It is a small, almost insignificant looking error but for anyone who has traveled to Colombia or fell in love with this great country, it is like nails on a chalkboard.
Colombia is a country, Columbia is not. Colombia is home to some of the world’s best coffee, Columbia is a university back in the US. Colombia is located on the very northern tip of South America, British Columbia is way up in Canada.
For years and years this South American country has been getting misspelled by everyone from Starbucks (proudly selling coffee from Columbia… huh, where?) to international media sources (good job on the research guys!). But thanks to a social media campaign, launched earlier this year at Social Media Week in New York, the confusion and misspellings of this proud country will hopefully stop.
More Than a Misspelled Name
You might be thinking, what’s the big deal? It is just a simple spelling error. Sure, that’s true but for the people behind the “It’s Colombia, Not Columbia” campaign, that misspelling represents so much more.
Colombia has had it’s up and downs, like most countries in the world. It was once home to world famous drug lords and powerful rebel groups kidnapping international visitors on a regular basis. Most recently Colombia was in the news for the Secret Service prostitution scandal during the Summit of the Americas.
But what else do you know about Colombia? What else is there to this country? If you live in the US or Europe, let me tell you, your view of this country is highly skewed by the media. Sure, the Hollywood film Colombiana highlighted the power of drugs and corruption but did you know Colombia actually exports 60% of the world’s emeralds as well? Or how about the fact that is grows and exports nearly every flower sold in the US. Your wedding centerpiece probably came from Colombia.
Oh, and the dangerous world of drug lords and rebels who will kidnap you in an instant… yeah, that doesn’t happen nearly as often as the media lets you think. Colombia is actually one of the safer countries in Latin America and incredible safe for the average tourist. The rebels are still around but are more interested in peace talks with the government than bothering visiting foreigners.
The country is not perfect, no, but it definitely doesn’t deserve the reputation it has in the world. The “It’s Colombia, Not Columbia” campaign is about asking people to take a second look at the country that is more than deserving of that small request.
Have you been to Colombia? What was your experience there? Did you feel safe or did it seem like a dangerous place?
Couple Travel Tips
- Don’t add to the negative statistics. Be sure you follow basic safety advice (i.e. not walking alone at night) and you should be fine.
- Please do not come to Colombia just to buy drugs. This is the #1 reason Colombia has a bad reputation and the #1 way to get yourself in a dangerous situation.
- If you have visited Colombia, tell people what you saw. The only way to combat the overwhelming number of negative news reports is to share positive stories of your travels in Colombia.