A short history of the Caribbean

Below is our short history of the Caribbean. Enjoy!

Terra Firme

When Rodrigo de Bastidas first set foot on terra firme on the coast of the Guarija peninsula in the year 1500, even he couldn’t have imagined the vast impact that his later conquests would have on both the territory and people of what we now know as Colombia.

Founding of Santa Marta

24 years after landing, this now famous Spanish Conquistador began the task of exploring from the same La Guajira desert (the largest of two in Colombia) from a point called Cabo de la Vela, heading in a south-westerly direction to the mighty Magdalena river estuary.

On the way, he founded the city of Santa Marta on the 29th of July 1525, making it the oldest city in Colombia and second oldest on the South American continent.

Tairona Fightback

The conquest and founding were not without their troubles however. The resident and mighty Tairona indians who populated the coastal savannahs and mountains (covering an area from Magdalena department up to La Guajira department to the north and Cesar department to the South) resisted the Spanish conquistadors for over 75 years before their reduced numbers retreated deep into the jungles and Páramo of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Their direct descendants still live there as the Arhuaco and Kogi indian tribes, who in turn protect the Sierra Nevada – their ‘Mother‘ – from any outside interference or influence.

Strategic Point

The city was the launch pad for further conquests, the most notable being Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada’s, whose ventures deep into the interior of this new territory concluded with the founding of the city of Santa Fe or what would later be known as Bogotá – Colombia’s capital.

‘El Libertador’

Hundreds of years later another famous conqueror (though this time of the Spanish), the Great Liberator – Simón Bolívar – would spend his last days here in the sweltering Caribbean heat at the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in Santa Marta, before passing into history.

Relive the History of the Caribbean Coast of Colombia

Discover the remarkable activities and places to visit on Colombia’s Caribbean coast for ideas and inspiration to create your own trip to Colombia.

Want to embark on your own Caribbean holiday?

Search our Colombia Tours and Holidays to see how we’ve included the Caribbean coast in each one.

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