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History at a Glance


< 20,000 Evidence suggests earliest human ­presence. 500 Tairona civilization flourishes and establishes city of Teyuna (now Ciudad Perdida [“Lost City”], east of ­present­day Santa Marta). a.d.

1000–1541 Chibcha (Muisca) culture flourishes in vicinity of ­present­day Bogotá until conquered by the ­Spanish. Early 1500 Spanish begin exploration of Caribbean coastal ­mainland. 1525 Spanish establish second permanent settlement in South America at Santa Marta, the site of a fine natural harbor on Colombia’s Caribbean ­coast. 1533 Cartagena is founded as a port city from which gold and other wealth are shipped to ­Spain. 1536–1538 Conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada leads expedi-­ tion into the Andes and finds substantial amounts of gold and ­emeralds. 1538 Quesada founds Santa Fe de Bogotá (present-day Bogotá). 1550 Quesada is appointed marshal of New Granada and ­councilor of Bogotá; African slaves begin to arrive in Colombia to work on ­plantations. 1575–1625 Tairona peoples, forced by the Spanish to convert to Catholicism, flee the coast and move into the Andean ­mountains. 1718 Spain combines Colombia with neighboring territories Ecuador, Venezuela, and Panama into one large colony called the Viceroyalty of New ­Granada. 1810 Colombia gains independence from Spain on July ­20. 1819 General Simón Bolívar defeats royalist forces in the Battle of Boyaca on August 7; the Republic of Colombia (also known as Gran Colombia and consisting of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela) is proclaimed on December 17, with Simón Bolivar as the first ­president. 1830 Ecuador and Venezuela break away from Gran Colombia, leaving Colombia and Panama as Nueva ­Granada. 1853 Colombia abolishes ­slavery.



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