The area that makes up today's Colombia was
conquered by the Spaniards in the 16th century and
became America's leading gold producer with the help of
slave labor and oppression of the indigenous peoples. In
1819 the freedom hero Simón Bolívar brought the colony
to independence. A violent struggle between liberals and
conservatives led around the turn of the 1900s to the
bloody "Millennium War". Then followed a period of
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Colombia, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Colombia is on the crossroads between North and South
America and was flooded early by different cultures.
However, it was outside the range of the high cultures
of the Aztecs and Maya people in Mexico and Central
America as well as the Inca people in the Andes.
Instead, several smaller cultures flourished in the
area. At Puerto Hormiga, America's oldest known ceramic
has been found, 5,300 years old. Some people early
developed advanced agriculture, such as the Sinú people,
who built ingenious facilities for irrigation.
The most prominent people at the arrival of the
Spaniards in 1499 were chibcha, or muisca, who lived on
the plateau around today's Bogotá (see Culture). The
rumor of the indigenous peoples' gold craft caused the
Spanish conquerors to subdue both the coast and the
highlands in no time. Santa Marta on the north coast is
Colombia's oldest city, founded in 1525, but already a
decade later, a number of cities were built far up in
the Andes, including Bogotá.
The Spanish colony was named New Granada. It first
belonged to the Viceroy of Peru, but in 1739 it was
elevated to its own Viceroy, which also included the
present Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. In New Granada,
more gold was produced than anywhere else in America.
Enormous wealth was shipped from Cartagena, which became
one of the most important and strongest fortified port
cities of the Spanish Empire. In the other direction,
African slaves were brought in to work in the mines.
Already in the second half of the 16th century many
Spaniards immigrated to New Granada. Most settled in the
highlands as farmers. Through the encomienda
system, urinals were forced to work for the settlers
free of charge. Slavery and new epidemics killed many
The Creoles (Spanish kittens born in America) did not
have the same rights as peninsulares (those
born in Spain), and as the Creoles grew in number,
tensions between the two groups also increased. When the
French Emperor Napoleon occupied Spain in the early
1800s, several local Creole governments were formed in
New Granada, but colonial power soon regained control of
the colony. Only after Simón Bolívar's victory over the
Spaniards in 1819 in Boyacá (near Bogotá) was the
country's independence secured.
Bolívar's vision was to unite all areas that had
broken away from Spain into a Latin American Union that
could compete with the United States for influence and
power. As part of this plan, the Republic of Gran
Colombia (Greater Colombia) was formed, which consisted
of the present Colombia, Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador.
After eleven years, however, Venezuela and Ecuador broke
down and the leaders of Bogotá took the name New
Granada. In 1886, the country was given its present
name, the Republic of Colombia.
The 19th century was characterized by an often
violent struggle between liberals and conservatives.
Several civil wars were fought. The Millennial War of
1899-1902 was the cruelest one to date. When the
Conservatives finally defeated their opponents, around
100,000 people had been killed.
In 1903, Panama broke out of Colombia. Difficult
terrain and poor communications made it impossible for
Colombia to defend the area. In addition, the United
States intervened on Panama's side to guard its own
interests in the construction of the Panama Canal.
After the Millennium War, 40 years of peace followed
as the coffee and textile industry flourished.
Bogotá's mayor kicked
Gustavo Petro is banned from holding political records for 15 years, after
accusations of neglect of the city's garbage disposal. The decision is made by a
body similar to the Swedish Chancellor of Justice. Petro must, through changes
in the system, which resulted in no garbage collection for several days,
disrupted the free market and endangered the health of the residents. Petro is
one of the country's most influential left-wing politicians and a possible
future presidential candidate, and he calls the act a right-wing coup. Tens of
thousands demonstrate his support.
Farc announces new ceasefire
The guerrillas announce a month-long truce and criticize the government's
refusal to cease fire. The day before, nine people were killed in a Farcattack
against a police station.
Santos is up for re-election
The President announces his intention to stand in the May 2014 presidential
Point two of the peace talks finished
An important step is taken when the government and Farc settle on political
participation for the former rebels in the future. Farc will lay down its
weapons and turn it into a political party.
CD appoints presidential candidate
Uribe's Party Democratic Center appoints former Finance Minister Óscar Iván
Zuluaga as its presidential candidate ahead of the May 2014 elections. Zuluaga
makes clear that he does not believe in the peace talks.
