DARIEN (Sp. da-re-an'), The Colony of, established by the Spaniards on the Gulf of Uraba (see DARIEN, GULF OF), in the first dec ade of the 16th century, was the centre from which exploring expeditions were sent out until Panama was founded in 1519. A notary of Tri ana, named Bastidas, sailed along the Carib bean coast of the isthmus in 1501, Balboa being one of his companions. At the end of 1502 and beginning of 1503 Columbus carefully examined the region immediately west of this gulf. In 1508 the king granted to Nicuesa the territory from the Gulf of Darien to Cape Gracias Dios; to Ojeda, the territory from the Gulf of Darien to Cape de la Vela. The dividing line was more precisely fixed by the grantees, who agreed that it should be the Atrato River. (See DARIEN, GULF OF). In that event the only permanent settlements were made near this river and the gulf into which it flows. Ojeda first landed at Cartagena (1509), where his ex pedition endured great hardships. Removing thence to the eastern side of the Gulf of Uraba, he built the fort called San Sebastian, which he entrusted to Francisco Pizarro, and then re turned to the West Indies. Pizarro, Balboa and all who remained alive set sail for Carta gena once more. There they were met by En ciso, with re-enforcements from San Domingo, and after some hesitation, crossed the gulf to the western shore, where the colony of Santa Maria de la Antigua del Darien was estab lished in 1510. Balboa gained ascendency by
recommending the selection of this place (which he had visited with Bastidas) and became the leading spirit in the undertakings which fol lowed — the expedition to Dahaiba, the cross ing of the isthmus, etc. (see BALBOA).
Nicuesa's expedition, though it started under brighter auspices, resulted in a lamentable fail ure. Its courtly leader, after losing nearly all his followers near Cape Nombre de Dios, was forced to put to sea in a boat that could not outlive a single storm — practically condemned to death by the authorities at Darien, whom he had offended. In 1514 Pedrarias Davila super seded Balboa as governor. Five years later Panama was founded; the capital was estab lished on the Pacific coast; exploration north ward and southward began along the shores of the newly-discovered ocean; the isthmian traf fic sought and found an easier route, better harbors and a less deadly climate at a dis tance from the Gulf of Uraba. Darien was abandoned. Consult Anderson, Dr. C. L. G.. 'Old Panama and Castilla del Oro.' See CEN TRAL AMEIUCA.