Ibagué ([iβaˈɣe]) is the capital of Tolima, one of the 32 departments that make up the Republic of Colombia. The city is located in the center of the country, on the central mountain range of the Colombian Andes, near Nevado del Tolima. It is one of the most populous cities in the country, with about 498,401 (according to the 2005 census) inhabitants, making it the seventh (7th) most populous in Colombia. It was founded on October 14, 1550, by the Spanish captain Andrés López de Galarza. The city of Ibagué is divided into 13 communes and the rural area has 17 corregimientos. As the capital of the department of Tolima the city hosts the Government of Tolima, the Departmental Assembly, and the Attorney General's Office. It is the main epicenter of political, economic, administrative, business, art, culture, and tourism activities in the area.
Ibagué maintains one of the major urban economies of Colombia and could grow in prominence within South America with its development potential and competitive national and international business centers, industry, and infrastructure. It is one of three cities in the country chosen by the World Trade Center Association (WTCA) to build headquarters along with Cali, adding to the one existing in Bogotá. The economy of Ibagué is based primarily on the industrial, tourism, and agricultural sectors, with its textile industry being the third largest in Colombia. According to "Doing Business" from the World Bank in Washington DC, Ibagué tops the ranking of the cities with greater ease of doing business and investment in the country after Manizales.
The city is known as "The Musical Capital of Colombia and America", thanks to the Conservatory of Tolima (one of the most prestigious and important in Colombia), folklore festivities, and its many monuments referring to music. The city's main educational institutions are the University of Tolima, the University of Ibagué, the Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia (UNAD) and the Conservatory of Tolima.
Ibagué was founded by Spaniard Andrés López de Galarza on October 14, 1550, as "Villa de San Bonifacio de Ibagué del Valle de las Lanzas" ("Town of Saint Boniface of Ibagué of the Valley of the Spears") in a nearby location which now contains the urban area of the neighboring municipality of Cajamarca about 42 km (26 miles) to the west of the modern city of Ibagué. The indigenous Pijaos commanded by cacique Ibagué were not fond of Spaniards colonizing the area so the city was re-founded in its current location on February 7, 1551. From April to December 1854, Ibagué was briefly the capital of the New Granada following a coup d'etat promoted by José María Melo, a general and politician born in Chaparral, Tolima. In 1908, when the department of Tolima was created, Ibagué became the departmental capital. The University of Tolima was founded in 1945, and was raised to state university status in 1954. The city is also the home of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ibagué.
Ibagué is located in the Colombian Andean region, in the center of the department of Tolima, surrounded by mountains on all sides with the exception of a plateau which extends to the east.
Ibagué lies within the Andean Volcanic Belt. It has two active volcanoes in its immediate vicinity: the Nevado del Tolima, 28 km (17 mi) NW of the city, and the Cerro Machín, 17 km (11 mi) west of the city center but still within the Municipality of Ibagué. The city is one access point to Los Nevados National Park, the other being Manizales.
Cerro Machín has been dormant for the last 800 years, but seismological activity has been registered recently causing several earthquakes. The volcano is classified as "III - Changes in behavior of volcanic activity" by Ingeominas, the Colombian Institute for Geology and Mining. A map of menaced areas has been published indicating that in the event of an eruption the city of Ibagué would not be affected despite its proximity to the volcano.
The total population of the municipality of Ibagué (including urban and rural areas), according to the 2005 census, was 498,401 inhabitants, of which 468,647 resided in the urban area. The National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) estimates that the total population in 2015 was 553,526, with 523,068 in the urban area (cabecera) and 30,458 in the rural area (resto).
Municipal transport is managed by several local bus companies that operate minibuses throughout the city and to neighboring villages.
Ibagué lies at the intersection of national roads 40 and 43, connecting the city to Magdalena River Valley and Bogotá to the east, Armenia and the Valle del Cauca to the west, and Honda to the north. There is a long distance bus terminal with connections to most big cities in Colombia. There are frequent connections to Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, and several overnight buses to Cartagena, Barranquilla, and seasonal services to Santa Marta.
About 10 km (6 mi) east of the city lies Perales Airport which has several flights a day to Bogotá and Medellín.
Ibagué features a tropical rainforest climate under the Köppen climate classification, albeit a relatively cooler version of the climate due to the high altitude. Although the city does experience noticeably drier conditions during the months of January and July, the city has no true dry season month, as all twelve months see on average more than 60 mm (2.4 in) of precipitation. As is commonplace in areas with this climate, temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the course of the year in Ibagué, with average high temperatures of about 28 degrees Celsius and average low temperatures of about 18 degrees Celsius. On average Ibagué sees 1,700 mm (66.9 in) of precipitation annually.
Ibagué is the birthplace of painter Darío Ortiz Robledo, boxer Óscar Escandón, singer Jairo Alberto Bocanegra Pena, soprano Patricia Caicedo, and novelist James Cañón.
The Colombian Football Association announced that Ibagué will be one of the venue cities to host the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup.
Ibagué is twinned with: Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain