United States Of Venezuela, a republic of South America, extending from lat. 1° 8' to 12° 16' N, and from lon. 60° to 73° 17' W. It is bounded N. by the Caribbean sea, E. by the Atlantic and by British Guiana, S. by Brazil, from which it is partly separated by the Pacaraima mountains, and W. by the United States of Colombia. Its maximum length from E. to W. is about 900 m., and its maximum breadth from N. to S. 770 m. The area (including the islands), according to the Almanack de Gotha, is 403,000 sq. m. Codazzi, in his Resumen de la geografia de Venezuela (1841), set it down at 431,000 sq. m. It is divided into 20 states, 1 federal district, and 1 territory, which, with their population and capitals, are as follows:

STATES, etc.

Pop. in 1873.

CAPITALS.

Apure

18,635

San Fernando.

Barceloma

101,396

Barcelona.

Barquisimeto

143,818

Barquisimeto.

Bolivar

129.148

La Guayra.

Carabobo

117,605

Valencia.

Cojedes

85,678

San Carlos.

Cumaná

65.476

Cumaná.

Fa;con or Coro

99.920

Coro.

Guárico

191,000

Calabozo.

Guayana

34,053

Ciudad Bolivar.

Guzman Blanco

94,151

Victoria.

Maturin

47,863

Maturin.

Mérida

67,849

Mérida.

Nueva Esparta (Margarita)

80,988

Asuncion.

Portuguesa

79,934.

Gruanare.

Táchira

68,619

San Cristobal.

Trujillo.......................

108,672

Trujillo.

Yaracui

71,689

San Felipe.

Zamora

59,449

Barinas.

Zulia..........................

59,235

Maracaybo.

Distrito Federal

60,010

Caracas.

Territory of Amazonas

23,048

Total......................

1,784,194

Differences between populations of certain states in the above table and the figures given in the separate articles on such states, different capitals, etc, are attributable to the new territorial division of the republic and the official census of November, 1873, first published in 1875. The populations of some of the chief cities, according to that census, were as follows: Carácas, the capital, 48,897; Valencia, 28,594; Barquisimeto, 25,664; Maracaybo, 21,954; Maturin, 12,944. The white population was estimated at about 1 per cent, of the total, and the foreigners resident in the republic at 10,000. Much the largest part of the population consists of half-breeds and hybrids from the union of Europeans (chiefly the early Spanish colonists) and Indians, and the intermingling of these and negroes. Of pure-blooded Indians Codazzi in 1841 enumerated 49 wild and independent tribes, numbering in all 52,415, of whom 9,000 were Goajiros occupying the eastern half of the Goajira peninsula claimed by Venezuela. - The coast line, from Cape Chichibacoa in the N. E. extremity of the peninsula of Goajira to the boundary line with British Guiana, nearly 2,000 m., following the sinuosities, about one tenth of which is washed by the Atlantic, is notched by numerous gulfs, bays, and inlets.

The first deep indentation, beginning at the east, comprises the main mouth of the Orinoco, between Points Mocomoco and Araguapiche, 65 m. apart. About 90 m. TV.* of the latter point, at the N. W. extremity of the great swampy delta of the Orinoco, is the gulf of Paria, the shores of which are mostly bold and rocky, 100 m. long and 47 m. wide, separated from the Caribbean sea by the peninsula of Paria, and from the Atlantic by the island of Trinidad. The gulf of Cariaco is a narrow inlet, nearly 50 m. long, between the peninsula of Araya and the Cumaná coast, presenting a picturesque and commodious roadstead. From Cumaná westward to Barcelona the coast, though still rocky, becomes gradually lower and more even; and from the latter port to Cape Codera it is low and sandy, and interspersed with extensive salt marshes. Between Cape Codera and the gulf of Triste (formed by a rectangular northward bend of the coast, 25 m. TV. of the port of Puerto Cabello) is comprised the most rugged portion of the seaboard, flanked by the Venezuelan coast range of mountains, and notched by a series of inlets fringed with luxuriant vegetation. This strip of coast is 150 m. long.

