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Medellín ( ), officially the Municipio de Medellín (Spanish) or Municipality of Medellín, is the second largest city in Colombiamarker. It is in the Aburrá Valley, one of the more northerly of the Andes in South America. It has a population of 2.4 million. With its surrounding area, the metropolitan area of Medellínmarker (Area Metropolitana de Medellín) it is the second largest city in Colombia in terms of population, with more than 3.2 million people, and ranks in population as the 95th of the world's largest urban agglomerations.

Medellín was founded in 1615 by the Spaniardmarker Francisco Herrera Y Campuzano as Poblado de San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence Town) in what is known currently as El Pobladomarker. In 1675 the queen consort Mariana of Austria created the Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria ("Town of Our Lady at Candelaria").

In 1826 the city was named the capital of the Department of Antioquia by the Spanish colonial administration. In 1803 the University of Antioquiamarker, one of the most prestigious in Colombia, was founded. After Colombia won its independence from Spainmarker, Medellín became the capital of the Federal State of Antioquia until 1888, with the proclamation of the Colombian Constitution of 1886. During the 19th century Medellín was a dynamic commercial center, first exporting gold, then producing and exporting coffee. After the Thousand Days War (1899 — 1902), Medellín was the first Colombian city to take part in the Industrial Revolution with the opening of textile companies, and transport projects like railways that allowed its export business to develop, and the founding of several universities and vocational training institutions, which created a petite bourgeoisie.

In the last quarter of the 20th century, Medellín became the headquarters of the infamous Pablo Escobar, the leader of a vast criminal organization, who became the seventh richest man in the world of the drugs trade, according to a 1989 Forbes Magazine's report. Because he and his associates based their business in Medellín, his organization was named the "Medellín Cartel" by the American media. During the 1980s and 1990s, Escobar led a terrorist war against the Colombian government, partly to dissuade the authorities from trying to extradite him to the United States. He was killed by police forces on December 2, 1993.

At the beginning of the 21st century the city regained its former industrial dynamism, with the construction of the Metro de Medellín railway, and liberalised development policies, improved security, improved education, and promoted the city internationally as a tourist destination.

The Medellín Metropolitan Area is responsible for 67% of the Department of Antioquia's GDP and for 11% of the economy of Colombia. Medellín is important to the region for its universities, academies, commerce, industry, science, health services, flower-growing, festivals and nightlife.

Etymology of the name Medellín

The original Spanish settlement had five names before its current one: Aburrá de los Yamesíes, San Lorenzo de Aburrá, San Lorenzo de Aná, Valle de San Bartolomé, and Villa de la Candelaria de Medellín.

The city is named after Medellín, Spainmarker, which is near Badajozmarker in Extremaduramarker. The Spanish Medellín was founded in 75 BC by Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius.. Some of the Conquistadors, such as Gaspar de Rodas, the first governor of Antioquia, came from the region of Badajozmarker.

Count Pedro Portocarrero y Luna, President of the Council for the West Indies (Consejo de Indias), asked the Spanish monarchy to give the name of his town, Medellín in Extremadura, to the new settlement in America. His request was accepted on November 22, 1674, when the Regent Mariana of Austria proclaimed the city's name to be Villa de Nuestra Señora de Medellín. The official proclamation was given by Miguel Aguinaga y Mendiogoitia, Governor, on November 2, 1675. Mariana granted a coat of arms to the city on 24 June 1676.



There is archaeological evidence of human settlement in the Aburrá Valley from 10,500 years ago, found by hunters and collectors. The Spaniard conquerors of the valley found groups like the Aburrá, Yamesí, Pequé, Ebejico, Norisco, and Maní tribes who lived in the valley since about the fifth century. The Aburrá people gave their name to the valley. They were farmers who raised maize, beans and cotton, wove and decorated textiles, sold salt, and were goldsmiths. Under Spanish rule, they lost their land and were subject to a feudal system of government. Many were sent to the mines. Sickness brought by the Europeans, as well as the hard work and mistreatment, caused their extinction, at least from the valley. People related to the Aburrá Valley tribes can still be found in other regions of Antioquia State, like Urabá and the western and southern regions.

Spanish discovery of the valley

Marshal Jorge Robledo.

In August 1541, Marshal Jorge Robledo was in the place known today as Heliconiamarker when he saw in the distance what he thought was a valley. He sent Jerónimo Luis Tejelo to explore the territory, and during the night of August 23 Tejelo reached the plain of what is now Medellín. The Spaniards gave it the name of Valley of Saint Bartholomew, but this was soon changed for the native name Aburrá, which means the "Painters," due to the textile decorations of the natives. However, the conquerors were not attracted much by the valley at the time, because of the lack of wealth and the hostile attitude of the local inhabitants.

