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The History of Colombia

A Short History of Colombia: Colombia owes its name to the revolutionary Francisco de Miranda, who invented the name in 1806 in homage to the discoverer of the New World. Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada called it New Granada for the first time, in memory of his hometown. He explored it in 1536-1539 and founded his capital, Santa Fé de Bogotá, in an Andean plateau irrigated by the Magdalena River, at an altitude of 2600 meters.

History of Colombia Timeline
History of Colombia Timeline

A History on Colombia

  • Continent: America.
  • Area: 1,141,748 km2.
  • Capital: Bogotá.
  • Currency: Colombian Peso.
  • Official language: Spanish.

Religion Percentage in Colombia Country

Religious Beliefs In Colombia

Rank Belief System Share of Contemporary Colombian Population
1 Roman Catholic Christianity 75%
2 Protestant Christianity 15%
3 Atheism or Agnosticism 5%
Other Beliefs 5%

Origin of Colombia

Original History of Colombia: To know the history and origin of Colombia you must first know what it is like. This is because its geographical location has been fundamental throughout its history. With the triple chain of the Northern Andes fragmenting the territory, crossed by magnificent rivers, open to the Caribbean and the Pacific, strategically located between the North and South Americas, Colombia is a privileged land that hosts a rich biological diversity. The country is bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea, on the west by Panama and the Pacific Ocean, on the south by Ecuador and Peru, and on the east by Brazil and Venezuela.

Formerly called New Granada, Colombia was the scene of the desperate expeditions made by hundreds of hardened Spanish conquistadors in search of El Dorado, one of the most important chimeras in history.

El Dorado was never found, but in return, the conquistadors accessed the immense treasure trove of monumental art, ceramics and goldsmithing of the ancient cultures of the Andean north, and incorporated into the Spanish crown the richest of the lands of America. However, this beautiful country has not had, nor does it have, an easy history: its people are far from having obtained the security and development promised to them by those who brought them to public freedoms.

Prehistory Colombia

Early History of Colombia: The arrival of the first populations in Colombian territory has been recorded approximately since 20,000 BC. C., starting the history of Colombia. The routes of the population were varied, as attested by the different linguistic families and the diverse cultural development (Paleo Indian, archaic, formative). Given its geographical location, the current territory of Colombia constituted a corridor of populations between Mesoamerica, the Caribbean Sea, the Andes and the Amazon. The territory was occupied by peoples in various states of the formation, such as the Arawak, Caribs and Chibchas, the latter with two groups the Taironas and the Muiscas that stand out in the higher formation thanks to their high level of civilization.

Colonial period

History of Colombia in Colonial Period: Before the Spaniards arrived, the territory of present-day Colombia was occupied by several peoples in varying degrees of civilization. The Chibchas, in the eastern plateaus, were the most important, with a central government and knowledge of astronomy, agriculture and pottery.

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More backward were the Caribs, who lived in the coastal areas, the Quechuas, the Quimbayas, the Chocoes and the AndaquíesAlonso de Ojeda was the one who first arrived on its shores (1499), again visited by Rodrigo de Bastidas and Juan de la Cosa (1502). In 1510 Darien was founded, followed by Santa Marta (1525) and Cartagena (1533).

History of Bogota
History of Bogota

History about Colombia in search of the fabulous riches of El Dorado, expeditions set out to the interior of the country. Three mainly stood out:

  1. That of Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, who went up the Magdalena River, defeated the Chibchas and founded Bogotá in 1538.
  2. That of Belalcázar, who founded Cali in 1536.
  3. Federmann’s, from Venezuela, who connected with both.

Between the three they agreed on the peaceful distribution of the territory, which Quesada called Nueva Granada, which was incorporated into the viceroyalty of Peru. An Audiencia was created for his government in 1550.

The Church, established very early (1534, bishopric of Cartagena), contributed with its work of religious teaching to consolidate the Spanish settlement. Around 1620 a court of the Inquisition was established in Cartagena, which had a delegate in Bogotá.

The exploitation of the colony, poor in precious metals, was based on agriculture. The labor force used was the Indian population, through the encomienda system, and the black slaves, established mainly on the northern coast.

In 1717 the viceroyalty of Nueva Granada was created, with its capital in Bogotá, definitively established in 1740. It included, in addition to the current Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Venezuela. During the viceregal period it had to face English, Dutch and French attacks, and the first attempts at revolt also occurred. History of Colombia. 

Independence of Colombia

In 1781 the insurrection of the comuneros or revolution of the comuneros broke out, dissatisfied by the increase in taxes, which was repressed by the viceroy Manuel Antonio Flores. The French revolutionary spirit penetrated the country when Antonio Nariño translated The Rights of Man (1794).

The Napoleonic invasion of the metropolis favored attempts at independence, impossible to stop despite the concessions made by the Crown (right of representation in Cortes, grant titles of nobility). The intellectual and economic elites were disgusted to see that Spain only cared about exploiting the territory without worrying about its progress and its people.

On July 20, 1810 a revolutionary junta was held and in December of the same year the first independent Congress took place in Bogotá, ending with the division between centralists and federalists.

The struggle between the two favored the royalists, who from Popayán and Santa Marta began the offensive, under the orders of General Morillo, and took over Cartagena and Bogotá (1815). But soon after the revolutionary army, commanded by Bolívar, finally managed to win in Boyacá (1819), Carabobo (1821) and Pichincha (1822). What was Colombia’s original name?

