Medellín, city (1993 pop. 1,551,160), capital of Antioquia dept., W central Colombia. It is the country's chief manufacturing center. Textiles, steel, flowers, food products, automobiles, chemicals, and coffee are the principal products. Coal, gold, and silver are mined in the surrounding region. The city, which was founded in 1675, is located in a small intermontane valley at an altitude of c.5,000 ft (1,520 m). Until the development of transportation in the 19th cent., it was practically isolated; it has since developed into a transportation hub. Rich in cultural institutions, the city has three universities, several 17th-century churches, and a national mint. In the 1980s and early 90s, Medellín gained notoriety as the headquarters of the cocaine "cartel" that was the world's leading distributor of the illegal drug. Violent turf battles and reprisals became commonplace until the death of the organization's leader, Pablo Escobar.

Medellín, officially the Municipio de Medellín (Spanish) or Municipality of Medellín, (English pronunciation mɛdəˈjiːn or [mɛdəˈliːn], Spanish: [með̞eˈʝin] or [með̞eˈʎin]) is the second largest city in Colombia and is located in the Aburrá Valley, one of the more northern regions of the Andes in South America. It has a population of 2.4 million inhabitants. Medellín also serves as the core of the Metropolitan Area (Area Metropolitana de Medellín), the second largest in Colombia in terms of population with more than 3.2 million and the 95th most populous metropolitan area in the world.

Medellín was founded in 1616 by the Spaniard Francisco Herrera y Campuzano as Poblado de San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence Town) in the nowadays El Poblado District. In 1675 Regent Mariana of Austria created the Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (Our Lady of Candelaria). In 1826 was proclaimed by the Spaniard Colonial Administration as Provincial Capital of Antioquia. In 1803 was founded the University of Antioquia, one of the most prestigious government-owned education centers in Colombia. After the Colombian Independence from Spain, Medellín became the Capital of the Federal State of Antioquia until 1888 with the proclamation of a centralized Political Constitution. During the 19th century Medellín was a dynamic commercial center with the exportation of gold first and after with the growing production of coffee. After the Thousand Days War (1899 - 1902), Medellín was the first Colombian center to start its Industrial Revolution with the opening of textile companies, transport projects like the train that made possible the development of import-export activities of its industry and the founding of several centers of superior education and vocational training that created an industrialist and intellectual class.

During the last quarter of the 20th century, Medellín became the headquarter of the infamous Pablo Escobar, leader of its criminal organization, who became the seventh richest man of the world from drug trade according to a 1989 Forbes Magazine's report. Because he and his associates settled their business in Medellin, his organization was named the "Cartel of Medellín" by the American media. Escobar led a terrorist war (1980's - 1990's) against the Colombian government in order to dissuade any intention of extradition to the U.S.A until he was killed by police forces on December 2 1993. The Medellin Cartel War was one of the most notable factors causing the city's reputation as a violent and dangerous city, being the motive for a large number of murders. This reputation is one that the city is still trying hard to shake off, and holds true in a reduced with varied estimates averaging around 35 per 100,000 people.

The city gained its former industrial dynamism at the beginning of the 21st century with the construction of the Metro de Medellín urban railway, liberalised development policies, improved security, improved education; and the international promotion of the city as a tourist destination.

The Medellín Metropolitan Area makes the 67% of the State of Antioquia's GDP and the 11% of the National Economy.

Medellín is also regarded as important to the region for its universities, academies, commerce, industries, science, health services, flower production, festivities and nightlife. The Metropolitan Area of Medellín is the birthplace of several personalities like the rock musician Juanes, the inspirational city of painter Botero, the birth place of movements of literature like Nadaism, philosophers like González and Zuleta, the Colombian capital of tango where Gardel came to die in 1935, the seat of the International Festival of Poetry and many others. It is claimed that Medellín is a much safer city than previously in recent times. Partly thanks to this, it is one of the main tourist destinations in Colombia.