In 1574 Gaspar de Rodas asked the Antioquia's Cabildo for four square miles of land to establish herds and a ranch in the valley. The Cabildo granted him three miles of land.

In 1616 the colonial visitor Francisco de Herrera y Campuzano founded a settlement with 80 Amerindians, naming it "Poblado de San Lorenzo," today "El Poblado Squaremarker". In 1646 a colonial law ordered the separation of Amerindians from mestizos and mulattos, so the colonial administration began the construction of a new town in Aná, today Berrio Square, where the church of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Aná ("Our Lady of Candelaria of Aná") was built. Three years later, the Spaniards started the construction of the Church of Our Lady of Candelaria, which was rebuilt at the end of the 18th century.

Growth of the town

Church of Our Lady of Candelaria in Berrio Square.

After 1574, with Gaspar de Rodas settled in the valley, population started to grow. According to the church records of the San Lorenzo Church, six couples married between 1646 and 1650, and 41 between 1671 and 1675. Gold mines were developed northeast of Antioquia, and they needed a food suppply from nearby argriculture. The Aburrá Valley was in a strategic position between the gold mines and the first provincial capital of Antioquia, Santa Fe de Antioquiamarker.

The provincial capital, Santa Fe, started to lose importance and gradually became poor, as trade and prominent personalities of the region came to the Aburrá Valley, where rich families started to buy land. Soon, the first settlers asked for the creation of a Cabildo in the valley, thus getting a separate government from Santa Fe. The Santa Fe government fought this, but Mariana of Austria signed the edict creating the Cabildo on 22 November 1674. The governor Miguel de Aguinaga proclaimed the royal edict on 2 November1675. The new city was given the title of Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria. {

During the Spanish colonial period

Map of Medellín as it was in 1791.

Before the creation of the town, the inhabitants were scattered throughout the valley, with only a few families concentrated at the confluence of the Aná (today the Santa Elena) and the Medellín River; others were living in El Poblado San Lorenzo. After the royal edict, the settlers chose the Aná site as the heart of the future city, with the Candelaria Church at its centre.

The first buildings were simple, with thatched roofs. The houses of the most important people were two storeys tall, and the church and the Cabildo were unimpressive. It was only during the 18th century that the church was improved. The Cabildo was only one storey, and was located at the western part of the plaza. It had a thatched roof until 1742, when tiles were put on. In 1682, traders and foreigners started the construction of the Veracruz Hermitage, which was consecrated as a church by the Bishop of Popayánmarker in 1712.

In 1675 the first census during colonial times was taken: there were 3,000 people and 280 families. Another census was not taken until the colonial Visitador (royal inspector) Antonio Mon y Velarde ordered one some time between 1786 and 1787: there were then 14,507 people and 241 families. In 1808, two years before Colombia won independence, there were 15,347 people and 360 families.

In 1803 the Royal College of the Franciscans was founded in the Central Plaza (today Berrío Square) with Departments of Grammar, Philosophy]] and Theology. Soon after, the College moved to a new building in the small San Ignacio square. In 1821 it was renamed Colegio de Antioquia, and it became the University of Antioquiamarker in 1901. The University was also the home of the first vocational training school, the first cultural radio station in Latin America, and the first regional botanical garden. Today it is known for developments in medicine, including organ transplants.

Industrial revolution

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During the nineteenth century, the city grew to national importance because of its production of gold and coffee and the construction of the regional railway (Ferrocarril de Antioquia), now disused.

In the first half of the twentieth century the population of Medellín increased sixfold, from 59,815 inhabitants in 1905 to 358,189 in 1951. The Thousand Days War (1899-1902) stopped the industrial development of the city, although the civil war did not affect the region directly. Reforms by President Rafael Reyes after the conflict, the city continued its industrial development with the foundation of a Chamber of commerce at Medellín. The Chamber was responsible for the development of a regional transport project that connected Medellín to other Colombian regions and the outside world.

Despite the importance of gold production in the early development of Medellín, it was coffee that made the city grow in the 20th century. Trade grew to international dimensions as the main export of Colombia became coffee. The industrial and commercial dynamism of Medellín also created also a caste of traders and entrepreneurs who founded the first nationwide industries in Colombia. During the 1930s, the textile industry was developed by families whose fortunes came from colonial-era gold mines. Glass, beverage, and food industries also were founded during the 1930s, and contributed to making Medellín the top industrial region of Colombia. Many of these businesses are still in existence, either with their original names or new names.

Trade in Medellín

Coltejer is one of the most important textile companies in Colombia. It was founded in Medellín by Alejandro Echavarría on 22 October 1907.

