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Colombia Through Time the Caribbean, the city soon became Spain’s most important port in all of South America. It held this position for many ­decades. By the mid-1530s, having successfully conquered the vast and powerful Inca Empire in the Central Andes, the Spanish began to branch out in search of other wealth and peoples to conquer. Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada was one such Spanish conquistador. He moved northward from Peru with a small group of 166 men and conquered the powerful Chibcha Empire and its estimated 500,000 people. At the site of their capital city, Bacatá, the Spanish established their own seat of government, Bogotá, in 1538. The city soon became one of the most important colonial Spanish political, social, and economic centers in the New ­World. Spanish Colonial ­Era By the ­mid-­sixteenth century, Colombia’s role in New Spain (as Spanish holdings in the New World were called) expanded. In 1549, Bogotá gained the status of capital of New Granada, an area that included much of ­present-­day Colombia. Nearly two centuries later, in 1739, the city became capital of the newly established Viceroyalty of New Granada. This expanded territory included much of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama. The move placed Bogotá in the company of Lima, in present-day Peru, and Mexico City as one of Spain’s major colonial administrative ­centers. Geographers, historians, political scientists, and other scholars have long attempted to explain Latin America’s social, economic, and political woes. There is, of course, no single reason for the difficulties. Rather, the problems stem from a considerable number of often extremely complex factors. What follows is a brief overview that focuses on some of the major factors contributing to the region’s problems. Many years ago, the author attended a lecture on Latin America in which the speaker repeatedly referred to the ­“sixteenth-­century [Iberian



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