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 the territory of the former viceroyalty. Simon Bolivar was elected its first President.

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 control.

Me overlooking the City of Cartagena from San Felipe Fortress

San Sebastian del Pastelillo Fort in Cartagena

Images of Cartagena