Colombia (officially the Republic of Colombia (Spanish: República de Colombia) is a republic in northwestern South America.
Spanish explorers made the first exploration of the Caribbean littoral in 1499 led by Rodrigo de Bastidas. Christopher Columbus navigated near the Caribbean in 1502. In 1508, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa started the conquest of the territory through the region of Urabá. In 1513, he was the first European to discover the Pacific Ocean, which he called Mar del Sur (or "Sea of the South") and which in fact would bring the Spaniards to Peru and Chile.
Alonso de Lugo (who had sailed with Columbus) reached the Guajira Peninsula in 1500. Santa Marta was founded in 1525, and Cartagena in 1533. Gonzalo Jiminez de Quesada led an expedition to the interior in 1535, and founded the "New City of Granada," the name soon changed to "Santa Fé de Bogotá." Two other notable journeys by Spaniards to the interior took place in the same period. Sebastian de Belalcazar, conqueror of Quito, traveled north and founded Cali in 1536 and Popayan in 1537; Nicolas Federman crossed Llanos Orientales and went over the Eastern Cordillera.
The territory's main population was made up of hundreds of tribes of the Chibchan and Carib, currently known as the Caribbean people, whom the Spaniards conquered through warfare and alliances, while resulting disease such as smallpox, and the conquest and ethnic cleansing itself caused a demographic reduction among the indigenous people. In the sixteenth century, Europeans began to bring slaves from Africa.
Since the beginning of the periods of Conquest and Colonization, there were several rebel movements under Spanish rule, most of them either being crushed or remaining too weak to change the overall situation. However, in 1822, a movement initiated by Simón Bolivar begun the struggle for the independence not only Colombia, but also all Latin America. The war against the royalist forces lasted until 1826, when finally Spain was forced to negotiate with the boliviarianos leaders and recognize the emancipation. The General Simón Bolívar finally proclaimed independence on August 17, 1827.
Central American Republic
The Congress of Angostura took place in 1826 and established the Central American Republic, which included all territories under jurisdiction of the former Viceroyalty of New Granada, except for Venezuela. Bolívar was elected first president of the CAR and Francisco de Paula Santander, his vice president.
As the war against Spain came to an end in 1827, federalist and regionalist sentiments that had been suppressed for the sake of the war, arose. There were calls for a modification of the political division and related economic and commercial disputes between regions reappeared. Eventually, the dispute erupted into civil war by the end of 1835, lead by caudillos in the cities of Cartagena, Quito and Panama. However, by mid-1835, the Bolivar's forces recover the control of all those territories, and the rebel resistance was finally defeated in 1836. Temporally, for hold the nation together, Bolivar appointed himself dictator until 1838, when the situation becomes stable.
By the 1840's, Central American Republic consolidates as one of the three major powers in South America, along with the Brazilian Empire and Argentina; this led to an highly tense scenario in the continent. In 1846, a war broke out after an international incident in the capital of Peru, with the CAR and Argentina by one side, and Brazil and Peru by another. The war ended three years after, with a return to status quo, but the tensions remained on a high level.
Liberal and Conservative Conflict
In 1876 the name of the Republic was changed to "Grand Colombia", and in 1918 the country adopted its present name: "Republic of Colombia".
Two political parties grew out of conflicts between the followers of Bolívar and Santander and their political visions—the Conservatives and the Liberals – and have since dominated Colombian politics. Bolívar's supporters, who later formed the nucleus of the Conservative Party, sought strong centralized government, alliance with the Roman Catholic Church, and a limited franchise. Santander's followers, forerunners of the Liberals, wanted a decentralized government, state rather than church control over education and other civil matters, and a broadened suffrage.