Pereira is the capital city of the Colombian department of Risaralda. It stands in the center of the western region of the country, located in a small valley that descends from a part of the western Andes mountain chain. Its strategic location in the coffee producing area makes the city an urban center in Colombia, as does its proximity to Bogotá, Cali and Medellín. In 2004, it reported a population of 576,329.
The area of Pereira was inhabited, before the European colonization, by the Quimbaya, known for their artworks in gold. The Spaniards established their first settlement in the area around the year 1540. The town of Cartago was first founded here by the conquistators Jorge Robledo and Diego de Mendoza; it was then moved around 1691 to the place where it is today.
In 1816, the brothers José Francisco Pereira and Manuel Pereira took shelter in the area after the defeat of Simón Bolivar and his army at the battle of Cachirí. Francisco Pereira Martinez wanted to found a city on this ground. On August 24, 1863, four days after Pereira's death, priest Remigio Antonio Cañarte headed a caravan from Cartago, and founded the city of Pereira six days later (August 30) where presently is the "Plaza de Bolivar."
In time, settlers from Antioquia occupied the area and established themselves in the city. Pereira was favored by its economically strategic location, fertile soil, and good weather. The settlers grew large quantities of high-quality coffee in the mineral-rich volcanic Andean soil; this is still the most important crop produced in the area, which is in the center of the so-called "coffee axis" (eje cafetero) region.
Migrants have come to Pereira also from Valle del Cauca, Bogotá, and other major Colombian cities. However, during the economic recession of 1999, and the low-growth years of 2000 and 2001, many Pereirans emigrated to the United States and Spain.
Information based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pereira,_Colombia