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Last Updated 3/26/15
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Indigenous Natives
There are a large number of Amazonian Indigenous Natives still living in small villages all over Colombia including the Cuna, Putumayo, Embera, Koguis  and about 60 other tribes.  Visits are possible in certain areas of the country. During the era of Violencia, many of these indigenous tribes were displaced from their villages. There are about 65 different indigenous native languages spoken in Colombia.

Medellin History (short version)
Colombia became independent from Spain in 1819. It was one of the five countries liberated by Simon Bolivar (the others being Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia). Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama then formed the first Republic of Colombia. Ecuador and Venezuela declared their independence from Colombia in 1830. Panama declared its independence from Colombia in 1903 with the support of the United States of America.

Medellin was first noticed by the Spaniard, Marshall Jorge Robledo in 1541.  He was living in the neighboring town of Heliconia when he noticed the valley and sent Jeronimo Luis Tejelo to explore.  The Spaniards discovered about 3,000 natives living in the valley and the Spaniards were met with fierce resistance. The aborigines belonged to the aburraes tribe. The chronicles made note that they were poor, made textiles, planted corn, red beans and bred small rabbits, guinea pigs and dogs. Their poverty, warlike spirit and the lack of gold discouraged the Spaniards from settling the valley until 1574 when Don Gaspar de Rodas requested the town council to provide him with 4 leagues of land for him to set up a cattle ranch.  For more information on the history of Medellin.(long Version)

Current Medellin- Today, Medellin is considered the commercial and industrial center of Colombia. With its modern infrastructure, excellent schools and universities, mild climate, low cost of living and friendly people, it is considered a highly desirable place to live. The days of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel have come and gone and the city is considered extremely safe.

A 49 year communist insurgent campaign to overthrow the Colombian Government escalated during the 1990s and is supported in part by funds from the drug trade. Although the violence is deadly and large swaths of the rural countryside are under guerrilla influence, the movement lacks the military strength or popular support necessary to overthrow the government. Plus, Colombia has very good relations with the United States and receives significant support and aid to fight the illegal drug trade emanating from Colombia. 80% of the illegal anti insurgent paramilitary groups have ceased operations and surrendered their arms in recent years, although several well organized groups still exist challenging the insurgents for control of territory and illicit industries such as the drug trade.  The majority of these activities exist in rural, mountainous and jungle areas. While the government continues to try and negotiate a settlement and a release of hostages on both sides and the conflict is under constant mediation, there is little progress of any significance in bringing this long term civil war to an end. Medellin is far from any major guerrilla activity although traveling to the northern parts of Antioquia is not advised. When in doubt, ask a local.

Security, especially in major cities like Medellin, is very high and very visible. Police, military police and regular army soldiers, all armed with automatic rifles, are a common sight. Hotels and shopping malls have both armed guards and sniffer dogs. Car park attendants check under your vehicle for explosives using a mirror on a pole and check your car trunk before allowing you to enter. Many public buildings have metal detectors.

Colombia Just the  Facts (and lots of them).  ( many you will not need to know but some that may be of special interest).

Medellin Police and Security: 911 in Medellin is 112.  As in any other big city, visitors should take care and precautions when traveling around in the city. Be careful with personal belongings.  Do not flash wads of cash, wear flashy or expensive jewelry and do not hesitate to call 112 for police assistance. You are advised not to carry original travel documents or your passport.  A copy (preferably color) will suffice. Donít stuff your wallet with credit and debit cards. Only carry what you will need and try for buttoned or Velcro cargo pants pockets. Use safety deposit boxes in hotels and apartments you rent. Carry personal effects like cameras discretely (like in a plastic shopping bag with a supermarkets name on it). Visit only attractions listed in the Medellin Travel Guide or those suggested by tour companies.  Stay out of El Centro at night.  Even the locals do not like going there at night.

Medellin Currency and banksAs a tourist, you will not be allowed to open a local bank account (there are exceptions but they are extremely rare).  You are also limited on the amount of money you can bring into the country without declaring it.  The official currency is the Colombian Peso.

Colombian Peso.  Denominations are 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 Peso notes Note:  A 100,000 peso note is due in circulation in 2015.  Note:  Watch the ones and tens at night.  They look very much alike! Just remember. The 10,000 note has a ladys face on it.
Coins are 20,50,100, 200, 500 and 1,000 peso coin denominations.

There are official cambios at airports, hotels, malls and other places where you can exchange money into local currency at the exchange rate posted for that day, less a small service fee, usually 10%.  Never, never, never exchange money on the streets. It is most likely counterfeit and there is a lot of it in circulation. The dollar is the most widely used money for market transactions.  Most banks, malls, grocery stores, hotels, shopping centers and other places have ATMís.  They usually have limits per transaction of between 400k-500 pesos but you can make multiple transactions up to the limit set by your bank.  It is not advised to walk around with large sums of money.  Just take what you need for the day/night or restock when your reserves get low at one of the many ATMís (called ATH ((ah-te haches) in Colombia). ATMs also generally offer a better exchange rate than cambios.  Travelers checks genreally offer the lowest exchange rate and require lots of identification (including fingerprinting) and paperwork.

Debit and credit cards Most places accept debit or credit cards for your transactions.  The only exceptions might be small stores, restaurants and bars.  Most frequently accepted are Master Card and Visa.  American Express is not accepted in many places. When using a credit card you may be asked for a copy of your passport or other ID.  You may also be asked, "cuanto cuotas"?  They are asking you how many payments you want to make. Respond, "Uno"

Medellin Telecommunications

To Call Medellin from the US:      011 57 4 + local number (Intln LD access+country code+ city code+ local number)

Calling to a mobile phone in Colombia from the USA you must dial 011 + 57 + number


Calling from a mobile phone in Colombia to any landline in Colombia: Dial - 03 + City Code + Number

When calling from a mobile phone in Colombia to any other mobile phone in Colombia

Just dial the Number. City code not necessary.

Medellin Cell Phones
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Medellin Gyms;

Medellin Parks;

Medellin Theaters (Cinemas or Cines)

Medellin Museums; (attractions)

Medellin Churches

Medellin Univerities:


Medellin Language Schools;
Indigenous Native Colombian
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