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Spanish conquest of the Chibchan Nations

Spanish conquest of the Chibchan Nations refers to the conquest by the Spanish monarchy of the Chibchan speaking nations, mainly the Muiscas and Taironas that inhabited what is nowadays Colombia to eventually begin the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

The first inhabitants of Colombia were migrating members of the Mesoamericans who established themselves in the area c. 1200 BC followed by two other waves c. 500 BC and a third one between 400 and 300 BC. Later on the group of Arawaks coming from southern South America made presence in the area, and a third wave of migrating groups, the warring Caribs established in the lower lands and pushed the Mesoamericans to the mountains. The southern areas of nowadays Colombia were also part of the Inca Empire.

There were two main tribes that at the time of the Spanish arrival were socially and economically developed; the Muiscas and the Taironas both pertaining to the Chibchan Nations.



The Muiscas inhabited the area of what is now the Departments of Boyaca] and Cundinamarca high plateau mainly (Altiplano Cundiboyacense). The Muiscas were also divided into two confederations: Hunza, whose sovereign was the Zaque and Bacata, whose sovereign was the Zipa. They farmed maize, potato, quinoa and cotton, among others. Skilled in goldsmiths, bartered emeralds, blankets, ceramic handicrafts, coca and salt actively trading these with neighboring nations.


The Taironas inhabited in northern Colombia in the Andes isolated mountain range of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The Taironas were divided into two groups the coastal Taironas by the Caribbean sea and the mountain Tairona in the higher lands of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

By the 1500's, the Chibchas, were divided into two main groups: the Muisca, located in the plateaus of Cundinamarca and Boyaca , and the Tairona, who settled along the northern spur of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the present-day La Guajira Department. The Tairona formed a confederation of two groups, one in the Caribbean lowlands and the other in the highlands of contemporary Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The lowlands Tairona fished and produced salt, which they traded for cotton cloth and blankets with their highlands counterparts. Both groups lived in numerous, well-organized towns connected by stone roads.

Spanish arrival

The territory was discovered by Spanish sailor Alonso de Ojeda in 1498, [*] during one of the voyages of Christopher Columbus though he never landed. A short time later, Juan de la Cosa, another Spanish explorer, landed on what is today called Cabo de la Vela (Cape of Sails) in the Guajira Peninsula. [*]

In 1502 on another coast of present day Colombia near the Gulf of Uraba, Spanish explorers led by Vasco Nunez de Balboa explored and conquered the area near the Atrato River founded the Santa Maria la Antigua del Darien (c. 1509) and San Sebastian de Uraba (c. 1508) [*], founding two the first settlement in the Americas. [*] [*]

See also

Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada

Sebastian de Belalcazar

New Kingdom of Granada

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Spanish conquest of the Chibchan Nations

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