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Santiago de Cali

Santiago de Cali , often shortened to Cali, is the main city, municipality and capital of the Valle del Cauca, a department in western Colombia. With a population of 2,316.654 hab. Santiago de Cali is the third largest city in Colombia. It is a reference point inside Colombia because of its industrial and commercial development, and has one of the fastest growing economies in the country because of its geographical location. Cali was founded on July 25th in 1536 by the Spanish conqueror Sebastian de Belalcazar.

The first part of the name Santiago de Cali honours Saint James the apostle (Santiago in Spanish) whose feast day is celebrated on July 25. There are several possibilities for the origin of the word "Cali". Some attribute it to a mispronunciation of the word "Lili", the name of a local tribe. Others believe that the word "Cali" has quechua origin, and it was brought by the Yanaconas Indians that came from Quito serving Sebastian de Belalcazar. This theory is reinforced by the fact that near Quito there is an indigenous town named Cali Cali.

Santiago was founded by Fernando in the late 1600's. At the beginning it had a population of about 17 people.


Pre-Columbian era and conquest

Before the arrival of the Spaniards, the current region of Cali was inhabited by many indigenous tribes, mostly speakers of Cariban languages. In the region between the Cauca River and the Western Cordillera, the Gorrones were established between the present day Roldanillo and Cali. The biggest Morron's town was settled on the River Pescador near the present day towns of Zarzal and Bugalagrande. Although cannibals, the Morrones traded with the Quimbayas who inhabited the north of the Valle del Cauca.

On his way to Cali, Sebastian de Belalcazar first met the Timbas who ran away before the arrival of the Conqueror's men, leaving behind their towns and gold. After the Timbas, towards the north, the Spaniards entered the territory of the chief Jamundi and his tribe, the Jamundies, between the rivers Pance and Jamundi. These Indians offered a strong resistance to the invaders, fighting with poisonous darts and arrows against the arquebuses and swords of the Spaniards. After taking Jamundies' town the Spaniards looted the Indian's gold.

Before taking complete control over the region, the Spaniards had to defeat the chief Petecuy, whose tribe inhabited the area between the river Lili and the Western Cordillera. Petecuy formed a big army with many tribes and fought the Spaniards on Holy Tuesday of 1536.

The Morrones gave up easily to the Spaniards and were divided in encomiendas. The already "mestizo" nature of the Spaniards made the process of mixing with the Amerindians easy. In fact, Belalcazar himself had several children born in the Americas from Indian mothers, as did his men.

Cali was important for Belalcazar because it was beyond the Inca empire. After the capture and execution of the Inca Atahualpa at Cajamarca, Francisco Pizarro had sent Belalcazar to take possession of Guayaquil and Quito on his behalf. Cali, being beyond the Quechua empire, was claimed by Belalcazar as his own territory. After his death, his descendants maintained possession of much of the land until the war of independence against Spain.

Founding and colonial period

The founder of Cali, Sebastian de Belalcazar, came to the American continent in the third voyage made by Columbus in 1498. In 1532, after serving in Darien and Nicaragua, he joined Francisco Pizarro in the conquest of Peru. In 1534 Belalcazar separated from Pizarro's expedition to found the city of Quito, and later in his search of El Dorado he entered the territory of what is now Colombia, founding the cities of Pasto and Popayan.

On July 25 1536, Belalcazar founded Santiago de Cali, first established a few miles north of the present location, near what are now the towns of Vijes and Riofrio. Under the orders of Belalcazar, captain Miguel Munoz moved the city to its present location in 1537, where the chaplain Brother Santos de Anasco celebrated a mass in the place occupied by the Church La Merced today, and Belalcazar designated Pedro de Ayala as the first municipal authority.

During the Colonia (colonial period), Santiago de Cali was part of the gobernacion of Popayan, which was part of Quito's Audiencia. Although initially Cali was the capital of Popayan's Gobernacion, in 1540 Belalcazar moved this function to Popayan due to better weather.

