Before the discovery of the Americas, Colombia was a land populated by thousands of indigenous tribes. Although most of them have disappeared, 102 tribes still prevail and maintain their native language, culture and traditions. In 1499, the Spanish arrive in Colombia and started colonizing the region, imposing their language, religion, culture and architecture. To this day, this heritage is highly visible and makes for the wealth of major cities such as Santa Marta, Cartagena and Bogota. During those years, the Spaniards also transported numerous African slaves to Colombia for labour purposes, which has left a rich African heritage within the Colombian culture.
After decades of struggle for the autonomy of Colombia, the reign of the Spanish came to an end in 1810 when Simón Bolívar and his men won the independence of Colombia. The Gran Colombia was then created along with Ecuador, Venezuela, Panama, western Guyana and northern Peru. It was not an easy task to govern this large territory, which eventually came to an end in 1831. Nonetheless, Colombia’s troubles continued into the 19th century, during which a total of 8 civil wars between opposing political parties took place. In 1903, Panama was the last country to declare independence and become its own nation.
The early 20th century in Colombia was generally peaceful, which allowed the economy to develop and coffee exports to rise. However, another civil war in the 1960s plunged the country into violence and instability, and inspired the organization of several Marxist guerrilla groups. The most notable ones were the 19th of April Movement (M-19), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). During this time, Colombia became one of the largest international centers for drug production and trafficking, and one of the most dangerous countries in the world. The guerrillas thrived for more than 30 years and drove the country deeper into violence, corruption and instability.
In the late 1990s the government finally began to contain the guerrilla violence. With the help of the United States, the Colombian government initiated an aggressive campaign against drug trade and exerted military pressure against the guerrillas. By 2006, tens of thousands of guerrilla members surrendered, were apprehended or were killed, and more than a million acres of coca plants were eradicated. With the violence declining all around Colombia, so did poverty and unemployment. Further peace talks with the guerrillas have incited the demobilization of many more rebels. Nowadays, some insurgent groups subsist in secluded areas, which are delimited to prevent casualties.
Today, Colombia is one of the top economies and one of the most politically stable countries in Latin America. For such a gorgeous country, it only seems fair that several prominent publications such as National Geographic, New York Times, Forbes, Huffington Post recommended it as one of the top destinations to discover in 2015.
Colombia is in the midst of a new era in its history. It has one of the top regional economies and is one of the most politically stable countries in Latin America. The significant improvement in the country’s safety has also positioned Colombia as a top travel destination that people from all around the globe are eager to discover. Boasting beaches on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, as well as the stunning Andes mountain region and the legendary Amazon rainforest, Colombia is proud to be the second most biodiverse country in the world. Furthermore, booming cosmopolitan cities like Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena can impress anyone with their magnificent views, innovative architecture, rich culture, exceptional restaurants, and enthralling ambience.
The country is now a secure destination where many foreigners (and locals) can travel safely throughout and enjoy all the beauty and experiences it has to offer.Colombia has become stable politically, economically and socially, to the point that it is now the third largest economy in Latin America, following Brazil and Mexico. The democratically elected governments of Alvaro Uribe Velez and Juan Manuel Santos have significantly opened up the country to foreign governments and investments, establishing Free Trade Agreements with Canada in 2011, the U.S.A. in 2012 and the European Union in 2013, to only name a few. Therefore, many expats have arrived with foreign companies that have set up offices and operations in Colombia, or simply selected Colombia as their new home thanks to the thriving economy, ease of starting a company and the increasing business opportunities.
It is no surprise that Colombians have been ranked as the happiest people in the world, according to the WIN/Gallup International Association. Anyone who has visited this majestic country would agree that Colombians are some of the kindest and most welcoming people on the planet. They are genuinely excited to show off the very best parts of their country to the rest of the world. The passion of its people, the complexity and richness of its culture, and the lush exoticism of its diverse landscapes make Colombia a fascinating destination that is waiting to be explored.