July 20 – Independence Day in Colombia

Posted on July 20, 2014

 On this date in 1810, people in Colombia responded to the political troubles of their colonial master, Spain, by setting up their own local government.

To set the stage, Europe was dealing with steady encroachment by Napoleon Bonaparte and periodic outbreak of wars between nations. The French Emperor had forced the King of Spain (Ferdinand VII) to give up the throne to Napoleon's brother, Joseph Bonaparte. As you might expect, many Spaniards resisted the new king's rule, and an emergency alternative government called the Supreme Central Junta was formed by some of the most powerful Spaniards.

Most of Spain's colonies in South and Central America made formal declarations of loyalty to Spain's Supreme Central Junta and to Ferdinand VII—thereby setting themselves up as NOT being loyal to King Joseph. Also, movements within the various colonies started creating their own juntas. In 1808 and 1809, local independent governments were set up in what is now Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela. The viceroys—the representatives of King Joseph who were supposed to rule in the colonies—often tried to put down these rebellions, but because of the instability in Spain and all of Europe, they had only limited support from the mother country.

The people in Colombia who wanted to oust the Spanish viceroy made a plan that involved one patriot asking a merchant to borrow a flower vase—a request that they were sure would be refused—and another patriot would ask the viceroy for an open town meeting to discuss independence—again, a request that would certainly be rejected. I guess the merchant and viceroy played right into the patriots' hands, because apparently they not only refused the requests, they did so in a very haughty, rude way.

The patriots were able to run through the streets of Bogota (the capital city of Colombia) telling everybody about the rude rejections of these proposals, and soon enough mobs of people started protesting Spanish arrogance.

I know I would want independence if someone turned down my request for a flower vase in a rude way!

Under pressure of a rioting populace, the Spanish viceroy agreed to allow a limited independence...which later became full and permanent independence.

Colombians celebrate their independence with parades and speeches and parties.

Learn about Colombia

  • Colombia is famous for its coffee and for singer-songwriter, dancer, record producer, choreographer, and model Shakira. Shakira isn't just a pop legend; she works to build schools and community centers in the poorest neighborhoods of Colombia, and she works to convince other Latin American leaders to invest in education for little kids.

  • You have probably figured out that Colombia was named after Christopher Columbus (whose name in Italian is Cristoforo Colombo, and in Spanish is Cristobal Colon). Back when it was a colony, the territory (and Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, and part of Brazil) was called New Granada (Grenada is the name of an important city in Spain).

  • Colombia is one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries. (I didn't realize that the U.S. is also one!) The nation has Amazon rainforest, tropical grasslands, seacoasts on the Pacific Ocean and on the Caribbean Sea, and highlands of Andes Mountains. It is considered the second most biodiverse country in the world, and is #1 in the number of species per square mile or kilometer.
  • Colombia has the most species of butterflies, orchids, and amphibians of any other nation in the world. It has more species of birds than all of Europe and North America combined! (So...yeah...MEGAdiverse!)

  • Colombia is the leading source of emeralds in the world. Like, the MEGA leading source – because 70 to 90% of the world's emeralds come from that relatively small nation!

Also on this date:

Moon Day (here and here)

"Peace and Freedom” Day in North Cyprus 

Plan ahead:

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