She was born in Barranquilla and moved to Bogotá at the age of thirteen. Shakira released her first album, Magia (Magic), one year later, on the Sony label. The album was merely moderately successful, and Peligro (Danger), her second album, was no better received.
Shakira turned to acting, and played a role in a Colombian telenovela, but returned to music business in 1995 with the album Pies Descalzos (Barefeet), which established her commercial success. The hit "Estoy Aquí" became known internationally. Shakira: The Remixes was created featuring remixes from the songs on Pies Descalzos.
Following this, Shakira met Emilio Estefan Jr., who would become the executive producer of her next album. ¿Dónde Están los Ladrones? (Where are the Thieves?) was a huge production which cost over $3 million US. It was a huge hit which gained wide critical acclaim and which many consider to be her best album ever.
It produced the singles "Inevitable" and the world-wide mega-hit, "Ojos Así". Its successful blend of rock and latin soundscapes made ¿Dónde Están los Ladrones? an immense success. Shakira also produced Shakira MTV Unplugged, a live album based on ¿Dónde Están los Ladrones?. Shakira became widely known throughout the entire spanish-speaking world.
Shakira now turned her sights towards the English-speaking market, improving her English enough to begin writing Laundry Service. With a more rock-edged feel, Laundry Service was aimed at the international English market although it contained some Spanish songs. Some people said that Shakira's English skills were too weak for her to write in English but Laundry Service was nevertheless a big hit, best known for the infectious single "Whenever, Wherever," (English version of "Suerte") and one of the top albums of 2002.
In 2002 Shakira also released the greatest hits volume Grandes Éxitos. She is said to have a new album coming out in late 2004. This is rumoured to be a Double CD featuring both Spanish and English songs. She writes all her own songs but co-writes and co-produces with Luis Fernando Ochoa and Lester Méndez.
Shakira: Live & Off The Record, a DVD and a 10-song CD from her 2002-03 World Tour (the "Tour of the Mongoose"), was released March 30th, 2004.
Shakira is considered by many to be a great talent. As Gabriel García Márquez once wrote of her, "Shakira's music has a personal stamp that doesn't look like anyone else's and no one can sing or dance like her, at whatever age, with such an innocent sensuality, one that seems to be of her own invention."
Since 2001, she has been engaged to Antonio de la Rúa.