The discovery of coal in Amagámarker, a few miles south of the Aburrá Valley, and the building of hydroelectric plants provided the new industries with energy, and this allowed the creation of many smaller companies. The Antioquia Railway (built in 1875) conquered the difficult geography of one of the most mountainous regions of South America, notably with the La Quiebra Tunnel, which connected the industrial center to the Magdalena Rivermarker, the most major navigable river in Colombia. In 1932 Medellín also built its first airport, the Enrique Olaya Herrera Airportmarker.

The study by Charles H. Savage on industrial production in the Antioquia between 1960 and 1972 shows how important the Medellín industries became to Colombia and South America. He studied the consequences of social change produced by the introduction of new technology. Savage looked at three factories in Antioquia: two potteries in Santuario and La Blanca, and a tailoring factory in Medellín. Savage admired not only the production of the Antioquian factories, but also the relationship between the workers and their employers, an industrial efficiency that he called the "Culture of Work". His conclusions were published by his colleague George F. Lombardi as Sons of the Machine.

Savage died in 1973.

Art and literature during the first part of the 20th century

Faculty of Mines of the National University of Colombia, Medellín branch.

The University of Antioquiamarker, the National University of Colombiamarker with its Medellín branch, and the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana have historically been the academic centers of the city and are responsible for the formation of an intellectual class in the region, with nationwide and international scope.

Arts and literature have been an important social element in Medellín. During the first part of the 20th century the city was part of the literary transition from romanticism to the modern art and literary movements of the new century. The writer Tomás Carrasquilla (1858 - 1940) focused on the people of his native Antioquia, accurately portraying their daily lives and customs. The writer and philosopher Fernando González from Envigadomarker (in the metropolitan area of Medellín), the cartoonist Ricardo Rendón and the poet León de Greiff were some of the founders of Los Panidas, a Medellín literary movement. Other featured poets and writers were Porfirio Barbajacob and Efe Gómez. In painting, the most famous were Eladio Vélez and Pedro Nel Gómez. Carlos Vieco Ortiz was a popular musician. Medellín became the headquarters of record labels like Sonolux, Ondina and Silver.

Medellín clubs, many of them dating to the end of the 19th century, also became a center for intellectual and industrialist movements, like the Club Union (founded in 1894) and Club Campestre (founded in 1924). In 1909 the Circo España was created and Teatro Bolívar, in 1919. The beautiful Teatro Junín was demolished to build the Coltejer Tower. Cine Colombia, the first movie distributor of the country, was founded in Medellín in 1927.

Medellín Master Plan

During the 1950s, industrialists, traders and local government created the "Medellín Master Plan" (MMP) (Plan Piloto), a plan for the expansion of the city into the Aburrá Valley that would lead to the creation of the first metropolitan area in Colombia. Paul Wiener and José Luis Sert were the architects who led the project. Among the main features of the MMP were the canalization of the Medellín River, the control of new settlements on valley slopes, the creation of an industrial zone in the Guayabal District, the planning of the city to be in harmony with the river, the construction of a city stadium, and an administrative center in La Alpujarra.

However, Colombia had entered a new era of political instability with the murder of presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitán in Bogotá in 1949. Political violence spread in the rural areas of Colombia, and farmers fled to the cities. The population of Medellín grew quickly in the next few years. The Valley slopes became overpopulated with slums. In 1951 the city had 358,189 inhabitants, but 22 years later, in 1973, the population had trebled to 1,071,252.

This population explosion had several consequences for the MMP. The urban limits of the city grew to areas that were not contemplated in the MMP, so that Medellín now reached the urban areas of other cities of the Aburrá Valley, like Envigadomarker, Bello and Itagüímarker; the new Medellín settlers were poor families without enough credit to buy their own homes, so several neighborhoods were built beyond the MMP; several old downtown buildings were demolished to construct tall towers, offices and avenues. The beautiful and traditional Junin Theatre along the Santa Elena was demolished to build the Coltejer Tower. The huge migration into Medellín provided workers for the expansion of textile factories, being modernized at this period, but it also created new problems for the city: higher unemployment, lack of services for poor areas, urban violence in several districts, and collapse of any transport system. It was the perfect setting for the development of the mafia that plagued the city in the following decades, while the MMP had to wait for better times.

Cultural life in the last decades

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The 1950s saw in a new generation of writers and artists in Medellín, with a more modern style. Many writers criticised local and national culture. Manuel Mejía Vallejo established a new narrative style without abandoning his regional origins. It was also the time of Nadaism, a literary movement founded by Gonzalo Arango and many others. Nadaism was openly anti-clerical, criticising traditional institutions of society, and was considered philosophically nihilist. The painter Debora Arango entered the social and political arena of Colombia with her works. Another painter who made Medellín famous in art was Fernando Botero, who found the inspiration for his work in the daily life and drama of the city. He donated most of his works to the Museum of Antioquia, and the grateful city dedicated Botero Square to him. In the 1970s the artist Rodrigo Arenas Betancur erected his monumental sculptures not only in Medellín but also in many other regions of Colombia. His famous work, the Monument to the Race in La Alpujarra Administrative Center, was homage to the Paisa culture.

