In ancient times, Venezuela was paradise for the Indians who lived on its beaches, in its tropical forests, and on the gentle grassland of the
llanos. There were three main groups: the Carib, Arawak, and the Chibcha.
Christopher Columbus was the first European to visit Venezuela. He came in 1498 during his third voyage to the New World, and landed on the Peninsula de Paria. Following the coast, he explored the Rio Orinoco Delta and concluded that he had found much more than another Caribbean island. More explorers came a year later, and it was Alonso de Ojeda who gave the country its name. Arriving at Lake Maracaibo, he admired the stilted houses that the Indians who gave the country its name. Arriving at Lake Maracaibo, he admired the stilted houses that the Indians had build above the lake and called the place Venezuela - "Little Venice."
Venezuela may have been a quiet outpost on the edge of the Spanish Empire, but it gave birth to the man who would one day turn that empire on its head: Simon Bolivar. With the help of British mercenaries, Bolivar and his followers campaigned againts the Spanish tirelessly, marching accross the Andes and liberating Colombia in 1819, Venezuela in 1821, and Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia in 1825. Much of his army was composed of native Venezuelans.
Web site cited: http://www.geographia.com/venezuela/history.htm