10 Customs of the Caribbean Region in Colombia

Among the customs of the Caribbean region in Colombia are the cumbia dance, the interpretation of vallenato, eat bananas and fried fish (Colombia, 2017).

The Colombian Caribbean region is located in the north of the country, where it borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Venezuela. It consists of eight departments: Atlántico, Bolívar, La Guajira, Cesar, Sucre, Córdoba, Magdalena, and the islands of San Andrés and Providencia.

Map of the Caribbean region of Colombia

People in this region tend to be spontaneous, cheerful and to love dancing and music. This means that many of their customs revolve around the celebration of festivities and carnivals such as the carnival of Barranquilla (UncoverColombia, 2017).

The customs of the Colombian Caribbean region are permeated by the Spanish tradition mixed with the roots of the African cultures brought to Colombia during the time of the conquest. Food, dancing, rhythms and celebrations are always evocative of this cultural mix.

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10 Customs of the Caribbean region in Colombia

1- The sombrero vueltiao

10 Customs of the Caribbean Region in Colombia

One of the most ingrained customs of the Caribbean region of Colombia is wearing a sombrero"vueltiao". This element has been adopted by the country as a symbol of national identity and has its origin in the tribes settled around the river Sinú.

Made from a fiber of the cane known as"arrow cane", this hat is called voltatiao by the way in which it is made: circling concentrically by twisting the arrow shaft.

The majority of men in the Colombian Caribbean have the habit of protecting themselves from the sun with a flexible and resistant voltiao hat (blockenglishfouruniagraria, 2013).

2- Dancing cumbia

Cumbia is the most representative rhythm of the Colombian Caribbean. It is born of the mixture of Spanish music with the sounds of the native Africans of Colombia.

The style of dance that is customary to dance in the Caribbean is characterized by the movement in short steps of women. These short steps derive from the freedom of movement slaves had in their feet by being chained around their ankles.

On the Atlantic coast of Colombia, cumbia forms part of its most ingrained customs. The production of their sounds involves percussion instruments, bagpipes, saxophones, keyboards and multiple instruments of winds. It is a traditional dance with strong roots (Levinson, 1996).

3- Vallenatos

While cumbia is a rhythm, vallenato is a typical genus of the Caribbean region of Colombia, born in the municipality of Valledupar.

The inhabitants of the Atlantic coast, mainly, have the habit of listening and dancing Vallenato during their"parrandas"or vallenatas parties.

The most important and recognized event of vallenata music is held every year in the municipality of Valledupar, known as the Festival of the Legend Vallenata . During this festival, each year, King Vallenato is chosen.

4- Myths and Legends of the Caribbean

The Caribbean region is rich in traditions, myths and legends, including the myth of the llorona and the legend of the Cayman Man .

Within the Region, it is customary to recreate these myths and legends during carnivals and festivities.

Similarly, oral tradition forms part of the most important customs of the Caribbean, so these myths and legends are shared and preserved between generations (Williams, 1999).

5- Carnival of Barranquilla

10 Customs of the Caribbean Region in Colombia 1

The carnival of Barranquilla is the Folk festival Most important in the Colombian Caribbean and the second largest carnival in the world, after the carnival of Rio de Janeiro.

The custom of celebrating this carnival was born in the Caribbean during the 19th century. The carnival, traditionally, is celebrated every year, forty days before Easter.

During the Carnival of Barranquilla, the city of Barranquilla, in the department of Atlántico, modifies its dynamics to fill the streets with parades, dances and music (Friedemann, 1985).

6- Other Celebrations

Apart from the Carnival of Barranquilla, in the Caribbean region of Colombia it is customary to carry out several celebrations throughout the year. For example, him National Beauty Contest Is celebrated every year in Cartagena to crown Miss Colombia.

There are also celebrations of the sea in Santa Marta, where the more adventurous can enjoy water sports.

In the municipality of Sincelejo, the customs are of bullfighting and every year the corralejas are celebrated, during which one has the tradition of fighting bulls.

7- Typical food

Food in the Caribbean region is usually accompanied by rice with coconut, patacones (fried green banana cakes), fried yucca, lemon and salt.

The most characteristic dishes of this region are the sancocho or soup of fish, the mote of cheese with hogao (cassava chopped with tomato, onion and cheese) and the clean bun (white corn cooked, ground and kneaded in small rolls). In general, Caribbean food is rich in seafood, bananas, maize and cassava (Dier, 2016).

8- Fresh and colorful clothing

The clothing that is usually worn in the Colombian Caribbean region is fresh and light. The inhabitants of this area have the habit of wearing colorful and loose garments, especially during parties and celebrations.

A characteristic costume of that region is the"pollera colorá", that has dedicated a famous cumbia. It is a long, wide and colorful skirt, typically worn to match a shirt that leaves the shoulders exposed.

This dress is mainly used for public events and artistic activities. The men wear matching clothes with women's attire.

9- Playing dominoes

10 Customs of the Caribbean Region in Colombia 2

The game of dominoes in the Colombian Caribbean has been a typical activity of men. The rules of the game are basic and you must connect the chips with equal number of points at each end, winning that player who first put on the table all your chips.

In the Caribbean, it is customary to play dominoes with one or several partners on a simple table, betting small amounts of money.

In this way, you can find domino tables arranged in several areas of the region, pedestrian corridors and parks, including shops and barber shops.

10- Soccer

10 Customs of the Caribbean Region in Colombia 3

As in the rest of Colombia, in the Colombian Caribbean, football is the most important sport. Children in the Caribbean have a habit of playing it in the streets and in dusty vacant lots.

The Colombian Caribbean is home to some of the most important soccer players in the country as are Carlos"El Pibe"Valderrama, Radamel Falcao and Carlos Bacca.


  1. (2013). Culture of Colombia. Obtained from Caribbean Region, Colombia: blockenglishfouruniagraria.blogspot.com.
  2. Colombia, T. (2017). Discover Colombia. Retrieved from THE CARIBBEAN IS HAPPINESS ITSELF: colombia.travel.
  3. Dier, A. (2016). Moon Cartagena & Colombia's Caribbean Coast. Berkeley: Avalon Publishing.
  4. Friedemann, N. S. (1985). In N. S. Friedemann, Carnival in Barranquilla (pp. 117-119). Texas: Editorial La Rosa.
  5. Levinson, D. (1996). Encyclopedia of World Cultures: South America. Michigan: G.K. Hall.
  6. (2017). Uncover Colombia. Retrieved from The Caribbean Region: uncovercolombia.com.
  7. Williams, R.L. (1999). The Performing Arts. In R. L. Williams, Culture and Customs of Colombia (page 77). Michigan: Greenwood Press.

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