Many cultural centers enrich the city, such as the Pablo Tobón Uribe Theatre (1967), the Modern Art Museum (1978), and the Metropolitan Theatre (1987). In 2000 the traditional Museum of Antioquia had a second official opening with many works of Fernando Botero. New universities also opened in the city: Medellín University (1950) and Eafit University (1960).


The American Geographical Society is currently working on a project to assemble a complete virtual bibliography of Comuna 13, one of the many barrios of Medellín.


The position of Medellín as the top industrial city in Colombia has been a main factor in overcoming its crisis of the 1980s and 1990s. The Metro de Medellín, a massive urban transport service, became the pride of the city, and so far the only sign of the Medellín Master Plan of the 1950s. The construction of the Plaza Mayor of Medellín, an international center for congresses and expositions, was designed to show the globalized economy of Colombia to the world. Medellín is today a modern city with a population of three million.

The former violence also served the purpose of demolishing the high social barriers that were the basis of many social evils. The same Metro joined the whole city, from poor to rich districts, and a new system of public buses is being planned with the so-called "Metroplus." Today's Medellín includes spaces for art, poetry, drama, the construction of public libraries, the foundation of new ecological parks, and the inclusion of people of the city in its development.

Geography and climate

View of Medellín at night

Medellín has an area of 382 km² (237 square miles). It has 16 comunas (districts), 5 corregimientos (townships), and 271 barrios.The metropolitan area of Medellín lies within the Aburrá valley at an elevation of 1,500 meters (about 4921 feet) and is bisected by the Medellín River (also called Porce), which flows northward. North of the valley are the towns of Bellomarker, Copacabanamarker, Girardotamarker and Barbosamarker. To the south of the valley lie Itagüímarker, Envigadomarker, Sabanetamarker, La Estrella and Caldas.

Medellin features a tropical monsoon climate, albeit a noticeably cooler version of this climate. Because Medellín is located at above sea level, its climate is not as hot as other cities located at the same latitude near the equator. Because of its altitude above sea level and privileged location in the Andes Range, Medellín's weather at times is more characteristic of a Humid subtropical climate than that of a Tropical climate. The city's average annual temperature is 22 °C (72 °F), and because of its proximity to the equator, its temperature is constant year round, with minimal temperature variations. Temperatures range from 15 °C (52 °F) to 30 °C (86 °F). Because of the pleasant springlike climate all year, Medellín is known as 'La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera' or 'City of the Eternal Spring'. However, as the city is located in a valley and many of its districts are on slopes, temperatures can be slightly cooler on the surrounding mountains.

Administrative divisions

Comunas of Medellín.
Corregimientos (townships, rural areas) of Medellín.

Medellín is a city governed by a republican democratic system as stated in the Colombian Constitution of 1991, with decentralized government. Administration is shared by the Mayor of Medellín and the Municipal Council, both elected by popular vote.

The municipality is made up of official departments (secretarías) including department for social mobility, urban culture, social development, education, evaluation and control, government, resources, public works, administrative services, environment, women, transport, a general department, and a private department. There are also many departments with a certain autonomy: the Olaya Herrera Airportmarker, the Public Library (Biblioteca Pública Piloto), the College of Antioquia (Colegio Mayor), the Urban Development Enterprise (EDU), the Public Service Enterprise (EEPPM), the Sport and Recreation Institute (INDER), the General Enterprises of Medellín (EEVVM), the Medellín Bus stations, the General Hospital of Medellín, the health service enterprise "Metrosalud", the Metropolitan Institute of Technology (ITM), the Metro de Medellín, the Department for the Administration of the Medellín parks (Metroparques) and Metroseguridad.

The city belongs to the Medellín Metropolitan Area, which is made up of ten municipalities. Medellín is divided into six zones and these are subdivided into 16 comunas (communes). The barrios and urban institutional areas make up the communes. More than 249 barrios and five townships are part of the municipality of Medellín.


  • South-eastern Zone: El Pobladomarker communes.
  • South-western Zone: Guayabal and Belén communes.
  • West Central Zone: Laureles, La América and San Javier communes.
  • East Central Zone: La Candelaria, Villa Hermosa and Buenos Aires communes.
  • North-western Zone: Castilla, Doce de Octubre and Robledo communes.
  • North-eastern Zone: Aranjuez, Manrique, Popular and Santa Cruz communes.
  • Corregimientos (townships): San Sebastián de Palmitas, San Cristóbal, Altavista, San Antonio de Prado and Santa Elena.