Origin of the name

The new Spaniard settlement got five names before the actual: Aburrá de los Yamesíes, San Lorenzo de Aburrá, San Lorenzo de Aná, Valle de San Bartolomé, Villa de la Candelaria de Medellín and Medellín.

The name of the city honours Medellín of Extremadura (Spain) because some of the Spaniard conquerors, like Gaspar de Rodas, the first governor of Antioquia, came from that region of Badajoz. The Iberian Medellín was founded in 75 BC by Quintus Caecilius Metellus Pius.

Count Pedro Portocarrero y Luna, President of the Council for the Western India (Consejo de Indias), asked the Monarchy to give the name of his town, Medellín of Extremadura, to the new foundation in America. His request was accepted on November 22 1674 when Regent Mariana of Austria proclaimed the name of Villa de Nuestra Señora de Medellín. The official proclamation was given by Miguel Aguinaga y Mendiogoitia, Governor, on November 2, 1675.



There are archaeological evidences of human settlements in the Aburrá Valley since 10,500 years by hunters and collectors. The Spaniard conquistadors of the valley found groups like Aburrá, Yamesí, Pequé, Ebejico, Norisco, and Maní that were in the valley since about the 5th century. The Aburrá people gave the name to the valley. They lived from agriculture (maize, beans and cotton), textile weaving and decoration, commercialization of salt and goldsmith. Under the Spaniard rule they lost the possession of the land and were located in mines and feudalist systems. Sickness brought by the Europeans, the heavy work and mistreatments caused their extinction, at least from the valley. Descendants and peoples related to the Aburrá Valley ancient ancestors could be found today in other regions of the Antioquia State like Urabá and the West and South regions.

The Spanish discovery of the valley

In August 1541, Marshal Jorge Robledo was in what is today Heliconia, when he saw at the distant what he thought was a valley. He sent Jerónimo Luis Tejelo to explore the territory and Tejelo arrived during the night of August 23 to a plain field. The Spaniards gave the name of valley of Saint Bartholomew that was to be changed for the Aboriginal one of Aburrá that is translated as the "Painters" due to the textile decorations of the natives. However, the conquerors did not feel attracted by the valley due to the lack of wealth and the bellicosity of the aborigines.

In 1574 Gaspar de Rodas asked to the Antioquia's Cabildo four miles of land to establish herds and food stays in the valley. The Cabildo granted three miles.

In 1616 the colonial visitor Francisco de Herrera y Campuzano founded a settlement with 80 Amerindians naming it "Poblado de San Lorenzo" in what is today "El Poblado Square". In 1646 a colonial law ordered the separation of Amerindians from mestizos and mulattos, and for this reason the colonial administration began the construction of a new town in Aná, where is today the Berrio Square and where a place called Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Aná (Our Lady of Candelaria of Aná) was built. Three years after they started the construction of the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria, rebuilt at the end of the 18th century.

Development of the villa

After 1574, with the establishing of Gaspar de Rodas in the valley, population started to grow according with weddings registered in the San Lorenzo Church: six couples between 1646 and 1650 to 41 couples between 1671 and 1675. The development of gold mines in the Northeast of Antioquia required an agricultural region to provide enough food, therefore, the Aburrá Valley became the nearest supplier. Moreover, the Aburrá Valley is located in a strategic position between the gold mines' region and what was the first provincial capital of Antioquia, Santa Fe.

Santa Fe became an old and poor town, while trade and prominent personalities of the region were passing through the Aburrá Valley where rich families started to buy lands. Soon the first settlers asked the creation of the Cabildo in the valley, thus gaining a most autonomous administration from Santa Fe. Such intention was opposed by the Santa Fe administration, but Regent Mariana of Austria signed the edict of its creation on November 22 1674. The governor Miguel de Aguinaga proclaimed the royal edict on November 2 1675 where it was given the title of Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria.

During the Spanish colony

Before the creation of the villa, the inhabitants were dispersed in the valley and there were only some families concentrated in the junction of Aná Stream (today Santa Helena Stream), and Medellín River and others were living in El Poblado San Lorenzo. With the royal edict, the settlers chose the Aná site as the heart of the future city with the Candelaria Church as the center.

