The Republic of Colombia is located to the north west of South America, with territory in both the northern and southern hemispheres. To the west lies the Pacific coast, to the north the Atlantic coast and the south of the country is crossed by the Equator. Colombia is the only South American country to be flanked by both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and shares borders with Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Panama.
The country is divided into six large regions: the Andean, the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Orinoquía, the Amazon and the Insular regions. The nation’s main rivers are the Magdalena, the Cauca and a host of tributaries of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers. Colombia’s highest point is the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which measures 5,980 metres above sea level.
The fact it straddles the Equator is a driving factor in the huge diversity of climates and ecosystems which include the vast and mountainous Andean region, the jungles of the Amazon and Orinoquía regions, the extensive coastlines of the Caribbean and Pacific regions and the enormous plains in the country’s west. Indeed, this privileged geographic location has afforded Colombia two oceans and three mountain ranges, as well as jungles, plains and deserts, thus giving the country an immense array of unexplored areas, spectacular scenery and impressive variety of tourist activities.
Indeed, visitors to the Caribbean coast will struggle not to fall in love with the sand and seven-coloured sea of San Andres, while the streets of Cartagena come alive with tales of inquisitors, heroes, pirates and corsairs. Nor must we forget the natural exuberance and rich archaeological heritage of Tyrone Park near to Santa Marta, which is also considered one of the most beautiful bays in Latin America, while lovers of life will thrive at the carnival in world-heritage city Barranquilla.
Architectural centres such as Ciudad Perdida and San Agustin bear witness to Colombia’s indigenous past, one that still survives today in many areas of the country. Unspoilt scenery, tucked-away locations, beaches, waterfalls, winding paths, coffee trails and routes where you can admire diverse species of animal and plant also abound. Natural parks filled with thousands of rivers, streams, woods, hills and flat lands are ideal for eco-tourism, while the sheer size of the Amazon jungle must be seen to be believed.
Over on the Pacific coast are perfect spots for scuba-diving and whale-watching, such as on the islands of Gorgona, Malpelo and Nuquí. What is more, the departments of Arauca, Casanare, Meta and Vichada - where the Colombian plains can be found - are ideal for lovers of extreme sports and adventure tourism.
Bustling urban centres where business, finance, cultural activities, nightlife, modern architecture and youth culture bubble together in a fascinating melting pot include the cosmopolitan city of Bogota: a gastronomic, financial and cultural destination par excellence. Other must-sees are industrial hub and fashion hotspot Medellin, beautiful and historic Cartagena, as well as Cali and Barranquilla, capitals of the Valle and Atlantico departments respectively.
Football in Colombia
Not only is football the country’s number-one sport, played by over three million people, it also represents a significant source of jobs and income for the domestic economy. Though already boasting a massive number of top foreign players way back in the 1930s, it was not until 1948 that Colombian football held its first professional tournament. Initially consisting of just ten clubs, the number of teams in the pro ranks has now risen to 36.
The Colombian Football Association (CFF) was founded in 1924 and was recognised internationally by FIFA in 1936. The Colombian national team took part in the FIFA World Cup™ final tournaments at Chile 1962, Italy 1990, USA 1994, and France 1998 and Brazil 2014, where it had their best performance ever by reaching the quarter-final, losing against the hosts. However, their biggest success came when winning the 2001 Copa America on home soil.
As far as youth national teams are concerned, Colombia won bronze at the 2003 edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, as well as finishing fourth at the 2003 and 2009 editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Among the greatest Colombian players of all time are Willington Ortiz, Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama, Rene Higuita, Faustino Asprilla, Efrain “Caimán” Sanchez and Freddy Rincon, Falcao Garcia and James Rodriguez, to name but a few of the gifted performers this country has produced.
Futsal in Colombia
Compared to other South American nations, Colombia has only recently joined the FIFA futsal community. The key moment came in 2004 with the creation of the National Futsal Committee, which set about organising regional leagues. It also took charge of Colombia's various national teams, and since then those national sides have taken an active part in international tournaments with the support of the Colombian Football Federation (FCF).
To date, the high point in the brief history of Colombia's senior team was their breakthrough performance at Thailand 2012, when Osmar Arney Fonnegra led the FIFA Futsal World Cup debutants to a surprise semi-final berth. Their valiant run was ultimately ended by Brazil, who went on to lift the trophy.
Colombia finished fourth in Thailand and their historic campaign created a futsal buzz back home. That helped spark wider interest in a discipline that had already taken a first step towards professionalisation with the founding of the Liga Argos Futsal, which featured a total of 12 teams in its inaugural season.
The league is still going strong ten editions later and now contains 20 sides from across the country. Without fail, thousands of spectators attend games every matchday, offering further proof that futsal continues to enjoy growing popularity.
The Liga Argos Futsal is also the primary source of players for Colombia's senior and various age-group sides. With talent in abundance, those players have helped the national teams shine increasingly brightly on the international stage and highlighted Colombia's exciting potential.