Beyond Point Tucacas, at the N. W. extremity of the gulf of Triste, the shore is again low and sandy, with intervals of mangrove marshes, and occasional low spurs from a branch of the far distant Mérida mountains. From the middle of the Goajira coast to Cape Chichibacoa it presents an uninterrupted perpendicular wall of rock. Enclosed between the Goajira peninsula on the west, the rocky peninsula of Paraguana on the east, and the main coast on the south, lies the gulf of Maracaybo, or more properly of Venezuela, the largest of the republic, having an area of about 6,500 sq. m. The eastern branch of this gulf, called by native geographers the golfete de Coro, has an area of about 1,000 sq. m., and, being completely sheltered from the prevailing winds by the Paraguaná peninsula, forms a vast and commodious haven. Of the 32 ports, those of La Guayra and Puerto Cabello are most frequented by foreign shipping. The fortifications of La Guayra have been lately restored, and are to be supplied with a complete armament.

Cumaná, at the mouth of the gulf of Cariaco, is well sheltered and defended, as is also the less important port of Barcelona, on the banks and near the mouth of the Neveri. The harbor of Coro, though much exposed, is the seat of an active trade with the West Indies; but this port and that of Maracaybo on the gulf of that name were in 1875 closed to foreign traffic, and vessels to and from them are now entered and cleared at Puerto Cabello. Ciudad Bolivar (formerly Angostura), on the Orinoco, 240 m. from the sea, is the entrepot for the products of all the regions drained by that river and its more important affluents, two of which, the Meta and Apure, are navigated by steam. No fewer than 71 islands fringe the coast, the largest being that of Margarita, which constitutes a state, and all being of volcanic origin except those in the various river mouths and in the outlet of Lake Maracaybo, which are accumulations of mud or sand. The larger islands after Margarita are Chimana, Caraca, and Borracha off the Barcelona coast; Tortuga, further seaward; Orchila or Orchilla, affording large quantities of the dye of that name; the Roques and Aves, west of Orchilla; and Blanca, due N. from Margarita. Nearly all these islands are inhabited by large numbers of goats. - About 107,000 sq. m. of the republic are occupied by mountains, forming two separate systems.

The first is a ramification of the Colombian Andes, which bifurcate in the node or knot of Pamplona, lat. 7° 15' N., Ion. 73° W. One branch runs N. to lat. 10° 50', then curves N. E. and terminates in Cape Chichibacoa at the N. E. extremity of the Goajira peninsula. From Pamplona to the Venezuelan frontier, lat. 9° N., it is called the Sierra de Ocana; thence to Goajira, Sierra de Perija, a range which nowhere attains a height of 5,000 ft.; and in the peninsula it receives the name of Oca mountains. The last two ranges form the N. W. boundary line with Colombia. The other and principal branch, comprising the great alpine region proper of the republic, trends N. E. to the snowy mountains of Mérida, which, gradually declining toward the Paramo de las Rosas in the hilly districts of Tocuyo and Quibor, sink on the right bank of the Rio Cojedes S. of Barquisimeto. On the opposite bank of that stream the chain again rises abruptly toward Puerto Cabello, whence, under the name of Venezuela Coast chain, it extends like a wall uninterruptedly E. to the promontory of Paria, with a mean elevation of but 4,800 ft.; the two loftiest summits, the Silla de Caracas and the Picacho de Naiguatá, reaching respectively 8,547 ft. and 9,100 ft.

This marginal chain is divided into many ranges enclosing numerous fine valleys, as that of Aragua, which yields the indigo and other tropical plants and European wheat in great abundance. The Merida mountains, with a mean altitude of 6,000 ft., comprise 31 summits exceeding 10,000 ft., the loftiest of which are the two peaks of the Sierra Nevada, 15,066 (the culminating point of Venezuela) and 15,000 ft. The second system is that of the Parima or Parime mountains, extending over the whole southern division of the Orinoco basin, still but little known. To this system belongs the Sierra de Pacaraima, forming a part of the southern boundary of the republic. The other principal ranges, mostly extending N. W. between the Pacaraima chain and the Orinoco, are those of Parima (highest summit, 7,608 ft.), Maraguaca (8,151 ft.), Maigualida, Chuchivero, Guachimacari, Cuneva, Guayapti, Sipapo, Cerbatana, Rinocote, Carapo, Imataca, and Upata. Chief among the isolated peaks is the Duida mountain, between the Sierra de Parima and the upper Orinoco, with an elevation of 8,823 ft. (See Duida.) - Upward of 1,000 rivers drain the territory of Venezuela, all but 12 of which have their entire course within its limits.

