Coamo

(ko-AH-mo)

Coamo is known as "La Villa Añeja" (old villa) or "La Villa de San Blas de Illescas" (San Blas de Illescas villa). Coamo was founded on July 15, 1570 by Cristóbal y Blas de Illescas, making it one of the older towns on the island after San Juan and San Germán. The town's original name was San Blas de Illescas, later changed to Coamo, named after a local Indian chief Coamex or Coamey.

Coamo is located in the southern region, north of Santa Isabel; south of Orocovis and Barranquitas; east of Villalba and Juana Díaz; and west of Aibonito and Salinas. Its rivers are: Coamo, Cuyón, Descalabrado, Lapa, Jueyes and Mina.

By 1582, there were twenty families living in Coamo, in the same area where the Tainos had had their village of Guayama. Coamo became officially a town in 1616, and given the title of "Villa" by Spanish Royal Decree in 1778.

Coamo is famous for its thermal springs. They are noted for their healing and therapeutic waters. Long before the Spaniards arrived on the island, the Indians bathed in these waters, and according to legend, this was the fountain of youth that the Indians spoke to Ponce de León about which he mistakenly went to search for in Florida, and unfortunately for him the search would end in his death.

Coamo, established by Spanish settlers as the third town on the island, was the capital of the south until the 1880's, when political power moved to Ponce. Long before the Europeans arrived, Indians bathed in a thermal spring at Coamo; according to one legend, this was the fountain of youth the Indians described to Ponce de León. Today, a parador -Los Baños de Coamo- surrounds the famous spring. It was considered the islands most fashionable resort from 1847 to 1958.

Highlights of the town's plaza include an historical 18th-century church and an elegant masonry home converted into a museum with turn-of-the-century furnishings and local history displays. Open daily: 8:00am-noon 1:00pm-4:00pm, (787) 825-1150 Ext. 206.

In 1901, the first school building was constructed, the Franklin Public School.

During the Spanish-American War (1898), it was the scene of decisive battles.

Every year in february Coamo celebrates San Blás de Illescas Marathon, inaugurated in 1963 by Phi Delta Fraternity in honor to the founder of the town. International and local runners compete in a 13.1-mile half marathon. It's Puerto Rico's biggest race, and the crowds are always large.

The town is manufactures trading center for machinery, aircraft radio components, machines, and clothing. The surrounding areas produces corn, mangoes, oranges and plantains. Poultry and cattle are raised on farms throughout the town.

There are many well-known "coameños", among them: composer Bobby Capo, Carlos Martínez "Coamito" (comedian and musician), Jose Ignacio Quintón (musician),

Coamo is divided into 11 barrios, including the downtown area: Coamo Arriba, Cuyón, Hayales, Los Llanos, Palmarejo, Pasto, Pedro Garcia, Pueblo, Pulgillas, San Idelfonso, and Santa Catalina.

Symbols

Flag

Flag
The flag is divided in three parts: red, yellow and black.

Coat of Arms
The Coat of Arms is divided into four parts. The superior left and the inferior right have a red background with a gold Episcopal hat each. These parts of the Coat of Arms represent the old seat of San Blas de Illescas. The horse and the bull represent the cattle wealth of the population. The gold color that serves as background in contrast with the black color, recalls the yellowish reddish tone of the fields of Coamo during the droughts. The heavy border of the Coat of Arms contains the following figures: two flames; three bell towers with gold bells outlined in red; two red crosses with arms ending in three petals; and a circle with a surface divided by horizontal blue and silver-plated stripes. The bell towers represent the three primitive churches of Coamo. The flames allude to the celebration of the Candelaria, the crosses allude to the Spanish colonizer Cristobal de Illescas, and the circle represents a well for the Thermal Baths of Coamo. The crown has four towers.

Both the flag and coat of arms were adopted on August 5, 1969.

Anthem
The ahthem of Coamo was written by Manuel Torres Tapia. The title is Allí muy cerca del pueblo...

Popular Quotes
"Ven a Coamo y le amaras cual yo le amo." by José Lanause Rolón
"A Coamo visité y mi corazón dejé." by Elliot Borges Espada
"Coamo, Centro del Universo..." by Ramón José Dávila

Climate

Coamo annual precipitation is 36.7 inches, and its average temperature is 81.4°F. Summers are warm (83°-85°F) in the daytime and mild at night time (60°-63°F). On average, June is the warmest month, February is the coolest month, November is the wettest month and March is the driest month.

10 Day Forecast

Demographics
Population: 40,512 (2010)
Density: 520/sq mi (200/km2) (2010)
Housing Units: 13,249 (2000)
Housing Density: 169.8 (2000)
Geography
Land Area: 200 sq km (78.0 sq mi)
Water Area: 0.01 sq km
Coordinates: 18.0800° N, 66.3581° W
Zip Code: 00769
Driving Distance: 62.6 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Economics
Per Capita Income: $6,102 (2000) Unemployment rate: 21.8% (Aug 2013)

Interesting Facts

In 1755, Coamo became the first city where coffee was produced.

Festivals and Events

  • Carnaval de la Yuca - August
  • Carnaval del Juey - October
  • Carnaval Flor de Mayo - May
  • Festival de Bomba y Plena - November
  • Fiestas Patronales de San Blas Illescas - February
    Every year, Coamo celebrates a patron saint festival. The festivities include dances, food, parades and religious processions. (787) 825-1150
  • San Blas de Illescas Marathon - February
    Every year in february Coamo celebrates San Blás de Illescas Marathon, inaugurated in 1963 by Phi Delta Fraternity in honor to the founder of the town. International and local runners compete in a 13.1-mille half marathon. It's Puerto Rico's biggest race, and the crowds are always large. (787) 825-2775 or (787) 825-4077

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Did You Know?

The Camuy River is the third longest underwater river in the world.