Posted on July 5, 2016
There were these whole continents with all these peoples, lots of languages and cultures and an incredible civilization; there were all these resources and fascinating creatures and vibrant plants and yummy foods...And Europeans swooped in with gun powder and germs and (1) renamed everything they saw, and (2) took over everything they could.
Venezuela may have been named by the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci, whose first name became the name of the two continents: America. Vespucci was said to have called the region Veneziola, or “little Venice,” because the area around Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo reminded him of the Italian city of canals, Venice.
Spaniards started exploring the region with Christopher Columbus's third voyage, in 1498, and began permanently settling the area in 1522. For centuries Spain ruled Venezuela; the Spanish colonists subdued the native peoples, put resistant leaders to death, converted the natives to the Catholic religion, and established Spanish as the official language.
However, many Venezuelans wanted to become independent of Spain. There were several unsuccessful uprisings. Independence was claimed on this date in 1811, and independent republics were created and later crushed by Spanish forces. Finally, thanks to the military leadership of Simón Bolivar, the nation actually achieved independence from Spain in 1823 (but as part of Gran Colombia; Venezuela separated from Colombia in 1830).
Venezuela is a land of coffee, cocoa, oil, cosmetics, and – beauty pageants! I didn't expect the last one, but apparently Venezuela has won more international beauty pageant titles than any other country in the world. It is the first country to win all four of the “Big Four” beauty pageants multiple times. Here is a list of its Big Four titles:
- Six Miss World crowns: 1955, 1981, 1984, 1991, 1995, 2011
- Seven Miss International crowns: 1985, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2010, 2015
- Two Miss Earth crowns: 2005, 2013
That means that a Venezuelan woman won at least one Big Four beauty pageant title each of these years: 1955, 1979, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015! And if you look at all the years in which a Miss Venezuela ended as a runner-up, a finalist, or a semi-finalist, it's easier to discuss the years that DIDN'T happen rather than ALL the years that did.
And these are almost all different women, mind you. It's not like having a great sports star, like American tennis champ Serena Williams, who has been pretty much dominating women's tennis since 2002. Venezuela hasn't been winning all these pageants with one really amazing contestant, but with a blizzard of highly accomplished and gorgeous women!
Really, I think that it must have just become a “thing” – in Venezuela, a lot of girls and women must enter beauty contests, work on accomplishing a lot in this field. The country as a whole must value such pageants and the young women who win them.
To learn more about Venezuela, check out this recent post.
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