Law and government

Politics and law in Colombia are centralized; that is, most laws are agreed on and passed in the capital city of Bogotámarker. However, as a major city, Medellín also pulls its weight. The government of the City of Medellín is divided into executive and legislative branches. The Mayor of the City (Alcalde) is publicly elected for a term of four years (just like the President and the Governor of any other Department in Colombia).


Medellín was once known as the most violent city in the world. This terrible title was the result of an urban war set off by the drug cartels at the end of the 1980’s. As the home of the Medellín Cartel, headed by the drug lord Pablo Escobar, the city was the victim of the terror caused by the war between this organization and its enemies. However, after the death of Escobar, the crime rates in the city began to decrease. Throughout the 1990’s the crime rates remained relatively high, although gradually declining from the worst years. In October 2002 the Colombian president, Álvaro Uribe, ordered the military to complete “Operation Orion,” whose objective was to disband the urban militias of the FARC and the AUCBBC. "Fuego cruzado en Medellín." 17 October 2002. 3 May 2009 />.. Between 2003 and 2006 the demobilization of the remaining urban militias of the AUC was completed, with more than 3,000 armed men giving up their weaponsValencia, German Dario. "Balance del progrma de desmovilizacion." Marzo 2008. 3 May 2009 />. Nonetheless after the disbanding of the main paramilitary groups, many members of such organizations have been know to have reorganized unto criminal bands known commonly as Aguilas Negras. These groups have gained notoriety in Medellin for calling upon curfews for the underage populations, and have been known to distribute fliers announcing the social cleansing of prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics and so onCaracol Radio. "Las "Águilas Negras" anuncian limpieza social en un sector de Medellín" Enero 31 de 2008. /]>. Due to the recent extradition of supposedly demobilised paramilitary heads, whose beating of the guerrillas and subsequent control of the city's gangs coincided with the area's precipitous murder drop 2003 onward, the rate of killings has increased sharply. There were 33% more murders in 2008 than 2007.


Headquarters of Argos Company, the first cement industrial group of Colombia.

The present-day economy of Medellín is one of the largest in Colombia and is led by a powerful group of people from the private sector known as the Grupo Empresarial Antioqueño (Antioquian Enterprises Group). It was formerly known as the Sindicato Antioqueño (Antioquian Union), but after being mistaken abroad for a labor union, which hampered its international growth for many years, a new formal name was chosen. It is represented by David Bojanini, head of Suramericana de Seguros (an insurance conglomerate); Carlos Piedrahita of the Compañía Nacional de Chocolates (food industry); José Alberto Velez of Cementos Argos (a multinational cement company); and Jorge Londoño, head of Bancolombia, NYSE (cib), (Colombia's largest bank). This group has an aggregate market capitalization of approximately US $17 billion dollars, and employs more than 80,000 Colombians.

This group also participates in other sectors of the city industry and is an active trader in the Colombian stock exchange. Medellín serves as headquarters for many national and multinational companies.

The main economic products are steel, textiles, confections, food and beverage, agriculture (from its rural area), public services, chemical products and pharmaceuticals, refined oil, and flowers.

Tourism has strongly developed in Medellín in recent years.

Gross domestic product

Edificio Inteligente (The "Intelligent Tower")

According to Proexport Colombia, the gross domestic product (GDP) can be studied in two areas: Medellín as the Metropolitan Area of Medellínmarker and Medellín itself. As a Metro Area, it contributes 67% of the total GDP of the State of Antioquia. The city of Medellín alone contributes 55% of the GDP of the state. The State of Antioquia itself is the second greatest economic region of Colombia. By 2005, Antioquia's GDP was more than USD 14,700, and it is the top exporting state in Colombia. The Aburrá Valley is the top economy in the state and its GDP was USD 7,800 million.

Medellín contributes 8% of the national GDP of Colombia. With the GDP of Valle del Cauca State, the total is 11%. Medellín is the second economic region in Colombia, after Bogotámarker, in 2005.

The 2005 Report of the Economic Colombian Review of Proexport and the International Cooperation Agency of Medellín concluded that Medellín was at the same level of GDP contribution to the national economy as cities like Panamamarker in Panama, and San José de Costa Ricamarker. The % GDP contribution of Medellín to the national economy was superior to cities like Monterreymarker in Mexicomarker (6,47%); Calimarker in Colombiamarker (6,26%) and Miamimarker in USAmarker (0,58%).

Medellín Cluster

International Centre for Congresses and Expositions "Plaza Mayor" of Medellín, La Alpujarra area.

Medellín created the first Colombian business cluster. The city is the top exporting region of the country, with 1,750 export businesses based in Medellín. The Cluster was created with the support of the Chamber of Commerce of Medellín and the City Administration for an actual total of 21,000 companies that share 40% of total exports, 25% of the regional GDP, and 40% of Metro Area employment. The main economic activities of the Medellín Cluster (MC) are in electricity generation, textile, fashion design, construction, tourism and business. One current goal of the Medellín Cluster is to include health services, an important sector in the local economy.