The first constructions were simple: straw roofs, the houses of the most important persons were of two floors, while the church and the Cabildo had nothing to admire. It was only during the 18th century when they started to beautify the church. The Cabildo had only one floor located at the western part of the plaza and it had straw roof until 1742 when it was changed by roof tiles. In 1682 traders and foreigners started the construction of Veracruz Hermitage that was consecrated as a church by the Bishop of Popayán in 1712.

The first census during the Colonial times in the Valley was done in 1675: there were 3,000 persons and 280 families. There was not other census in the following hundred years until the colonial visitor Antonio Mon y Velarde ordered one that was done between 1786 and 1787: there were 14,507 persons and 241 families. In 1808, two years before the independence, there were 15,347 persons and 360 families.

In 1803 was founded the Royal College of the Franciscans in the Central Plaza (today Berrío Square) with faculties as grammar, philosophy and theology. Soon after they translated the College to a new building in the San Ignacio Plazoleta. In 1821 was renamed as Colegio de Antioquia (Antioquia's College} and finally it was named Universidad de Antioquia in 1901. The first Antioquian university was also the seat for the first skill training school, the first cultural radio broadcasting of Latin America, the first regional botanical garden and it is nowadays popular for development in medicine and organ transplant.

The Medellín Industrial Revolution

The population of Medellín grew six times during the first part of the 20th century from 59.815 inhabitants in 1905 to 358,189 in 1951. During the 19th century the city got a national importance because its production of gold and coffee and the construction of the regional railway (Ferrocarril de Antioquia). The Thousand Days War (1899-1902), stopped the industrial development of the city , although the civil war did not touch the region in a direct way. Thanks to reforms by President Rafael Reyes after the conflict, the city restarted its industrial development with the foundation of the Chamber of Commerce of Medellín. The Chamber was the responsible of the development of a regional transport project that put Medellín in contact with other Colombian regions and the international economies at the time.

However the importance of gold production in the development of the city, the product that would make the city to grow during the 20th century, was coffee that was to become of international dimensions as the first export product of the country as Café de Colombia. The industrial and commercial dynamism of Medellín created also a caste of traders and entrepreneurs that were to open the first industries with a national projection. However, the hot part of the industrialization came during the 1930s with the development of textiles created by families which fortunes came from the gold mine exploitation during the Colonial time. There were also production of glass, drinks and food that put Medellín as the first industrial region of Colombia. It is during the 1930s that most of the Antioquian industries were created and many of them still alive, either with their original names or with modifications.

The discovering of coal mines in Amagá, few miles at the south of the Aburrá Valley, and the building of industrial hydroelectric plants gave the energy that the big new industries required and they supported the creation of several small companies. The Antioquia Railway (constructed in 1875) defeated the difficult geography of one of the most mountainous regions of South America, especially with the construction of La Quiebra Tunnel which allowed the industrial center to get in connection with the Magdalena River, the main fluvial commercial way of Colombia. Also during the 1930s Medellín became a main trade center in the region and it got its first airport, the Enrique Olaya Herrera Airport in 1932.

The study of Charles H. Savage about the ways of production in the Antioquia region for ten years (1960 - 1972) is an example of how important the Medellín industries came to be in the Colombian and South American context. He studied the consequence of the social changes produced by the introduction of technologies to give as a result a kind of development. Savage examined three factories from Antioquia: two pottery works in Santuario and La Blanca and a tailoring factory in Medellín. What was admired by Savage was not only the kind of production of the Antioquian factories, but the working relationships of the workers and their patrons, giving as a result an industrial productivity and efficiency that he called the "Culture of Work". Savage died in 1973, but his conclusions were published by his college George F. Lombardi as Sons of the Machines.

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

The University of Antioquia, the National University of Colombia with its Medellín branch and the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, have been the historical academic centers in the city and the responsible for the formation of an intellectual class in the region with a national and international projection.

