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Quindio Department

Quindio is a department of Colombia. It is in the western central region of the country, crossed by the Andes mountains. Its capital is Armenia. It is famous by the quality of the coffee plantations, colourful architecture, benign weather, plenty of options in hotel accommodations and touristic landmarks. This department is located in a strategic area, in the center of the triangle formed by the three main cities of the country: Bogota, Medellin and Cali. Quindio is the second smallest Colombian department (0.2% of the national territory) with 12 municipalities. Ethnographically and culturally it belongs to the Paisa region.


Before the Spanish invasion the entire area was inhabited by the peoples of the Quimbaya civilization until the 10th century B.C. At the time of Spanish conquest the area was inhabited by indigenous people of Carib descent known as the Pijao tribes. The native population was gradually reduced due to slavery and armed confrontations, causing the territory to remain mostly uninhabited over the following centuries. At the present time, only a small population of nearly 2000 Amerindians remains in an indigenous reservation near La Tebaida.

The first settlement to be founded in the area was Salento in 1842. In the XIX century northern peasants from Antioquia set out to settle in the area and their goal was to stay there permanently in a process known as Colonizacion antioquena (Antioquian Colonisation). Due to the inaccessibility of the territory and the lack of roads, trade and communications were made through mule caravans (arrieria).

The capital city, Armenia was founded in October 14, 1889 by colonists lead by Jesus Maria Ocampo. In 1905, the old Department of Antioquia was partitioned into two, giving rise to the new Department of Caldas, which at the time included the modern department of Risaralda. In 1908 the territory, then in jurisdiction of the Cauca Department, was annexed to Caldas department. From 1948, this was one of the most affected departments by an armed conflict known as La Violencia, with casualties and damages to property in all municipalities.

In 1966, (January 16) it's separated as an autonomous department itself. The project for the creation of the new department was developed by the local politician Ancizar Lopez who became the first governor. In 1999 the capital city and many villages and towns were partially destroyed by an earthquake. (See 1999 Armenia earthquake) The rebuilding was financed by national and international donations managed by a public organization known as FOREC (acronym for Fund for Reconstruction of Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis).

Other relevant events in the history of the Quindio department are:

1942: The opening of the first beer factory (BAVARIA)

1947: The opening of the first Coffee roaster industry (Cafe Luz)

1954: The most successful coffee harvest in the history of the country (bonanza cafetera)

1961: In response to the serious problem of violence related with the bipartisan political conflict the national government created the 8th division of the Army (octava brigada) and the Cisneros Military base to operate in this area.

1962: Soldiers of the 8th division kill the most important leader of the violent armed groups of the area Teofilo Arias Varon A.K.A chispas.

1964: Opening of the Metalmechanic Industries of Quindio

1964: The Regional Autonomous Corporation is created to protect the local environment

1965: Opening of the Soft drinks factory Gaseosas Regional

1966: The pyramidal cathedral to the Immaculate Conception with post-modern architecture is built.

1967: Ivan Botero Gomez enterprise Starts operations

1968: Is murdered Jaime Ramirez Valencia.

1996: Was kidnapped Delio Arango Amaya

also see list of Governors of the Department of Quindio.


In order of population:

Armenia, capital city. Named after the caucasus republic of Armenia.

Calarca. Named after the Calarca Cacique, indigenous leader.

La Tebaida. Named after the thebaid region of ancient Egypth.

Circasia. Named after the caucasus region of Circassia.

Montenegro. Named after the balcanic republic of Montenegro.

Quimbaya. Named after the indigenous Quimbaya civilization.

Salento. Named after the Salento region in Italy.

Cordoba. Named after the andalusian city of Cordoba, Spain

Pijao. Named after the amerindian Pijao federation

Genova. Named after the Italian city of Genoa

Buenavista. Named after the Spanish city of Buenavista de Valdavia


Most of its surface is occupied for the western face of the Cordillera Central. Highest mountain: Nevado del Quindio, (Snow Mountain of Quindio) 5.150 m high. The lowest area is the valley of la Vieja River, 1.100 m high.

There are in this department about of mountain landscapes, with many Rainforests and Guadua bamboo forests. The ground is enriched with ancient volcanic eruptions, rising its fertility, there are also many rivers and minor water streams, including the Quindio River and the Cocora valley located in this river origin.

