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Medellin, Colombia


Medellin is home to over 2 million people (residents of Medellin are called Paisas) and is the capital of the department of Antioquia. It is the second largest city in Colombia. Traveling to Medellin from Bogota takes about an hour by airplane. It lies north to south in the Aburrá valley and is surrounded on either side by majestic mountain ranges.

Medellin was once infamous for serious crime and violence related to drug trafficking, and even as recently as 2010, the U.S. government issued a travel advisory, the city has undergone a renaissance of sorts in the past 20 years, and travellers who use common sense are relatively safe.

The affluent neighborhood of El Poblado offers many fine restaurants and upscale/boutique hotels. Laureles and Envigado are the more middle class suburban neighborhoods. The city proper is flanked by 8 smaller towns. Together, they are known as the Area Metropolitana.

On the East side lies the valley of Rionegro. José María Córdova International Airport is located here, along with many factories, parks, and residential areas.

Medellin is nicknamed the "City of Everlasting Spring" due to it's consistently sunny, mild, pleasant weather.The average temperature hovers around 70F degrees and the humidity is about 70% on average.

The city is built on a grid pattern, and is extremely easy to get around in, especially by the Metro/Metrobus system, an expansive bus/train/cable car system, the only one of it's kind in South America.

Just a few places you might like to visit:

The Metropolitan Cathedral, which holds the record as one of the buildings in the world with the most bricks -over 1'1 million-, located along the Bolivar park in the city heart.

Museo de Antioquia displays a collection of contemporary art including many pieces, paintings and sculptures of Fernando Botero, one of the most important sculptors in the world.

Museo Universidad de Antioquia represents the merge of six collections: Visual Arts, Natural Science, University History, Galileo Interactive Room, Human Being and Anthropology. The attraction for foreigners is the Anthropology Collection which has the largest number in the Colombia of pre-Columbian ceramic pieces, with nearly 20,000 objects.

Medellin boasts a number of park and recreation areas, including botanical gardens and a zoo.

Officially it is not legal to work in Colombia without a proper working visa. Visas can be obtained by employers on your behalf. There is a significant market for English and other language teachers.

The local currency is the Colombian Peso (COP). Bank notes come in denominations from 1000 to 50,000 pesos. Coins are available in 20, 50, 100, y 500 pesos, although 20 coins are quite unusual outside the supermarkets.

Medellin is generally a safe city for tourism, depending on the part of town you visit and the hours (like most other cities) and is much safer than in previous years. However, most of the inner city is best avoided at night, maybe excluding El Poblado. Most travelers to Medellin will tell you that they never found themselves in any danger while there, as the city center and touristy neighborhoods and attractions are all heavily policed.

The water is safe to drink, although you can buy bottled water in many shops. Because of the altitude of the city, there is no risk of illnesses like malaria, cholera, yellow fever, leishmaniasis or Chagas disease.

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