The Orinoco, ranking third among the rivers of South America, has a course of 1,500 m., pours into the ocean by 17 mouths the waters of over 400 navigable tributary streams, and drains a region of 250,000 sq. m. (See Orinoco.) The Rio Negro, rising in Colombia, flows through the S. W. corner of Venezuela, receiving an extensive tribute from the Orinoco by the Cassiquiare, whereby navigable communication is established between the Orinoco and Amazon. Into the Caribbean sea and the gulfs of Venezuela and Paria flow 230 rivers, the largest of which are the Tuy, Tocuyo, and Unare, and 400 minor streams; and into the lake of Maracaybo about 500, of which only 100 are perennial. Venezuela contains over 200 lakes and lagoons. The most interesting lake is that of Valencia, the Tacarigua of the Indians, bounding the southern margin of the delightful valley of Aragua, and 1,599 ft. above the sea. From excessive evaporation its islands, now 22 in number, continually increase in size, and since the beginning of the present century several sand banks have become true islands, called aparecidas (newly appeared). The lake contains several species of fish peculiar to itself.

The principal lagoons are those of Maracaybo (called also lake) in the state of Zulia, nearly 100 m. long, with a maximum breadth of 75 m.; Unare, separated from the sea by a sandy tongue of land, where excellent salt is produced; Taiguaignai, Palmananita, Encantada, Gacasonica, with an outlet to the sea and navigable by schooners, and Lagunillas in Mérida, famous for its urao (sesquicarbonate of soda, or the trona of commerce). Most of the smaller lagoons become altogether dry in summer. - The geology of Venezuela has been but little studied, save in the portions visited by Humboldt and Schomburgk. The northern branch of the Andes, and the eastern to the banks of the Cojedes, are granitic, while the rocks of the littoral chain are metamorphic; but the surface rocks of Falcon and Zulia belong for the most part to the carboniferous era. Calcareous rock underlies the argillaceous surface stratum of the plains (llanos), which, stretching from the southern edge of the plateau of Caracas to Brazil, and from the head waters of the Viohada to British Guiana, were once probably the bed of a vast inland sea.

Diamonds have been found in Nueva Esparta, and amethysts in Bolivar. Gold occurs in Bolivar, and especially in Guayana, where some mines are still worked, and in the sands of many of the rivers discharging into the Caribbean sea; platinum in Bolivar; silver in Yaracui, Barquisimeto, Barcelona, Mérida, Trujillo, and Bolivar; copper in large quantities in the littoral chain, and particularly in Bolivar, though the once productive mines have been abandoned; and tin, zinc, lead, quicksilver, and antimony in various parts of the country. Iron is reputed abundant in Bolivar, Falcon, Nueva Esparta, and Barcelona; but owing to lack of skill in the art of mining and the prevalence of civil wars, no mines have been worked. Alum, sulphate of magnesia, gypsum, and saltpetre abound; there are several varieties of marble* salt is extensively produced in various parts of the coast; phosphate of lime is extracted from the largest island of the Roque archipelago; and sulphur might easily be made available in extensive quantities in Barcelona, Falcon, and Mérida. Asphaltum and petroleum are said to be plentiful in the littoral states from Cumana to Zulia, and coal beds occur in Falcon. From the lagoon of Lagunilla in Merida are extracted considerable quantities of urao.

