English heritage in the costume of San Andres Islands

The archipelago of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina has been enriched by the mixture of the cultural heritage of the communities that made these territories their home

In Colombia, it is widespread to talk about the Spanish influence during the colonial period, a characteristic widely known for its mixture with pre-Hispanic cultural elements that survived the arrival of European groups to the continent.

However, not much is said about the other influences incorporated over the centuries, such as the African and English heritages present in the archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina.

Historical framework

The first European colonizers were the Puritans, who supported by the English Government, settled in the archipelago in 1631 to establish an agricultural society with high religious interests, which would confront the Catholicism of the Spanish Crown.

Thanks to its location, in the following years the archipelago became a strategic place for traders and pirates; groups that joined the population growth of the island together with those coming from Africa, with the Antillean and continental settlers. This encounter meant many cultural heritages that coexisted for years in the same territory. These traditions are reflected in the costumes used in San Andres during the XIX and XX centuries.

Women Dress from San Andres and ProvidenciaMuseo de Trajes de la Universidad de América

Traditional female costume of San Andres Island(1850-1950)

Costume composed of a blouse and skirt made of printed cotton fabric. Its cut and finish are reminiscent of the English influence on the island, with the variation of using light fabrics that adapt to the climate and colors that recall the Antillean and African heritage.


The inhabitants of the Insular region of Colombia wear this type of costume during special dates and celebrations, or public or religious social events.


The strong cultural and religious influence of the Protestant Church present in the island since the middle of the XIX century has promoted a demure dress, in which high collars stand out.

Shirt details

Details such as the buttons carefully chosen for the piece are appreciated. The shirt sleeves are of the 3/4 type, with a breastplate adorned with pleated ribbons of the same fabric as the dress.


Skirts are used in long established dances introduced by the English. When mixed with African and Caribbean music and traditions, variations such as the schottische, the mento, the polka, and the jumping polka were created.

The costumes are added to other traditional elements such as gastronomy, dances, and the Creole language, which exemplifies the resilience of the cultural heritages resulting from miscegenation on the island. These traditions are synonymous with identity and pride.

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