The history of Colombia starts far before Colombia became its own state in 1886. The area that is now Colombia was inhabited by indigenous people for thousands of years. The indigenous people lived in small to moderately big villages and had an active religious and commercial culture. They traded with other indigenous tribes in various regions. Many of the indigenous people had expert gold smiths, making very detailed religious figures out of gold. In 1499 the Spanish arrived in Colombia. From then on conquest began, in which many indigenous people died of fights, diseases and slavery. Much of the true indigenous cultures where lost, but they did influence the current culture and ethnicity in Colombia. Colombia had the largest population of indigenous people of all colonized Latin American countries. A lot of the Colombian culture and genetic background stems from the indigenous people. There are also still some people that live the traditional way. They live in nature reserves and are protected against the main culture of Colombia. This protection is limited and still many traditional ways are lost or replaced by more westernized culture.
The Spanish colonized Colombia from around 1499 to 1819. After turbulent times with a lot of changes in dependence of various countries, the Republic of Colombia was finally declared in 1886. In 1903 Panama, until then a region of Colombia, split from Colombia and became its own independent country.
Because of the influence of the Spanish conquistadors Colombia has become very ethnically diverse. Nowadays people of almost all ethnic background live in Colombia. There are people descending from the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, Africans originally brought to the country as slaves, and 20th-century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East. As the immigration of all these people happened hundreds of years ago, most Colombia people have a mixed background. If you ask people about their racial identity, they will almost always say “I am Colombian” no matter what their ethnicity of cultural background is.