As we mentioned in the General Information section, the current inhabitants of the region are mainly mestizo, descendants of the original inhabitants and of Spanish immigrants. The Pacific Coast, on the other hand, is predominantly Afro-Colombian.
The indigenous communities that populated the mountains of Nariño were descendants of the Incas who spoke Quechua on the high plateaus. Spanish migration, the mestisaje, and the African population brought over to work in mines—today afro-descendants who live on the banks of the Pacific basin, with territorial rights (community councils)—have given rise to a great cultural diversity in the region, evident in its material expressions such as gastronomy, architecture, and land cultivation methods, as well as immaterial ones such as traditions, and festivals.
In modern-day Nariño, this legacy is materialized in the work of cabinet-makers and wood-carvers that make their handicrafts in wood, string and wool and using pre-Hispanic techniques, such as Barniz de Pasto. Also worth highlighting are the local music, other types of handicrafts, gastronomical delights, and theatre being produced by new local artists looking to spread their culture in Colombia and abroad. Artists and musicians include Issac Santacruz, and Doña Maruja Hinestroza de Rosero who composed the pasillo “El Cafetero”).
The locals, in areas where Café de Nariño is produced, support the theory that coffee has to be produced at different altitudes and that they must maintain their marked spirit for community work. Families frequently share the work on their neighbors’ farms in order to optimize their use of the available work force and maintain their plantations.
In the following sections please find the principal cultural facets of Nariño: