Timoto and Cuica toponyms. Evidence exists of human habitation in the area now known as Venezuela from about 15, years ago. Leaf-shaped tools from this period, together with chopping and planoconvex scraping implements, have been found exposed on the high riverine terraces of the Rio Pedregal in western Venezuela.
The Timoto-Cuica culture was the most complex society in Pre-Columbian Venezuela, with pre-planned permanent villages, surrounded by irrigated, terraced fields.
They also stored water in tanks. They were peaceful, for the most part, and depended on growing crops. Regional crops included potatoes and ullucos. They spun vegetable fibers to weave into textiles and mats for housing. They are credited with having invented the arepa , a staple in Venezuelan cuisine. Great signs are these of the Terrestrial Paradise, for the site conforms to the opinion of the holy and wise theologians whom I have mentioned.
And likewise, the [other] signs conform very well, for I have never read or heard of such a large quantity of fresh water being inside and in such close proximity to salt water; the very mild temperateness also corroborates this; and if the water of which I speak does not proceed from Paradise then it is an even greater marvel, because I do not believe such a large and deep river has ever been known to exist in this world.
In the 16th century, Venezuela was contracted as a concession by the King of Spain to the German Welser banking family Klein-Venedig , — Native caciques leaders such as Guaicaipuro circa — and Tamanaco died attempted to resist Spanish incursions, but the newcomers ultimately subdued them; Tamanaco was put to death by order of Caracas' founder, Diego de Losada. Some of the resisting tribes or leaders are commemorated in place names, including Caracas, Chacao and Los Teques.
The early colonial settlements focused on the northern coast,  but in the midth century, the Spanish pushed farther inland along the Orinoco River. Here, the Ye'kuana then known as the Makiritare organized serious resistance in and Administered by the Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo from the early 16th century, most of Venezuela became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in the early 18th century, and was then reorganized as an autonomous Captaincy General starting in The town of Caracas, founded in the central coastal region in , was well-placed to become a key location, being near the coastal port of La Guaira whilst itself being located in a valley in a mountain range, providing defensive strength against pirates and a more fertile and healthy climate.
A devastating earthquake that struck Caracas in , together with the rebellion of the Venezuelan llaneros , helped bring down the first Venezuelan republic. This culminated in the Federal War — , a civil war in which hundreds of thousands died in a country with a population of not much more than a million people. In , a longstanding dispute with Great Britain about the territory of Guayana Esequiba, which Britain claimed as part of British Guiana and Venezuela saw as Venezuelan territory, erupted into the Venezuela Crisis of The dispute became a diplomatic crisis when Venezuela's lobbyist, William L.
Scruggs , sought to argue that British behavior over the issue violated the United States' Monroe Doctrine of , and used his influence in Washington, D. Then, US President Grover Cleveland adopted a broad interpretation of the doctrine that did not just simply forbid new European colonies, but declared an American interest in any matter within the hemisphere. A tribunal convened in Paris in to decide the issue and in awarded the bulk of the disputed territory to British Guiana.
Castro defaulted on Venezuela's considerable foreign debts and declined to pay compensation to foreigners caught up in Venezuela's civil wars. This led to the Venezuela Crisis of — , in which Britain, Germany and Italy imposed a naval blockade of several months before international arbitration at the new Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague was agreed.
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. July Learn how and when to remove this template message Flag of Venezuela until The discovery of massive oil deposits in Lake Maracaibo during World War I  proved to be pivotal for Venezuela and transformed the basis of its economy from a heavy dependence on agricultural exports.
It prompted an economic boom that lasted into the s; by , Venezuela's per capita gross domestic product was Latin America's highest.
He remained the most powerful man in Venezuela until his death in , although at times he ceded the presidency to others. Angarita granted a range of reforms, including the legalization of all political parties. The expansion of the Venezuelan economy in this period was based on the indebtedness of the Venezuelan nation and that was one of the causes of the economic crisis in Venezuela in the s  ,in which important projects such as the Urban Center El Recreo de Marcel Brauer on Avenida Casanova in Sabana Grande district were paralyzed.
It was an antecedent of the populist and paternalistic economic regime of the later democratic regimes. The malaise over the debts of Venezuela reached the barracks and the national business. Most of these movements laid down their arms under Rafael Caldera 's presidency —74 ; Caldera had won the election for COPEI, being the first time a party other than Democratic Action took the presidency through a democratic election.
The new democratic order had its antagonists. Betancourt suffered an attack planned by the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, and the leftists excluded from the Pact initiated an armed insurgency by organizing themselves in the Armed Forces of National Liberation, sponsored by the Communist Party and Fidel Castro.
At the same time, Betancourt promoted an international doctrine in which he only recognized elected governments by popular vote. The center of Caracas. The construction industry was revitalized through the "rediscount" of the Central Bank of Venezuela. The Economic Recovery Plan fulfilled its objectives and in , Venezuela was able to return to an anchored exchange rate, with free purchase and sale of foreign currency.
This system lasted until the Venezuelan Black Friday of , although the model was already running out at the end of the seventies. For much of the period between and , the Venezuelan economy was characterized by its stability and sustained strength, factors that contributed decisively to being able to maintain a fixed exchange rate without major inconveniences.
The economic bonanza also had the characteristics of an economic bubble, but Venezuelans remember the "Ta barato, dame dos". This led to massive increases in public spending, but also increases in external debts, which continued into the s when the collapse of oil prices during the s crippled the Venezuelan economy.
As the government started to devalue the currency in February to face its financial obligations, Venezuelans' real standards of living fell dramatically. A number of failed economic policies and increasing corruption in government led to rising poverty and crime, worsening social indicators, and increased political instability.
Most of these works had been previously planned. This translated into sustained increases in the average real wage and an improvement in the condition of life. In the government of Jaime Lusinchi, an attempt was made to solve the problem. Unfortunately, the measures failed. After a long period of accelerated economic expansion that lasts for six decades value of the stock of homes by families , an extreme higher value is reached towards From this historical value begins then a systematic fall that mounts to 26 hundred up to , and that configures a genuine unique experience in contemporary economic life..
Venezuela was preparing for the decentralization of its political system and the diversification of its economy, reducing the large size of the State. The COPRE operated as an innovation mechanism, also by incorporating issues into the political agenda that were generally excluded from public deliberation by the main actors of the Venezuelan democratic system.
The most discussed topics were incorporated into the public agenda: Unfortunately, the social reality of the country made the changes difficult to apply. In the subsequent decade, the government was forced into several currency devaluations.