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Pereira, Colombia


The city of Pereira is the capital city of the Colombian department of Risaralda. It stands in the center of the western region of the country, located in a small valley that descends from a part of the western Andes mountain chain. Its strategic location in the coffee producing area makes the city an urban center in Colombia, as does its proximity to Bogota, Cali and Medellin – and to the sea and the biggest airport in the whole area. In 2004 it reported a population of 576,329.

History

The area of Pereira was inhabited, before European colonization, by the fierce Quimbaya tribes. They are famous for their artworks in gold, which are considered among the best productions of pre-Colombian America. The Spanish established their first settlement in the area around the year 1540. The town of Cartago was first founded here by Jorge Robledo and Diego de Mendoza, Spanish conquistadors; it was then moved around 1691 to the place where it is today.

Much later, in 1816, the brothers Jose Francisco and Manuel Pereira took shelter in the area after the defeat of Simon Bolivar and his patriot army at the battle of Cachiri. Francisco Pereira Martinez wanted to found a city on this ground, which had protected him and his brother from the Spanish. On August 24, 1863, four days after his death, the priest Remigio Antonio Canarte headed a caravan from Cartago, and founded the City of Pereira six days later (August 30) at the spot in the present "Plaza de Bolivar".

In time, settlers from Antioquia occupied the area and established themselves in the city, which then emerged from the condition of an ambitious village. This is part of the Antioquian expansion which developed much of Colombia. Pereira was especially favored by its economically strategic location, fertile soil, and good weather. The settlers grew large quantities of high-quality coffee in the mineral-rich volcanic soil of the Andes; and it is still the most important crop produced in the area, which is in the center of the "coffee axis" (eje cafetero) region.

Migrants have come to Pereira not only from Antioquia, but from Valle del Cauca, Bogota, and other major Colombian cities. However, during the economic recession of 1999, and the low-growth years of 2000 and 2001, many Pereirans emigrated to the United States and Spain. Some particular neighborhoods, like the neighborhood called Cuba, are believed to average at least one member of the family living abroad.

Popular culture

In addition, the first settlers created a festivity to promote the city, this celebration was made in the anniversary of the city (which conveniently coincided with the harvest), they decided to name it "Harvest Fest" (Fiestas de la cosecha); this festivity was promoted widely across the country, and, eventually became a major one, that generated several phrases that still survive in the lexic of Colombians as: "asi no vamos a llegar a ningun Pereira" , "hicieron su Agosto" .

Demographics

Colombia has held no census since 1993, so the population is uncertain. In Pereira's case, this problem is more serious because so many Pereirans are living abroad. However, the Colombian national institute of statistics (DANE.gov.co) ran a Pereira-specific recount in 2004.

The population is believed to be approximately 576,329 inhabitants as of 2005, making it the sixth biggest city in Colombia. Pereira also has a twin city, Dosquebradas, some five minutes drive from the Plaza de Bolivar, which has approximately 200,000 inhabitants. Neighboring cities, Cartago(40 minutes away), La Virginia(40 min), and Santa Rosa de Cabal(60 min.) have another 210,000 inhabitants, for a total of about 986,000, making the area one of the most crowded urban areas in Colombia. Pereira, Dosquebradas and La Virginia comprise the Metropolitan Area. These three cities are connected via a massive transport system of articulated buses called Megabus; which is projected to be expanded later on to Cartago and Santa Rosa de Cabal. The first stage of the system was inaugurated on 21st of August 2006.

Points of interest

Plaza de Bolivar

Very famous because of the "Bolivar Desnudo" – Naked Bolivar monument. It is located in the main square in the center of the city in front of the cathedral, between 7th and 8th avenues. The area is the focus of commercial and financial activities. The most important activities in the city take place here.

Viaducto Cesar Gaviria Trujillo

The Cesar Gaviria Trujillo Viaduct is one of the proud symbols of the city along with El Bolivar Desnudo in its main square. Finished in 1998, it is one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in South America. The bridge is named in honor of the 40th president of Colombia, Cesar Gaviria, who was born in Pereira.

The bridge communicates Pereira with its neighboring city of Dosquebradas, and provides an important connection for road traffic between the cities of Armenia, Pereira and Manizales.

Matecana City Zoo

The city zoo is the largest in Colombia and one of the largest in South America; it is internationally recognized for leading investigations in the preservation of animal life. There is a Natural History Museum inside the zoo.

Transportation

Matecana International Airport

Sports

Pereira is home to a football (soccer) team, the Deportivo Pereira which plays in the Hernan Ramirez Villegas Stadium. This mulltifunctional stadium is able to host 35,000 people and is the main building in the Villa Olimpica neighborhood. It has hosted major soccer matches from Copa America and several international tournaments.

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Sister Cities

Pereira has 1 sister city, as designated by Sister Cities International, Inc. (SCI):

See also

1999 Armenia earthquake

External links

Pereira's official website (Spanish).

Megabuss official website (Spanish).

PereiraInteractiva.com Web portal Regional of Pereira (Spanish).

The most read newspapers in Pereira are La Tarde and El Diario del Otun:

La Tarde newspaper (Spanish).

El Diario del Otun (Spanish).

Pereira (Spanish).

Universidad Tecnologica (Spanish) - Pereira's leading university, which features a highly regarded engineering school

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


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