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Identify when South American countries became independent nations and explain how independence was achieved.


rotating gif.gifFor more on independence movements in Latin America, see World History II.16


external image Political_Evolution_of_Central_America_and_the_Caribbean_1700_and_on.gif

external image Eufemio_Zapata.jpg
For background on the Mexican Revolution, see
The Mexican Revolution: An Overview.from the website, Women and the Mexican Revolution.

external image Quill_pen.PNGFor biographical sketches of the major figures, see Faces of the Revolution, from the Storm That Swept Mexico from PBS.


Mexican Revolution from PBS History Detectives.

primary_sources.PNGMexican Constitution of 1917

primary_sources.PNGThe Mexican Revolution: Conflict in Matamoros features Robert Runyon's photographs from the website, The South Texas Border, 1900-1920 at the University of Texas at Austin.

Independence and the Countries of South America



Argentina (Buenos Aires)
  • Former ruling nation: Spain
  • How independence was won: weakening Spanish strength in Europe led to an unmonitored colony with increasing self-rule; independence declared.
  • When: 1816, as the United Provinces of the Rio Plata, which included Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.
  • Key leaders or events: 1806—1807 Spain was controlled by France and Napoleon, so Britain attacked Buenos Aires; but was defeated by local forces with no help from Spain. France captured Spain’s king Ferdinand VII, and Argentina came under a local viceroy. The locals hated the viceroy, first declaring their allegiance to Ferdinand, then declaring independence in 1816.

Argentina_flag.gifArgentinian flag

Bolivia (La Paz)
  • Former ruling nation: Spain
  • How independence was won: civil war/ independence movement led by Simon Bolivar
  • When: 1825

Brazil (Brasilia)
  • Former ruling nation: Portugal
  • How independence was won: Portugal’s Prince Regent’s son took control and declared independence.
  • When: 1822
  • Key leaders or events: 1807, Napoleon was going to attack Lisbon, so the Prince Regent Dom Joao escaped to Brazil. In 1821, he returned, but left his son Dom Pedro I in charge of Brazil. In 1822, Dom Joao reduced Brazil’s status from the seat of power to a colony once again, but his son rebelled, and declared the nation’s independence from Portugal.

large_flag_of_brazil.gif Brazilian flag

Chile (Santiago)
  • Former ruling nation: Spain
  • How independence was won: seven years of civil war
  • When: 1817
  • Key leaders or events: the Mapuche people had control of part of Chile throughout its history which was never under Spanish control. They helped the region into the mid-1900s, when the Chilean government won control of the whole nation.

Colombia (Bogota)
  • Former ruling nation: Spain
  • How independence was won: civil war/ independence movement led by Simon Bolivar
  • When: 1819

Colombia_flag.gif Colombian flag

Ecuador (Quito)
  • Former ruling nation: Spain
  • How independence was won: civil war; the decisive Battle of Pichincha was won by Simon Bolivar.
  • When: 1822 or 1825
  • Key leaders or events: Simon Bolivar united Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela to create the state of Gran Colombia. The state lasted for eight years, when the three nations split.

French Guiana (Cayenne)

Guyana (Georgetown)
  • Former ruling nation: Holland, then Britain
  • How independence was won: granted by the British after decades of internal unrest.
  • When: 1966
  • Key leaders or events: 1928—British Guyana became a Crown Colony with a governor. 1928-1936—labor unrest and strikes. In 1947 the Brisit Guiana Labor Party won seats in parliament with limited voting rights for local citizens; in 1953 the People’s Progressive Party was elected in the first election that allowed all adults to vote. Six months later, British troops took PPP leaders into custody and took over the capital, Georgetown. A new constitution negotiated with the British allowed for internal self-government in 1961. There was political and labor unrest, with riots and strikes, in the first half of the 1960s. In 1966, the British Parliament passed the Guyana Independence Act 1966, granting full independence.

Paraguay (Asuncion)
  • Former ruling nation: Spain
  • How independence was won: the Spanish colonists throw out their Spanish governor and declare independence.
  • When: 1811
  • Key leaders or events: In 1810, the town of Buenos Aires declares its independence, and tries to force Paraguay to do the same, under the leader of the Argentinean army, Manuel Belgrano. The Spanish governor in Asuncion tries to get help from the Portuguese to ward off the Argentineans, and the local colonists are so incensed by this alliance, they throw the governor out and declare their independence.

Peru (Lima)
  • Former ruling nation: Spain
  • How independence was won: civil war/ independence movement led by Simon Bolivar
  • When: 1825

Peru_flag.gifPeruvian flag

Suriname (Paramaribo)
  • Former ruling nation: Spain

Uruguay (Montevideo)
  • Former ruling nation: Spain

Venezuela (Caracas)
  • Former ruling nation: Spain
  • How independence was won: civil war/ independence movement led by Simon Bolivar
  • When: 1821
  • Key leaders or events: Simon Bolivar was born in Venezuela, who teamed with British mercenaries to eventually overthrow the Spanish in much of South America. Venezuela still disputes its border with former British colony Guyana.

flag-of-venezuela.jpg Venezuelan flag


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