Arts and literature have been an important social element in Medellín. During the first part of the 20th century the city saw in literature the transition from romanticism to the most modern art and literary movements of the new century. Tomás Carrasquilla (1858 - 1940) was among those who represent such transition with a work that focused on the people of his native Antioquia, accurately portraying their daily lives and customs. The writer and philosopher Fernando González from Envigado (in the Metropolitan Area of Medellín), the cartoonist Ricardo Rendón and the poet León de Greiff, all of these founders among others of Los Panidas, a Medellín literature movement of the time. Other featured poets and writers were Porfirio Barbajacob and Efe Gómez, while as painters the masters were Eladio Vélez and Pedro Nel Gómez. Among musicians were Carlos Vieco Ortiz and the city became a national center of home record music like Sonolux, Ondina and Silver.

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

Medellín Master Plan

During the 1950s the industrialists, traders and local government traced what was called the "Medellín Master Plan" (MMP) (Plan Piloto) consisting in an urban projection of the city in the Aburrá Valley that would give way to the creation of the first Metropolitan Area in Colombia. Paul Wiener and José Luis Sert were the architects that leaded the project. Among the main features of the MMP were the canalization of the Medellín River, the control of new settlements in the Valley slopes, the creation of an industrial zone in the Guayabal District, the planning of the city in harmony with the river, the construction of a main sport zone with the city stadium and an administrative center in La Alpujarra.

However, Colombia entered in a new era of political instability with the murder of presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitán in Bogotá in 1949 and political violence punished the rural areas of Colombia. Farmers fled to the cities and Medellín saw the fast growing of its population in the span of a few years. The Valley slopes became soon popular quarters with poor conditions that would change the history of the industrialist center. In 1951 the city had 358,189 inhabitants and only 20 years after, in 1973, the population was of 1,071,252 inhabitants, thus three times more.

This demographic explosion had several consequences in the MMP: the urban limits of the city grew to areas that were not contemplated in the MMP making that Medellín touched the urban areas of other cities of the Aburrá Valley like Envigado, Bello and Itagüí among others; the new Medellín settlers were poor families without credit to buy their housing, therefore, several quarters were built out of the MMP; several old downtown buildings were demolished to construct tall towers, offices and avenues. For example, the other time beautiful and traditional Junin Theatre along the Santa Elena Stream was demolished to build the Coltejer Tower. The migration provided with enough workforces that contributed in a bigger expansion of textile factories that were modernized during this period, but it created new problems for the city as the rising of unemployment, lack of services for poor quarters, urban violence in several districts and a collapse of any transport system that so far has served the city. It was the perfect conditions for the development of mafia that were to punish the city in the following decades, while the MMP had to wait better times.

Cultural life in the last decades

The 1950s decade saw also a new generation of writers and artists in Medellín with new literature tendencies and many of them strong critics of the local and national life. Manuel Mejía Vallejo established a new narrative style without abandon his regional preferences. It was also the time of Nadaism, a literature movement founded by Gonzalo Arango and many other companions that was openly anti-clerical, expressing against the traditional institutions of society and culture and considered philosophically nihilist. The painter Debora Arango joined the social and political reviews of the Colombian arena with her works. Other painter that would make Medellín famous in art was Fernando Botero who found in the daily life of the city and its dramas the inspiration for his work. He donated most of this works to the Museum of Antioquia and the city dedicated to him the Botero Square. In the 1970s the artist Rodrigo Arenas Betancur would let his monumental works of 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.

There were many cultural centers built during this time that enriched the city like 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. It was also the time of new universities in the city like Medellín University (1950) and Eafit University (1960).

Violence and overcoming

The 1980s and beginning of 1990's was a critical time for Medellín as it came to be the base of powerful international drug trafficking organisations named by the American press as Medellín Cartel, a name that would associate the prestigious industrial city to crime and violence and gave to it the infamous title of "Murder Capital of the World". The infamous Pablo Escobar led a criminal organization. The Colombian conflict would have its effects in the Andean coffee city with urban dispute for its control by guerrilla and paramilitary groups. It was, however, delinquent elements such as street gangs that made Medellín one of the violent cities in the world. In the year 1991, for example, the city recorded 6,349 homicides and a rate eleven times higher than that of Chicago.

