Nueva Esparta

New Sparta State
Flag of New Sparta State

Coat of arms of New Sparta State

Coat of arms
Anthem: Himno del Estado Nueva Esparta
Location within Venezuela
Location within Venezuela
Coordinates: 10°57′N64°01′W / 10.95°N 64.01°W / 10.95; -64.01Coordinates: 10°57′N64°01′W / 10.95°N 64.01°W / 10.95; -64.01
Country Venezuela
Created 1909
Capital La Asunción
 • Governor Alfredo Díaz Figueroa (2017–present)
 • Total 1,151 km2 (444 sq mi)
Area rank 23rd
  0.12% of Venezuela
 (2010 Census)
 • Total 491,610
 • Rank 20th
  1.68% of Venezuela
Time zone UTC-04:00 (VET)
ISO 3166 code VE-O
Emblematic tree Guayacán (Guaiacum officinale)

New Sparta State, in Spanish Estado Nueva Esparta (IPA: [esˈtaðo ˈnweβa esˈpaɾta]), is one of the 23 states of Venezuela. It comprises Margarita Island, Coche, and the largely uninhabited Cubagua.

The state is the smallest one in area, and is located off the northeast Caribbean coast of Venezuela. It is the only insular state of Venezuela (not including the Federal Dependencies, a federal territory but not a state). The main island of Margarita has an area of 1,020 km2 (390 sq mi). Its capital city is La Asunción, and the main urban center is Porlamar.

Etymology [ edit ]

Its name comes from the heroism shown by its inhabitants during the Venezuelan War of Independence, deemed similar to that of the Spartan soldiers of Ancient Greece.

History [ edit ]

Playa el Agua, Margarita Island.

Spanish colonization [ edit ]

Margarita was discovered on August 15, 1498 during Columbus' third voyage.8 On that trip the Admiral would also discover the mainland, Venezuela. That August day, Columbus saw three islands, two of them small, low and arid (the current Coche and Cubagua), separated by a channel from a third, larger one, covered with vegetation and populated by indigenous people who called it Paraguachoa, a word that means "fish in abundance" according to historians and "sea people" according to others.

Columbus named the island La Asunción, because it was discovered on the religious date of the Virgin that bears his name.9 The following year, in 1499, Pedro Alonso Niño and Cristóbal Guerra, renamed it La Margarita due to the abundance of pearls found in the region, other hypotheses suggest that the name Margarita is referred to by Queen Margarita of Austria-Styria.

Shortly after its discovery, other European sailors confirmed the existence of rich pearl deposits in Cubagua, whose exploitation gave rise to the first Spanish establishment in Venezuela. According to Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, in 1500, only 2 years after his sighting, there were already 50 adventurers installed in Cubagua who were eagerly looking for the precious mother-of-pearl gems used by the natives in their personal ornaments. This settlement of small Spanish villages for the exploitation of these pearl riches in Cubagua consisted of a Cabildo and Regidores by 1510. But the settlement was carried out in this early date spontaneously without following Hispanic patterns, since even in 1517 it is indicated that the population resided in awnings and huts.

At first, all official attempts to achieve the colonization of Cubagua failed, the problem of water supply was paramount and it was concluded that the establishment of a village in Cubagua could not bear fruit without the previous construction of a fortress at the mouth of the river of today's Cumaná, which was the one that supplied the water.

Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo's version that the establishment of Cubagua dates back to 1517 is considered correct. Under the protection of the Cumaná fortress, which was finally built in early 1523, the village of Cubagua was quickly organized and an extraordinary boom emerged in the exploitation of pearl pleasures.

It is unlikely that before 1525 the residents of the village of Cubagua were aware of being a town or city. None of the pearl records from 1521 to 1525, which are the first known local sources of Cubagua, mention the name of the village on this island, and only speak of Cubagua.

In 1526 the town was elevated to the category of Villa with the name of "Villa de Santiago de Cubagua", although it seems that this title was never used. On September 13, 1528 this town was granted the rank of city, was given a coat of arms, the first ordinances were issued granting the city political autonomy and its name was changed to "Nueva Cádiz". Through these ordinances, the city of Nueva Cádiz, today recognized as the first city of Venezuela, did not depend on Hispaniola and could trade directly with Castile. This helped the inhabitants of Nueva Cádiz to stimulate their activity. They set about building their city, replacing the huts with stone houses, material brought from Araya, and increasing the number of inhabitants.

Between 1531 and 1532 the pearly beds show the first signs of exhaustion. The growing population with scarce means of living, created in New Cadiz problems of supply of food, water and firewood. Foodstuffs arrived from Santo Domingo, water from the Manzanares River in Cumaná and firewood was transported from Isla Margarita. When pearls were scarce, they sought new fisheries and with the authorization of the Royal Court of Santo Domingo and King Carlos I, they moved to Cabo de la Vela.

