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Two thousand years before the Spanish conquest, the Cauca Medio/Zona Cafetera was populated by agricultural workers, gold and salt miners, ceramic artists and farmers. Gold and ceramic art were highly valued in these early societies, and the abundance of gold and clay spurred a great proliferation of art for centuries. Metal works were created with unique methods combining gold and copper, and surviving ceramics depict simple yet beautiful zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures.

Until 1540, there were so many different indigenous customs, traditions and languages present in this area that European settlers classified the cultures into provinces: Caramanta, Anserma, Arma, Picara, Carrapa, Quimbaya, Quindío and others. Among all of these groups, the most impressive gold and masterful art came from the Quimbaya.

In the late 1500s, the indigenous and native people in metropolitan centers like Manizales and Pereira moved to quieter, more comfortable mountain villages. This is why  there are so many lovely colonial pueblos (towns) and buildings in this region. Rural farm life continues to be important for the people here, and traditional customs are still practiced in the more remote parts of Risaralda and Quindío.

As the nation’s green region, Zona Cafetera has a perfect microclimate for plant life. Coffee, berries, potatoes, and many other fruits and vegetables grow here almost effortlessly. As populations in the area flourished, these industries continued to develop.

UNESCO declared the Zona Cafetera a World Heritage Site in July of 2011, due to its sustainable coffee-producing terrain, which represents traditional coffee-growing techniques and is an example of environmental adaptation.

16 Feb 2012

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