The People

About 68 per cent of the people are mestizos (of mixed Indian-white descent) and 20 per cent are white. The rest are mulattos, blacks, Indians, and zambos (of mixed Indian and black ancestry).

Language and Religion

Spanish, the official language of the country, is spoken by everyone except the members of a few Indian tribes. There is religious freedom but about 95 per cent of the people are Roman Catholics.


Primary education is free and compulsory. It begins at age six and lasts five years. Secondary education lasts up to six years—four years of general studies followed by an optional two years of vocational education. Public education is financed jointly by the national, departmental, and municipal governments. About 85 per cent of the people are literate.

The National University of Colombia (founded 1867) is in Bogotá. There are more than 40 other institutions of higher learning in Colombia.