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Medellin Antioquia ColombiaCulture
Medellin Colombia Culture
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People from Medellin are actually called by their Department denomination: Antioquenos, as opposed to a city derived name: Medellinenses. They are also known as Paisas, which some suggest is derived from the coffee growers. The word in Spanish is the short version of "Paisano" (Countryman), but it took along the Colombian history meaning of: just the ones who come from the big regions made up of the departments of Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío, the 80% of the department of Antioquia, whose capital is Medellín, the north of the department of Valle del Cauca and the northwest of the department of Tolima. In this way, Paisa means anything related to that Region.They make up one of the five different regional cultures within Colombia, also called the Paisa region
The importance of the Paisas started soon after the Independence of Colombia from the Kingdom of Spain at the beginning of the 19th Century. It was first confined to the most mountainous region of South America and their lands which were rather difficult to use for agriculture. Gold mines and cattle were the first economic pursuits of the region. In 1849 some families from what is today Antioquia, settled near the snowed mountain of Ruiz and founded Manizales in what is called in history as the "Antioquian Colonization" or the "Paisa Colonization" to the southwest of Colombia. That migration continued until the middle of the 20th Century and gave to the Region an economic vitality without precedent. The Region would become the center of the first exportable product besides gold of Colombia: Coffee.
Medellín became the capital of Antioquia on April 17, 1826 replacing Santa Fe de Antioquia. Located in the Aburrá Valley, midway between the two main rivers of Colombia, Magdalena and Cauca, the small village started to be a very important commercial center for the Region.
Pedro Justo Berrío, President of Antioquia. (Picture from Luís Ángel Arango Virtual Library of Banco de la República:)
Medellin, being the capital of the State of Antioquia during the so called United States of Colombia at the end of the 19th Century, Berrio was responsible for leading the regions progress and urbanization. Berrío is considered one of the most prominent governors of economics in Colombia history: He founded the Banco de Antioquia, was responsible for the development of the railway, organized education and put Antioquia at the top of urbanization progress in Colombia. Throughout the 20th Century, Medellín would emerge from being a small city, to growing into a city of planned development.
The second half of the 20th Century would create a big challenge for Medellín. It's growing population, due to the farmers fleeing rural violence after 1949 and the appearance of mafia and the drug cartels in the 70´s that gave title to the city as the murder capitol the world.
The era of the Medellin Cartel and Pablo Escobar has come and gone. Much like the era of Al Capone in Chicago. You would not judge Chicago from it's roaring 20's reputation as a place to visit today would you?
Today, the people of Medellin are fiercely proud of their Spanish heritage and are happy to have the days of violence behind them. It is a vibrant city full of contrast in wealth and poverty, with excellent educational institutions, modern infrastructure, upscale malls, modern transportation, exuberant nightlife, an economy that is thriving and growing rapidly.
Large selection of Botero prints and other Colombian art available
If you are planning a visit to Medellin, you might want to take a few moments and read the Medellin Travel Guide Culture Gram. It has a lot of information on do's and don'ts as well as local cultural guidelines. Worth the time to read!
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