The weather has a wide range, given the variations on termic floors. It has a high annual rain precipitation because the humidity of winds from the Pacific Ocean stopped by the Andes. There are two rainy seasons (April and November). The average of temperature is between 24C in La Vieja river and 16C in Salento.

Quindio Wax Palm Tree

With law 61 of 1985, the Colombian Congress adopted Quindio Wax Palm Tree [ Ceroxylon quindiuense (Karsten) Wendl.], a local endangered species of high-altitude-adapted palm tree, as the National Tree. As ratified on September 16 for the current president of Colombia, Belisario Betancur, in the following terms: "1. It's declared as national tree and symbol of our fatherland the species commonly known as quindio wax palm tree, scientific name ceroxylon quindiuense. 2. National Government Is faculted to buy as many lands as needed to create wildlife sanctuaries with the purpose of preserve this national symbol and its natural environment. 3. Chopping down the wax palm tree is forbidden and punished with fine and jail"."

The wax palm tree was nearly extincted for the extraction of the resinous substance that it exudes. Furthermore, its leaves were widely used for the celebration of Holy Week processions, especially Palm Sunday.


Economy is mainly based in the harvest of coffee plant. It is one of the most important producers of Colombian coffee. The department belongs to the Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis which is the centre of production and export of the highest quality coffee in Colombia. Plantain, cassava, Salentune potato and sugarcane are also cultivated, mostly for consume in the local markets.

In recent years, due to instability in the international coffee market, and attacks on the coffee fields by plagues such as Roya (Hemileia vastatrix) and Broca (Coffee borer beetle) (Hypothenemus hampei), interest has been directed to alternative options like citrus fruits and macadamia nuts. There is, however a growing tourism industry based in the interest of traditional peasant culture, natural resources, and typical landscapes.

Nevertheless, since the Tourism industry is seasonal and the agriculture is debilitated, there is lack of steady jobs and sources of income, and as result the department has the highest rates of unemployment in the country (data from the National department of Statistics DANE 2003).


Quimbaya museum

Colombian National Coffee Park


Cocora Valley

Mariposario (Butterfly vivarium)

National Bamboo and Guadua Investigation Center


Snow Mountain of Quindio



Some of the typical food and drinks are:

The Salentune Patacon, which is made with plantain, smashed in a thin layer, fried and covered with grinded cheese and pineapple sauce.

The Quindian arepa filled with shredded chicken and pieces of pig chicharron.

The Cocora baked trout.

The Maduro is a broiled plantain filled with cheese and Bocadillo (thick guava jam).

The roasted gurre

The guatin stew

The coffee wine (obtained from fermentation of coffee berries) with flavor similar to coffee liqueur.

The coffee arequipe

The corn chicha fermented in a large pottery recipient containing a horseshoe to enhance the flavor.

The Carajillo, typical cocktail made of one part of hot coffee, one part of sugarcane aguardiente and cinnamon sticks.

Festivals and celebrations

Quindio department is the main exponent of traditional Cultura Cafetera (coffee culture) in the country, and there are several events all around the year that attracts a large number of visitors to this region. With the purpose of preserve this cultural expressions, the regional government promotes the declaration of Patrimony of Humanity by the Unesco

Among other events:

The National Coffee Party is the main event of the department. It is celebrated each year since 1960 in Calarca, the last days of June. The event includes the national beauty contest of coffee.

The international fair of handcrafts, each may in Armenia.

The day of St. Isidro (July-all the municipalties).

The National festival of kites (august- La Tebaida).

The anniversary of Armenia (October), with the Yipao or jeep parade.

The candlelight festival of Quimbaya (December) .

The Bullfighting season of La Macarena (January- Armenia).

Fauna and Flora

Quindio is the natural habitat of 520 species of birds and about 60 species of mammals. Many of them are endemisms. The area has the largest number of heliconia species in the world and a large numbers of species of orchids, mainly of the genera cattleya, odontoglossum, miltonia, phragmipedium and peristeria. Due to agricultural activities the amount of natural forests typical of the area, such the paramo, the cloud forest are decreasing progressively. This has caused that many of the endemic species are threatened, endangered or critically endangered. Some of them are:

Yellow-eared Parrot

Andean Guan

Colombian Weasel

Epicrionops columbianus caecilian

Mano de oso tree.

External links

Biblioteca Luis Angel Arango/Quindio




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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Quindio Department

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