Until the 18th century most of the territory of what is now Cali was occupied by haciendas (plantations), and the city was only a small town near the Cali River. In 1793, Cali had 6,548 inhabitants, 1,106 of whom were slaves. The haciendas were the property of the dominant noble class with many slaves dedicated mostly to stockbreeding and raising sugar cane crops. Many of these haciendas became neighborhoods of the present city like Canaveralejo, Chipichape, Pasoancho, Arroyohondo, Canasgordas, Limonar, and Melendez.

Cali was strategically positioned for trade, centrally located in relation to the mining regions of Antioquia, Choco, and Popayan. In the colonial period, the first trail for mules and horses between Cali and Buenaventura was completed.


On July 3 1810 Santiago de Cali proclaimed its independence from Popayan's Gobernacion. This local uprising predates the national one in Bogota by 17 days. Soon the local militia looked for allies forming the "Ciudades Confederadas del Valle del Cauca" with Anserma, Cartago, Toro, Buga and Caloto. Immediately after the rebellion the Governor of Popayan, Miguel Tacon y Rosique, organized an army to control the uprising. The people from Cali called for help to the "Junta Suprema" in Bogota which sent a contingent under colonel Antonio Baraya to support the independence cause. On the 28 March 1811 in the battle of Bajo Palace the Army of Baraya defeated the royalist army with the help of Atanacio Girardot.

In the following years there were many battles between royalists and local militia. After having been released from captivity by Napoleon, King Fernando VII of Spain sent a large army under the command of the Pacificador (peacemaker) Pablo Morillo who reclaimed power for Spain.

In 1819 after Simon Bolivar defeated the bulk of the Spaniard army in the Batalla de Boyaca, there were new uprisings in the Valle del Cauca and the Criollos took control permanently. In 1822 Bolivar arrived in Cali. The city was an important military outpost and the region contributed many men to the war of independence that liberated the nations in the south.


Santiago de Cali was a very quiet community in the 20th century with no more than 20,000 inahabitants, was the capital of the Cauca state. The urban zones were: empedrado or altozano that were conformed by La Merced and San Antonio neighborhoods a high part of the city.

The city was Surrounded by mango plantations, pastures and communal lands that were given from the Spanish Crown to the low wealth class. From there the city was supplied in food resources. The economy was based mainly on livestock, sugar cane, beef, panela (sugar derivative), cheese and the gold mines from the pacific, there were also a small growing of the industrialization.

Around 1890 a private company, Company of public works of Cauca, built the "Plaza de mercado" (market plaza). This originates the develop of a comercial area and from this becomes the transformation of the Plaza Mayor or plaza de Caycedo. In 1921, the market was sold to the Cali municipality, very close to the 9th street, were located the princial station of the tranvia (tram) of Cali, this system linked the city with urban areas.

Recent History

In the year 1971 Santiago de Cali hosted the Pan American Games, an event which is considered by many as the height of the city's golden age as a model of civic orderliness with this Cali was named the Sports Capital of Colombia. That same year, the government of Cali inaugurated what is now the second largest building in the Republic of Colombia. "La Torre de Cali", or The Cali Tower, has an hotel, offices and apartment complexes. It stands at 42 floors above the city, making it the 2nd largest building in Colombia, followed by the Colpatria Tower building, which stands in the capital of the republic, Bogota.

On August 7th, 1956, at around 1 a.m., seven Colombian army trucks filled with 42 tons of dynamite exploded near the train station, destroying around eight city blocks and leaving a toll of thousands of dead and wounded.

Geography and climate


Cali is located on the Cauca Valley to the west of the Cauca River and to the east of the Western Mountain Range near the hills known as Farallones de Cali. The city rests approximately 1,000 meters above sea level and its topography is fairly flat. Approximately 100 km west of Cali lies the port city of Buenaventura on the Colombian Pacific coast; to the northeast are the industrial town of Yumbo and the city of Palmira, where Cali's international airport, the Alfonso Bonilla Aragon (CLO), is located; the colonial city of Popayan is two hours south by car in the Cauca department.


