When Christopher Columbus arrived in 1498, Venezuela was populated by indigenous Arawacos, Caribs, and Chibchas. The land was colonized by Spain in the 16th century; the capital, Caracas, was founded in 1567. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, Spaniards continued to arrive, as well as Germans; English, French, and Dutch pirates; and Capuchin, Franciscan, and Jesuit missionaries. By the end of the 18th century, ideas generated by the Enlightenment and the French Revolution had become widespread, and Latin America began to seek independence. Three Venezuelans-Simon Bolívar, Francisco Miranda, and Antonio José de Sucre-were the

main leaders of this movement. Venezuela gained its independence in 1810. At that time, Venezuela was integrated with Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador into a territory called Gran Colombia. In 1830, Venezuela separated and became a sovereign country.