Tolima Department

Tolima Department

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Tolima Department

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Tolima is one of the 32 departments of Colombia, located in the Andean region, in the center-west of the country. It is bordered on the north and the west by the department of Caldas; on the east by the department of Cundinamarca; on the south by the department of Huila, and on the west by the departments of Cauca, Valle del Cauca, Quindío and Risaralda. Tolima has a surface area of 23,562 km², and its capital is Ibagué. The department of Tolima was created in 1861 from a part of what was previously Cundinamarca.


Indigenous civilization

The Pijao people lived in Tolima during pre-Columbian times. The name of the department comes from the Pijao word for "snowed". The Panches, from the Pijao liguistic family, were also settled here, reaching the region beyond the Magdalena valleys. Renowned as fierce warriors, the Panches are widely known for fighting the Muisca over the control of emerald mining territories. They fought against a Spanish-Muisca coalition and were ultimately defeated in the Battle of Tocarema in 1537.

Spanish colonization

Spanish colonization of the region began in 1537 with Sebastián de Belalcázar travelling from the city of Cali to be with his colleague, Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, in Bogota. On its way, Belarcázar founded the settlement that would become eventually become known as Ibagué. Belarcázar traveled until he reached the site of Flandes in Tolima before arriving at Bogota. The definitive foundation began...
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