Venezuela Early History

Pre-Columbian societies

It is believed that man appeared in the territory that is now known as Venezuela about 30,000 years ago, mainly thanks to emigrations from the Amazon, the Andes and the Caribbean. That is why the pre-Columbian stage is divided into four periods: the Paleo-Indian (between the year 30,000 BC to the 5,000), the Meso-Inidio (from 5,000 to 1,000), the Neo-Indian (from the year 1,000 BC). Christ to 1,500 after Christ) until reaching the Indo-Hispanic which extends from the year 1500 of our era to the present day.

The Paleo and Meso-Indian periods are characterized by the elaboration of hunting tools for large animals such as the megaterium, the mastodon and the glyptodon; as well as the subsequent development of fishing gear and navigation to the Caribbean islands. During the Neo-Indian period, agriculture, architecture and ceramics were developed: embankments, elevations, dams, terraces, pipes and vaults for food were built; Knowledge of the natural cycles of the local flora and fauna is developed for their better use; and sculptures and other ceramic works are also madeThe Venus de Tacarigua series, around the Lake of Valencia, as well as the ceramic ornaments of the Andean region, such as those of the Carache culture, stand out.

The most important tribes were the Timoto-Cuicas in the Andes, ethnically linked to the Chibchas; the Caribs in the eastern and central regions of the country, Guayana and parts of Zulia and the plains, although later due to territorial wars they acquired the north coast of South America ; the Arawaks, settled in part of the regions of what is today the Amazonas state, a good part of the west, central west and part of the coasts.

Some peoples of Arawak descent are the Wayúu or Guajiros, located in the west of the country to the north, and the Caquetíos in Paraguaná that populated the north of the current Falcón state and were displaced by the conquerors towards the western plains. There were also small migrations of independent groups that populated the Orinoco basin and other small areas of the country.

The indigenous people of Venezuela used mud and straw or palm leaves to build houses and other buildings. They also made stilt houses with wood, reeds and straw. The Timoto-cuicas used rock as their main architectural material. Other materials, such as seashells, were used for ordinary commercial exchange, or barter. The fauna of the prehistoric and pre-Columbian years consisted of tapirs, saber-toothed tigers, giant armadillos, among others.

When the Spaniards arrived, there were numerous ethnic groups in Venezuela that spoke the Caribbean, Arawak, Chibcha and Tupí-Guaraní languages. Venezuelan indigenous mythology is very rich. The stories about the origin of the world of tribes like that of the maquiritare bear striking similarities with the biblical Genesis.

Colonial stage

First exploratory trips

What would eventually become Venezuela was initially sighted and visited in 1498 by Christopher Columbus who approached the mouths of the Orinoco River going from the Canary Islands, and traveled the coast from Trinidad Island to perhaps the current Cabo de la Vela, in the La Guajira peninsula, east of Colombia.

This being the first time that Europeans had seen the continent, the admiral, when observing the variety of flora and fauna, called the area “Land of Grace”, in clear allusion to the biblical Eden.

Subsequent trips such as that of Alonso de Ojeda, Diego de Lepe, Cristóbal Guerra and Alonso Niño, between 1499 and 1502, quickly delimited two portions of territory to make them governors, and exercise jurisdiction: the first from the mouth of the Orinoco to the ” Morro de Maracapana “, currently in the city of Puerto La Cruz, on the eastern coast of Venezuela, an area that came to be known as the Government of Cumaná, and from then on, costing up to Cabo de la Vela would then be around 1528 the Government of Venezuela or the Government of Coquivacoa.

Province of Venezuela (1527)

During the conquest and colonization of the territory of Venezuela, a country located in South America according to ARISTMARKETING.COM, several governorates or provinces were organized, without continuity in time, such as Nueva Andalucía or Cumaná, Paria, Coriana, Coquivacoa, La Grita Government, Nueva Extremadura or Mérida, and the ephemeral Barcelona, in 1636. It should be noted that they functioned independently.

The provinces of Caracas, Cumaná, Guayana and Maracaibo initially depended on the Royal Audience of Santo Domingo and later on the Royal Audience of Santa Fe de Bogotá or the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada, on various occasions, alternating in this function, especially in the judicial sphere, with the Royal Audience of Santo Domingo, dependent on the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

The Province of Venezuela or Caracas, always depended on the Royal Audience of Santo Domingo, on the island of Hispaniola, until 1718, when the new Bourbon regime in Spain, by Royal Decree, made it dependent on the newly created Viceroyalty of New Granada. It became independent again from this Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1742. Thirty years later the territories of the provinces of Maracaibo, Guayana, Cumaná, dependent on the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada, the province of Trinidad, dependent on Santo Domingo and Margarita, dependent on the Spanish Crown, to form the Captaincy General of Venezuela, with capital in the city of Santiago de León de Caracas, by Royal Decree issued by King Carlos III of Spain, on September 8, 1777.

Captaincy General of Venezuela

The provinces existing at the time of the creation and organization of the Captaincy General of Venezuela were, apart from the Province of Venezuela:

  • Province of Trinidad, created in 1532, by the conqueror Antonio Sedeño, and originally under the jurisdiction of Santo Domingo, after its incorporation to the Captaincy General, was attacked by an English fleet, which obtained the surrender of the square, from the governor of the island, in 1797, and its occupation was recognized by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802.
  • Province of Cumaná, this brought together the previous provinces or governments of Nueva Andalucía and Paria, in a single entity, it was originally dependent on the Royal Audience of Santo Domingo from the year 1569, until it was subject to the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, from 1749 to 1777.
  • Province of Margarita, the island was a province until 1600, when it became directly dependent on the Spanish Crown until 1777.
  • Guayana Province, also known as Angostura Province, and founded in 1591.
  • Province of Maracaibo, formed in 1740, with the union of the previous provinces of La Grita and Mérida.

The authority of the Captaincy General covered matters of a political, military and economic nature, of all the previously mentioned provinces; however, they continued to be judicially dependent on the Royal Audience of Santo Domingo, and their governors were appointed directly by the Spanish Crown.

The influence of Caracas as the central city of official government, and residence of the Governor of the Captaincy in an area that economically encompassed several other governorates such as Nueva Andalucía, Mérida or Guayana, finally influenced to integrate the entire set of provinces and governorates of the area of Venezuela around the Government of Caracas. The colonial economy of Venezuela revolved around the export of hides, wheat, tobacco and cocoa, the latter being so appreciated abroad for its finesse, aroma and quality that it promoted economic development during the final two centuries of the colonial period, and generated an enlightened caste of descendants of the conquerors, known as the Mantuans, which based their wealth and power in this product during those 2 centuries.

Venezuela Early History