History of Venezuela Timeline
Timeline Description: Venezuela, situated on the northern coast of South America, supports a wide range of extreme habitats including the Andes mountain range, the Amazon Basin rainforest, the Los Llanos grassland plains, the Orinoco Delta wetlands and the idyllic Caribbean coast.

Date Event
13000 BC Indigenous people.

Carbon dating of food implements and spear tips for hunting, places humans in west and northwest Venezuela as early as 13,000 BC. These indigenous people number up to one million and live in tribes such as the Carib, Auaké, Caquetio, Mariche and Timoto-cuicas.
1498 Christopher Columbus discovers the Gulf of Paria.

Italian explorer Christopher Columbus discovers the Gulf of Paria on his third trip to the Americas in 1498. He considers the shallow inland sea off the east coast of Venezuela to be paradise, and coins the phrase "Land of Grace" which is still used for the region today.
1499 Expedition to Venezuela.

The following year the Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda leads an expedition to the same coast without Columbus' permission. The region is named Venezuela, either because the stilt houses are reminiscent of a "little Venice" or because the natives call it "Veneciuela".
1522 Spanish colonization.

Spanish colonization in Venezuela starts in 1522 with the first permanent South American settlement in modern-day Cumaná. Colonies spread along the northeast coast despite resistance from indigenous leaders such as Guaicaipuro and Tamanaco. Defeated tribes and leaders are commemorated in place names.
1567 Caracas founded.

Caracas, at the mid-point of the coast line, is founded in 1567. It becomes a key location due to its central position, fertile land, pleasant tropical climate and natural defenses being in a valley among mountains.
1775 Expansion of colonies.

Spanish settlers start to push inland along the Orinoco River where they meet organized resistance from the Makiritare in 1775. Trade is based on native coffee, cocoa, maize and manioc and large parts of the Los Llanos plains are cultivated through both subsistence and permanent agriculture.
1777 The Captaincy General of Venezuela.

A new administrative district is created in 1777 to provide more autonomy for the colonies in Venezuela, offering a unified government in political, military, financial and judicial matters.
July 5, 1811 Venezuelan Independence.

A series of uprisings led by Francisco de Miranda culminate in a declaration of independence on July 5, 1811. The national flag is introduced with yellow representing land wealth, blue for the sea and red for the bloodshed. Natural disasters and native rebellions thwart the first two Venezuelan republics.
1821 La Gran Columbia is created.

Simón Bolívar is victorious at the Battle of Carabobo on June 24, 1821. With control of the Granadian army he liberates several countries (modern-day Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama) and unites them into a single country=La Gran Colombia.
1830 Independent Venezuela.

In 1830 José Antonio Páez Herrera leads a rebellion and declares an independent Venezuela. Páez becomes the first president of the new republic and is intermittently re-elected three times, serving a total of eleven years.
1854 Slavery is abolished.

Although the Spanish government introduces the first European law abolishing colonial slavery in 1542, it is not outlawed in Venezuela until 1854.
1859 Federal War

During the 19th and 20th centuries Venezuela experiences political turmoil and is alternately ruled by a handful of military strongmen, each overthrowing the other. A civil war rages through the country for four years from 1859, killing hundreds of thousands of citizens.
1908 The rule of Juan Vicente Gómez.

The last de facto ruler is Juan Vicente Gómez from 1908 to his death in 1935. He ends political and civil wars through tyrannical dominance, improves the country's infrastructure to maximize the production of oil, repays the country's debt and stabilizes the economy, while heavily lining his own pocket through corruption.
1914 Discovery of oil.

Large reserves of crude oil are found in the basin surrounding Lake Maracaibo in 1914. Production begins during World War I and the resource replaces agriculture as the base of the Venezuelan economy.
1945 Democracy is born.

Rómulo Betancourt is heralded as the Father of Venezuelan Democracy, serving two elected presidencies. The first, a short-lived period from 1945, and then again for five years from 1959 after the military dictator Pérez Jiménez is ousted.
1973 Oil crisis.

The 1973 oil crisis sees Venezuela's primary source of income soar along. However the subsequent collapse of oil prices in the 1980s cripples the Venezuelan economy and culminates in currency devaluation in February 1983. Venezuela once again sees rising inflation, poverty, crime, corruption, rioting and political instability.
1999 Bolivarian Revolution.

Hugo Chávez is elected President in 1998 and launches the Bolivarian Revolution in response to popular opinion. Named after Simón Bolívar, the socialist movement aims to restore democracy, economic independence and equitable distribution of revenues, while ending political corruption.
2013 Death of Chávez.

Chávez is briefly deposed in a coup in 2002, but returns to power two days later, where he remains until his death in 2013. Nicolás Maduro is the newly-elected president in March 2013.