The Colombian history is primarily divided into pre-Hispanic and colonial history. The pre-Hispanic history of this region revolves around the lives of Indian tribes. Not much is known about the pre-Hispanic history of this region.
However, through whatever little is known about them, we can say that their history dates back to 10,000 B.C. They were primarily hunters, however, also traded with each other.
Facts about Colombia's History
The detailed history of Colombia as a nation can be traced back to the time of independence (somewhere around 1810). However, the dynamics of the region can be understood properly, only if we start from the colonial period. Here is a short account of Colombia's history.
Arrival of the Spaniards
The Spaniards came to what is today's Colombia in the early 16th century. The Spanish conquistadors were accompanied by clergymen and administrators. Darien was the first settlement of the Spaniards on this American land. Later, a colony known as New Granada was formed.
Social Structure in Colonial Era
The Colonial period in Colombia lasted from 1550 - 1810. The Peninsulares, i.e. people of Spanish descent held authoritative position in the administration. Criollos were Spaniards born in Colombia; they were considered inferior to Peninsulares.
Lower strata of the society was formed of people from Indian descent, the Mestizos (mixed Indians and Spanish) and African slaves. This type of unjust treatment given to Criollos, Mestizos, African slaves and people of Indian descent, was the reason behind the growing resentment against Spanish rule.
The invasion of Spain by Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the major factors contributing to the independence movement of Colombia. This invasion weakened the hold of Spain over their colonies. The struggle for Colombia's independence intensified at the beginning of 19th century.
However, the attempts to achieve complete independence were marred by the conflicts between centralists and federalists. People from different regions such as Gran Colombia, Quito, Paraguay, Venezuela, etc., wanted to establish their own sovereign states.
It was on 20th July, 1810, that Colombia attained independence. The declaration of independence came in Santa Fe de Bogota. Although, independence was declared on this day, it was actually the beginning of a 9-year movement, at the end of which, Simon Bolivar declared the independence of Greater Colombia (referred to as Gran Colombia in Spanish).
Francisco de Paula Santander and Simon Bolivar were the leaders of Colombia's movement of independence. In the year 1830, Ecuador and Venezuela got separated from Greater Colombia. This disintegration reduced Greater Colombia to the Republic of New Grenada.
In the year 1858, a constitution was created for governing the 9 states that constituted Greater Colombia. Three years later, the name Republic of Grenada was changed to United States of New Grenada (1861) followed by United States of Colombia in 1863.
Independence didn't bring peace to Colombia, and it was always involved in conflicts, either internal or those with neighboring states. Separation of Panama and border disputes with Ecuador were some of the examples of problems faced by this nation.
The situation in Colombia deteriorated due to the increase in drug trafficking, rise of guerrillas, and other such problems in the 20th century. Plan Colombia was implemented to solve these and other grave problems faced by this nation. The prime objective of the mission, Plan Colombia, was to promote peace.
Collective measures were needed to bring about overall change in Colombia. Strengthening democracy, protection of human rights, and improving the economic condition were amongst the necessary changes for promoting peace.
The period after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors is marked by a series of events that changed the face of this formerly tribal region. The history of Colombia as presented here was marked by violence and social unrest. However, there are many events which took Colombia from misery of subordination to the glory of emancipation.