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SOUTH AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE

The American empires founded by Spain and Portugal broke up in the 19th century. These European countries were no longer powerful, and their colonies struggled to break away. Wars brought liberation, but independence was often followed by strife between the new nations.

Table 53. LIBERATION

1816 Argentina declares independence
1818 San Martín liberates Chile
1819 Gran Colombia is founded
1820 Brazil annexes Uruguay
1821 Peru gains independence Venezuela and Ecuador are liberated
1822 Brazil breaks away from Portugal
1825 Bolivia is liberated

WHO WAS KNOWN AS THE LIBERATOR?

Simón Bolívar, “the Liberator,” helped to free much of South America. He fought in Venezuela and ruled Colombia and Ecuador. He freed Peru, and Bolivia was renamed in his honor. Other freedom fighters included Bernardo O’Higgins and José de San Martín, who fought in Argentina, Chile, and Peru.

THE TURNING POINT

Bolívar was born in Venezuela. He defeated the Spanish at Carabobo in 1821. Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama all became part of an independent republic called Gran Colombia. Venezuela withdrew from this in 1829.

WHO ENDED PORTUGUESE RULE IN BRAZIL?

When Portugal was invaded by the French emperor Napoleon in 1807, the Portuguese royal family fled to their colony of Brazil. King John VI returned home in 1821, leaving his son Pedro to rule Brazil for him, but in 1822, Pedro declared himself to be emperor of an independent Brazil.

WHEN DID ARGENTINA BECOME INDEPENDENT?

The capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires (meaning “fair winds”), was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century. In 1810, its people rose up against Spanish rule, gaining their independence in 1816. There followed a civil war between the city-dwellers and the ranchers of the provinces. The country was finally united in 1861.

GAUCHOS OF ARGENTINA

The Gauchos were Argentine cowboys of part Spanish, part Indian descent. These daring, hard-living rogues opposed the new Buenos Aires government, backing their own leaders in a struggle for power.

WHAT WERE SOUTH AMERICA’S NEW ECONOMIES?

In the 19th century, South America’s gold and silver mines began to run out. A new source of wealth was needed. In Brazil, plantations of coffee and rubber were set up, while Argentina’s grasslands supported sheep and cattle. When refrigeration was invented, huge amounts of beef were exported from Buenos Aires.

FIND OUT MORE

South America

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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