Medellín, formally the Municipality of Medellín, is Colombia’s second-largest city and the seat of the Antioquia department. It is situated in the Aburrá Valley, a major section of South America’s Andes Mountains. As of 2014, the city has a population of 2.44 million people, according to the National Administrative Department of Statistics. Medellín’s metropolitan region, which includes nine additional cities, is Colombia’s second-largest urban agglomeration in terms of population and economy, with about 3.7 million inhabitants.
In 1616, the Spaniard Francisco Herrera Campuzano established the “Saint Lawrence of Aburrá” (San Lorenzo de Aburrá) indigenous town (“poblado”) in the present-day El Poblado community. On November 2, 1675, Queen Consort Maria of Austria established the “Town of Our Lady of Candelaria of Medellín” (Villa de Nuestra Seora de la Candelaria de Medelln) in the Aná district, which now corresponds to the city’s heart (east-central zone), and initially refers to the territory as “Medellín.” The National Congress of the embryonic Republic of Gran Colombia, which included present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama, designated the city as the seat of the Department of Antioquia in 1826. Medellín became the capital of the Federal State of Antioquia after Colombia’s independence from Spain until 1888, with the promulgation of the Colombian Constitution of 1886. Medellín was a thriving economic city in the nineteenth century, initially selling gold and subsequently manufacturing and exporting coffee.
The city was formerly considered as the most dangerous in the world because to its association with the now-defunct Medellín Cartel. However, its murder rate has dropped by 95% and severe poverty has dropped by 66%, owing in part to a series of visionary mayors who drew out plans to merge the city’s poorest and most dangerous hillside areas into the city center in the valley below. Medellín is currently deemed safer than the top 50 US cities of Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit, and New Orleans, according to the CCSPJP.
With the building of the Medellín Metro commuter train, liberalized development laws, increased security, and improved education, the city recovered economic vitality around the turn of the century. Overseas Development Institute researchers recognized the city as a forerunner of a post-Washington consensus “local growth state” model of economic development. The city is marketed globally as a tourism attraction and is deemed “adequate” by the GaWC to be a global metropolis.
The Medellín Metropolitan Area accounts for 67 percent of the GDP of the Department of Antioquia and 11 percent of Colombia’s economy. Medellín is significant in the area because of its universities, academies, business, industry, science, health services, flower-growing, festivals, and nightlife.
Medellín was named the world’s most inventive city in February 2013 by the Urban Land Institute, owing to recent improvements in politics, education, and social development. In the same year, Medellín was named the favorite corporate business destination in South America, and also received the Verónica Rudge Urbanism Award from Harvard University for the Urban Development Enterprise, owing largely to the city’s North-Western Integral Development Project. Colombia’s proposal to host UN-7th Habitat’s World Urban Forum in Medellín from April 5–11, 2014 was approved by the United Nations in September 2013.
According to Indra Sistemas’ most current report on the worldwide status of Smart Places, Medellín is one of the greatest cities to live in South America, sharing first position with Santiago de Chile, and ranking with Barcelona and Lisbon in Europe. Medellín was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize in 2016. The goal of the award is to recognize and celebrate efforts to advance innovation in urban solutions and sustainable urban development.