In the early 21st century, Medellín has become a normal city for its residents and international travellers due to recent economic and social changes.

The local government and its citizens in general have gone to great lengths to shake off its bad reputation and improve the image of the city, with tangible results.  In 2006 the rate of intentional homicides was 33 per 100,000 people, the lowest in over 20 years, and one of the best improvements of any city in the world. Most of the homicides tend to occur in the poorer northern sections of the city, and much work is being done to build greater infrastructure, such as public libraries, new schools and strong community programmes. In fact, by way of comparison, the homicide rate in Medellín is now lower than that of Caracas with 110 per 100,000, Recife with 90 and Cali with 62..

Medellín today

The vocation of Medellín as the industrial city of Colombia has been the main factor to support the overcoming of its 1980's-1990's crisis. The Metro de Medellín, a massive urban transport service, became the proud of the city and so far the only Colombian Metro that helped the city to recover the Medellín Master Plan designed in the 1950s. The construction of the Plaza Mayor, 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 3 million population Metropolitan Area that is recovering the rhythm of its vocation as a main trade and industrial center.

The former violent crisis served also to make the purpose of demolish the heavy social barriers that were in a big part the reason of many social evils. The same Metro joined the Metropolitan Area from poor to rich districts and a new planning of the public buses is undergoing with the so-called "Metroplus". The spaces for art, poetry, drama, the construction of public libraries, the foundation of new ecological parks and the integration of the Medellineans to the development of their own city, can be widely proven today.

Geography and climate

Medellín has an area of 382 km². It has 16 comunas (districts), 5 townships and 271 barrios. The metropolitan area of Medellín lies within the Aburrá valley at an elevation of 1,538 meters and is bisected by the Medellín River (also called Porce), which flows northward. In Medellin is the Porce III Dam . North of the valley are the towns of Bello, Copacabana, Girardota and Barbosa. To the south of the valley Itagüí, Envigado, Sabaneta, La Estrella and Caldas can be found.

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 is more characteristic of a Humid subtropical climate rather 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). The pleasant spring-like climate year round makes it 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 even cooler on its surrounding mountains.

Weather averages for Medellín City
Temperature (°C)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
Minimum average 16,1 16,3 16,7 17,0 17,0 16,6 16,1 16,3 16,2 16,3 16,4 16,3
Average 22,0 22,3 22,3 22,0 21,9 22,3 22,5 22,5 21,9 21,2 21,2 21,5
Maximum average 28,1 28,5 28,5 27,9 27,8 28,1 28,6 28,5 28,0 27,2 27,3 27,6
Raining average, sun brightness and relative humidity
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
Average raining (mm) 55 77 114 179 191 153 108 154 178 218 150 79
Raining days 11 12 16 21 23 18 16 19 21 24 21 14
Relative humidity (%) 66 66 67 70 71 68 63 64 68 72 73 70
Sun brightness (hour/month) 177 148 154 128 142 170 204 192 150 135 140 156
Information according to:
Olaya Herrera Airport
Temperature Raining Sun
Min Med Max Total Raining Humidity
°C °C °C mm Days % hours
16,4 22,0 28,0 1656 215 68 158

Administrative divisions

Medellín is a city based in a republican democratic system that comes from the Administrative decentralisation processes stated in the Colombian Constitution of 1991. Government is shared by the Mayor of Medellín and the Municipal Council, both elected by popular vote.

The municipality is made by official departments (secretarías): Social promotion, urban culture, social development, education, evaluation and control, government, resources, public works, administrative services, environment, general department, private department, transport and women. There are also many departments with a certain autonomy: the Olaya Herrera Airport, 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 that is made by ten municipalities. Medellín is divided into six zones and these are subdivided into 16 Communes. The barrios and urban institutional areas make the Communes. There are more than 249 barrios and 5 townships, which are part of the municipality of Medellín.


