Republic of Gran Colombia

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República de la Gran Colombia
Flag of the Federation
Flag of the Federation
Missing image
Location map

Map of the former Republic of Gran Colombia.
Capital Bogotá
Created 1819
Dissolved 1830
Demonym Colombian
Missing image
Departments of the Republic

The Republic of Gran Colombia, or Greater Colombia, was a short-lived republic in South America consisting of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama. Its territory corresponded more or less to the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalty of New Granada.

The word "Colombia" comes from the name of Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón in Spanish) and was conceived by the revolutionary Francisco de Miranda as a reference to the New World, especially to all American territories and colonies under Spanish and Portuguese rule.

The word "Gran," or "Greater" that precede the name were not used by contemporaries, however, and were added by later historians in order to distinguish it from the present-day Republic of Colombia.

Liberator of South America Simón Bolívar and other revolutionaries in the First Republic of Venezuela occasionally used this name as a reference to all of Spanish America, until the proclamation of a republic under that name in 1819 at the Congress of Angostura. It was conceived initially at that Congress as a federal republic, made up of three departments with capitals in the cities of Bogotá (Department of Cundinamarca), Caracas (Department of Venezuela), and Quito (Department of Quito). In that year, not all provinces of the former viceroyalty were yet free.

The Constitution of the new republic was given in 1821 at the Congress of Cucuta, establishing its capital in Bogotá. A greater degree of centralism was established here, as several convinced federalists now came to believe that it would be necessary in order to better manage a unified war effort, at least for the time being. A new territorial division (Venezuela, Cundinamarca, and Quito were split into various smaller departments) was conceived. Bolívar was elected president and Francisco de Paula Santander vice president.

In the first years of existence, Gran Colombia helped other provinces still at war with Spain to become independent, so Panama came to the federation in 1821 and so did the remaining provinces of Quito and Venezuela. The independence of Peru was consolidated later in 1824 through Gran Colombia's aid. Bolívar and Santander were reelected in 1826.

As the war against Spain came to an end, federalist and regionalist sentiments began to arise once again. Permanent calls for modifications of the political division (along with related economic and commercial disputes) during the existence of Gran Colombia, as a result of local confrontations between the regions, led to local changes and compromises. These changes never fully pleased contemporaries and little permanent consolidation was achieved, showing the instability of the state's structure.

Bolívar dreamt of uniting South America but was unable to achieve this during the struggle for independence. The Republic of Gran Colombia was his initial attempt at creating a single South American state. Other regional and South American politicians, however, objected to his idea and Bolívar, disgruntled, resigned from the project in 1828 and from his presidency in early 1830.

The federation finally dissolved during 1830, despite the efforts of General Rafael Urdaneta in Bogotá, due to internal political strife between the different regions which strengthened after Bolívar's resignation.

The dissolution of Gran Colombia characterized the failure of Bolívar's dream. Countries that were created after its dissolution include:

As the Federation of Greater Colombia was dissolved in 1830, the Department of Cundinamarca (as established in Angostura) became a new country, the Republic of New Granada. In 1863 New Granada changed its name officially to "United States of Colombia", and in 1886 adopted its present day name: "Republic of Colombia". Panama remained as a province of this country until 1903, when – with assistance from the USA – it became independent.

See also

es:Gran Colombia fr:Grande Colombie nl:Groot-Colombia ja:大コロンビア


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