USA & CANADA 1-800-893-0916
Mon-Fri, 9-5 EST

Main Banner

History of Colombia


Little is known about the natives who inhabited the area that is now Colombia before the Spanish arrived in 1500.

Shortly after arriving, the Spanish established the colony of New Granada and built the settlement of Santa Fe de Bogota, which subsequently becomes known as Bogota. These new colonies thrived and many African slaves were taken to these cities to assist with building and maintenance. After a 14-year struggle, Simón Bolívar’s Venezuelan troops defeated the Spanish at the battle of Boyacá in Colombia in 1819. The resulting Republic of Gran Colombia united Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and Ecuador as a single country under one central leader. Due to regional differences, Gran Colombia dissolved in 1829-1830 when Bolívar lost Venezuela and Ecuador to separatists.

In the 19th century, Colombia was a troubled country and suffered eight civil wars between its liberal and conservative parties as conservatives believed in a strong central government and a powerful church while liberals believed in a decentralized government, strong regional power, and a limited role of the church. Political instability continued through the late 19th century and culminated in the War of a Thousand Days which began in 1899 and resulted in the death of nearly 120,000 people.

In the early 20th century, social legislation was introduced and Colombia was generally peaceful and without conflict — trade unions were encouraged, the economy developed and the export of coffee increased. This period of rest was short lived however and the assassination of the well-liked and respected left-wing mayor of Bogota in 1948 caused riots and began a civil war that lasted until 1957.

In the 1960s, left wing guerrillas began operating in Colombia, causing an increase in violence and instability. In the 1970s and 1980s, cocaine production in Colombia increased and at times, drug cartels virtually controlled the country. During the 1990s, drug traffickers and landowners formed numerous right-wing paramilitary groups.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the situation in Colombia improved. In 2000, the United States pledged $1.3 billion to fight drug trafficking with “Plan Colombia”. Violence in Colombia declined after 2002 when President Alvaro Uribe increased Colombia’s security, aggressively campaigned against the drug trade, and passed several economic reform bills.

In 2012, the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) went into effect. This agreement eliminated tariffs and other trade barriers for the exchange of goods and services between Colombia and the United States. In the early 21st century, the Colombian economy grew rapidly and poverty and unemployment declined. Today, Colombia is booming, tourism is increasing and the country has a bright future.

Colombia Discovery

11 Days | From
Enjoy this rare opportunity to explore the very best of Colombia, a country on the cusp of a cultural renaissance.
Highlights
  • Visit the historic neighborhood La Candeleria
  • Ponder the underground “Salt Cathedral”
  • Visit the Coffee Triangle
Learn More

Colombia Family Adventure

9 Days | From
Bring your family on the adventure of a lifetime in Colombia. This South American nation has rapidly transformed into a top travel destination that offers beauty, adventure and endless fun.
Highlights
  • Visit the Coffee Triangle
  • Walk amongst Wax Palms in the Cocora Valley
  • Relax at your secluded ecohab beach bungalow
Learn More

Colombia Wildlife Odyssey

10 Days | From
View and learn about the diversity of Colombia’s landscape, wildlife and birds.
Highlights
  • Birding in the El Dorado Bird Reserve
  • Explore the Coffee Triangle
  • Walk amongst Wax Palms in the Cocora Valley
Learn More

The Lost City of Colombia Trek

8 Days | From
If your dreams are filled with Indiana Jones fantasies of penetrating thick jungle to stumble upon ancient ruins, turn that vision into reality with a 4-day trek to Cuidad Perdida, The Lost City.
Highlights
  • Trek to the Lost City
  • Soak in tropical swimming holes
  • Observe Howler Monkeys
Learn More