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Colombia - Municipalities - Overview and Index

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Overview

Antioquía is the only Colombian Departmental flag with a 1:2 flag. The rest is 2:3. It could be that each Department chose what proportion to use for their municipal flags or maybe not.  There has been presentations of Antioquian flags in both proportions as well as some cities from other Departments.  At this time I am not quite sure of the official proportions of some of these flags.
Blas Delgado Ortiz, 26 July 2002


First Colombian Municipalities


Coat of Arms of Santa María La Antígua del Darién
image by Eugene Ipavec, 21 January 2008


Coat of Arms of Santa María La Antígua del Darién - variant
(Current Coat of Arms of Acandí, in the Department of Chocó)
image by Eugene Ipavec, 21 January 2008


Coat of Arms of Santa María La Antígua del Darién - variant
image by Eugene Ipavec, 21 January 2008

In 1509 (other sources mention 1510) the Spanish conquerors Alonso de Ojeda, Francisco Pizarro and Rodrigo Bastidas landed on the Western side of the Caribbean coast of the northern part of South America (present day Colombia) to establish, one year later, the first township (or Municipality if you will) in this territory, called San Sebastián de Urabá. Then on 1511 (other sources mention 1514) the Spanish conqueror Vasco Núñez de Balboa and Martín Fernández de Enciso established the second oldest township, called Santa María La Antígua del Darién. The place called San Sebastián de Urabá is around present day Necoclí, a Municipality of the Department of Antioquia. A curious comment arises because Santa María La Antígua del Darién (which ceased to exist in 1524) is officially recognized as the first modern city in the American Continent (because it was the first true civilized village with its proper authorities and permanent population, not a garrison as San Sebastián de Urabá is considered today).  The Coat of Arms of Santa María La Antígua del Darién seems very similar (I would say it's the same!) to the Coat of Arms of the Department of Chocó. This "coincidence" may be because the "city" known as Santa María La Antígua del Darién was founded in what is today the Department of Chocó. The Coat of Arms was granted by the King of Spain, Fernando de Aragón, receiving the title (name) and Arms on 1515. The Golden Castle on the Arms resembles the name "Castilla de Oro" (Golden Castille) which was the name given to the western side of the Caribbean coast of the northern part of South America (present day Colombia). There is a lion on the left of the castle and an alligator on the right. There is a sun on top of the castle (it is almost exactly the same as the Coat of Arms of the Departmen of Chocó).  
For further reference see: <www.museonacional.gov.co> (historical cannonand some facts), <www.lablaa.org> (description of the town), <museo.udea.edu.co> (Museum of Antoiquia historical investigation), <es.wikipedia.org> (Santa María La Antígua del Darién on Wikipedia), <www.members.tripod.com/~Panamahistoria> (Chronic of the foundation of by Santa María La Antígua del Darién on Wikipedia Fray Bartolomé de las Casas), <www.raicespaisas.org> (Routes of the Spanish conqueroros, including maps).
E.R., 24 July 2005

I would like to add that the second established Municipality (but officially recognized as the first one), Santa María La Antígua del Darién, is located in the jurisdiction of the current Municipality of Acandí, in the Department of Chocó.
E.R., 9 August 2005

There is a book by an Anthropologist who conducted the excavations on the first recognized municipality established by the Spaniard conquerors in what is now Colombia. The book is called "Santa María la Antígua del Darién", by Graciliano Arcila Vélez. It was published by the Secretaría de Información y Prensa de la Presidencia de la República de Colombia, on July 1986   The investigation was carried out in January, February and March of 1977 with the support of the la Fundación de Investigaciones Arqueológicas del Banco de la República (FINARCO) (a foundation created by Colombia's Central Bank, named Banco de la República). Here are some extracts from the book:
- On the cover of the book there is an artist impression of the Coat of Arms of the city.
- Page 3 - This page states that this city was the first city on Continental America and the first Episcopal city [These claimes however are not all true, since there was another township before Santa María la Antígua del Darién].
- Page 29 - This page states that the title of City was granted by Spain by Real Cédula issued on Burgos on July 10, 1515 by King Fernando el Católico "Titulo e nombro cibdad de Santa María de Antígua de Darién e mando qe de oy sea por todos nombrada..."(exact words of the document in old Spanish). The name was given on behalf of Our Lady of Antigua de Sevilla (Spain).
- Page 30 - This page shows that by Spanish eal Cédula issued on June 9, 1508 by King Fernando el Católico two Gobernaciones (Governments) were created: the Gobernación de Castilla de Oro (Government of Golden Castille), headed by Diego de Nicuesa and Gobernación de Nueva Andalucía (Government of New Andalucía) headed by Alonso de Ojeda. So in the period between October 1509 and February 1510, Alonso de Ojeda established the first town, called San Sebastián de Urabá. It lasted only a few months for the folloiwng reasons:
1) Lack of supplies, which Ojeda had to bring from Santo Domingo (in the Dominican Republic), and;
2) One of the Pizarro family members who was the head of the garrison had to abandon it because of the armed pressure of the local natives.
Pizarro was left in charge of the garrison and was delegated on the foundation and establishment of the township while Alonso de Ojeda went to Santo Domingo and warned Pizarro that if in 50 days he did not return, the men under his command were at free will (either to stay and establish the township or leave elsewhere).  At the end of that same year, another Spaniard, Martín Fernández de Enciso, together with explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa,  comes back from a journey to Santo Domingo with a well equipped expedition, headed towards San Sebastián de Urabá, and picks up Pizarro and his men who had fled seeking Santo Domingo. However when they arrived to San Sebastián de Urabá, the garrison and everything else had been burned by the local indians. Given the facts, Enciso decided to go towards the left side of the Gulf of Urabá, sugested by Balboa, on the land of Cacique Cémaco (the local tribal leader). So, Enciso, fearful of the forthcoming fight, prayed to the Virgin of Santa María de la Antígua de Sevilla for luck, and in case he wins, he would name the new town on her bhalf. So once Cacique Cémaco (of the ethnic tribe called ) he established Santa María la Antígua del Darién.  For a map of the territory (taken from page 22 of this same book) see <museo.udea.edu.co>.
- Page 35 - This page shows the actual Coat of Arms, according to the tex of the Real Cédula.
E.R., 11 January 2006

The first Pueblo Libre de América (Free Town of America) was Palenque de San Basilio, currently a Corregimiento (Rural neighborhood) of the Municipal of Mahates, in the Department of Bolívar, by decreto Real del Rey de España (Royal Decree of the King of Spain) granted in 1713, because all the black African slaves that came to that location were automatically free.
Sources: UNESCO official website, Colombian Ministry of Culture official website.
E.R., 25 August 2008