Area Handbook for Colombia

By Thomas E. Weil; Jan Knippers Black et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
LIVING CONDITIONS

Colombia is a country of extreme contrasts, in its geography and in the way in which its people live. In part this diversity in living conditions is the result of the effects of geography on historical development. The Spaniards, entering the country in the 16th century, either settled along the coast and formed the port cities or found their way up river valleys into the cooler highlands and settled in widely dispersed population clusters. The result has been formation of various regions in each of which the population has customs in some ways different from those in others.

In all parts of the country the urban well-to-do dress in a manner indistinguishable from that of the North American, but in the cool highlands dress tends to be formal while in the equatorial lowlands comfort dictates a considerable informality of dress. Most rural people wear a kind of homespun cloak; in the highlands it is usually made of heavy wool material, selected primarily for warmth; in the lowlands it is usually made of a light material, chosen for its color and design.

The most important holidays are often not the 18 that are recognized nationally but the days of the patron saint of each town and department, and the ways in which they are celebrated differ widely. Foods eaten differ from region to region, and health conditions often are regional matters.

The most important factor dividing ways of life, however, is urban living contrasted with rural living. In general urban people live much better than their fellow countrymen on farms. The urban diet is generally more varied than the rural, although the less privileged 75 percent of the population in both urban and rural localities has a diet deficient in calories and too high in starches. The people in the larger cities also enjoyed better housing, better medical care, and better sanitation and welfare services. An acute housing shortage was primarily an urban phenomenon; substandard housing represented only about one-fourth of the urban and probably nine-tenths of the rural housing total. Although hospital, medical, and dental facilities were more readily available

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Area Handbook for Colombia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Foreword iii
  • Preface v
  • Country Summary vii
  • Table of Contents xi
  • Section I. Social 1
  • Chapter 2 - Physical Environment 7
  • Chapter 3 - Historical Setting 27
  • Chapter 4 - Population and Labor Force 63
  • Chapter 5 - Ethnic Groups and Languages 81
  • Chapter 6 - Social Structure 107
  • Chapter 7 - Family 127
  • Chapter 8 - Living Conditions 143
  • Chapter 9 - Education 175
  • Chapter 10 - Artistic and Intellectual Expression 203
  • Chapter 11 - Religion 229
  • Chapter 12 - Social Values 249
  • Section Ii. Political 261
  • Chapter 14 - Political Dynamics 279
  • Chapter 15 - Foreign Relations 297
  • Chapter 16 - Public Information 317
  • Chapter 17 - Political Values and Attitudes 339
  • Section Iii. Economic 353
  • Chapter 19 - Agriculture 363
  • Chapter 20 - Industry 393
  • Chapter 21 - Labor Relations and Organization 409
  • Chapter 22 - Domestic Trade 437
  • Chapter 23 - Foreign Economic Relations 455
  • Chapter 24 - Financial and Monetary System 479
  • Section Iv.National Security 497
  • Chapter 26 - The Armed Forces 515
  • Bibliographies 539
  • Glossary 561
  • Index 567
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