History and Politics
The first traces of settlement in the geographical space of Venezuela go back to 15 000 a.c..
The Orinoco basin and the Lake Maracaibo are the first documented habitats. The official "discovery of South America" is granted to Columbus, who in 1498 came through the Orinoco Delta. In the 16th Century emerged already colonial cities like Caracas and Cumana, and in the 17th century the plantation economy was introduced.
Early 19th Century grew the firsts forces that fought for independence against the colonizers, that in 1819 was officially proclaimed by Simón Bolívar.
Venezuela is named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci, who in 1499 followed with Alonso de Ojeda the first route of Colombus' third trip, a year early. Then explored the coast to today's Lake Maracaibo. The local Indians pile huts reminded him of his native Venice, and he gave to the local village the flattering name of "Little Venice" – Venezuela.
In 1959 there is an innovation in the history of the country: with President Rómulo Betancourt starts the still existing presidential democracy, that is curtailed in 1998 with the rise of Hugo Chávez coup officer by radical reforms.
Since 2000, the official name of the country is "República Bolivariana de Venezuela". It consists of 23 states, a "Distrito Capital” (Caracas) and 72 small islands in the Caribbean Sea, which are directly subordinate to the president.
The current Constitution of 1999 grants 6 years to a directly elected president, that allowed the enactment of several far-reaching decrees, even if the National Assembly as legislative body holds many decisions.
2013 Chavez died, then Nicolas Maduro took presidency of Venezuela.