Colombia is a country situated in northwest of South America. Europeans began exploring the Colombian coast in 1500 - 1501, when Rodrigo Bastidas explored the Caribbean coast from Cape La Vela to Manzanillo (Panama), and in 1525, Francisco Pizarro reached the Pacific coast. The same year, Rodrigo Bastidas established Santa Marta, and actually began the conquest of Colombia. In 1533, Pedro Heredia founded Cartagena, and the city became one of the main Spanish ports in the New World. In 1538, Gonzalo Jimenes de Quesada founded Bogota. By the end of 1539, all of the most important cities of present-day Colombia were formed and communication between them was made. The conquest of Colombia has been completed by mid-century.
The invasion of Napoleon's forces in Spain in 1808 caused concern in the colonies of the New World. Contradictory actions of the colonial and imperial powers led to extensive declaration of independence of the Spanish colonies during 1810. On June 28, 1810, in Bogota the establishment of a new government was announced. Now this day is celebrated as Independence Day, but the first thing the rebels declared to the Spanish crown was their vassalage. Idealists and provincial leaders dreamed of creating a federation. Between 1814 and 1816, a series of civil wars followed: the Spanish regained control of New Granada. The rest of the republican forces retreated to Ilanos-Casanare, where they were reorganized and led by Francisco de Paula Santander - Colombian general and later a major political figure. Punitive expedition of Spaniards led to increased resistance. Santander’s detachments merged with the army of Simon Bolivar in the Orinoco basin. In 1819, in Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar in Venezuela) was prepared an agreement of the establishment of a unity government, which included representatives of Santander and some Venezuelan provinces. On August 7, 1819, Bolivar defeated the Spanish forces at the Battle of Boyacá. In 1821, the Spanish were defeated at the Battle of Carabobo (Venezuela), and in 1822, the same fate befell them in Pichincha. Angostura’s Congress created the legal basis for the emergence of the Republic of Gran Colombia, which included the land of Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador. The government was heavily militarized; actual power was concentrated in the hands of regional vice presidents, while President Simon Bolivar was leading military operations in Peru.
Santander was elected as the first vice-president of Gran Colombia, and the opposition leader Simon Bolivar became the first President of the Republic (1832-1837). During the years of his reign, there has been an economic rise in the country. But in 1840, civil war broke out, putting an end to all of the optimistic predictions. Grain of political confrontation between liberals and conservatives have been sown; bloody wars and revolutions shook Colombia from 1840 to 1903. Liberal government put an end to slavery, made a reform of local and central taxes, and stopped the activity of some of the monopolies. The reforms were market-driven; the class of entrepreneurs rapidly enriched, and at the same time a gap between the main mass of an impoverished peasantry and the urban bourgeoisie was growing. For 51 months in 1860 and 1870, the country was a place of armed conflicts; the Colombian army was so weak and few that could not prevent the war. In 1861, the church property was confiscated, and the 1863 constitution legally separated church from the state.
Since 1974, Colombia has advanced to the first place in the world in terms of drug trafficking.