Medellín Geography and History

Medellín FlagThe Alcaldía de (municipality of) Medellín is the capital of the Distrito de Antioquia. It is the 2nd biggest city in Colombia with 2.5 million inhabitants, the metropolitan area is about 3.5 million inhabitants.

It is an ambitious city loyal to the "paisas" spirit. Medellín is a modern city with the only underground system in Colombia (Medellín transportation), and it has leading industries such as textile and flowers. Its large student population contributes actively to the city reputation as a party destination.

=> The city is named after Medellín, Spain, which is near Badajoz in Extremadura.
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Location and Orientation
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The metropolitan area of Medellín lies within the Aburrá valley at an elevation of 1,500 meters (about 4921 feet) and is divided by the Medellín River (also called Porce), which flows northward. North of the valley are the towns of Bello, Copacabana, Girardota and Barbosa. To the south of the valley lie Itagüí, Envigado, Sabaneta, La Estrella and Caldas.

The city center (which could be rough) is located near the Parque de Bolivar and the Palacio Municipal. El Poblado with the Parque Lleras and the Milla de Oro is the barrio where you should start your visit and where you will probably end up having a beer at night.

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Climate
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Medellín ShieldMedellín boasts an amazing climate, the most agreable of all the Colombian big cities. Medellín has a cool version of a tropical monsoon climate because it lies at 5,000 ft (1,500 m) above sea level. 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 to 30 °C (59 to 86 °F) and precipitations are also fairly constant. The rainiest months are April, May, September and October but it's nothing bad at all and shouldn't stop you from going. The driest months are from December to January.

=> As with most cities in Colombia outside of the coast, precipitations mainly happen in the afternoon so an early start for any visit is always a good option.

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A Short History of Medellín
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Medellín was founded in 1616 by the Spaniard Francisco Herrera Y Campuzano as Poblado de San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence Town) in present-day El Poblado. 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 National Congress of the young Republic of Greater Colombia, comprised by present day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. In 1803 the University of Antioquia, one of the most prestigious in Colombia, was founded.

After Colombia won its independence from Spain, 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 such as railways that allowed its export business to develop. In addition, its people founded several universities and vocational training institutions.
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At the beginning of the 21st century, the city has regained industrial dynamism, with the construction of the Metro de Medellín railway, and liberalized development policies, improved security, and improved education.

In the 1980's, Medellín became the capital of the world for cocaine under the influence of Pablo Escobar. During La Violencia, the city was one of the most dangerous place on earth (some of the films listed in Colombian cinema might help you to undertand the city better). All of it came to an end with the death of Escobar in 1993. Today, Medellín is a thriving city quickly becoming a growing touristic destination with crime rates no longer higher than some large US or European cities.
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