Santiago de Cali is located on a valley. The city is totally border by mountains at West, Los farallones are the most greaters close the city. At East the city is border by the Cauca river, North and South both are extended plains, in the first one you can find the industrial city of Yumbo part of Cali's metropolitan area, to the south you can find Jamundi, also a metropolitan area. The city is mainly plain, but there are zones mostly at West that are Mountainous, there are also some elevations practically inside the city; like San Antonio and La loma de la Cruz, both are touristic miradors.

There are Several rivers that descend from the Western Mountain Range and empty into the Cauca River those rivers pass through the metropolitan area of Cali. In the western part of the city the Aguacatal River flows into the Cali River, which continues on to the Cauca River. In the south the rivers Canaveralejo, Lili, and Melendez flow into the CVC south channel which also empties into the Cauca River. Farther south, the banks of the Pance River are a popular place for recreation and leisure.


The local climate is semi-tropical as the Western Mountain Range screens the flow of humidity from the Pacific coast toward the interior of the country. In the afternoons Cali enjoys a fresh cross breeze that originates in the west and blows east. The Western Mountain Range rises from an average of 2,000 meters above sea level in the northern part of the city to approximately 4,000 meters to the south. Because of this variation in altitude, the weather in the northwest portion of the city is drier than in the southwest. The average annual precipitation varies between 900 mm to 1,800 mm depending on the metropolitan zone for a citywide average of approximately 1,000 mm. Cali's average temperature is 24C (74F) with an average low temperature of 19C (66F) and a high of 30C (86F).

Due to its proximity to the equator there are no major seasonal variations. However, locals refer to the dry season as the city's "summer" period and call the rainy season "winter." There are typically two rainy seasons: from April to May and from October to November. Regardless, rain can be expected to fall at any point during the year nourishing the city's permanent green and lush vegetation.


Historical tourism

Santiago de Cali offers historical areas with cultural variety and other attractions. In downtown Cali, you can found many historical churches like La Merced and La Ermita. Cali contains a well preserved Historical center, the most important zone is La plaza de Caycedo, considered the center of the city, which is a square surrounded by many historical and modern buildings like El edificio Otero, La Catedral and El Palacio de Justicia; This plaza is very close to other touristic places like The Saint Francis' church in spanis Iglesia de San Francisco, the municipal theater and La Merced church. The city is also very rich in monuments, parks, squares and museums, the mos emblematic sculptures are Cristo Rey with 42 meters, located upon a mountain range; Sebastian de Belalcazar, founder of the city and Las tres Cruces, a place of pilgrimage during the days of the Holy Week.

Regular tourism

There is a variety of nightclubs and restaurants. In the city you can found whole districts dedicated to tourism, for example Granada, one of the most traditional districts in Cali, full of gourmet restaurants, fashion stores and boutiques. Another place that you have to visit in Cali is "La sexta" is the 16th street all type of nightclubs are there, also restaurants and hotels; is usually called as "zona rosa" or pink zone, and is located in the north very close to Chpichape mall.

Main touristic centers:

Parque del perro: Located in the San Fernando neighborhood, this is one of the most popular zones in the city, full of restaurants and bars.

'''Sebastian de Belalcazar's monument:Is the most visited and popular monument in the city, here you can find regional foods like "Mazorca asada," a roasted corn.

Cali River:One of the most peaceful zones in the city, the river is located in the west and is surrounded by restaurants, hotels and museums like "La Tertulia," an art museum. Cristo Rey:A religious monument located on a hill that offers the best view of the city. Shopping malls:There are six big shopping centers in Cali, and they are divided zones: South:' Unicentro, Palmetto plaza mall, Jardin Plaza, Cosmocentro

North: Chipichape, Centenario''


Masivo Integrado de Occidente (MIO)

Cali has started building a mass transit system, El MIO. El MIO is based on the transportation model consisting of the use of articulated buses. The layout is 243 kilometers long distributed in trunk, pre-trunk and complementary corridors. This system is greatly needed to organize transportation in the City. It should start operating in 2008.

