What Languages are Spoken in Colombia?

The flag of Colombia.
The flag of Colombia.

Colombia is a South American countries with additional territories in Central America. The indigenous populations of Colombia included the Tairona and the Quimbaya. Spanish explorers first settled in Colombia in 1499 and began colonizing the country in the early 16th century. With a population of over 45 million people, Colombia is among the most populated countries in Latin America. The population of Colombia is ethnically and linguistically diverse, with over 100 languages spoken in the country. Colombia is also home to a large number of Spanish speakers.

Official Language of Colombia

Spanish is the most popular language spoken in Colombia, and is spoken by more than 99.2% of Colombians. However, the Spanish language spoken in Colombia, known as the Colombian Spanish, varies from the traditional Spanish language spoken in Spain and other Spanish-speaking nations. There are also regional Spanish dialects spoken in different regions of the country. The Spanish language spoken in Colombia is characterized by an almost musical intonation and clear pronunciation. Spanish is the official language of Colombia and is often used during public functions and by most media outlets. However, some regions have their own official languages apart from Spanish. Spanish is a mandatory subject taught in schools. Also, in regions with an official language other than Spanish, bilingual education is mandatory.

Spanish Slang

Spanish slang is also very popular in Colombia and is often used in popular culture. Many Spanish slang words have spread out of their areas to become commonly used and understood throughout the country. In the Medellin and Paisa regions, the local Spanish slang is known as Pariache. The Spanish slang is also frequently used by radio stations to connect to the younger generation.

Amerindian Languages

In addition to the Spanish, there are several other languages spoken by the Colombians. 65 of these minor languages are Amerindian in nature. Amerindian languages are groups of indigenous languages of the Americas. The 65 Amerindian languages spoken in Colombia can be grouped into 12 language families, including Arawakan, Cariban, Tupian, and Quechuan.

Creole Languages

The Creole language is developed from a mixture of different languages. Two creole languages are spoken in Colombia: Palenquero and Vlax Romani. Palenquero is Spanish-based creole language and the only Spanish-based language spoken in Latin America. Only about 3,000 Colombians speak the Palenquero language, and it is often spoken in villages, especially southeast of Cartagena. The majority of Spanish speakers are not able to understand Palenquero, although about 10% of the younger population can understand or speak the language.

Vlax Romani belongs to the Romani language group. It is the most widely spoken dialect of the Romani language worldwide. There are about 5,000 Vlax Romani speakers in Colombia, the majority of which are foreigners.

Minority Languages Spoken in Colombia

Other minority languages spoken in Colombia include Romani languages, sign language, and English. English has official status in some regions of Colombia, including Providencia and Santa Catalina. A total of 101 languages are listed in the Ethnologue database for Colombia.


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