Nombre de Dios
Nombre de Dios is a city on the Atlantic
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...
coast of Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...
in the Colón Province
Colón is a province of Panama. The capital is the city of Colón.This province has traditionally been focused in commerce , but also has natural resources that are being developed as tourist attraction, such as coral reefs and rainforests...
Founded as a Spanish colony
Spanish colonization of the Americas
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...
in 1510 by Diego de Nicuesa
Diego de Nicuesa
Diego de Nicuesa was a Spanish conquistador and explorer. In 1506, he was given the job of governing Costa Rica, but ran aground off the coast of Panama. He made his way north overland, against resistance from the native population...
, it was one of the first Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...
an settlements on the Isthmus of Panama
Isthmus of Panama
The Isthmus of Panama, also historically known as the Isthmus of Darien, is the narrow strip of land that lies between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, linking North and South America. It contains the country of Panama and the Panama Canal...
. It is the oldest continually populated town in Panama and the America mainland. Originally a major port of call for the Spanish treasure fleet
Spanish treasure fleet
The Spanish treasure fleets was a convoy system adopted by the Spanish Empire from 1566 to 1790...
, Nombre de Dios was the most significant port for shipping in all of the Americas between 1540 and 1580. Silver was brought to it for export to Spain. As Nombre de Dios was situated near an unhealthy swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...
and was nearly impossible to fortify
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...
, it declined in importance. In June 1572 the English pirate Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, and politician of the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588. He also carried out the...
sacked the colony; he ambushed the Spanish Silver Train
Spanish Silver Train
The Spanish Silver Train was an improvised trail used to transport silver from Peru across Panama in order to ship it to Spain. The silver was usually unloaded in Panama, then put in mule trains and taken first to Nombre de Dios, and then, following the demise of that city in the late sixteenth...
, a mule convoy carrying a fortune in precious metal
A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value.Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high lustre, are softer or more ductile, and have higher melting points than other metals...
s, in April of the following year. By 1580, Vera Cruz
Veracruz, officially known as Heroica Veracruz, is a major port city and municipality on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city is located in the central part of the state. It is located along Federal Highway 140 from the state capital Xalapa, and is the state's most...
in present-day Mexico became a more important port.
By 1600, Nombre de Dios had been all but abandoned by the Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
, and its importance to the treasure fleets had been surpassed by Portobelo on the isthmus. The town still exists, though it is much less populous than in the 16th century.
Nombre de Dios is mentioned by the poet Derek Walcott
Derek Alton Walcott, OBE OCC is a Saint Lucian poet, playwright, writer and visual artist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 and the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2011 for White Egrets. His works include the Homeric epic Omeros...
in The Prodigal: