the most northern reaching country in south america incredibly diverse.
It's Capital Bogota populated by 6 million people has a lower crime rate than most large cities of its kind.
The cultural hub, nicknamed the "Athens of Latin America". Year round entertainment in arts, theater, museums, compiles a bit of everything you could want in higher entertainment. Not very warm but dam shinny and fun.
Just like the temperature in each region of the country varies so does it's people.
From very cold icy mountaints populated by a few shy indian farmers and lonely Park rangers (Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta), to scorching hot dessert splashed by the caribbean and some very unique people (Guajira), (Tayrona national Park) sorounded by imposing arqueological finds humid tropical jungle and pristine beaches. All within a couple hours drive. Warm old colonial and cosmopolitan cities inhabited bye some of the loudest, most effusive & downright nosiest people in the country(Cartagena, Barranquilla, Santa Marta)=These are the Costeños, living on the Atlantic coast line.
From the coffe axis of Colombia, come some of the smartest people on earth. You can probably find one in every city of the world. The Paisas, originary from Antioquia (Coffe and Orquids export, home of the infamous Pablo Escobar) and its capital Medellin, The Paisas are quick witted, savy, funny, respectfull but impulsive, sentimental, strong, curiuos and inventive. In business and everyday life they will make adrenaline flow and get things done right. But look out! for any street vendor could con your undies off and make you buy a bridge or two.
Other well known colombians include: the Pastusos, famed in jokes for their naivete; the Caleños, hot blodded and skillfull dancers with a tropical view of life; my own people the San Andreans who live in islands not far off the coast of Nicargua and speak good English, bad English and Spanish as a second language.
Everything varies from temperature to temperament, language to accent to build, color, taste, food...
45,600,000 numbers Colombia's population. Not evenly distributed, most Colombians living in the mountainous western portion of the country as well as the northern coastline. The Southern and Eastern portions of the country are mostly sparsely inhabited tropical rainforest and inland tropical plains containing small farming towns and indigenous comunnities.
Currently there is low-intensity conflict involving rebel guerrilla groups, paramilitary militias, drug trafficking and corruption. The conflict originated around 1964-1966, when the FARC and the ELN were founded and began their guerrilla insurgency campaigns against successive Colombian government administrations. It worsened with the birth of drug traffic and it's increasing socioeconomical demands. The societal structure is now unbalanced. Affecting directly and specially the lower class and the political and economical every day life.
There is poverty, crime and war in many rural aereas.
Nobody really trust politicians (who does?) or the armed forces and the public eye is jaundiced toward any power structure and have no qualms to make fun of them. In many rural areas you will here coments like: guerilla, armed forces, paras (paramilitars) they are all the same!.
As is expected in any country with these issues there is danger. So while traveling by road is relatively safe it's not so much for the very caucasian or asian who usually stick out like a sore tumb in rural areas. Usually the people abducted for ransom are employees of international organizations or oil companies.
Corrupt oficials are rumored to sell info to criminals and guerrilla in order to locate high paying victims.
Drugs are not as free flying in urban aereas as in first world countries. Drugs are processed mostly in the bush and jungle land. Colombia is well known for its illegal export of cocain, infamous drugs lords, corrupt officials and the guerrilla groups.
Rural towns where access is difficult augment poverty and crime, although poverty is not the factoring cause of major crimes like kidnappings, it's mostly organized crime rather than poor people just looking to survive.
As in any country no matter how advanced, be adviced to keep your eyes open and find out before hand where it's safe to travel.
Colombian best known symbol is Juan Valdez, this mustached paisa and his mule loaded with coffe. This logo is recognizable world wide.
There are many reasons why judging Colombia by the media is wrong, (As mentioned before in the Mr. & Mrs Smith example) But It's understandable just like we all judge other countries from what we see on CNN. Im sure the US is not chuck full of gun totting psico's and rapists, Paris Hilton's, OJ Simpsons, G. Bushes...
Colombians are among the most diverse and occidentalized latin americans.