Salinas is known for its high altitude, economic solidarity and it’s kind people that will make you feel at home!
Salinas de Guaranda (also known as Salinas de Bolívar) is both a town and a parish that stretches from 600 to 4,200 meters above sea level. The parish has a 30 communities with approximately 10,000 people: 70% indigenous, 15% mestizo (mix indigenous and white) and 15% montubio (mestizo of the costal region).
The climate of the town (3,500 meters above sea level) avergages 12 degrees but can range from 5-18 and occupies a little less than 50 hectares.
Formerly the lands of the Tomabela indigenous peoples, the Parish was founded in 1884.
Up until 1970, the area was a large hacienda, run by Colombian decendents. The local people were offered very low wages in exchange for processing salt that comes from the mines (where Salinas gets its name). They lived in chozas (mud huts with straw rooves), no water, electricity, phone or official road. The living conditions were so poor that there was a 45% mortaility rate un children under 5’s and an 85% illiteracy rate.
In 1971 the hacienda had been dismantled and basic services were brought to the village. The following year, the cooperative bank was formed, and with the vision of Padre Antonio Polo, the community began to create small enterprises built on economic solidarity.
First was the cheese factory, followed by the texile industry, youth foundation, community tourism, chocoate factory and essential oils, to name a few! There are over 30 cooperatives in the Parsh of Salinas which now export their products to the USA, Japan and Europe.
Salinas is now celebrating 50 years of community enteprise and economic solidarity.