A small number of families have historically dominated these upper classes.
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The middle class is growing with the ranks of the increasingly affluent lower classes. Often in small business, these people work hard to improve their position in the country. Most cities in Colombia have a complete range of classes represented, from the lowest to the highest. Smaller settlements will only have a subset. The overall country has a huge majority in the low to middle classes, with a small upper class.
Around ten percent of the Colombian population lives in overall well-made places.
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Drugs, especially cocaine, have had a strong influence on society and have even created a distinct social class. Colombian drug groups have killed numerous military, legal, and political personnel, including five prominent presidential candidates. The illegal drug industry has crossed class boundaries, mixing extremely poor traffickers all the way up to the top of the country.
Customs Colombian traditions have mostly come from Spain, blending with native customs and African imports. Today Colombia has a unique culture, iconic of much of Latin America.
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As the country modernizes, the Catholic church continues to have a lot of impact across most areas of Colombian culture. Colombian Spanish, especially in the big cities, is fairly general and understandable. On the coasts, Spanish is spoken more rapidly. Minority languages include dozens of Amerindian tongues, a couple of Creole blends, and the Romani language spoken by some Roma. Religion Roman Catholicism is the most common religion in Colombia, like in much of Latin America although less so than in other countries.
Legally, Colombia treats all religious groups equally. Clothing Today many Colombians dress in American-style business and casual clothing, especially in cities. Loose-fitting clothes help people deal with the tropical heat. Highland Colombians of both sexes sometimes wear cloaks. Decorative traditional clothing, such as "polleras" large and colorful skirts , still appears especially in folk ceremonies. Lifestyle Colombian life is relaxed yet focused. The relatively urban country has a comfortable pace, while life in the countryside remains very tranquil.
Colombians live very differently depending on which region of the country they reside in. The coastal areas have attractive and busy cities. The Andean middle has the major center of the country. The jungles are far less developed, and the small islands are quite quiet.
Everyday Life Daily life in Colombia is fairly recognizable for most westerners, as it progresses from breakfast through the workday and into evening relaxation. Violence has shaken the country, with street crime and drug trafficking ratcheting up fears.
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However, even amid the violence, which is now on the wane, Colombians find ways to enjoy the finer things in life, from good coffee to dancing. Colombian visual art looks brilliantly colorful as it reflects the bright surroundings of the country.
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Perhaps the most notable of Colombia's music is "cumbia", a popular and danceable sound with sexually suggestive moves. Cumbia, the soundtrack of the country, combines Spanish and African music. Dance Colombians love to dance. In addition to cumbia, Colombians dance a lot to salsa, as well as countless other styles. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent.
Drug trafficking violence is a risk in Colombia, please read this travel warning before going! Dating is often done in the presence of a chaperone for conservative families, but this is changing, especially in the cities. Some people and some families believe their children should only date people in their same socio-economic class and there is pressure to confine to this, but there is freedom of marriage and many people date and marry outside their race or socio-economic class.
In cities and among less conservative families dating is done without a chaperone and there is great freedom to choose who to marry. Colombian weddings are often times undertaken in a church as bride's maids and groomsmen are not common.
At the ceremony coins are often exchanged from the groom to the bride to symbolize that what is one's is the other's. Many Colombian newlyweds also light a unity candle from two individual candles. Godparents are often chosen for each spouse and these Godparents take on a significant role in the newly married couple's lives.
Additionally, it's not unheard of that girls may be dishonest with you about their backgrounds ie. If you've been out on three or four dates with a girl, and it's turning from fun into something more serious, it may be time to think about meeting her family.
Colombian women are typically eager to introduce you to their families. If the girl's family lives in another part of the country, though, this could be problematic. However, the vast majority of Colombian women that you meet will be living with their families.
This may include extended family, such as aunts and uncles, cousins, or grandparents, as well. Meeting a girl's family is very important if you are looking for a serious relationship or marriage. Families are typically much closer in Colombia and Latin America than they are in the US or Europe, and always remember that if you're dating a Colombian girl, her family comes along with it.
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Fortunately, Colombian families are usually warm and hospitable to foreigners, and they will most likely be delighted that their daughter is dating a foreigner. It might be appropriate to bring a gift if you're invited to a girl's house. This could be beer, aguardiente, food, or something more sophisticated.
In general, Colombian women will be willing to move things a long a bit more quickly than their counterparts in the US, Europe, or Australia. Colombian culture is very sexualized. This is not to say that Colombian women are fast or easy, but if you have been dating a Colombian girl for a couple of weeks or a month, it is likely that she will be willing to move things to the next level. As most Colombian girls live with their parents, typically spending the night where your girlfriend lives is not an option.
Additionally, the vast majority of youth hostels in Colombia prohibit overnight guests. Your best bet, of course, is renting your own apartment, although talk with residents in the building. Overnight guests are typically at the discretion of the doorman. If you're renting a room in a house or an apartment ask ahead about overnight guests because many landlords prohibit them. Unfortunately, some foreigners, especially in Medellin and Cartagena, are notorious for coming to Colombia to seek out prostitutes and escort girls, and landlords do not want this kind of clientele renting their apartments.
You can, of course, also get a hotel room for the night, or go to a "love motel". Love motels are very common throughout Colombia. Where is this Headed? Colombian women, in general, like foreign men. But foreign men also have a reputation for coming to Colombia for a few weeks or months of fun, and then going back to their home countries. For this reason it's important for both people in a relationship to be honest. Also, Colombian women are mostly Catholic and traditional.
They often have marriage and children in mind, especially if you've been dating a Colombian girl for over a year. Don't be surprised if after a year a Colombian girl begins to pressure you to get married and have children. The age for marriage and children is also quite younger in Colombia. For example, while many Americans and Europeans marry and have children in their 30s or even 40s, it's very typical for Colombian women to marry or have children at 18 or Colombian women love attention to detail.
It pays to put together great date nights: Or, you could show your date your favorite parks, museums, and attractions, or take her to concerts and other cultural events. Also, if you've been dating a Colombian girl for a few months, a great way to show her how special she is to you might be to take her on a trip. Cartagena, Santa Marta, and San Andres are certainly considered some of the most romantic spots in the country. Or, if you're feeling like something really exotic, head to Leticia for a taste of the Amazon.
Many Colombian women are interested in learning English, and may use dating as an opportunity to get some free classes. Contrarily, you can use dating Colombian women as an opportunity to practice your Spanish. Additionally, girls may invite you to family parties where you can meet their brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, or grandparents.