It is an important regional player, weilding significant influence over both the Caribbean region and its neighbors to the south. It is also the most industrialized and developed major nation in Latin America. Having achieved independence in 1819, its early history was largely uneventful until the late 1820s, when a chain of civil wars struck the country until the mid-1850s, in what is known as "The Tragic Decades". However, under strong leadership, the country quickly recovered and by 1879 was ready to begin its expansion through its involvement in the War of the Pacific with its southern neighbor, Peru. This, along with the War of the Mosquitos (1886) and the Great Caribbean War (1898), led to an enormous growth in the country's national borders and international influence. These developments were supported by a highly capitalist and rapidly industrializing economy, leading the period between 1880 and 1910 to be known as the Colombian Golden Age.
However, this period of development was considered grossly inequitable, leading to the rise of the Labor Movement. After reaching the presidency through Jorge Eliécer Gaitán in 1938, the party passed massive, sweeping reforms, including expropriation of multinationals, land reform, and labor regulations. While these did not stimulate the economy, they were enormously popular, and the country's oil resources were enough to keep the government afloat without much economic backlash. This period lasted until 1958, when the Labor Party attempted to undermine the influence of the military, resulting in a military coup with the self-proclaimed goal of "restoring order and correcting the excesses of the revolution" While the military loosened its grip on power in the mid-1980s, it continued to hold significant influence through the so-called "civilian-military government", which lasted until 1994.
Ever since the military came to power, Colombia has been gradually shifting away from a mixed economy with state ownership of crucial industries and massive government control of the economy towards one of the most economically free countries on Earth. Many economists have attributed Colombia's recent economic growth to this policy shift.