Tourism industry

In the past decade, Medellín has become a destination for national and international tourism. The city has the infrastructure to supply the demands of a tourist industry at any level. As a trade and industrial center, its tourism tends to be based on business, congresses, international and national meetings, and health tourism, due to its world reputation in medicine and its modern health centers. Plaza Mayor was built for congresses and expositions with all the facilities of any international space of such kind. Several hotels are specialized in this kind of events, most of them with halls and meeting rooms for conventions, seminars, rooms with offices, translation services and many other facilities for business people. In health services, Medellín is a leader in plastic surgery, organ transplants, and health treatments related to cancer, neurosciences, immunology, and Circulatory system pathology.

The Aburrá Valley is a favourite place for photographers. High mountains surround the city like blue-green walls, and there are several parks. The Arví Regional Park, a park of 11,241 hectares (ca 28,000 acres) in the Santa Elena Township, is one of the most visited. It is a place for camping, ecological scouting, and stunning views of the city. On many other surrounding hills there are tourist spots for scenery, restaurants, music and dance, shopping and ecology.

December is one of the best times to visit Medellín. The city is adorned with thousand of colorful lights and designs that attract national and international visitors.

Among the many Catholic churches in the city, the most visited are the Metropolitan Cathedral in the Bolívar Square (downtown), said to be the biggest brick-only sacred building in the world, 45 metres high, with an area of 5,000 metres square. Other old churches downtown include the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria; the Veracruz Church—one of the oldest in the Aburrá Valley; the churches of Saint Ignatius, Saint Joseph, and Saint Anthony; and many others.

File:Quebrada Santa Elena-corregimiento.JPG|Santa Elena CreekFile:Pano Plazo Botero.jpg|Botero Square and the Museum of Antioquia.File:Christmas2004inMedellín.JPG|Christmas celebrations, Medellín River, 2004

Medellín is also a city of museums, sculptures, and popular festivals such as the Feria de las Flores (Flower Festival), Desfile de Mitos y Leyendas (Myths and Legends Parade), International Festival of Poetry, the Feria Taurina (Bull Festival), and many others. There are also concerts, theatre, opera, parks, tourist areas and a very busy nightlife with the traditional rumba.

Urban development

Botero Square

There are signs of heavy urban development within the city of Medellín, particularly with the construction of new skyscrapers. Medellín is currently outpacing all other major Colombian cities, including Bogotá, the nation's capital and economic center, in the construction and proposed development of new high-rises. As of September 2008, there were 127 high-rises under construction in Medellín, including 25 being approved, and 17 being proposed.


Medellín is also home to over 30 universities that serve mainly the Antioquia State, the "Eje Cafetero" (Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis) region and the Caribbean Coast. Among the most important are the public universities Universidad de Antioquiamarker, Universidad Nacionalmarker and Politecnico Jaime Isaza Cadavid, and the private EAFIT University, Universidad de Medellín, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Universidad de San Buenaventura, Escuela de Ingenieria de Antioquia, Universidad Santo Tomas, Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje SENA and CES. There are also important technological centers such as the Metropolitan Institute of Technology (ITM).

This is the Library Universidad EAFIT

During the last decade, the administration of the city has emphasized public education, building schools and libraries in poor quarters. Private schools and colleges have a long tradition in the city, many run by the Catholic Church, private organizations, and foreign institutions. Among of them are the Columbus School, Theodoro Hertzl School, San Ignacio de Loyola School, Colegio Colombo Britanico, El Corazonista School, Marymount School, Montessori School, Gimnasio Los Pinares, Gimnasio Los Alcázares, San José De La Salle, Instituto Jorge Robledo, the Salesian Technical School Pedro Justo Berrío, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colegio Cumbres and many others.

Many non-governmental organizations and official organizations support the development of children and youth from poor communities. Ciudad Don Bosco cares for street children. The pacification of the city brought organizations to the poorest quarters to work with youth involved in urban violence, in order to improve their opportunities. Medellín universities, public and private, also played a role, along with official institutions both local and national.

Cesar Orozco is a product of the educational system of Medellin.


Air transportation

The José María Córdova International Airportmarker (MDE) is in Rionegromarker, another municipality east of Medellín and outside the Aburrá Valley. It serves both international and domestic destinations, and can handle large aircraft and night landings. There are international flights daily to and from Miamimarker, Fort Lauderdalemarker, New Yorkmarker, Mexico Citymarker, Caracasmarker, Quitomarker, Panama Citymarker, Limamarker, Guayaquilmarker, San José, Costa Ricamarker, and other important cities. Olaya Herrera Airportmarker (EOH) serves mainly regional flights, commuter and light aircraft.

