Troops from the Colombian heartland of New Granada, led by Venezuelan Creole general Simón Bolívar, played a major role in the long struggle from 1808 to 1824 for independence from Spain. A slave owner himself, Bolívar initially found it difficult to rally slaves and Indians to the revolutionary cause, and mestizos always formed the bulk of his armies. After suffering a series of early defeats and witnessing a brutal Spanish reconquest of New Granada, Bolívar’s armies finally defeated Spanish forces in Colombia at the Battle of Boyacá in 1819. See also Latin American Independence.
In 1821 Bolívar was elected president of the newly independent Gran Colombia, which included present-day Colombia, Panama, and, after their liberation, Venezuela and Ecuador. Bolívar and other leaders strove mightily to make the new nation prosper. However, the burden of the war, the weakness of the economy, and the sheer difficulty of administering such a vast and poorly integrated territory led to the breakup of the new republic in 1831, when Venezuela and Ecuador each declared their independence. "Colombia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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