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Spanish is the national language of Colombia. All post-Columbian historical records are in Spanish. Colombia takes great care to preserve the linguistic "purity" of Castilian Spanish, especially in the interior Andean regions. The Colombian Academy of Language was founded in 1871 by a commission from the Spanish Royal Academy of Language; it was the first such body established in Latin America.
Along the coastal regions, especially the Caribbean coast (the costeño region), Spanish has been more influenced by African languages and Spanish is spoken much, much faster.
There are over 60 indigenous languages spoken which are constitutionally recognized as official languages in their territories.
Most of these can be grouped into 5 language families with a sixth grouping of unique or distinct laguages.
- Familia Lingüística Sáliba- Piaroa: Speakers located in the departamento of Casanare and in Venezuela.
- Familia Lingüística Chocó: Speakers located in the departamentos of Chocó, Cauca, Nariño, Córdoba, Antioquia, Risaralda and in the north of the Valle del Cauca. This language family extends from Ecuador to Panama along the Pacific Coast.
- Familia Lingüística Chibcha: Speakers located in the departamentos of Cesar, Magdalena, Guajira, Chocó, Antioquia, Norte de Santander, Santander, Boyacá, Casanare and Arauca.
- Familia Lingüística Barbacoa: Speakers located in the departamentos of Cauca and Nariño.
- Familia Lingüística Guahibo: Speakers located in the departamentos of Meta, Vichada, Arauca, and Casanare and in Venezuela.
- Lenguas Aisladas : Spoken in a variety of places, often in areas bordering neighboring countries.
For word list and help researching in Colombian records, see:
21 aboriginal languages have gone extinct in Colombia. An map showing where the languages are spoken can be seen at www.muturzikin.com/cartesamerique/5.htm. (This site is in Basque.)