Among the numerous thermal springs are those of Las Trincheras near Valencia, of Onoto, and of Mariara, the temperatures of which are 210°, 112°, and 149° F. respectively; but the most remarkable are those of the Quiva, in the vicinity of Coro, where two large white semispheroids contain in some 40 cavities many-colored waters at temperatures varying from 40° to 152° F. - Venezuela, in common with all the mountainous countries of Spanish America, presents three grand divisions as to climate: the tierras càlidas (hot lands), tierras templadas (temperate lands), and the tierras frias (cold lands). In the first region, extending to 2,000 ft. above the sea, the mean annual temperature for the whole republic is 80° F.; but in many portions a much higher temperature prevails, as in La Guayra, where it ranges from 100° to 110° F.; in Barcelona, whose capital Humboldt notes as one of the hottest and most insalubrious places on the globe; and in Maracaybo, by far the hottest locality in the county.

In the temperate region, mostly confined to the mesas or plateaus from 2,000 to 7,000 ft. above the sea, in the mountains designated as the second branch of the first system, and in the coast chain, the thermometer fluctuates between 65° and 75°. The climate of this region, the most populous of Venezuela, is one of perpetual spring and remarkably salubrious. To the third or cold region belongs all above 7,000 ft., including the bleak, chilly, and inhospitable paramos or highest table lands. A remarkable fact, hitherto unaccounted for, is the uninhabitableness of the Venezuelan table lands above 8,000 ft., notwithstanding their proximity to the equator, while those of Mexico (some over 8,000 ft.), Quito, Bogota, Cuzco, and Oruro (the last over 13,000 ft.) are among the most delightful regions of the earth. There are here, as elsewhere in tropical America, but two seasons, the dry and the rainy. The former, called summer, usually lasts from November to April; winter extends over the remaining months, save in Guayana, where, owing to the dense forests, the rains are more persistent than in the other states. The mean annual rainfall at Caracas is about 330 inches in 80 days.

Yellow and intermittent fevers are common throughout almost the whole of the coast region during winter, and elephantiasis and goitre are the great scourges of the plateaus. The prevailing winds on the coast during summer, and especially in December and January, are those from the north and northeast. Earthquakes are frequent, and often very disastrous, as that of February, 1610, which destroyed several towns in Táchira and Mérida; that of October, 1706, which laid Cumaná in ruins; and that of March 26, 1812, the most terrible of all, which completely ruined the city of Carácas, then numbering 50,000 inhabitants. - The soil, except in the sandy regions of the coast and the lofty and arid paramos, is for the most part exceedingly fertile. The region below the level of 3,000 ft. is the country of the palms, here inferior only in variety to those of the Brazilian forests. Most noteworthy among them are the sago palm, which thrives in the low lands; the chiquichique and the yagua, whose fibrous tufts are converted into cordage, while the yagua yields also an excellent oil; the chaguarama, furnishing material for thatch and laths; and the giant royal palm, the wax palm, and several other species.

The cocoa palm is, after the common fan palm, the most abundant, and cocoanut oil is exported in considerable quantities. Mention should likewise be made of the breadfruit tree and peach palm, esteemed for their farinaceous fruits. The woods of the central valleys and the immense forests of Guayana offer a great variety of timber and cabinet woods, including mahogany, rosewood, satinwood, black and white ebony, etc. The bejvco maracure, from the juice of which the Indians prepare their famous arrow poison curare or woorara, is common in Guayana. The true cinchona forms whole forests at elevations varying from 2,700 to 4,500 ft. above the sea. The caucho or India-rubber tree is abundant, as are also Brazil and other dye woods and plants, including the celebrated dividivi, gums, resins, spices, and medicinal plants and herbs. The principal cultivated products and the number of acres devoted to each in 1873 are as follows:

United States Of Venezuela 160070

PRODUCTS.

Acres.

Cacao

51,490

Coffee..............

304,725

Tobacco

9,752½

Cotton

15,000

Indigo.............

1,487½

Sugar cane

87,000

Yuca

25,000

Maize

37,957½

PRODUCTS.

Acres.

Wheat ...............

9,282½

Cocoa ..............

1,837½

Plantains..........

68,510

Various grains and pulse ..................

65,475

Fruits ...................

21,000

Total .......................

