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Armenia, Colombia

This article is about the city in Colombia. For other uses, see Armenia (disambiguation).

Armenia is the capital of Quindio, a department in Colombia. The city is located at coordinates 4.5170 north, 75.6830 west, 290 kilometers west of Bogota. Armenia is a mid-size city located between Bogota, Medellin and Cali, the 3 largest Colombian cities. The city's area code for phone calls is 096. Its average temperature is between 18 C- 22 C. Raipur, India is the latest to become a sister city of Armenia (see list of twin towns and sister cities). It's one of the three that forms the Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis. Perhaps one of the most attractive areas in Colombia.


Armenia was founded in October 14, 1889 by Jesus Maria Ocampo, also known as "Tigrero" (translates to "tiger killer") due to his love of hunting jaguars, known locally as tigers. Ocampo came from Anaime, Tolima, looking for shelter in the mountains of Quindio since he was running away from General Gallo. He paid one hundred pesos in gold coins to Antonio Herrera for the land in which to build a fonda, or trade center, not only for himself but also for other colonists who came from Salento, Antioquia, Manizales and areas surrounding the Quindio River and La Vieja River. Ocampo then proceeded to sell land for settlement. To encourage settlement, Ocampo returned to Anaime to ask for the help of his friend Juan de La Cruz Cardona, and to marry thirteen year-old Arsenia Cardona. Six months after its founding, in August 1890, Armenia had reached a population of 100 people, allowing it to gain legal recognition by the government. The city was initially called Villa Holguin, in honor of the then-current president of the country. It is believed the name was changed to Armenia in memory of the Armenian people murdered in the Hamidian massacres of 1894-97.

Despite Armenia's quickly expanding economy at the time, the means of transportation were still very limited. The main form of transporting people and merchandise was by mule, due to the mountainous terrain surrounding the city. It was not until the construction of the first asphalt road in 1927 to Zarzal in the Cauca river valley that transportation was improved.

Nowadays, the city combines its contemporary development with the all traditional ways of its forefathers' heritage, like the historic Liberator Pathway, the path used by Colombia's 19th century Liberator Simon Bolivar to move his army between the west of the country and Santa Fe de Bogota during his successful independence campaign from Spain, currently one of the top two tourist destinations in Colombia.

The 1999 Armenia earthquake caused devastation in Armenia]] In January 25, 1999, at 1:19 P.M. (local time), the city was devastated by an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale. The earthquake caused extensive damage to the city, mainly because of poor construction codes and aging buildings. The earthquake claimed several thousand lives and left over 200,000 people homeless.

Since then, international aid has helped rebuild and expand the city. Numerous new government buildings and highways have been constructed.

It is estimated that a large earthquake, approximately 6-7 in magnitude, will hit this area every 20 years due to high seismic activity. It can be explained by the triple junction that occurs at the northwest corner of the South American Plate where the Nazca, Cocos, and Pacific plates converge.


Armenia is often referred to as "Ciudad Milagro" (Miracle City) due to its fast urban growth and development. The local economy main trade is still based on the production of coffee, plantains, and bananas.

To the south of the city as it gets closer to sea level, the temperature favors not only Quindio's agricultural economy, but a renewed tourist industry in the shape of villas for rent, theme parks, eco-hoteles and family day leisure centers, not excluding all time favorites like local cuisine restaurants, exhibition centers and country clubs specialized in fishing, tennis, golf, cart racing and other sports. Many traditional plantations still exist in the surrounding area and many offer bed and breakfast accommodation and "ecotourism" packages. The city has a modern airport with daily links to Bogota, Cali, and Medellin which make the city a convenient choice for conferences, meetings, business and social events.

Tourism and Folklore

The renewed tourist industry has activated the popularity of the city and its surrounding areas. The region's northern area is the gateway to Los Nevados national park, where the highest peaks in central Colombia rise to perpetual snows at more than 4,500 meters. At the Quindio side of the foothills of this national park, lays the magnificent Cocora valley, where the National Tree of Colombia, the wax palm grows, and whose municipality of Salento is a top touristic destination famous for its culinary delicacy: fried river trout, for its guadua crafts and furniture (the strong native bamboo cane), its art galleries and its fame for being the bohemian centre of regional artists. Tourists and hikers walk from here to reach the spectacular views of the park.

The county's folklore is rich and is represented throughout events and traditions visible during most of its towns festivities to name a few:

The Yipao (Parade of Jeeps): After World War II Armenia was given imported general purpose Jeeps vehicles so that they may be used for the difficult paths. However, these old vehicles have been also adopted into a traditional parade carrying oversized loads of coffee, local agriculture products and people.

The Chapoleras beauty pageant, with costumes depicting the traditional coffee harvesting dress in the fashion of late 19th century, and the various popular dances is widely known in the entire country.

Art and handcrafts

This region was widely known in the coutry at the early XX century for the production of storage recipients made of the empty dried shell of the fruit of a local specie of inedible pumpkin, the "Cuyabra" or "totumo", which gives the demonym of "cuyabros" to the people born in this city. Nowadays, this recipients are no longer mass produced to practical purposes, since the cheaper materials such plastics displaced them from the market, but these traditional recipients are still produced and hand painted as artcrafts.

The Carriel is a traditional handbag leather handcraft symbolic of the paisa culture and the early antioquian colonisation. It is often used in the typical dances and parades, and its miniature version is sold to tourists as souvenir. The cabuya hancrafts are often seen.

The bamboo guadua is widely used in creation of artcrafts, furniture and buildings.

Education and Sports

Armenia has several universities, the primary ones being the University of Gran Colombia and the University of Quindio.

The main sport center in the city is the Centennial Stadium, where local sporting events can be seen, including national and international soccer tournaments. Other sport events are bullfighting, golf, swimming and cycling. The mountainous area surrounding Armenia has helped create some of the greatest climbing cyclists in the world, many of whom compete internationally in events such as the Tour de France.

The Quimbaya museum designed by Rogelio Salmona, offers a permanent display of precolumbian handcrafts, ceramic and gold artpieces.


Newspaper: La Cronica del Quindio

Television: Telecafe [*]


Matecana International Airport

El Eden Airport


Rendell, M.: Kings of the Mountains: How Colombia's Cycling Heroes Changed Their Nation's History, Aurum Press Ltd. 2003

External links

Colombia Quake Kills 1,000

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Armenia, Colombia

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