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History of Santa Marta

Santa Marta was the first Spanish city founded in South America. It was officially established in 1525 by Rodrigo de Bastidas and quickly developed into an important port. Despite the protection of the bay by two fortresses, 26 known pirates and countless other anonymous ones assailed Santa Marta between 1543 and 1702. These pirates include John Hopkins, Francis Drake and Martin Cote. On December 3, 1655, British Vice Admiral William Goodson attacked and burned the city.

Santa Marta is also where Simón Bolívar's journey home came to an abrupt end.  On his way back to Caracas, he was forced to stop due to intense tuberculosis.  Bolivar was given refuge at Quinta San Pedro de Alejandrino, where he died on December 17, 1830. He was buried in the cathedral. Thirteen years later, Bolivar would finally reach his hometown, where his body now reposes in the Panteón.

During the first half of the 20th century, until 1966, United Fruit Company had its headquarters in Santa Marta. Remnants of its Barrio Gringo (Caucasian neighborhood) still exist.

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