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History[edit | edit source]
The territory now known as Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522 amid resistance from indigenous peoples. In 1811, it became one of the first Spanish-American territories to declare independence, which was not securely established until 1821, when Venezuela was a department of the federal republic of Gran Colombia. It gained full independence as a country in 1830.
During the 19th century, Venezuela suffered political turmoil and autocracy, remaining dominated by regional military strongmen until the mid-20th century. Since 1958, the country has had a series of democratic governments. Economic shocks in the 1980s and 1990s led to several political crises, including the deadly Caracazo riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez for embezzlement of public funds in 1993. A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 election of former coup-involved career officer Hugo Chávez and the launch of the Bolivarian Revolution. The revolution began with a 1999 Constituent Assembly, where a new Constitution of Venezuela was written. This new constitution officially changed the name of the country to Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Oil was discovered in the early 20th century, and today, Venezuela has the world's largest known oil reserves and has been one of the world's leading exporters of oil. The Venezuelan government under Hugo Chávez then established populist social welfare policies that initially boosted the Venezuelan economy and increased social spending, temporarily reducing economic inequality and poverty in the early years of the regime. However, such populist policies later became inadequate, causing the nation's collapse as their excesses—including a uniquely extreme fossil fuel subsidy are widely blamed for destabilizing the nation's economy.
The destabilized economy led to a crisis in Bolivarian Venezuela, resulting in hyperinflation, an economic depression, shortages of basic goods and drastic increases in unemployment, poverty, disease, child mortality, malnutrition and crime. These factors have precipitated the Venezuelan Migrant Crisis where more than three million people have fled the country.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
1522 - Spain's colonization of mainland Venezuela started, establishing its first permanent South American settlement in the present-day city of Cumaná
1811 - After a series of unsuccessful uprisings, Venezuela, declared independence
1811 - 1830 Between one-quarter and one-third of Venezuela's population was lost during these two decades of warfare
1859 - 1863 The Federal War was a civil war in which hundreds of thousands died in a country with a population of not much more than a million people
1989 - Economic crises in the 1980s and 1990s led to a political crisis in which hundreds died in the Caracazo riots
2014 - Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have protested over high levels of criminal violence, corruption, hyperinflation, and chronic scarcity of basic goods due to policies of the federal government