Cumbia, genre of traditional dance and music, now national heritage of Colombia


Cumbia, a genre of dance and music resulting from the interbreeding of indigenous, African and European peoples, is now an intangible cultural heritage of Colombia.

Artists from Cumbia during the festival in El Banco, Colombia | © Ministry of Culture of Colombia

On October 16, the Minister of Culture of Colombia, Patricia Ariza, declared the traditional Caribbean dance cumbia national heritage of the country.

The cumbia, resulting from a mixture of indigenous, African and European cultures, is now included in the intangible cultural heritage of Colombia.

Cumbia is the heritage of all Colombians, it deserves a place in the history of Colombia and an important consideration in the culture. Cumbia is a real heritage of El Banco, of Colombia, of Latin America and hopefully one day it will become a heritage of humanity”, said Culture Minister Patricia Ariza.

Cumbia is the result of the encounter and interbreeding between indigenous, African and European peoples. Its history has consolidated the identity of the Colombian Caribbean people and the nation in general”, details the press release from the ministry.

Cumbia is more than a folk dance. It is also a musical genre, whose popularity has spread to Latin American countries with more modern and commercial adaptations, and a set of customs that can be found in clothing, rituals, traditional manufacturing handmade instruments and festivals.

The announcement was made during a major Cumbia festival bringing together more than 1,200 artists, the José Barros Palomino National Cumbia Festival, in El Banco, a town in the department of Magdalena in the north of the country.

The exact origins of cumbia are not completely clear but it is said to have originated in northern Colombia, on the border of the departments of Magdalena and Bolivar, in the hundreds of years when Colombia was a Spanish colony until at its independence in 1819. There are some arguments that cumbia could have originated from elsewhere in Colombia or even from Africa.

El Banco is nicknamed the “imperial city” of cumbia. The cumbia festival is named after José Barros Palomino, one of the most prominent Colombian cumbia musicians and composers born in the city.

Now in the field of national heritage, the country will work to preserve and safeguard the heritage of Cumbia through cultural activities, documentation and research, promotion and communication, training, education and the transmission of knowledge.

Learn more about Colombia


La Cumbia tradicional del Caribe colombiano fue declarada patrimonio nacional, Ministry of Culture of Colombia, October 2022, Unsecured access


Comments are closed.