In Barranquilla, the indigenous and African cultures have lived side by side for centuries – and music is where a melding of cultures is most strongly felt. An outdoor sound system culture has steadily developed in Barranquilla since the 1950s, championing the Afro-Colombian sound. More than 200 sound systems (or picos) exist in the city. They are found everywhere: in billiard halls, bars, restaurants and out in the streets – but especially at carnival time, as Barranquilla is second only to Rio in the size of its carnival. Owners decorate their sonic beasts with hand-painted artwork.


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