A portrait of Simon Bolivar, nicknamed "El Libertador" (the Liberator) of South America, hangs in Miraflores Palace in Bolivar's hometown of Caracas, Venezuela. Miraflores Palace is the headquarters of the Venezuelan government.

Photograph by Luis Marden, National Geographic

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  • On July 24, 1783, Simon Bolivar was born in Caracas, in what is now Venezuela. Bolivar became the most powerful leader in South America, nicknamed “El Libertador” (the liberator) for helping nations become independent from Spain. Today, July 24 is celebrated as Simon Bolivar Day throughout Latin America.
    Bolivar was inspired by the American Revolutionary War. He admired George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and even sent his nephew to the University of Virginia. However, unlike the “Founding Fathers,” Bolivar rejected slavery and called for its abolition in the Americas.
    Bolivar hoped to unite all South American countries into one nation. He did not succeed in this plan. Instead, his leadership helped establish what are now the nations of Colombia, Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela. Both Bolivia and Venezuela (officially, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) are named after Bolivar, as are the currencies of both nations (the Bolivian boliviano and the Venezuelan bolivar).
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    abolition Noun

    ending or wiping out of something, usually referring to the ending of slavery.

    celebrate Verb

    to observe or mark an important event with public and private ceremonies or festivities.

    currency Noun

    money or other resource that can be used to buy goods and services.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    independent Adjective

    free from influence, threat, or support.

    inspire Verb

    to influence to act.

    Latin America Noun

    South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.

    liberate Verb

    to set free.

    nation Noun

    political unit made of people who share a common territory.

    Encyclopedic Entry: nation
    Revolutionary War Noun

    (1775-1783) conflict between Great Britain and the colonies that became the United States. Also called the American War of Independence.

    slavery Noun

    process and condition of owning another human being or being owned by another human being.

    unite Verb

    to bring together.