Armenia, Colombia, has a population of about 295,000 (as of 2018). Armenia sits at around 5,000 feet on the lower slopes of the central range of the Andes Mountains. The Quindio River runs alongside Armenia at the bottom of a fairly deep canyon. Armenia is not an old city, it was founded in 1889, but it was the first half of the 20th century when therme development really took off because of the coffee industry. Armenia is part of Colombia's Coffee Axis region.
When the city was founded, the first name considered was Villa Holguín, but that was given little consideration because Carlos Holguín was a conservative, and the majority of the board members were liberals. So, they decided to name the town after the historical Kingdom of Armenia. In 1927, the city was given the nickname "Miracle City of Colombia" due to its rapid growth.
The area of Armenia has been occupied for some 10,000 years, originally by the Quimbaya people. They were excellent goldsmiths and some of the artifacts can be seen in the Museum of Gold in Armenia. Their time came to an end when the colonizing Spaniards arrived in the region. In 1999, there was a 6.2 earthquake, which seriously damaged the city. 1230 people died, 5300 were injured, and another 200,000 were affected by the quake, which also destroyed or damaged up to 50,000 buildings. That accounted for almost half of all structures in Armenia in 1999. Also, most of the original Colonial- and Republican-era buildings and homes, were destroyed, never to be rebuilt in their original Bahareque architecture style. From this earthquake, Colombia developed new earthquake-resistance standards for construction. The city was rebuilt with all new modern homes and buildings, and now there are very few of the old Colonial- or Republican-era buildings left to be seen.
Armenia has a tropical climate. The average daytime high of 18° C to 28° C (64° - 84° F), and the nightly average low of 14° to 17° C (57° - 63° F). The city ranges from about 1200 (3937 feet) meters to about 1700 meters (5577 feet). The average yearly rainfall amounts to 6724 mm (265 inches) of rain. The humidity is moderate, typically between 66% - 82%. Armenia gets rain all year round. Its least rainy month is January, and averages 11 days of rain.
So, my impressions: Armenia is a small city with the noise and smelly exhaust from too much traffic that is common in cities. What I like about Armenia is the pedestrian-only street that runs through the entire city center. And, there are many coffee shops/bakeries, you can find one on just about every block in town. Armenia has three plazas and some nice parks, especially Parque de la Vida in the north of the city. It is a very pleasant place to walk on trails, sit alongside the pond, relax, and enjoy a bit of nature in the city. I lived here, in Armenia, for six months a couple of years ago and I like the town. The reason why I left was to find a town that was a little warmer. Armenia has the perfect temperature for a couple of hours in the afternoon, other than that, for me, it's a bit chilly.
My goal is to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal, I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Perú, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the countries mentioned above and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people. And, now that I have visited more than 130 towns/cities (not including more than 70 in Colombia), I've decided I will want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town/city (less than around 80,000 population) that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.
So, to reach my goal I will visit those towns and discover which one calls out to me - "Chip, Chip, make your new home here, this is your new home town". That hasn't happened yet, but the towns listed below are very close to giving me that feeling. At any rate, I have visited very few tourist attractions and archeological sites, etc., those will have to wait for another trip through South America.
My Top 10 list has these towns on it:
- Puyo, Ecuador
- Moyobamba, Peru
- Encarnación, Paraguay
- Formosa, Argentina
- Roldanillo, Colombia
During my travels in Ecuador I visited 36 towns/cities. In Perú, I visited 38; in Chile, only five; and in Argentina, I visited 16. In Uruguay, I visited five, and in Brazil, three. And in Paraguay, I have visited 26. In Colombia, I've visited 82. That's 211 towns/cities in South America.
Next up: Cartago, Colombia.