List of the Trunk or principal corridors:

Calle 5

Carrera 15

Calles 13 y 15

Avenida de las Americas

Avenida 3N

Carrera 1

Transversal 25

Carrera 29 y Autopista Oriental

Calle 70

For information about El MIO, in the ofial web site of metrocali; www.metrocali.gov.co (Spanish).

Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport

Cali is served by Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport, also known as Palmaseca International Airport, is located in the City of Palmira and serves Santiago de Cali and its suburbs. It is Colombia's second largest airport in terms of passengers transporting 2,171,551 in 2006 and is the 4th in cargo. Alfonso Bonilla Aragon is located in a long, narrow valley that runs from north to south, and is surrounded by mountains up to 14,000 feet high.


Cali and the department (State) of Valle del Cauca conform one of the principal commercial centers in Colombia. The city is a national and international point of exchange. Cali has a privileged geographical location due to its proximity to Buenaventura port city which is the Colombian main port in the pacific. The citys economy is marked by its history which is reflected in the many sugar plantations of the area. legacy of the haciendas culture (estates culture).

From DANE statistics about Valle del Cauca's PIB growing, on 1940, it double the average number in the country. To the 1997 the regional PIB grows at a very low number, not a 1%. In the 1999 the country recession affect in a very high way the regional economy, the PIB was growing at a rate of -4%. From there to now the economy is growing with ups and downs.

The area industry is also remarkable to its regional economy; the north of the city is the most industrialized district on the region reckoning the city of Yumbo as a major industrial hub for many corporations, like Colombia's beverage producer Postobon S.A. and Bavaria brewery.

Economy 2006-2007

Today the city's economy is rising faster. The construction industry is the perfect example of such a rising by making residential development booming all over the city. Moreover, commercial development is also on the rise; therefore there are many commercial-centers or "malls" and shopping centers going under Construction in the present time, and most of the established ones are expanding or remodeling their existing locations.


Cali is governed by a mayor who is elected for a three-year term. Under the mayor, there are several administrative departments and secretaries.

The city council's members are elected by citywide circumscription for four year terms.

The first elected mayor was Carlos Holmes Trujillo of the Liberal Party.

2007 Elections

The 2007 elections, which takes place on October 28, 2007, to replace Ramiro Reyes as mayor of Santiago de Cali, are very tight. Here is a list of the candidates who are running for "Alcalde del Santiago de Cali", or the mayor of Santiago de Cali:

Jorge Ivan Ospina

Kiko Lloreda

Bruno Diaz

Diego Luis hurtado

Jorge Portocarrero

Here are the current results as of October 28, 2007 5:13 pm :

As of 7:05 pm on October 28, 2007, are the following FINAL results:



The most important higher education institution is the Universidad del Valle (Valle State University), or Univalle, which was founded in 1945; with more than 20,000 students distributed in its schools and departments, Univalle offers a very wide variety of academic programs (with the exception of law). It stands out because of developments in the areas of scientific and applied technological research.

The Universidad Santiago de Cali is another academic center with a considerable number of schools and departments. Other important universities, offering academic programs are Universidad Autonoma de occidente, Universidad Javeriana, Universidad ICESI, Universidad Libre, and Universidad San Buenaventura.

Cultural activities

Feria de Cali (Cali Fair)

"La Feria de Cali" is the main cultural event in the city. It is a fair that has been celebrated since 1957. The fair is celebrated from December 25th to December 30th. The fair is know also as the "Feria de la Cana" (sugar cane fair) and "Feria de la salsa" (Salsa fair). People enjoy many activities like an opening cabalgata (parade of horseback riders), tascas, salsa concerts, bullfights, parades, athletic activities and competitions and cultural exhibitions.

