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The History of Colombia


Of all of the nations of South America, Colombia is perhaps the one with the longest and most tragic history of strife and violence. Most of it has been internal: liberals and conservatives, unable to push their agendas in the political arena, have traditionally taken to the streets to advance their causes with violence. The rise of the cocaine trade in the 1970's and 1980's only threw fuel on the fire, adding billions of dollars of illicit money into the mix.

1. The Biography of Pablo Escobar

Oscar Cifuentes
Pablo Escobar was the greatest Colombian drug lord, whose Medellín cartel once controlled 80% of the cocaine shipped illegally into the United States. Although his personal fortune reached into the billions, his crimes eventually caught up with him and he was killed in a dramatic raid by Colombian security forces in 1993.

2. Biography of Francisco de Paula Santander

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Francisco de Paula Santander was one of Liberator Simon Bolivar's best friends until they had to jointly rule the young nation of Gran Colombia. The two men became political foes, to the point where many suspect Santander was behind an attempt on Bolivar's life in 1828.

3. Biography of Manuela Saenz

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Manuela Saénz was the mistress of Simón Bolívar, the Liberator of South America. Much more than simple arm candy for Bolívar, she was an important figure in the Independence movement in her own right, serving as a Colonel in the rebel army.

4. The Thousand Days' War

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The Thousand Days' war lasted from 1899 to 1902 and was a devastating civil war between liberals and conservatives. It caused the deaths of over 100,000 Colombians as well as destruction and mayhem impossible to quantify. During the chaos, the United States was able to snatch away Panama, at that time a province of Colombia.

5. April 9, 1948: the Bogotazo

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On April 9, 1948, popular politician Jorge Eliecer Gaitan was murdered in Bogota, Colombia. The enraged populace took to the streets in a massive riot that left thousands dead and the city in ruins.

6. The Raul Reyes Incident

On March 1, 2008, Colombian armed forces stormed across the border into Ecuador to attack an outpost of rebels associated with the FARC, an insurgent group which has been attempting to bring down the Colombian government. Although the raid was a success, it caused an international incident involving the governments of not only Ecuador and Colombia but Venezuela, Mexico and France as well.

7. Colombia's Independence Day

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Colombia celebrates its independence day every July 20. It was on that date in 1810 that rebellious patriots hatched a complicated plan to kick-start independence. It involved isolating the Spanish military, confronting the Viceroy...and strategic use of a flower vase.


8. Who is on Colombia's Money?

Republic of Colombia
Having your face on a coin or bill is one of the highest honors a country can bestow. Who are the men and women on Colombia's money?

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