Venezuela: Historical Overview                                         


For more in depth history of Venezuela navigate your way through different time periods here (scroll to Venezuela, Colombia and the Guianas and click the down arrow to start)!


Christopher Columbus and Alonso de Ojeda arrive in Venezuela— which is inhabited by Carib, Arawak and Chibcha peoples.



Spanish colonization begins on the north-east coast.



The first rebellion against Spanish colonial rule takes place.



Simón Bolívar (image) is born. He was a Venezuelan military and political leader who led in the establishment of Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama as sovereign states— independent of Spanish rule.


Venezuelans take advantage of Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Spain and declare independence.



The Independence Act is signed.



The Gran Colombia (a large state covering much of modern-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela) is created, with Simón Bolívar as president and Francisco José de Paula Santander as vice president.



Venezuela secedes from Gran Colombia (image) and becomes an independent republic. The capital city is Caracas.



President Antonio Guzmán Blanco attracts foreign investment, modernizes infrastructure and develops agriculture and education. 



Venezuela fails to repay loans and, as a result, its ports are blockaded by British, Italian and German warships.



Dictator Juan Vicente Gómez governs at a time when Venezuela becomes the world's largest exporter of oil.



President Rómulo Gallegos, Venezuela's first democratically elected leader, is overthrown within eight months in a military coup led by Marcos Pérez Jiménez. Jiménez forms a government with backing from the armed forces and the US. 



Venezuela's first presidential handover from one civilian to another takes place when Dr Raúl Leoni is elected president.



Hugo Chávez (photo) is elected president.



 Severe floods and mudslides in the north kill tens of thousands of people.




Relations with Colombia begin to fall apart after plans are announced to allow US troops to use Colombian military bases as part of an initiative to curb drug-trafficking.



Venezuela cuts diplomatic ties with Colombia after being accused of harboring FARC rebels. FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) is a violent guerilla movement that has existed since 1964. A few months later, Colombia and Venezuela restore diplomatic ties.

That same year, Hugo Chávez visits Iran, where he and the Iranian president promise to deepen their “strategic alliance” against US “imperialism.”



The government imposes price controls on many basic goods in an attempt to curb the 27% annual inflation rate—one of the highest in the world. (Initial price controls on a few basic goods were imposed in 2003.)



President Hugo Chávez dies at age 58 after a battle with cancer.

Nicolás Maduro is elected president by a narrow margin. The opposition contests the result.

With inflation running at more than 50% a year, the National Assembly gives President Maduro emergency powers for a year. This then prompts protests by opposition supporters.

That same year, Venezuela says it is ending steps towards restoring full diplomatic ties with the US–after comments by a senior US official. Venezuela expels three US diplomats—whom it accuses of plotting to sabotage the economy.



Venezuela's annual inflation rate rises to 63.4%—the highest in the Americas. The government announces a mandatory fingerprinting system in supermarkets to combat food shortages and smuggling.

That same year, the US introduces sanctions against former and current officials over suppression of protests earlier in year.



Hundreds of thousands of people take part in a protest in Caracas (photo) calling for the removal of President Maduro, blaming him for the economic crisis and accusing the electoral commission of delaying a referendum which could shorten his term in office.