|Rio de la Hacha|
The Rio de la Hacha area was long inhabited by American Indians of the Wayuu culture, part of the larger Arawak group. The first European to visit the area was the Spanish sailor Alonso de Ojeda in 1498, though he never landed. A short time later, Juan de la Cosa, another Spanish explorer, landed on what is today called Cabo de la Vela (Cape of the Sail, so called because of its shape). In 1535, the German explorer Nikolaus Federmann founded a city with the name Nuestra Señora Santa Maria de los Remedios del Cabo de la Vela (Our Lady Saint Mary of the Remedies of the Cape of the Sail) at the place where de la Cosa had landed.
The Spanish discovered a vast amount of pearls in the city's area. This treasure frequently attracted raids by pirates. After the city was destroyed by a pirate raid, the city government relocated the city to the mouth of the Ranchería River, in order to confuse the pirates, and to give the city time to rebuild before the next attack. The new city, named Nuestra Señora de los Remedios del Río de la Hacha (Our Lady of the Remedies), expanded peacefully for a short time in its new location. Pirate attacks soon resumed. The next major attack, led by the famous English pirate Francis Drake, took place in 1569, when Drake pillaged the city searching for gold and pearls.
In the 18th century, Rio de la Hacha was incorporated to the Viceroyalty of New Granada as part of the province of Santa Marta. During the battles for independence from Spain, the port of Rio de la Hacha served many vessels fighting for Colombian and Venezuelan independence. Many Riohachans also served in the revolutionary navy, most notably Admiral José Prudencio Padilla, who would come to be considered a hero in the revolutions of Colombia and Venezuela.