Examines the history of Venezuela from earliest times to the present day. This book traces the history of Venezuela from its sighting by Columbus in his third voyage, to today's controversial government of Hugo Chavez. Venezuela was a Spanish colony for 300 years before the South American independence movement liberated it in 1821. After a brief period of unification with Colombia and Ecuador, Venezuela was then controlled by a succession of military dictators. Political strife and civil war followed. In the 1900s oil was discovered and military rule ensued. Venezuela became the world's leading oil exporter, but much of the nation's people remained poor. In 1958, the country established a democratic government and has remained a democracy ever since. Ideal for students and general readers, "The History of Venezuela" provides a concise, up-to-date history of the country. Reference features include a biographical section highlighting famous figures in Venezuelan history, a timeline of important historical events, a glossary of terms, and a bibliographical essay with suggestions for further reading.