Land transportation

Medellín´s Metro

The city's public transport system includes diesel buses, taxis, and an urban train referred as the Metro de Medellín. The Metro connects the cities of Medellín, Itagüímarker, Envigadomarker and Bellomarker. Line A goes from Itagüí to Niquía, while Line B goes from San Antonio to San Javier. In addition, Line K and Line J, an air cable car, locally known as Metrocable, serve a depressed and geographically difficult area. Line K begins at Acevedo Station on Metro Line A, and continues uphill, ending at Santo Domingo Savio. Line J begins at San Javier Station on Metro Line B, and continues uphill to La Aurora. A new Metrocable line (Line S) is planned to open in 2009, and will connect Santo Domingo Savio with El Tambo in Arví Park near Guarnemarker. Medellín is the only Colombian city with such a transport system.

Despite the variety of options, traffic in Medellín has become chaotic, as the number of vehicles has exceeded highway capacity; furthermore, pollution produced by diesel buses has become a major issue, notably in the center of the city and the southern district of El Poblado. The city has no space for the construction of new highways.

In 2006, construction began on Metroplus, a bus service with a dedicated road, much like Bogotá's TransMileniomarker. This will allow faster transit for the service's buses and Metro stations. Metroplus will be inaugurated in 2009, and it will cover most of the city. The first leg will be the Troncal Medellín, which goes from the Universidad de Medellín in the west to Aranjuez in the northeast part of the city. Metroplus will help lessen the city's pollution and traffic, as many old buses will be taken out of service, while the new buses will work with natural gas.


Growing of the population of
Medellín between 1905-2005
with census
% growing
year base 1905
1905* 59,815 100%
1912* 70,547 118%
1918* 79,146 132%
1928* 120,044 201%
1938* 168,266 281%
1951** 358,189 599%
1964** 772,887 1292%
1973** 1,077,252 1791%
1985** 1,468,089 2454%
1993** 1,630,009 2725%
2005** 2,223,078 3717%
*Historia de Antioquia - **Censos del DANE

The Aburrá Valley contains 58% of the population of the Department of Antioquia, and 67% of the Aburrá Valley population lives in the city of Medellín. Of the inhabitants of Medellín, 61.3% were born in the city, 38% in other parts of Colombia and 0,3% in another country.

According to the National Administrative Department of Statistics, Medellín had, by 2005, a population of 2,223,078 inhabitants, making it the second largest city in Colombia. The metropolitan area of Medellín in 2005 included 3,312,165 inhabitants. There are 5820 people per square kilometer in the city. There were 130,031 people living in the city townships; 46.7% of the population are male and 53.3% are female. Illiteracy is 9.8% in persons older than 5 years old. 98.8% of the households in Medellín have electricity, 97.3% have drinking water, and 91% have a land-line phone.

Birth and death

According to the 2005 DANE census, in that year Medellín registered 33,307 births, slightly fewer than in 2004 (33,615). In 2005 the number of deaths was 10,828, in 2004 11,512.


The ethnographic makeup of the city is:

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Medellín received many immigrants from Spain, and some forced immigration from West Africa. Most Indigenous peoples died from the introduction of European diseases, and many of those who survived intermarried with early Spanish settlers, who were mostly men; later, Spanish women also began to immigrate. During the 19th century, immigrants arrived from Lebanon, Jordan, Germany, and Portugal. Many people from Medellín are referred to as Paisas, people of mainly Spanish ancestry, mixed with African and Indigenous blood. There is a small Afro-Colombian and Zambo-Colombian (people of Indigenous and African descent) population .

The Chocó Department is just west of Antioquia, and is home to many Afro-Colombian and Zambo-Colombian migrants to Medellín and its vicinity. Migration from the Colombian Caribbean coast has been important, especially that of young people who come to study in Medellín universities and remain to work in the city. The main foreign immigration is of Ecuadoriansmarker in informal trade.


A traditional silleta in Medellín's annual Flower Festival.

The inhabitants of Medellín are often called Antioqueños (Antioquians) after their state, rather than Medellinenses (Medellinians) after their city. They are also often known as Paisas, a name which some suggest comes from the coffee growers. The term Paisa comes from the word paisano (fellow countryman). Paisas make up one of the five different regional cultures within Colombia. The Paisa region includes the states of Caldas, Risaralda, Quindi­o and some towns of Valle del Cauca and Tolima.

Although Paisa culture is dominant in Medellí­n (the "Paisa Capital"), the city is becoming more cosmopolitan, now offering music from other regions of Colombia (Vallenato and Chocó), and a variety of restaurants including Chinesemarker, Cubanmarker, and Argentinianmarker.

