7 junio, 2024

10 Customs of the Caribbean Region in Colombia

between the ccustoms of the Caribbean region in Colombia there is the dance of cumbia, the interpretation of vallenato, eating 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 is made up of eight departments: Atlántico, Bolívar, La Guajira, Cesar, Sucre, Córdoba, Magdalena, and the islands of San Andrés and Providencia.

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

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

10 Customs of the Caribbean region in Colombia

1- The turned hat

One of the most ingrained customs in the Caribbean region of Colombia is to wear a “vueltiao” hat. This element has been adopted by the country as a symbol of national identity and has its origin in the tribes settled around the Sinú River.

Made from a cane fiber known as “caña flecha”, this hat is called vueltiao because of the way it is made: turning concentrically when braiding the cane flecha.

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

2- Dance cumbia

Cumbia is the most representative rhythm of the Colombian Caribbean. It is born from the mixture of Spanish music with the sounds of the African natives of Colombia.

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

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

3- Vallenatos

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

The inhabitants of the Atlantic coast, mainly, have the habit of listening to and dancing to Vallenato during their “parrandas” or vallenato parties.

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

4- Myths and legends of the Caribbean

The Caribbean region is rich in traditions, myths and legends, including the myth of La Llorona and the legend of the Alligator Man.

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

Similarly, oral tradition is 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

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

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

During the Carnival of Barranquilla, the city of Barranquilla, in the department of Atlántico, changes 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 various celebrations throughout the year. For example, the National Beauty Pageant is held every year in Cartagena to crown Miss Colombia.

The sea festivals are also held in Santa Marta, where the most adventurous can enjoy water sports.

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

7- Typical food

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

The most characteristic dishes of this region are the sancocho or fish soup, the mote de queso con hogao (chopped cassava with tomato, onion and cheese) and the clean bun (cooked, ground and kneaded white corn in small buns). In general, Caribbean food is rich in seafood, plantains, corn, 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 festivals and celebrations.

A characteristic costume of that region is the «pollera colorá», which has a famous cumbia dedicated to it. It is a long, wide and colorful skirt, typically worn with an off-the-shoulder shirt.

This clothing is mainly used for public events and artistic activities. The men wear clothing to match the clothing of the women.

9- Play dominoes

The game of dominoes in the Colombian Caribbean has been a typical activity for men. The rules of the game are basic and the tiles must be connected with the same number of points at each end, the player who first puts all his tiles on the table winning.

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

In this way, domino tables can be found arranged in various areas of the region, on pedestrian corridors and parks, even in stores and barbershops.

10- Soccer

As in the rest of Colombia, in the Colombian Caribbean soccer 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 such as Carlos «El Pibe» Valderrama, Radamel Falcao and Carlos Bacca.


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

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