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Population, Culture

Juan Antonio Perez Bonalde, Simon Rodriguez, joropo, South American cowboy, Andres Bello

The dominant influence on the culture of Venezuela was that of the Spanish conquerors. The Native Americans of the country, lacking any political or cultural unity of their own, were assimilated by the immigrant groups and had only a slight influence on the national culture.

The distinct Venezuelan contribution to folk legend is the llanero, or South American cowboy. The national dance, the joropo, and popular instruments such as the maraca, a type of rattle, and the cuatro, an instrument similar to a guitar, are all associated with the llanero.

Venezuelan literature gained momentum in the early 19th century with the appearance of writers such as Simon Rodriguez, Andres Bello, and Simon Bolivar. Outstanding among later writers of the 19th century was Juan Antonio Perez Bonalde, known principally for his translations of German poet Heinrich Heine and American writer Edgar Allan Poe. Perez Bonalde is considered a precursor of romanticism in Latin American literature. In the early 20th century, novelist Teresa de la Parra became one of the most popular women novelists of Latin America, and Rufino Blanco Fombana produced works about life in Venezuela in the late 19th century. The greatest Venezuelan novelist of the 20th century was former president Romulo Gallegos, whose works reflect the interaction of humankind and nature.

Venezuela, which was regarded as one of the less profitable colonies of Spain, lacks the splendors of Spanish architecture that are found in other South American countries. Nevertheless, in the second half of the 20th century, the combination of the wealth produced from oil discoveries and strong ties with the United States helped foster the development of modern architecture. Caracas is now considered one of the most modern cities in the world.

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