With an ideal location at the northwestern tip of South America, Colombia is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse countries in all of Latin America, with the third-largest Spanish speaking population in the world, and the second largest population in South America, at about 44 million inhabitants.

Famed for its first-rate coffee beans, which have earned it the reputation of best coffee producer in the world (though perhaps some Sumatran coffee lovers might disagree), Colombia is an agriculturally rich nation that has also managed to make a fairly successful switch toward a services-based economy.  Despite the enormous illicit coca production—and resulting cocaine trade, of which Colombia is the world’s # 1 supplier—the country has made a lot of progress in fighting the illegal cartels that run this trade and that have subsidized its rebellious guerrilla factions, of which the FARC is the most notorious.  The current administration has managed to whittle their effective control of national terrain down to secluded areas deep in the heart of the interior forested highlands.

A lot of foreigners come to Colombia for the cultural legacy of writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who put Colombian literature on the global map during the years of the Latin American boom.  Colombia’s Spanish dialect is quite notable for its clean and clear accent, making it a popular destination for students of Spanish that need a destination with an easy dialect in order to realize a total immersion program.

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Entering Colombia is relatively easy for American citizens, as this Andean nation has signed a whole host of bilateral treaties with the United States, and is the US’s strongest ally in the region.  Though entering as a tourist only requires presenting a valid passport—and, of course, entering through an official checkpoint; beware, failing to fulfill this requirement could result in incarceration—there are some basic requirements (like a preexisting work contract) in order to qualify for legal employment in Colombia.  Check out the Colombian Embassy’s page to get specific info on this subject.

The main cities of Cartagena and Bogota are massive metropolis with very vibrant cultures where commercial and personal opportunities abound, and Colombia’s pristine ecosystems are being increasingly exploited for their ecotourism potential.  According to each expat’s particular circumstances, a different region will present itself as more attractive, though generally the big cities are a good place to start if relocating.

Be sure to become acquainted with the opportunities to be had, and generally important information to be kept in mind, before traveling to Colombia by checking out the US Embassy’s page.  Also, familiarize yourself with some of the most prominent expat circles here.