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Colonization (1522–1821)Spanish colonization in the area that is known today as Colombia started at the present-day city of Cumaná in 1522, establishing its first permanent South American settlement. It was followed by the founding of Santa Marta in 1525 and Cartagena in 1533. Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada led an expedition to the extensive highlands of the interior, by following the Magdalena River into the Andean cordillera in 1535. Quesada then founded the "New City of Granada", the name of which soon changed to "Santa Fé de Bogotá", and named the region the "New Kingdom of Granada" (Spanish: Nuevo Reino de Granada).
In 1542, the region of New Granada, along with all other Spanish possessions in South America, became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, with its capital at Lima. A royal audiencia, a type of superior court that combined executive and judicial authority, was created at Santa Fé de Bogotá by a royal decree in 1549. The Viceroyalty of New Granada was originally created first in 1717 and permanently in 1739, with Santa Fé de Bogotá as its capital. By the early 19th century, there were three vice-royalties of Spain (New Granada, Peru and Rio de la Plata) and two autonomous captaincies-general (Venezuela and Chile) in South America.
War of Independence (1821–1826)
With the arrival of news in May 1810 that southern Spain had been conquered by Napoleon's forces, that the Spanish Supreme Central Junta had dissolved itself on January 29, 1810. On August 10, 1809, that the first call for the independence from Spain was made in Quito, under the leadership of the city's criollos. Although it lasted no more than two months, it followed by other declarations of independence in Gran Colombia (1810), Venezuela and Paraguay (1811) and other territories, that established their own governments. The idea that independence, however, was not the initial concern of those juntas, with the fact that few areas in Spanish America declared independence in the years after 1810.Twenty-six delegates, representing Venezuela and New Granada, were convened at Angostura in February 15, 1819 to consolidate independence for the Andean region of South America in the form of a large, unified republic. On December 17, 1819, the Congress declared the independence of the Republic of Colombia that consisted of departments of Cundimarca, Venezuela, and Quito. Francisco Antonio Zea was elected President, while Simon Bolívar was appointed as the supreme commander of the army, granted the title as the "Liberator, Protector, and Lord Marshal of the Nation."
The war against the royalist forces lasted until 1826, when Spain was finally forced to negotiate with the pro-independence leaders and recognize the emancipation. The Congress of Cúcuta took place in 1821 and promulgated the first constitution of the Republic of Colombia. The United States recognized the independence of Colombia in 1822. Britain waited until 1825, after the Battle of Ayacucho in Mexico, to recognize Colombia as a sovereign state. Both nations also recognized more Latin American states in the next few years.