Simón Bolívar (IPA: [siˈmon boˈliβar]), in full Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios (24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830), was a Venezuelan military and political leader who played a leading role in the establishment of Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama as sovereign states, independent of Spanish rule.
Bolívar was born into a wealthy, aristocratic Creole family and, like others of his day, was educated abroad at a young age, arriving in Spain when he was 16 and later on moving to France. While in Europe he was introduced to the ideas of Enlightenment philosophers, which gave him the ambition to replace the Spanish as rulers. Taking advantage of the disorder in Spain prompted by the Peninsular War, Bolívar began his campaign for independence in 1808, appealing to the wealthy Creole population through a conservative process, and established an organized national congress within three years. Despite a number of hindrances, including the arrival of an unprecedentedly large Spanish expeditionary force, the revolutionaries eventually prevailed, culminating in a patriot victory at the Battle of Carabobo in 1821, which effectively made Venezuela an independent country.
Following this triumph over the Spanish monarchy, Bolívar participated in the foundation of the first union of independent nations in Latin America, Gran Colombia, of which he was president from 1819 to 1830. Through further military campaigns, he ousted Spanish rulers from Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia (which was named after him). He was simultaneously president of Gran Colombia (current Venezuela, Colombia, Panamá and Ecuador) and Peru, while his second in command Antonio José de Sucre was appointed president of Bolivia. He aimed at a strong and united Spanish America able to cope not only with the threats emanating from Spain and the European Holy Alliance but also with the emerging power of the United States. At the peak of his power, Bolívar ruled over a vast territory from the Argentine border to the Caribbean Sea.
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