The Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea coastline, lush Amazonian jungle, and Andes Mountains help make Colombia ecologically one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries. It is the second most biodiverse country in the world, and ranks first in bird species. It hosts some 40,000 to 45,000 plant species, equivalent to 10 or 20% of total global species. It is also part of the Ring of Fire, a region of the world subject to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Several indigenous nations including the Muisca, the Quimbaya and the Tairona groups were the first to inhabit Colombia. The Spanish arrived in 1499, and brought African slaves with them in the 16th century, who later evolved a unique culture of their own. Armenia and Pereira in the heart of the western region of the country form the core of the coffee zone and the heart of Colombia’s culture. Bogota and Cartagena combine old and new to create unique experiences. Colombia has eight established UNESCO sites -- six cultural and two natural, with more than a dozen still under consideration. San Agustín Archaeological Park has the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America, created from the first to the eighth centuries. Colombia presents travelers with a roster of adventure experiences from scuba diving to mountain biking to cave exploring as well as historic colonial cities, distinct cultural traditions and a new generation of luxury boutique hotels.
Following more than 50 years of civil war, Colombia’s visionary President embarked on a mission to promote peace through sustainable tourism, leading to President Santos receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. The result is a national sustainable tourism development plan for the country’s 56 national parks and protected areas, in which former rebels have laid down their arms to become ecotourism soldiers instead. Colombia continues to make great strides forward in sustainable tourism development, based upon social and economic prosperity for its people and protection of the country’s high biodiversity – 1 out of 10 species in the world is found in Colombia.
The country has fully embarked on a national level sustainable tourism master plan incorporating the three main pillars of best practice: environmentally-friendly operations; support for the protection of cultural and natural heritage; and improving the special and economic well-being of local people.
As this vibrant South American country emerges from a long civil war, peace through tourism is at the forefront of new initiatives in the vast expanse of 56 national parks and protected areas that stretch across Colombia’s stunning landscapes. With coastlines along the Pacific and the Caribbean, lush rainforests, vibrant indigenous cultures, and bustling colonial and modern cities, Colombia has burst onto the global travel stage as one of the most spectacular travel destinations, along with a strong commitment to sustainable tourism. Learn more about the galapagos.com values.Why the Finch Ranking?