698,217½

From these figures it appears that only about 1/368 of the area of the republic, or 1,094 sq. m., is cultivated, while the whole cultivable region is said to embrace an area of 105,084 sq. m. The coffee shrub was introduced into Venezuela in 1784, and it thrives well at elevations between 650 and 5,500 ft. The chief cacao plantations are along the coast from Guiria (Cumaná) to the mouth of the Tocuyo. Indigo culture, once very extensive, has been gradually giving place to that of other staples for 30 years; the product in 1841 was 552,781 lbs., and in 1873 only 182,956 lbs. But little sugar is now exported, though it is largely produced; of 90,690,817 lbs. manufactured in 1873, only 4,997,465 lbs. was shipped to foreign ports. Cotton is sown in May and June, and flowers in November. The plantain is a staple article of food for a large portion of the inhabitants; as is also maize, which is largely cultivated in the lowlands. Tobacco is extensively grown for export, that of Barinas being especially esteemed in Europe. - Wild animals are very numerous. The principal quadrupeds are the jaguar, panther, tiger cat, tapir, a species of black bear, fox, peccary, deer, badger, and ferret.

Venezuela has 14 varieties of monkeys, one of them, the titi, being in some districts not over 6 in. in length. The rodents include squirrels, rats and mice, porcupines, rabbits, and agoutis. Among the amphibious quadrupeds are the otter, capybara, and chigüire. Sloths, armadillos, and two species of anteaters are the principal edentates. The cetaceans are represented by the manatee, touinas (a kind of large dolphin), cachalot, and sword fish, the two first abounding in the large rivers. The principal reptiles are the cayman and the baba, a smaller species of the same genus; the iguana, basilisk, and chameleon; the boa, attaining at times a length of 50 ft.; the traga venados (deer swallower); and 15 varieties of snakes, 10 of which, especially the rattlesnake and macaurel, are venomous. Myriads of noxious insects infest all parts of the lowland; and gigantic spiders and centipodes more than 12 in. long, whose sting, in common with that of the yellow scorpion (likewise very numerous here), produces terrible fevers. Enormous bats commit great ravages among the cattle, sucking their blood, and attacking even man himself during his sleep.

Excellent fish abound in the lakes and rivers and along the coasts, especially the liza, found in the channel separating the island of Margarita from the mainland, and salted and dried for export and for the interior. Margarita was formerly celebrated for its pearl fishery, which is still continued, but much reduced in value. There are two kinds of vultures, three of hawks, and two of owls; partridges and pigeons are plentiful; there are 14 different species of waders and 10 of divers; the Venezuelan parrots yield only in variety to those of Brazil; and the exquisite plumage of the small birds, conspicuous among which are trogons, tanagers, and toucans, is unsurpassed in the world. All the European barnyard fowls thrive well in the temperate region. Vast herds of horned cattle, sheep, horses, mules, asses, and swine roam in a wild state over the plains, whence they take refuge in the elevated districts during the rainy season. The number and value of the live stock in the whole republic in 1873 were returned as follows: horned cattle, 1,389,802, value $22,236,832; sheep and goats, 1,128,273, value $1,692,409; horses, 93,800, value $4,690,000; mules, 47,200, value $1,888,000; asses, 281,000, value $1,686,000; and swine, 362,597, value $2,175,042; total value, $34,368,282. - The Venezuelans in general are intelligent and courteous.

Though all enjoy equal civil rights, without respect of caste or color, the whites retain the power of the state in their own hands; while the mixed races, though more indolent and apathetic, are given to turbulence, and are commonly the instigators of factious quarrels and revolutions. The chief industries are agriculture and cattle rearing. Continued internecine strife until late- ly, and lack of adequate implements and of suitable means of transport to the coast, have materially retarded development; but much has been done since 1873 by Gen.Guzman Blanco's government toward building roads and extending the navigation by steam of the great rivers, lagoons, and lakes of the country. The manufactures include cotton fabrics both by hand and machinery, hammocks, hats, cordage, etc.; in Merida, woollen carpets, tastefully variegated with brilliant colored flowers from a native dye, are extensively made; ship building is carried on in Puerto Cabello; numerous brick yards are found in different parts of the republic; and several thousand persons are employed in manufacturing cigars and cigarettes, exquisite preserves and sweetmeats, and cacao.

