Arauca is a municipality and capital city of the Arauca Department of Colombia. Its full name is Villa de Santa Bárbara de Arauca. The Municipality of Arauca has a total population of 82,149 (2005 census). The Arauca region was explored by the German conquistador Jorge de la Espira, aka Georg von Speyer, in 1536. These early Spanish did not stay because they were on the quest for El Dorado. But later they were followed by Jesuits and land-grantees who founded the first settlements.
Arauca was founded on December 4, 1780, by Juan Isidro Daboín on the site of an indigenous hamlet of about ten families called Guahibo. Arauca was named after the Arauca River which now separates it from Venezuela, which river in turn was named for the indigenous people the Arauca. The area is flat and subject to frequent flooding from the river. At one point it was the capital of the New Granada Province of Casanare which was much larger than the current Department of Casanare. In addition, the Villa de Santa Bárbara de Arauca, has been: