Santa Marta (sänˈtä märˈtä) [key], city (1993 pop. 270,253), capital of Magdalena dept., N Colombia, a port on the Caribbean Sea. The city's banana industry, operated by the United Fruit Company, is one of the most important in South America. Santa Marta also has fine beaches and is a tourist center. Founded by the Spanish explorer Rodrigo de Bastidas in 1525, it was often sacked by corsairs in the 16th cent. During colonial times the city was important as an outlet for the Magdalena River valley. It remained royalist during the revolution and was liberated in 1821. Simón Bolívar died on an estate nearby.