  • South-eastern Zone: El Poblado Commune.
  • 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 commune.
  • Townships: Palmitas, San Cristóbal, Altavista, San Antonio de Prado and Santa Elena.

Street nomenclature

Streets in Medellín are somewhat defined based on the Cartesian coordinate system. Certain definitions for these streets are:

  • Street (Calle): any street running from east to west and vice versa. The numbers increase from south to north except in a zone of El Poblado where the street numbers increase from north to south adding the denomination "sur". e.g.: Calle 10 sur. In downtown streets are known by name and many of them honouring Latin American countries: Calle Colombia, Calle Perú, Calle Bolivia, Calle Venezuela, etc.
  • Street (Carreras): run from south to north and vice versa; Carrera 1st starting to the east.
  • Circulars (Circulares): these streets loop certain areas, for example in Barrio Laures around Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana. They are known by numbers: Circular 1...
  • Transversals (Transversales).
  • Diagonal streets (Diagonales).
  • Avenues (Avenidas): usually wide and large streets, with some sort of importance. They have names : Avenida Jorge Eliecer Gaitán, Avenida Regional, Avenida El Poblado, etc.
  • Boulevards (Pasajes): Rather a pedestrian street with gardens, the most popular is "Pasaje Junín" between the Coltejer Tower and the Bolívar Square, downtown.


The present-day economy of Medellín is one of the largest of 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 known as the Sindicato Antioqueño -Antioquian Union-, but after being mistakenly associated with working unions abroad, which hampered its international growth for many years; the more formal name was created) . Represented by David Bojanini; who leads Suramericana de Seguros (an insurance conglomerate), Carlos Piedrahita; with the Compañía Nacional de Chocolates (Food industry), José Alberto Velez; Cementos Argos (a multinational cement company) and Jorge Londoño; leading Bancolombia, nyse (cib), (Colombia's largest bank). Together they consolidated this group that has an aggregate market capitalization of approximately US$17 billion dollars and who employ 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. The city serves as headquarters for many national and multinational companies and its centers of higher education constantly contribute to the modernization of the region and its industry.

Tourism has strongly developed in the city in recent years. 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 flower exports.

Medellín GDP

According to Proexport Colombia, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) can be studied in two areas: Medellín as a Metropolitan Area and Medellín itself. As a Metro Area, it contributes the 67% of the total State of Antioquia's GDP. As the only city it contributes the 55% of the GDP State. At its level the State of Antioquia is the second national economical region of Colombia. The Antioquia's GDP was by 2005 more than USD 14,700 and it is the first exporter State of Colombia. The Aburrá Valley is the first economical concentration of the State and its GDP was of USD 7,800 million.

In the National GDP, Medellín contributes the 8%. If we combined the Medellín GDP contribution with the one of Valle del Cauca State the total is 11%. It means that Medellín is the second economical region in Colombia after Bogotá as far as 2005.

The 2005 Report of the Economic Colombian Review of Proexport and the International Cooperation Agency of Medellín, concluded also that Medellín was at the same level of GDP contribution to the national economy with cities like Panama, and San José de Costa Rica. The % GDP contribution of Medellín to the national economy was superior to cities like Monterrey - Mexico (6,47%); Cali - Colombia (6,26%) and Miami - USA (0,58%).

Medellín Cluster

Medellín created the first Colombian Business cluster being with the Antioquia State the first exporter region of the country with 1,750 exporter enterprisers 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 the 40% of total exportations, the 25% of the regional GDP and the 40% of the Metro Area employment. The main economical activities of the Medellín Cluster (MC) are located in electricity generation, textile, fashion design, construction, tourism and business. As a goal of the MC is the inclusion of the health services, a sector that is also very important in the local economy.

Tourism industry

Medellín became in the last decade as a main destination for national and international tourism. The city has the infrastructure to answer the exigencies of a tourist industry at any level. As a trade and industrial center, its tourism is rather of business, congresses, international and national meetings and the health tourism due to its world reputation in medicine and 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 service Medellín is leader in plastic surgery, organ transplant and health treatments related to cancer and Circulatory system pathology.

As setting, the Aburrá Valley is a favourite place for photographers due to the high mountains that surround the city as green-blue walls, sun settings and hills among the urban areas with several parks. The Arví Regional Park with 11,241 hectares in the Santa Elena Township is one of the most visited. That is a place for camping, ecological scouting and contemplation of stunning views of the city. In many other hills there are tourist spots for view seen, restaurants, music and dance, shopping and ecology.

December is one of the best times to visit Medellín, because is the month where the city is adorned with thousand of colorful lights and designs that attracts national and international visitors.

Among the several Catholic churches in the city, the most visited are the Metropolitan Cathedral in the Bolívar Square (downtown) that is said to be the biggest only-brick temple of the world with 45 metres of high and 5,000 meters square of area. Other old temples can be seen downtown like the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Candelaria, the Veracruz Church, one of the oldest in the Aburrá Valley, the Saint Ignatius Church, Saint Joseph Church, Saint Anthony Church and many others.

Medellín is also a city of Museums, sculptures, popular festivities (Feria de las Flores, Desfile de Mitos y Leyendas, International Festival of Poetry, Feria Taurina and many others), concerts, theatre, opera, parks, tourist areas and a very busy nightlife with the traditional rumba.

Urban development

There are obvious signs of heavy urban development within the city of Medellín, particularly with the construction of new skyscrapers. In fact, Medellín is outpacing all other major Colombian cities in the construction and proposed development of new high-rises, including Bogotá, the nation's capital and economic center. 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 Antioquia, Universidad Nacional 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).

During the last decade the administration of the city has given importance to the popular education with the building of several schools and libraries in poor quarters. Many private schools and colleges have a long tradition in the city, several of them run by the Catholic Church, private organizations and foreign institutions. Among of them can be mentioned: Theodoro Hertzl School, The Columbus 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 NGOs and official organizations have very important nets in the city to support the development of children and youth from poor communities, for example Ciudad Don Bosco that cares for street children. The process of pacification of the city brought several organizations to the poorest quarters to work with youth that have been involved in urban violence in order to give to them better opportunities. In that process the Medellín universities, public and private, played a good role together with official institutions of the local and national level.


Air transportation

International flights are served through the José María Córdova International Airport (MDE), in Rionegro, another municipality east of Medellín and outside the Aburrá Valley. The José María Córdova Intl. is better suited for large aircraft and instrument/night time operation. Its international terminal is served with daily international flights to and from Miami, New York, Caracas, Quito, Panama City, Porlamar, Aruba and other important cities. Olaya Herrera Airport (EOH) serves mainly regional flights, commuter and light aircraft.

Land transportation

Diesel buses, taxis and an urban train referred as Metro de Medellín served as public transportation in the city.. The Metro of Medellín connects the cities of Medellín, Itagüí, Envigado and Bello. Line A departs from Itagüí to Niquía, while Line B goes from San Antonio to San Javiér. The metro is complemented with Line K and Line J, an air cable car, locally known as Metrocable, which serves a depressed and geographically difficult area. Line K begins on Acevedo Station on Metro Line A, and continues uphill ending in Santo Domingo Savio. Line J begins on San Javiér Station on Metro Line B, and continues uphill ending in La Aurora. A new Metrocable line (Line S) is projected to be inaugurated in 2009, and will connect Santo Domingo Savio with El Tambo in Arví Park near Guarne. Medellín is the only Colombian city with such transportation systems.

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

In 2006, the construction of Metroplus began, a service of buses with an exclusive road, which will allow faster transit for the service's buses, and stations, much like Bogotá's TransMilenio. The service will be inaugurated in 2008, and it will cover most of the city, the first step will be the Troncal Medellín that will go from the Universidad de Medellín in the west, to Aranjuez, in the north east part of the city. The service will help to decrease the city's contamination and traffic problems, as many old buses will be retired and the service's 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 58% of the Antioquian State population lives in the Aburrá Valley. From that number, the 67% lives in the Medellín municipality. From those who live now in Medellín, 61.3% were born in the city, 38% in other Colombian municipality and 0,3% in other country.