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The victory of Boyacá allowed the patriots to hold a congress in Angostura (1819), which proclaimed the union of New Granada and Venezuela in the Republic of Gran Colombia.

Subsequently, New Granada was joined by Panama (1821), Ecuador and Guayaquil (1822), and of which Simón Bolívar was named first president (1821). The congresses of 1823 and 1826, held in Bogotá, dictated norms for the organization of the State, inspired by Simón Bolívar and Santander.

It was Bolívar’s purpose to unite the Spanish-American states, for which he convened a continental Congress in Panama (1826), but his initiative was unsuccessful. The separatist attempts, inspired by Santander (Colombia) and Páez (Venezuela), led to a civil war. In 1829 the disintegration of Gran Colombia began and in 1830 Bolívar resigned the presidency.

Francisco de Paula Santander, president (1833-37) of the newly created Republic of New Granada, had to impose his authority to stop the spirit of rebellion. In 1841 the moderates obtained power with Pedro Alcántara Herrán.

His mandate (1841-45) was characterized by the relaxation of internal tensions, which allowed to attend to cultural and material progress, continued with his successor, Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera (1845-49). Laws were compiled (Grenadine Compilation) and the first railways were drawn.

In 1849 the liberal José Hilario López came to power, whose radical measures (expulsion of the Jesuits, abolition of slavery in 1851, universal suffrage and suppression of the death penalty for political reasons) provoked the conservative reaction.

General Obando, with the support of the moderate fraction of the liberal party, won the presidency in 1853. He continued López’s work by establishing universal suffrage and the separation of Church and State, but was unseated a year later by General Meló, who became dictator. Against him the conservatives revolted, who managed to install Ospina Rodríguez (1857) in power.

The conservative party, favored until then to a unitary republic, was oriented towards the federalist solution, recognized in the Constitution of 1858 with the name of Granadine Confederation (renamed in 1863 with that of the United States of Colombia).

Mosquera held power again for two periods (1861-1864 and 1866-1867) and tried to remake Bolívar’s Gran Colombia, but failed and ended up overthrown in 1867 by General Santos Acosta. Then began a new liberal period in which the disorders subsided. Salgar (1870-72) reformed primary education, promulgated a commercial code and founded the Bank of Bogotá.

During the presidency of Aquileo Parra (1876-78) civil unrest returned, which brought to power Rafael Núñez (1880), who obtained from Spain the recognition of the independence of Colombia.

Núñez evolved to the right and ruled in his last years as if he were a dictator, supported by the Church and the landowners. In 1886 a new Constitution was promulgated, which re-established the unitary organization of the Republic of Colombia.

At the death of Núñez (1894), the liberals revolted and the country was involved in another civil war (1899-1903), called the War of the Thousand Days, ruinous for its economy. In 1903, governed by José Manuel Marroquín, Panama seceded from the Republic. The secessionist movement was supported by the US, interested in establishing its influence in the isthmus area.

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The government of Rafael Reyes (1904-09) signaled Colombia’s recovery. He amended the Constitution, extending the presidential term to 10 years, and completed the railway from the Andes to Bogotá. History of Colombia. 

Although his dictatorial management provoked discontent throughout the nation, it rose up against him when he tried to get Congress to approve Panama’s independence. In 1910 the Constitution was reformed again and the presidential term was reduced to four years. History of Colombia. 

In 1914 Colombia recognized Panama’s independence in exchange for compensation of 25 million pesos granted by the United States. Until 1930 there were conservative presidents, among whom Nel Ospina (1922-26), founder of the Bank of the Republic, stood out.

The country enjoyed in this period a situation of political and social stability and was able to start the process of industrialization with the economic help of the United States. The process was abruptly halted by the great economic crisis of 1929. History of Colombia. 

In 1930 the Liberal party triumphed in the elections, with Olaya Herrera, thanks to the division of the conservatives. They succeeded Herrera Alfonso López Pumarejo (1934-38) v Eduardo Santos (1938-42), who avoided the country’s intervention in World War II. History of Colombia. 


Colombia history timeline: At the beginning of the twentieth century Colombia was, in general, peaceful and the economy developed. Coffee exports increased. However, in 1948 another civil war broke out. It was called Violence.

Colombia had always been dangerously divided between liberals and conservatives, but the assassination of liberal politician Jorge Eliécer Gaitán on April 9, 1948 was the spark that lit the fire. The army was on the side of the conservatives and in 1953 General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla became dictator.

However, in 1957 Rojas resigned and the two parties, Liberal and Conservative, agreed to share power. Between 1957 and 1974 his presidency alternated between them.

However, in the 1960s leftist guerrillas began operating in Colombia. Then, in the 1970s, cocaine production in Colombia increased and continued to increase in the 1980s. Drug trafficking led to a great deal of violence. Meanwhile, in the early 1980s, Colombia was hit by a severe recession.

However, at the beginning of the twenty-first century the situation in Colombia improved. Violence in Colombia decreased after 2002. In addition, the Colombian economy grew rapidly and poverty and unemployment decreased. Colombia, like the rest of the world, suffered in the 2009 recession, but the economy soon recovered. History of Colombia. 

History on Colombia
History on Colombia

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