What Languages do People Speak in Colombia?

Colombia is one of Latin America's largest countries with a linguistically and ethnically diverse population. Spanish is the most commonly spoken language in Colombia but there are many other languages spoken in the country including dozens of Amerindian languages.

How Many Languages Are Spoken in Colombia? 

There are more than 100 languages spoken in Colombia although Spanish is the most common, spoken by more than 99% of Colombians. There are 65 Amerindian languages are also spoken by indigenous peoples of Colombia, 2 Creole languages, and the Romani language spoken in the country.

Official Languages of Colombia

Colombia's official language is Spanish which is spoken by the vast majority of the country's 45 million people. Colombian Spanish is unique, however, varying from traditional Spanish in other Spanish-speaking countries with very clear pronunciation. Various regions of Colombia also have their own dialect of Spanish.

While Spanish is the official language of Colombia, some regions of the country have their own official languages. English is an official language in the San Andres y Providencia, two island groups off mainland Colombia.

Other Languages of Colombia

There are 65 minor Amerindian languages spoken in Colombia by indigenous groups. These languages are grouped into 12 different language families. Major indigenous language families include:
Chibchan, a great language family originating in Central America Arawakan including the languages Wayuunaiki, Achagua, Kurripako, Cabiyari, and Piapoco. Cariban including the languages Yukpa and Carijona. Tupian Quechuan Seven regional language families: Chocó, Guahibo, Saliba, Macu, Witoto, Bora, and Tucano

Two Creole languages are also spoken in Colombia. San Andrés Creole is spoken in the Catalina, Providencia, and San Andrés regions. While related to English-based Creole languages of the Caribbean islands, San Andrés Creole has a strong Spanish influence. This language is spoken on the islands of Saint Andrew, Providencia, and Santa Catalina which have historic ties to the United Kingdom. Before the 1970s, the English language played a large role in the culture of the Creole-speaking people of the islands. This culture, known as the Raizal culture, belonged to the Afro-Caribbean ethnic group of the area.

Palenquero is another Creole language of Colombia and comes from the escaped slaves who were brought to the region during Spanish colonization. The slaves created walled communities known as palenques that developed their own languages. While most palenques eventually fell and their languages became extinct, the Palenquero language of San Basilio de Palenque remained after repelling attacks for a century and being declared a Free City in the 18th century. This language is still spoken in the city of San Basilio and nearby neighborhoods.

Just 3,000 people in Colombia speak the Palenquero language. Most Spanish speakers can't understand the language.

There are about 5,000 people in Colombia who speak Vlax Romani, the largest dialect of the Romani language. Most Romani speakers in Colombia are foreign-born.