According with DANE, Medellín had by 2005 a population of 2,223,078 inhabitants becoming the second most populated city of Colombia. The Metropolitan Area of Medellín had that year 3,312,165 inhabitants. The density for km.sq in the city is 5,820. There were 130,031 Medellineans living in the city townships. 46,7% of Medellineans is males and 53,3% is females. Illiteracy is 9,8% in persons older than 5 years old. The 98,8% of the houses in Medellín has electricity, the 97.3% has drinking water and the 91,0% has fix phone.

Birth and death

According to the 2005 DANE census, in that year Medellín registered 33,307 new born, a little less than year 2004 (33,615). Dead numbers for year 2005 were 10,828, less than year 2004 with 11,512.


According to figures presented by the National Administrative Department of Statistics Census 2005, the composition ethnographic of the city is:

Medellin received a lot of immigrants during the 17th and 18th centuries from Spain and forced immigartion from West Africa. Later, some immigrants arrived from Lebanon, Jordan, Germany and Portugal during the 19th century. Many people from Medellín are referred to as Paisas, people of mainly Spanish ancestry with a mix of African and Indigenous. There is a very large Afro-Colombian and Zambo-Colombian (people of Indigenous and African Descent) population .

The Chocó Department is just west of Antioquia and leading the move of many Afro-Colombian and Zambo-Colombian migrants to Medellín and other municipalities near Medellín. Migration from the Colombian Caribbean coasts has been important in the city especially through young people who come to study in the Medellinian universities and remain to work. The main foreign migration is of Ecuadorians dedicated to informal trade.


The city is universally known as the City of Eternal Spring.

People from Medellín are actually called by their state denomination of Antioqueños (Antioquians) as opposed to a city-derived nameof Medellinenses (Medellinians). They are also known as Paisas, which some suggest is derived from the coffee growers. The term Paisa comes from the word Paisano (fellow countrymen). They make up one of the five different regional cultures within Colombia, also called the Paisa region with the states of Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío and some towns of Valle del Cauca and Tolima.

Although the Paisa culture is dominant in Medellín (the "Paisa Capital"), it is possible to find variety as the city starts to be more cosmopolitan. Some streets of the city start to reflect such reality: places where you can find vallenatos, traditional music from Chocó, national and international food, Chinese restaurants, Mexicans and even Argentine cafés. The universities in special became a meeting of a human variety with the richness of students coming from Aborigin communities of Colombia and foreigners.

The Paisa culture is made rather by Spanish background; evident Catholic traditions, business people and they are famous for being very welcoming and friendly. Paisas like Fiesta Brava, rodeo, music, poetry and soccer. They are very proud of their city, their success and future and they talk about that every moment. Paisas speak soft and fast, they smile very easy and can create a party in a short time. They are famous for being hard workers. It is common to discuss prizes with Paisas in popular markets. The traditional rumba is the way they call the nightlife of enjoying weekends in discos, pubs, parks or certain appropiated streets.

Festivals and events

La Feria de las Flores (The Festival of the Flowers) is the most important festival of Antioquia and it takes place in Medellín in early August. The event has been celebrated every year since 1957. This festival has several activities such as antique cars parade, Desfíle de Silleteros (flower carriers parade), mass horse rides down the streets, exhibition of fondas from much of the towns in Antioquia, etc.

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


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


Besides being called the "industrial capital of Colombia", Medellín is also called "Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera" (The City of Everlasting Spring), "Capital de la Montaña" (Mountain's Capital), "Ciudad de las Flores" (City Of The Flowers), "Capital de las Orquídeas" (Orchids' Capital), "La Bella Villa" (Beautiful Village), "Tacita de Plata" (Little Silver Cup), and "Medallo".

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