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Tairona was a group of chiefdoms in the region of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in present-day Cesar, Magdalena and La Guajira Departments of Colombia, South America, which goes back at least to the 1st century AD and had significant demographic growth around the 11th century.

The Tairona people formed one of the two principal linguistic groups of the Chibcha family, the other being the Muisca. Genetic and archaeological evidence shows a relatively dense occupation of the region by at least 200 BC. Polen data compiled by Luisa Fernanda Herrera in the 1980 shows considerable deforestation and the use of cultigens such as yuca and maiz since possibly 1200 BC. However, occupation of the Colombian Caribbean coast by sedentary or semi-sedentary populations have been documented to have occurred by ca 4000 BC. Ethnohistorical data shows that initial contact with the Spanish was tolerated by the Tairona but by the 1600 confrontations built and a small part of the Tairona population moved to the higher stretches of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. This movement allowed them to evade the worst of the Spanish colonial system during the 17th and 18th centuries. The indigenous Kogui, Wiwa, Arhuacos (Ijka, Ifca) and Cancuamo people who live in the area today are believed to be direct descendants of the Tairona.

Origin of the name

Etymological similarities of the word Tairona survive in the four main linguistic groups of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta: in Sanca Language it is...
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