The Republic of Colombia is a country in north-western South America. It is bound to the north and north-west by the Caribbean Sea, to the east by Venezuela and Brazil, to the south by Ecuador and Peru, and to the west by Panama and the Pacific Ocean.
Around 1450 BC there was cultural activity in "El Abra", near Bogotá. In 1000 BC Colombians developed the political system of "cacicazgos" (The Cacique) with a pyramidal structure of power, especially the Muisca o Chibcha people. They would be the biggest political system of South America after the Incas. Spanish explorers made the first exploration of the Caribbean littoral in 1500 (Rodrigo de Bastidas). In 1502 Christopher Columbus navigated near the costs of Choco. In 1508 Vasco Nuñez de Balboa started the conquer of the territory by Urabá. In 1513 Vasco Nuñez de Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean that he called "The Sea of the South" and which fact would bring the Spaniards to Peru and Chile. In 1525 is founded the first European city in the American Continent, Santa María la Antigua del Darién in what is today the Chocó Department. The main people in the Colombian territory were hundred of tribes of the Chibchan and "Karib" or Caribbean peoples whom they assimilated or killed through warfare, disease, exploitation, or conquest. They soon established settlements that eventually grew into the provinces which were part of the Captaincy General of New Granada. As it became a Viceroyalty in 1717, some other provinces of northwestern South America came under its jurisdiction. In the Century 16th Europeans brought slaves from Africa.
Though there were independent movements of rebellion since the very beginning of the Conquer and Colony, the main one sprang up around 1810, led by Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander, that finally succeeded in 1819 when the territory of the Viceroyalty of New Granada became the Republic of Gran Colombia as a Confederation with Ecuador and Venezuela, Panama was a Colombian Department until 1903.
Internal political and territorial divisions led to the secession of Venezuela and Quito (today's Ecuador) in 1830. The so called "Department of Cundinamarca" received then the name "Nueva Granada" until 1856 when it was the "Confederación Granadina" (Granadine Confederation). In 1863 it was created the "United States of Colombia", until 1886 when it finally became the Republic of Colombia. Internal divisions remained, occasionally igniting very bloody civil wars and contributing to the US-sponsored secession of Panama in 1903. The most bloody of these wars occured in the late 1940s and early 1950s, known as La Violencia (the violence). It claimed the lives of at least 180,000 Colombians. Its cause was mainly tensions between partisan groups, and a revolt toward the governance of the Roman Catholic Church and the social and economic elite.
In recent decades the country has been plagued by the effects of the influential drug trade and by guerrilla insurgents such as FARC and illegal counter-insurgency paramilitary groups such as AUC, which along with other minor factions have been engaged in a bloody internal conflict. The different irregular groups often resort to kidnapping and drug smuggling to fund their causes, tend to operate in large areas of the remote rural countryside and can sometimes disrupt communications and travel between different regions.This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Colombia".