Several kinds of oil are made, especially cocoanut, sesame, and tartago oils; and perfumes and essences from magnificent and fragrant flowers are extracted in large quantities. There are also a few cart and carriage factories. The foreign commerce is now likely to increase rapidly with the preparation of new and much needed roads, and the extension of steam traffic on the lakes and rivers, and above all with the inauguration of an era of peace. Among exports coffee still holds the first rank, that of Maracaybo and La Guayra being in good demand in the European and American markets. The other principal articles of export are cotton, cacao, sugar, indigo, tobacco, salt, hides, cattle, tallow, horns, sarsaparilla, and dye and cabinet woods. The imports include cotton, linen, and silk goods, flour, provisions, hardware, wines, and specie. The total value of the exports in the year 1872-'3 was $21,320,495, and of the imports $11,264,976. The articles exported and the quantities in 1872-'3 were as follows: coffee, 23,998,585 lbs.; cotton, 5,648,323 lbs.; indigo, 182,976 lbs.; sugar, 5,017,469 lbs.; cacao, 7,573,586 lbs.; tobacco, 1,100,297 lbs.; hides, 130,000; skins (deer and goat), 150,000; cattle, 6,831 head.

The total value of the exports to the United States (port of New York) in the years ending June 30,1870 and 1875, respectively, was $1,897,800 and $4,206,264; of the imports from New York in the same years, $1,122,195 and $1,980,775. The exports to the United States have thus increased by more than 100 per cent, in five years. The articles shipped to that destination are usually coffee, cacao, cotton, indigo, hides, skins, woods, and drugs. The shipping movements for the port of La Guayra in 1872 -'3 were: entered, 177 vessels, tonnage 93,424; cleared, 128 vessels, tonnage 131,110. For the port of Puerto Cabello in 1874 they were: entered, 212 vessels, tonnage 105,046; cleared, 126 vessels, tonnage 78,227. The number of vessels entered at all the ports of the republic in 1874 was 2,200. In the year ending June 30, 1875, Venezuelan ports were visited by 17 steamers and 41 sailing vessels from New York, of 21,546 tons. The principal Caribbean ports are now visited monthly by the steamers of one American and seven European lines. The coasting trade, which is considerable, is carried on by national craft only, as are also the fisheries. The traffic between Carácas and its port La Guayra is conducted by means of road locomotives of recent introduction.

Telegraphs have been established between Carácas and La Guayra, Coro, and other coast towns; and in February, 1876, materials were shipped from New York for several other lines. - By the terms of the constitution of March 28, 1864, Venezuela became a federal republic closely modelled after that of the United States. The executive power is vested in a president elected for four years, aided by the six ministers of interior and justice, foreign affairs, finance, public works, war and the navy, and public credit. The president has no veto power. The legislative power resides in a congress composed of a senate and a house of representatives, whose members are deputed from the corresponding houses in the individual states. The central judicial power is confided to the supreme court, three superior courts, and the courts of first instance, of which there is one for each canton. The municipal government is conducted by the council of each canton. The constitution in its other provisions resembles that of the United States of America; but its modifications and amendments have of late been too frequent and too numerous for mention here.

The army was said, in the president's message of February, 1875, to be 30,000 strong; but a subsequent official publication gave it at 10,000 infantry and artillery, and 78,000 militia. The national revenue amounted in 1873-'4 to $5,570,401, of which $4,565,857 proceeded from the customs and from public storage and tonnage dues; and the expenditures amounted to $5,209,351, although three fifths of the income was to have been appropriated to defraying the 'expenses of the government, and the remainder to be applied on the amortization of the national debts. On June 30, 1873, the home debt amounted to $16,439,383, and the foreign debt to $46,575,337. The government has recently resumed payment of the interest on these debts, after a suspension of several years. - Education, which has ever been more advanced in Venezuela than in the sister republics, though only in the higher branches, has become the object of most zealous care on the part of Guzman Blanco's administration, under whose auspices primary instruction, gratuitous and compulsory, has been decreed, and primary schools have begun to multiply rapidly.

