I traveled to Colombia on a cruise in March of 2008, visiting the city of Cartagena. Colombia is a country just recently emerging from a serious guerrilla uprisings in the south and the shadow of drug kingpin cartels that seriously undermined the countries security in the later part of the 1900's. Caragena is a beautiful city of contrast - rich, poor and middle class - that is on the rise as a tourist and commerce center in the Caribbean.
Columbia's original inhabitants were the
Chibchas Indians, who lived in the mountains of Colombia long before
the Americas were discovered by Europeans. The Chibchas were an
advanced civilization, who were excellent goldsmiths and miners.
Unfortunately, this was their downfall, since the explorers plundered
the natives for their emeralds and gold.
Spaniards first sailed along the north coast of Colombia as early as 1500 but their first permanent settlement at Santa Marta was not established until 1525. In 1549 the area was established as a Spanish colony with the capital at Santa fe de Bogota. In 1717 Bogota became the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Granada which included what is now Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama. The city became one of the principal administrative centers of the Spanish possessions in the New World along with Lima and Mexico City.
On July 20 1810 the citizens of Bogota created the first
representative council to defy Spanish authority. Total independence
was proclaimed in 1813 and in 1819 the Republic of Greater Colombia was
formed. After the defeat of the Spanish army the republic included all
territory of the former viceroyalty. Simon Bolivar was elected its
In 1830, when the military seized power, Ecuador and Venezuela
withdrew from the republic. Civilian rule was restored within 1 year.
In 1903, Panama gained its independence in a Civil War encurraged by
the United States, who wanted to build the Panama Canal. Colombia's
most recent history includes problems with Drug Trafficing and a war
with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) which has waged
a guerrilla war in Southern Colombia. Only with-in the last few years
has Colombia been able to slowly bring both problems under some sort of