9 Facts about Colombia


1. $80 worth of coca leaves from a Colombian peasant can sell for $800 as coca paste, $2,147 as pure cocaine in Colombian ports, $34,000 just over the US border, and $120,000 on the streets of New York

coca leaves

2. British banking giant HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), but there were no criminal charges and no one went to prison


3. In 1985, a Colombian girl was trapped in a volcanic mudflow up to her waist. She was mostly alert and was interviewed. Knowing she would die, volunteers and rescuer did their best to comfort her. She died after 60 hours, and her photo became iconic

Omayra Sánchez

4. Before the Columbian Exchange, there was no coffee in Colombia

colombian coffee

5. The Armed Forces of Colombia commissioned a pop song that included a Morse code message to kidnapped military personnel (“19 people rescued, you’re next. Don’t lose hope”) because the kidnappers would let their captives listen to radio


6. After Pablo Escobar’s death, the 4 hippos he kept as pets began to breed and became an invasive species in Colombia


7. In Christmas 2010, the Colombian government covered jungle trees with lights. When FARC guerrillas walked by, the trees lit up and banners asking them to lay down their arms became visible. 331 guerrillas re-entered society and the campaign won an award for strategic marketing excellence

colombian guerillas

8. St. Louis, New Orleans, Detroit and Baltimore all have murder rates that are higher than Medellín, Colombia and Rio de Janeiro