The first people appeared in these parts as early as the 15th millennium BC. By the era of the Great Conquests, the Muisca Indians were the most numerous nationality. They lived on the high plateau of Cundinamarca, about 600 km south of present-day Santa Marta. In its development, this civilization was second only to the Maya and Incas. The Muisca were engaged in agriculture, mining and processing of gold and copper, and trade.
The first Europeans who came to these lands were the Spaniards. In 1525, on the Caribbean coast, they founded the city of Santa Marta. In 1536, the conquistadors set off in search of gold along the Magdalena River deep into the mainland. The campaign was led by Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada. The Spaniards conquered the lands of the Muisca Indians and on August 6, 1538, on the site of an Indian fortress, they founded the city of Santa Fe de Bogotá. Also, another Spaniard, Sebastian de Belalcazar, took part in the colonization of these lands. His detachments penetrated the Cauca River into the southern parts of the Andes. The cities of Popayan and Kali were founded here. For his services, Belalcazar was appointed by the Spanish king as head of the territory of the Cauca Valley, and Quesada became the governor of the conquered land with its center in Santa Fe de Bogotá, which was called New Granada. In 1549, New Granada received the status of an audience subordinate to the viceroy of Peru, and later captaincy general. In 1718, Spain declared New Granada its viceroyalty. It also included the territories of modern Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama. In New Granada, gold and silver were mined, which were sent to Europe. Coffee, tobacco and sugar cane were also grown on numerous mountain plantations. Creole, mestizo and mulatto labor was used to work on the plantations. Check a2zdirectory for old history of Colombia.
At the end of the 18th century, the struggle for independence began in New Granada. In 1781, an armed uprising of mestizos and creoles took place here, which spread throughout the country. The rebels fought against the privileged position of the natives of the metropolis in comparison with the natives of the colony. The uprising was hardly put down. After the invasion of Spain in 1809 by Napoleon, who deposed the Spanish king and installed his brother Joseph Bonaparte in his place, the viceroyalty declared its loyalty to the deposed king and proclaimed self-government. This happened on July 20, since then this day has been celebrated as the country’s independence day. When the Spanish king Ferdinand returned to the throne in 1814, he tried to restore the old absolutist system of colonial government, but this only led to the growth of the liberation movement. In 1815, detachments of the Spaniards arrived in New Granada, they managed to restore Spanish power, but already in 1819, at the Battle of Boyaca, the Spanish troops were defeated by Simon Bolivar. After the victory, New Granada was proclaimed a republic and received the name of Great Colombia. Simon Bolivar was elected President of the Republic. The first president tried to create a strong central government, which only led to a quarrel between Bolivar and the vice president and the strengthening of the separatist movement. As a result, in 1830, Gran Colombia collapsed: Venezuela and Ecuador separated from it. The country became known again as New Granada.
In 1832, after the death of Bolivar, the former vice-president of Santander was elected president of the country, however, even under him, internal disagreements arose in the governing circles, which resulted in a civil war in 1839. During the war (1839-1842), two parties arose in the country: the liberal and the conservative. The liberals fought for the expansion of the rights of the provinces, the introduction of universal suffrage, the separation of church and state, while the conservatives were for the preservation of the privileges of the upper classes and the clergy and the support of the state church. In 1845, a member of the Conservative Party, Thomas Cipriano de Mosquera y Arboleda, was elected president of the country, but already in 1849, the liberal José Hilario Lopez won the election. In 1853, the liberals secured a new constitution that separated church and state for the first time in Latin America. Besides, the new constitution abolished slavery and increased local power. Most of the country’s land was in the hands of military leaders and politicians, and the peasants simply lost their land and turned into tenants. This caused dissatisfaction with the local population and in 1859 another civil war broke out. The war lasted 4 years, however, the liberals remained in power. The liberal party lost its significance only in 1880, when the liberal Rafael Moledo became president of the country, who later joined the conservatives. In 1886, a conservative constitution was adopted. It replaced the former federal system of government with a centralized government, the states were reorganized into departments ruled by governors, and the church was restored to its privileged position. According to the constitution, the state was renamed the Republic of Colombia. The conservatives ruled the country until the 1930s.
In 1903, the Colombian government refused to allow the United States to build a transoceanic canal in what is now Panama. In response, a US-backed separatist uprising began in Panama. The United States prevented the Colombian armed forces from crushing the uprising, recognized the independence of Panama and entered into an agreement with the Panamanian government to build a canal. Popular protests began against the secession of Panama, which led to the resignation of the government in 1909. During the World Economic Crisis of 1929-1933, the Conservative Party split and the Liberals came to power.
After World War II, there was a split in the Liberal Party over domestic politics, which in 1946 allowed the moderate conservative Mariano Ospina Pérez to win the presidential election. But still, the liberals won the congressional elections with a significant advantage. The new president attempted to create a coalition government, and in 1947 he expelled the liberals from the government. In the next presidential election, the liberals nominated their candidate – Gaitan, but in 1948 Gaitan was assassinated. His assassination caused widespread unrest among Colombians. The riots were put down by Colombian troops.
In 1949, the conservative Laureano Eleuterio Gómez Castro was elected president. Castro began to rule like a dictator: he dissolved the Congress, suspended the constitution and established censorship. All these events led to the emergence of the partisan movement. Over the next 10 years, a bloody civil war continued in the country, called Violencia. The hopelessness of the situation forced the conservatives and liberals to unite in the National Front and establish a 12-year parity between the warring parties. Equal representation of both parties was proposed in the chambers of the National Congress, in the executive bodies of the central government, in the supreme court, in departmental legislatures and municipal councils. Neither of the two parties was to claim a leading position in the government. In 1957, liberals and conservatives agreed that representatives of each of the parties would be presidents in turn. The recovery phase began in the country, and by the end of the 60s, the Colombian economy had become one of the most stable in Latin America.
However, new problems appeared in the country – the flourishing of criminal structures, united in entire cartels, the main activity of which was the production and distribution of drugs, and the strengthening of extremist partisan detachments, which had a pro-Soviet orientation and fought against the authorities through terrorist acts. In the 1990s, chaos began in the country: crime continued to grow inexorably, presidential candidates were simply killed by drug lords, and extremists began to take the local population and government officials hostage; over 10 years, at least 100 thousand people were killed for political reasons. To date, Colombia is one of the first countries in the world to produce drugs. The government is trying to deal with this problem, and it is also negotiating with the leaders of extremist forces.