Santander is a department of Colombia. Santander inherited the name of one of the nine original states of the United States of Colombia. It is located in the central northern part of the country, east of the Magdalena River, bordered to the south and east by Boyacá, and to the north by Norte de Santander Department. Its capital is the city of Bucaramanga.
Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards
the terrirtory of now Santander was inhabited by Amerindian
ethnic groups; Muiscas
Their political and social structure was based on Cacicazgos a federation of tribes led by a cacique, with different social classes. Their main activity consisted on planting maize, beans, yuca, arracacha, cotton, Agave, tobacco, tomato, pineapple, guava, among others, their agricultural skills were somewhat developed, taking advantages of the different mountainous terrains. The Guanes utilized terraces and an artificial system of irrigation and had knowledge on arts and crafts based on ovens to produce ceramics, used the cotton to confection indumentary and accessories such as hats and bags.
Spanish Conqueror Antonio de Lebrija led the first expedition through the area in 1529. The area was later invaded c. 1532 by German Ambrosius Ehinger
in a quest to find El Dorado
disrrupting and destroying many of the Amerindian villages. Some ethnic groups like the Yariguíes, Opones, and Carares fought the conquerors until becoming extinct. Explorer Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada
later made presence in the area in an effort to apeace the tribes. The colonization process in the area was started by Martín Galeano
who founded the village of Vélez
on July 3
and Pedro de Ursúa
and Ortún Velasco
founded the village of Pamplona
(now part of the Norte de Santander Department
) in 1549.
Once the Amerindian
tribes were dominated the Spanish organized the territory based on Cabildos
(councils) to maintain the dominance and administer justice in the conquered territory. Amerindian were enslaved and forced to work on agriculture fields, manufacturing goods and mines. These two villages functioned as centers for the Cabildos territories. In 1636 the Cabildo of Vélez was transferred to a new jurisdiction managed in the village of Girón
, which area went from the Sogamoso River
, Río del Oro
to the Magdalena River
. The village of San Gil
was created in 1689, segregated from the Jurisdiction of Vélez. In 1789 the village of Socorro
was also segregated from Vélez and all them put under the mandate of the Province of Tunja
, subdivision of the Viceroyalty of New Granada
. On July 9
the corregimiento of Velez - San Gil - Socorro is created due to the unsustainability of the Province of Tunja, establishing the local government in the village of Socorro.
The department is subdivided into provinces