The disappearance of the Cubagua population was a slow process due mainly to the lack of water, the resistance of the Indians to the exhausting work of the pearl fisheries, and to the conquests of distant lands. The visit of the French corsairs meant a serious threat to the survival of the city. Likewise, caribbean boats prowled the contours of the island. However, the fundamental cause of Cubagua's depopulation was the disappearance of the oyster beds.

The population did not migrate all at once. Coinciding with the boom in fisheries in Cubagua there is already a migration to Cabo de la Vela, because there were not enough of them in Cubagua. By 1537, the island was becoming depopulated and in 1541, history indicates that a hurricane hit the island, possibly causing an earthquake, and its inhabitants fled to Margarita and founded a town. In 1543, French pirates arrived at the ruins of Nueva Cádiz, where some 10 inhabitants still remained, and left the city in flames, causing the island to be abandoned once again.

Although the exact date of its total abandonment by the Spaniards in this early period is not known, history indicates that by 1545 a group of residents of Nueva Cádiz aspire to incorporate Margarita under their jurisdiction, which confirms the existence of a population on the island at least for that date.

In 1676, the Marquis of Maitenon with a fleet of 10 ships and 800 French buccaneers attacked Margarita Island and Cumaná. This bold action motivated the Spanish to build several forts on the island.11

The Province of Margarita is the oldest of those that in 1777 formed the Captaincy General of Venezuela. It had depended on the Royal Audience of Santo Domingo until 1739, when it was annexed to the Viceroyalty of New Granada, along with other entities; and in 1830, when the Republic of Venezuela emerged, it was one of its 13 original provinces.

19th and 20th Centuries [ edit ]

In 1835 the province of Margarita was divided into the cantons of La Asunción (composed of the parishes of Paraguachí, Pampatar, Los Robles, El Valle and Porlamar) and Norte (composed of the parishes of Tacarigua, Juangriego, San Juan, Pedro González and Sabana Grande).

In 1856, the province of Margarita was divided into the cantons of Norte (composed of the parishes of Norte, Juangriego, Tacarigua, Pedro González, Los Hatos, Pedregales, San Juan and the islands of Tortuga, Blanquilla, Testigos and Aves de Barlovento), with its capital in Santa Ana del Norte, and Sur (composed of the parishes of Asunción, Pampatar, Porlamar, Paraguachí, Espíritu Santo, Robles, and Sabana Grande), with its capital in La Asunción.

In 1864, when the country was divided into 20 states and a Federal District, Margarita took the name of Estado Nueva Esparta. The name Nueva Esparta honors the courageous behavior of its inhabitants during the heroic defense actions during the independence struggle. The nascent Republic granted the title of "Nueva Esparta" to the island territory because of its resemblance to the Sparta of classical Greece for the heroism shown by the island's inhabitants in the struggle for Venezuela's independence. The complete exhaustion of the Cubagua pearl oysters in 1857, determines the abandonment of this island and from now on it will be visited by fishermen who will improvise rancherías. In 1881 it became a section of the Great State Guzmán Blanco (called Miranda from 1889 to 1898). In 1901, two years after the autonomy of the states was restored, it regained the name of Nueva Esparta, but lost it again between 1904 and 1909, during which time it was included in the Federal District as an Eastern Section. Finally, in 1909 it regained its statehood and in 1948, the island of Cubagua was annexed to its territory.

Geography [ edit ]

Nueva Esparta map

The main island of Margarita has an area of 1,020 km2 (390 sq mi). Its capital city is La Asunción. The main urban center is Porlamar. Other important towns are Juan Griego, Pampatar (home of the Port Authority), Punta de Piedras, San Juan Bautista, Las Guevaras, Las Hernández, Villa Rosa, Bella Vista (Margarita), El Valle del Espíritu Santo.

Municipalities [ edit ]

Political Territorial Division of Nueva Esparta
Municipality Capital Surface Population Density (km²)
Antolín del Campo La Plaza de Paraguachí 72 km² 21,890 305.30
Arismendi La Asunción 52 km² 23,616 454.15
Díaz San Juan Bautista 166 km² 39,491 238.04
García El Valle del Espíritu Santo 85 km² 49,967 587.16
Gómez Santa Ana 96 km² 33,436 349.38
Maneiro Pampatar 35 km² 35,901 1,028.68
Marcano Juan Griego 40 km² 31,959 796.98
Mariño Porlamar 39 km² 85,942 2,203.64
Península de Macanao 1) Boca del Río 331 km² 5,205 69.26
Tubores 2) Punta de Piedras 180 km² 30,062 167.10
Villalba San Pedro de Coche 55 km² 80,238 218.33
Nueva Esparta La Asunción 1,150 km² 387,175 336.67

Population [ edit ]

Race and ethnicity [ edit ]

According to the 2011 Census, the racial composition of the population was:[1]

Racial composition Population %
Mestizo N/A 49.1
White 217,828 47.1
Black 11,562 2.5
Other race N/A 1.3

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ "Resultado Básico del XIV Censo Nacional de Población y Vivienda 2011 (Mayo 2014)"(PDF). p. 29. Retrieved 8 September 2015.

External links [ edit ]

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