The Paisa culture has a Spanish background, and is traditionally Catholic, entrepreneurial, hard-working, and famously hospitable. Paisas are said to speak softly and quickly, to smile easily, and to love bullfights, rodeo, music, poetry, soccer, bargaining in the markets, and parties. They are proud of their city. The Medellí­n weekend nightlife, in discos, pubs, parks, and certain dedicated streets, is traditionally called rumba.

Festivals and events

La Feria de las Flores (the Festival of the Flowers) is the most important festival in Antioquia. It takes place in Medellí­n in early August and has been celebrated every year since 1957. The festival includes parades of antique cars, of silleteros (flower carriers), and of horses.

Other festivals are the International Poetry Festival (June) (which received the 2006 Right Livelihood Award ), the Parade of Myths and Legends (December) and ColombiaModa (a fashion industry event).

The Library of EPM, which is next to the Park of Lights.


Medellí­n's best-known and most popular sports clubs are the Atlético Nacional, Envigado F.C. and Independiente Medellín football (soccer) teams. They play at the Atanasio Girardot Stadium. Medellí­n is also known for its two main swim teams, the Calamares Pilsen and the Huracanes. Three-time Tour de France lap winner Santiago Botero Echeverry was born in the city. Medellí­n is also the birthplace of professional golfer and PGA Tour player Camilo Villegas.

Nicknames of the city

Known as the "industrial capital of Colombia", Medellí­n is also called Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera (City of Everlasting Spring), Capital de la Montaña (Mountain Capital), Ciudad de las Flores (City of Flowers), "Capital de las Orquí­deas" (Orchid Capital), La Bella Villa (the Beautiful Town), Tacita de Plata (Little Silver Cup), and Medallo (a nickname).

International relations

Main article: List of twin towns and sister cities in Colombia

Twin towns — Sister cities

Medellín is twinned with:


File:Iglesia_de Nuestra_Iglesia_de_la_Candelaria-Mede.JPG| Candelaria ChurchFile:Plazuela_San_Ignacio-Medellin-Colombia.JPG|San Ignacio SquareFile:Estacion_del_Ferrocarril -Medellin.JPG|Restored old train stationFile:UNAL-Bloque M5-Facultad de Minas-Medellin.JPG|Faculty of MinesFile:La Raza de Rodrigo Arenas Betancur-Medellin.JPG|La Raza Monument by Rodrigo ArenasFile:Biblioteca España(1)-Medellin.JPG|Biblioteca España (Spain Library)File:La Alpujarra-Medellin.JPG|La AlpujarraFile:Centro de Medellin- Colombia.JPG|Medellín CenterFile:Btca epm.JPG|EPM LibraryFile:Biblioteca Publica Piloto-ArchivoFotografico.JPG|Biblioteca Pública Piloto (Pilot Public Library)File:Biblioteca Leon de Greiff-Exterior4-Medellin.JPG|Leon de Greiff LibraryFile:Cerro Nutibara-Navidad 2006-Medellin(1).JPG|Christmas lights at Cerro NutibaraFile:Plaza Cisneros-BosqueColumnas-Medellin.JPG|Plaza CisnerosFile:Museoelcastillo1.jpg|El Castillo Museum

File:Teatro Metropolitano de Medellín.JPG|Metropolitan TheatreFile:Christmas2004inMedellín.JPG|Christmas lights along the río Medellín


  1. Restrepo Uribe, Jorge (1981), Medellín, su Origen, Progreso y Desarrollo, Servigráficas, Medellín. ISBN 84-300-3286-X.
  2. Suramericana de Seguros, History of Antioquia, Ed. Presencia Ltda, Medellín, 1988, without ISBN, in Spanish.
  3. Compañía Colombiana de Tejidos (Colombian Textile Company) Coltejer: History of the Company, Itagüí, Colombia, Retrieved on on May 7th, 2008.
  4. Savage presented his thesis "Factories in the Andes: Social Organization in a Developing Economy" for his Doctorate in Business Administration at the Harvard University in 1962.
  5. Nelson Alcantara: Colombia’s Medellín: City transformed, February 23, 2008. De Colombia Net. Retrieved on May 7, 2008.
  6. Revista Semana (2007): «Ruta Empresarial», en Semana, vol. II, Edición especial, Nº 1329. p. 106.
  7. Cámara de Comercio de Medellín. Comunidad Clusters.
  8. Ciudad Don Bosco Medellín, a center for street children.
  9. Suramericana de Seguros (1988), Historia de Antioquia. Editorial Presencia Ltda.(Edición especial no tiene ISBN) Medellín. pp. 299.
  10. DANE: the 2005 census of the National Department of Statistics of Colombia.
  11. DANE: Results of births and dead.
  12. Gardel en Tacuarembó, Radio Gardel

External links

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