A country whose coasts are bathed by two oceans, which contains practically every possible category of climate. Colombia is the 17th country in the world for environmental diversity, but the 1st in the world for variety of species per square meter, with 311 ecosystems and roughly 55,000 species of fauna and flora.
One of Colombia’s outstanding natural resources is its water: it is one of the world’s great water storage basins, thanks largely to its 30,000 sq.km of páramo marshland. According to FAO estimates, its renewable water resources amount to approximately 2,300,000 million cubic liters a year.
It is calculated that 60 percent of the species that populate the marshlands of Colombia are endemic, including various species of moss which can store up to 40 times their weight in water. Currently there are 30 protected areas, the largest of which is the Sumapaz Natural Park. And over 25 million Colombians depend on water from the Natural Park system.
Roughly 40 percent of the country’s surface consists of Amazon rainforest, part of the largest forest complex on Earth, the greatest of all the planet’s defenses against carbon emissions.
An abundance of riches from the earth
70 percent of Colombia’s territory is suitable for cultivation. Products such as Colombian coffee and cocoa – along with emeralds and flowers – are world famous. Since 2011, UNESCO has included the Paisaje Cultural Cafetero on its World Heritage List. In the Departments of Caldas, Quindío, Risaralda and Valle del Cauca, 560,000 families work on the production of coffee which is exported to over 90 nations and which is an economic lifeline for over half the townships in Colombia.
Colombia is now the third South American nation in terms of area cultivated with fruit trees (c.10 percent of cultivable land). It has also developed sustainable non-traditional fruit cultivations, such as for uchuva (Physalis peruviana), the country’s most exported fruit after bananas, distributed in more than 20 countries, and gulapa.
Among Colombia’s most notable traditional dishes is Ajiaco, a hot yellow soup with slices of chicken, usually eaten with rice and a slice of avocado. The most famous dish is Pandeja Paisa: ingredients may vary, apart from an obligatory and generous portion of beans, according to the style of the Antioquia region. The other ingredients may include: plain rice, minced meat, fried pork rind, egg, ripe banana, Antioquia-type sausage, Antioquian arepa (cornflour pancake with cheese), hogao (fried onions and tomato) morcilla (black pudding), and avocado.
A vertical journey through the five ‘thermal floors’
Thanks to its position straddling the Equator, Colombia’s climate is not determined by seasons but by the altitude of its various regions. The concept on which the Colombian Pavilion in Expo Milano 2015 is based, therefore, is the five ‘thermal floors’, the thermal levels in the country’s five climatic zones. As visitors enter each successive module, a panel reminds them of the famous people born in that climatic zone, including mythical figures like the sculptor Fernando Botero and the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but also sporting and musical stars like Ivan Ramiro Còrdoba or Shakira.
The visit culminates on top of the highest peak in Colombia, on Mount Cristóbal Colón. From here the visitor descends in a “virtual lift” where a video wall evokes all the landscapes visited before.
The last space visited, on the ground floor, is the most exciting: a melody composed by Carlos Vives is played by five different musicians or groups, each originating from different thermal floors of Colombia.
Explore Colombia’s Pavilion in Expo Milano 2015