Cali is also known as the "Capital de la Salsa" given the city's infatuation with that type of Afro-Caribbean music. In early July there is the Summer Salsa Festival which lasts for one week. It usually includes concerts by the world's great remaining salsa bands as well as dance shows and "melomano" competitions in which salsa connoisseurs try to out do each other by digging deep into the archives of salsa music and related sounds to find and reveal long lost tunes.

Information about it in www.feriadecali.com (Spanish)

Rio Cali race

Cali has two main athletic events, a mid-year half marathon [*] and a December 10k race called Carrera del Rio Cali.


Colombia's sport capital city

The city of Santiago de Cali is recognized as the sport capital city of Colombia, as it is the first Colombian city to have had hosted the Pan Am Games in the 1970's, and because this region has won the National Olympic Games more than any other region in Colombia. The city also counts with one of the most developed sport infrastructure in the country, many events has been take place in the city.

Cali has two soccer stadiums; Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero and Estadio del Deportivo Cali. Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero is currently home of both Deportivo Cali and America de Cali, since Estadio Deportivo Cali is still under construction. Deportivo Cali is the only soccer team owner of a stadium in Colombia since all of the other soccer stadiums are owned by the government, other important scenario in the city is "El pueblo Arena" is a covered arena center use for all type of events, the main use is basketball.


Cali's infrastructure has permitted it to host several major international sports competitions such as the 1971 Pan American Games, numerous Games of the Pacific, the 1999 Worlds Roller Hockey Championships, womens basketball and swimming events, Pan American Speed-Track Cycling Championships, and most recently the Worlds Roller Speed Skating Championships.

Olimpic stadium Pascual Guerrero

El Pueblo Arena

Polideportivo de El Vallado

Unidad Deportiva Panamericana

Velodromo Alcides Nieto Patino

Gimnasio Evangelista Mora

Patinodromo Los Diputados

Estadio del Deportivo Cali

Football (soccer)

Santiago de Cali is home of two of the greatest soccer clubs in the country, these clubs are Deportivo Cali and America de Cali.

Many well-known Colombian soccer players have been born in Cali:

* Geovanny Hernandez, currently plays for Colo Colo in Santiago de Chile.

*Jairo Patino currently plays for Banfield of Argentina.

* Hugo Rodallega was born in El Carmelo, Valle del Cauca, near Cali. He has played for Deportivo Cali, Monterrey, Atlas and Necaxa or Mexico.

* Mario Yepes played for teams such as Deportivo Cali, and Tulua, both in Valle del Cauca. He currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain, a major football club in France.

*Faryd Aly Mondragon, a famous goalkeeper for both the national team of Colombia, and FC Koln for Germany. He has had a rich history in football, playing for teams such as Galatasary in Turkey.

*Oscar Cordoba currently plays for Deportivo Cali. He is a goalkeeper who has certainly made Colombian history with his impeccable saves. He has played for several many Turkish teams.

Basketball and Bullfighting

Though there is no current basketball team that calls Santiago de Cali home, basketball is the second-most played sport in the city. Basketball is a preferred sport at the city center location "La Carrera del Cholado". Soccer still surpasses basketball in sport popularity.

Bullfighting is staged during the Cali Fair which is held in December. It is anticipated by many citizens in Cali, as well as all Colombia. The bullfighting ring is called La Plaza de Toros de Canaveralejo, located southwest of Cali.


Sister Cities

Amsterdam, Holland

Fukuoka, Japan

Athens, Greece

Stockholm, Sweden

Montreal, Canada

Monte Carlo, Monaco

Prague, Czech Republic

Brighton, England

External links

(The following links are all in Spanish language)

Gobernacion del Valle del Cauca

Universidad del Valle

Universidad Santiago de Cali

Universidad San Buenaventura

Universidad Autonoma de Occidente

Universidad ICESI

Pontificia Universidad Javeriana - Cali

El Pais newspaper

Occidente free newspaper

(PDF) - 2005 Census data


Mundo Andino - Cali

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