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the principal inhabitants of Colombia, numbering more than 21 million (1971, estimate). They speak Spanish. Historically, Colombians evolved from three basic ethnic groups, Indians, Spanish, and the Negroes brought from Africa as slaves in the late 17th century. Later arrivals included immigrants from Italy, Germany, and other Western European countries. Most Colombians are mestizos, and the remainder are criollos (descendants of Spanish settlers), mulattoes, and Negroes. The indigenous Indian population numbers from 300,000 to 400,000 persons. Believers are predominantly Catholic. The chief occupation is farming; coffee, bananas, sugarcane and cotton are raised for export, and livestock breeding is also important. The industrial proletariat is small, consisting chiefly of workers in the petroleum industry, gold and platinum mining, and the food industry.