The university of Caracas had in 1874 19 professors and 165 students; and there are besides in that city a medical faculty and a school of arts founded by Guzman Blanco in May, 1870. Elsewhere in the republic there are national and private colleges, and a seminary (called university since the abolition of the seminaries by decree of September, 1872). A semi-official report published in 1875 set down the number of primary schools for the whole republic at 541, of which 141 were federal and the remainder municipal and private schools; the attendance at the former was 7,064, and at the latter 11,017. The religion of the people is the Roman Catholic, but all others are tolerated. The clergy are strictly subordinate to the civil power; the government exercises the patronage of the church, and the papal sanction, when required, is transmitted through it. The archiepiscopal see is at Caracas, and there are two bishoprics, one at Mérida and the other at Ciudad Bolivar. - The island of Margarita and the E. part of the coast of Venezuela were discovered by Columbus in 1498, and the whole coast by Ojeda and Vespucci in 1499. On entering Lake Maracaybo, they found an Indian village constructed on piles over the water (a common occurrence in those portions of the country liable to inundation), and thence called it Venezuela (Little Venice). This name, originally applied only to the region near the lake, was eventually extended to the whole country.

The Spanish conquerors at first gave it the name of Costa Firme, and included under this name New Granada and Ecuador also; at the present day only the E. coast of Venezuela is known as Costa Firme. The first settlement was made about 1520, at Cumaná, which is consequently one of the oldest cities in the new world. Coro was founded in 1527. About 1540 indications of gold were discovered at several points along the coast range, and in 1545 Tocuyo was founded, Barquisimeto in 1552, Valencia in 1555, and Caracas in 1567. The demand for cacao, which was largely produced in the Dutch settlement at Curacoa, led to the formation in 1700 of the Guipuzcoa company in Spain, which sent out emigrants to cultivate cacao and indigo. This company was dissolved in 1778. When Napoleon in 1808 made his brother Joseph king of Spain, Venezuela was among the first of the Spanish colonies to declare for the ancient dynasty; but as early as April 19,1810, a revolutionary rising took place in Caracas, and on July 5, 1811, Venezuela proclaimed its independence.

In 1812, by the treaty of Victoria, it returned to the sway of Spain; but in 1813 it again revolted under Gen. Bolivar, and, after a protracted conflict with varying success, the republic of Colombia, embracing New Granada, Venezuela, and Ecuador, was declared independent in 1819. (See Bolivar y Ponte.) The contest with Spain did not entirely cease till 1823, though the Spanish force had been for some time confined to a small territory. In 1821 a congress was called, and a constitution adopted for the new republic. In 1829-'30 the three states separated amicably, and a new constitution was adopted by Venezuela. For 15 years the presidency was held successively by Gen. Paez (see Paez, Jose Antonio), Dr. Vargas, and Gen. Soublette. From the accession of Gen. Jose Tadeo Monagas to the executive power, in March, 1846, until that of Gen. Falcon, in June, 1863, the country was never free from civil war. Falcon, after several years of tranquil possession of power, was deposed by a revolution in which Antonio Guzman Blanco took an active part, and which only terminated on the seizure of the reins of government by the latter on April 26, 1869, after a protracted war with varied success.

Guzman Blanco now proclaimed a provisional government and himself the head thereof, with the title of "general-in-chief of the constitutional army of the confederation." He next exacted, from a congress convoked by himself at Valencia, in July, 1870, extraordinary powers, and the title of "provisional president of the republic." He was ultimately elected on Feb. 20, 1873, for four years. Guzman Blanco's administration, though republican in form, is dictatorial in fact, the president exercising supreme authority. Yet no abuses have been complained of, and the country is in a more prosperous condition than it ever had enjoyed since the colonial times. In the course of 1874 and 1875 a sum of $4,260,858 62 was disbursed for municipal improvements and highways. The claims of the United States, upward of $450,000, for materials furnished at the time of the war for Colombian independence, and indemnities for damage sustained by American citizens, are in course of liquidation (1876).