Londoño among convicted Farc leaders
Nine Farc leaders are sentenced in their absence to 31-year prison sentence
and high fines for an 2005 attack that killed six people. Grandfather Rodrigo
Londoño is among those convicted, despite participating in the Havana
negotiations. However, he is not arrested.
Colombia rejects ICJ decisions
Santos explains that Colombia cannot apply the ICJ 's decision to an area in
the Caribbean (see November 2012) because it violates the Constitution. The play
comes in a situation where the president is pressed and plays out the secure
card of national sovereignty. He is supported by the people - and also by the
Growing protests against free trade
Protests against free trade agreements and agricultural policy are growing,
tens of thousands of people have continued to demonstrate since the agreement
with the EU was signed (see August 2013). Many social groups are partying for
the farmers, but the protests also apply to education and pension reforms.
Violence between police and protesters requires the deaths, and many are
injured. Military is ordered out in the capital and on blocked roads. Santo's
popularity in public opinion has fallen from 48 to 21 percent in a couple of
months. After a few weeks, roadblocks are removed, and the government proposes a
"national pact" for the development of agriculture and rural areas, in which
small farmers are to participate.
Ready for peace talks even with ELN
After the ELN releases a kidnapped Canadian mining official, President Santos
announces that the government is ready for peace talks even with the minor left
guerrilla. One condition, however, is that all the kidnapped are released first.
Protests against free trade agreements with the EU
Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrate when a free trade agreement with
the EU comes into force, in protest of the cheap imports they expect to follow
in the free trade agreements with both the EU and the US (see May 2012).
The farmers demand increased government subsidies.
The state admits abuse
The government is admitting for the first time that the state has committed
serious human rights violations during the country's long conflict. However,
President Santos emphasizes that this does not exempt guerrillas and militias
Investigation of the victims of the conflict ready
A state investigation into 54 years of armed conflict in Colombia shows that
nearly 220,000 people have been killed. More than four-fifths of the victims
were unarmed civilians. The investigation was set up as a result of a law on
compensation for the victims of the conflict, which was adopted in May 2011.
Deadly battles between Farc and the army
Nineteen soldiers are killed in battle with guerrillas, despite ongoing peace
talks. President Santos resolutely retaliates and sends troops reinforcements to
arrest or kill guerrilla members.
A court returns the legal status of the party Farcs and the Communists' old
party the Patriotic Union (UP) (see Political system). This allows the party to
take part in elections 2014.
Criticism against Natonarming
Colombia signs an information exchange agreement with NATO, which means that
the Colombian military may participate in NATO exercises. Left-wing governments
in the region have expressed harsh criticism of everything closer to the US-led
defense alliance. Two years later, the Constitutional Court disapproves the
settlement with NATO, mainly on technical grounds.
Settlement on land reform
The first breakthrough in the peace talks means that the parties agree on a
commitment to economic and social development of the countryside, and that poor
farmers should be provided with land. It is called "the beginning of a radical
transformation of Colombia's countryside".
Most internally displaced people in the world
For the fourth year in a row, Colombia has more refugees within its borders
than any other country. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council's estimate,
there are between 4.9 million and 5.5 million people. In 2012, some 230,000
people are estimated to have moved home because of the armed conflict. At the
same time, police figures show that the largest crime league, Los Urabeños, now
has more members than ELN.
Demonstration in support of calls
Tens of thousands of people around the country express their support for the
peace talks between the government and Farc. President Santos says he is willing
to start talks with ELN as well.
Smaller crime gangs are increasingly threatening
President Santos says that the new paramilitary groups called "bacrim" (see
Conflicts-Colombia) are losing their position. Instead of 27 major leagues there
are now around 300 smaller groups.
ELN hostage is released
Two German brothers held hostage by the smaller left-wing guerrilla ELN are
released. The ELN has increased the number of kidnappings and is considered
willing to push forward a participation in the peace talks.
Chief negotiator Iván Márquez regrets that Farc must return to warfare "no
one wants" and re-urges the government to a mutual ceasefire (see
November 2012). However, Farc has promised to stop kidnapping civilians
Uribe under investigation for AUC connections
Prosecutors reopened an investigation into ex-president Uribe and his
suspected conspiracy with right-wing militia groups when he was governor in the