Ibagué 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 inhabitants, making it the seventh 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 Generals 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 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, folklore festivities, and its many monuments referring to music. The citys main educational institutions are the University of Tolima, the University of Ibagué, the Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia and the Conservatory of Tolima.
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