|approx. 9,470,000 to 17,519,500 |
(20% to 37% of the population)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Throughout the nation, especially in the Andean Region and the major cities.|
|Predominantly Colombian Spanish|
(German · English · French · Italian and some other languages are spoken by minorities)
|Predominantly Christianity (Roman Catholic, Protestant, other Christians), Irreligion, Islam, and Judaism|
White Colombians are the Colombian descendants of European and Middle Eastern people. According to the 2005 Census 85% of Colombians do not identify with any ethnic group, thus being either White or Mestizo, which are not categorized separately. It is nevertheless estimated that between 20% and 37% of the Colombian population can be categorized as white, forming the second largest racial group after Mestizo Colombians (49% to 58%).
The various racial groups exist in differing concentrations throughout the nation, in a pattern that to some extent goes back to colonial origins. Whites tend to live mainly in urban centers, like Bogotá, Medellín or Cali, and the burgeoning highland cities. The Paisa Region and Bogotá, the country's capital and largest city metropolitan region have a large percentage of White Colombians.
The presence of Whites in Colombia began in 1510 with the colonization of San Sebastián de Urabá. In 1525, settlers founded Santa Marta, the oldest Spanish city still in existence in Colombia. Many Spaniards came searching for gold, while others established themselves as leaders of the social organizations teaching the Christian faith and the ways of their civilization. Christian priests would provide education to American Indians. Within 100 years after the first Spanish settlement, nearly 95 percent of all Native Americans in Colombia had died. The majority of the deaths were due to diseases from Europe, such as measles and smallpox. Some Amerindians were also killed in armed conflicts with their new neighbours.
Basque priests introduced handball into Colombia. Besides business, Basque immigrants in Colombia were devoted to teaching and public administration. In the first years of the Andean multinational company, Basque sailors navigated as captains and pilots on the majority of the ships until the country was able to train its own crews.. In Bogota, there is a small colony of thirty to forty families who emigrated as a consequence of the Spanish Civil War.
The first German immigrants arrived in the 16th century contracted by the Spanish Crown, and included explorers such as Ambrosio Alfinger. There was another small wave of German immigrants at the end of the 19th and beginning of 20th century including Leo Siegfried Kopp, the founder of the famous Bavaria Brewery. SCADTA, a Colombian-German air transport corporation which was established by German expatriates in 1919, was the first commercial airline in the western hemisphere.
In December 1941 the United States government estimated that there were at least 4,000 Germans living in Colombia. There were some Nazi agitators in Colombia, such as Barranquilla businessman Emil Prufurt, but the majority was apolitical. Colombia asked Germans who were on the U.S. blacklist to leave and allowed Jewish and German refugees in the country illegally to stay.
Genetic research determined that the average Colombian has an admixture of 65% European, 26% Amerindian and 9% African ancestry.
Colombia was one of early focus of Sephardi immigration. Jewish converts to Christianity and some crypto-Jews also sailed with the early explorers. It has been suggested that the present day culture of business entrepreneurship in the region of Antioquia and Valle del Cauca is attributable to Sephardi immigration.
The largest wave of Middle Eastern immigration began around 1880, and remained during the first two decades of the 20th century. They were mainly Maronite Christians from Lebanon, Syria and Ottoman Palestine, fleeing financial hardships and the repression of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. When they were first processed in the ports of Colombia, they were classified as Turks.
During the early part of the 20th century, numerous Jewish immigrants came from Greece, Turkey, North Africa and Syria. Shortly after, Jewish immigrants began to arrive from Germany and Eastern Europe. Armenians, Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians and some Israelis continue since then to settle in Colombia.
More than 700,000 Colombians have partial Middle Eastern descent. Due to poor existing information it's impossible to know the exact number of people that immigrated to Colombia. A figure of 50,000-100,000 from 1880 to 1930 may be reliable. Whatever the figure, Lebanese are perhaps the biggest immigrant group next to the Spanish since independence.Cartagena, Cali, and Bogota were among the cities with the largest number of Arabic-speaking representatives in Colombia in 1945.
White Colombians are mainly of Spanish descent, who arrived in the beginning of the 16th century when Colombia was part of the Spanish Empire. During the 19th and 20th centuries, other European and Middle Eastern peoples migrated to Colombia, notably Lebanese people but also Germans, Italians, Lithuanians, French, and British among others.
The most predominant religion is Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism. Under 1% practice Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Despite strong numbers of Christian adherents, 35.9% of Colombians reported that they did not practice their faith actively.