Before it became Pereira, the capital of the Risaralda region, it was first the town of Cartago, which was moved to the place it is today in 1691. The Cartago-Pereira area was culturally influenced by the fierce Quimbaya tribes. The Quimbaya people are famous for their gold work, which is considered among the best representations of pre-Columbian culture. Settlers from Antioquia occupied the area during expansion efforts that developed much of Colombia. Because of its economically strategic location, fertile soil and good weather, Pereira experienced significant growth during the time of colonization. Settlers grew large quantities of coffee, which is still the most important crop produced in the area.
Unlike Manizales, Pereira had many settlers from Valle del Cauca, BogotĂˇ and other major Colombian cities, and even today, the city has a diverse population. In 1921, with the arrival of the locomotive train, Pereira quickly became known as â€śThe Prodigious City,â€ť as it experienced quick economic growth. Fifty years later, the city had doubled in population and now has 450,000 residents. Today, it continues to buzz with agroindustrial manufacturing and financial activity.
Although itâ€™s an urban place, it is still a city in need of infrastructure for foreign travelers. The two tourist offices in town are more like bookshelves with flyers and business cards, and the hotels cater to business travelers rather than backpackers. Still, if you set aside a day in Pereira, chances are you will find a suitable place to sleep and something interesting to do.