’s gigantic wingspan and mountain habitat make it an imposing and impressive symbol. Critics have questioned its role in Colombia, being as there are less than 100 wild condors left in the country; however, having been lucky enough to see these remarkable birds soaring over the mountains of the Nevados and El Cocuy, I can’t think of a better choice…
National Tree – Quindio Wax Palm
The wax palm is native the the Cocora Valley in Colombia’s Coffee Region, where they grow by their thousands. It is the tallest palm in the world, reaching heights of up to 60 meters, and was first recorded in 1801 by Alexander von Humboldt. The trees once faced extinction, but this growing threat was thankfully noted, and they are now a protected species…well, it wouldn’t really do to have your national tree go extinct now would it!?
National Flower – Cattleya trianae
This flower, also called ‘Flor de Mayo’ is the flower of the country of flowers! Which means it must be pretty special, right?! Oh, it is alright: an epiphytic orchid, endemic to Colombia, it has been the national flower since 1936. It was chosen for two reasons: the lip is yellow, blue and red like…(oh come, if you’ve read the post then you know!), and the species takes its name from Colombian botanist Jeronimo Triana. It is an endangered cloud forest species, and having seen a few, I can tell you that it’s beautiful…
National Sport – Tejo
Nope, it’s not football! The Colombian national sport is an amazing old game known as tejo. We’ve written about it here in more detail so you can learn the rules, but what is most amazing about tejo is that it involves throwing metal at gunpowder…’nuff said, right?! The game dates back to indigenous groups from the central Colombian Andes, and is popularly attributed to the Chibcha or Muisca people. It is, simply put, amazing fun!
So, there you have it: the mayor national symbols and activities of this amazing country. If you can think of any more essential ones we may have missed, don’t hesitate to comment below.