Venezuela Anthropology and Demographics

By | December 16, 2021

Anthropology. – Even today the most extensive data that we have on the anthropology of Venezuela are those due to Marcano and refer only to pre-Columbian skulls of various places, some of which today no longer belong to Venezuela, having passed to Colombia, but which, nevertheless, they can be considered to represent well the state of affairs of the adjacent regions of Venezuela in the aforementioned times. Many of these skulls are deformed. Out of 16 skulls in the valleys of Aragua and Caracas, 10 are platycephalic. Three localities, located west of the rapids and cataracts of the Orinoco, Cerro de Luna, Ipi-Iboto and Cucurital have respectively 78, 42, 40 usable cases, in order to calculate the horizontal and height indices of the cerebral part. The three series can be legitimately combined, thus reaching a significant number of cases, which allow very probable conclusions. The projection of the 160 cases according to the Sera method (v.cephalic, indices) for the horizontal and vertical-longitudinal indices offers very interesting results: that is, the majority of cases are localized in a zone of mesoplaticephaly, but there is also a large group of mesoortocephalics, which applying only the horizontal index to the he analysis of the series could not have revealed, but on whose existence there is no doubt and which is very important in explaining the anthropological composition of the area and the ethnic movements that have occurred in it. Furthermore, Cucurital’s series presents rather frequent dolicoortocephaly, in comparison with the other two. 8 skulls of Goajiro are all Platycephalic; Cuica’s 5 skulls are rather tall and oriented towards wide shapes. For Venezuela 2018, please check

These facts are interpreted by Sera as significant of an advent in Venezuela of low-skulled forms, driven back from the west (Andes) by the pressure of the orthocephalus, which, coming from the Pacific coast, had climbed the plateau, settled there and repelled towards the ‘est the Platicefali, first occupants of it (see P erú: Anthropology, XXVI, pp. 878-879). The platycephalics mixed more or less with the dolicho-hypsycephalic element, which, on the Atlantic side, already occupied the soil and which was the most primitive element (Brazilian), while the mesoortocephalics are the representatives of the highest Andean culture (Chibcha) and the Platicephals of intermediate cultures (Arowak, Cariba).

E technology. – At the time of the discovery, Venezuela was inhabited by a large number of Indian tribes, at a cultural stage far removed from that reached by the Quechua and Aymará or even only by the Chibcha. They were mostly sedentary populations, who cultivated corn, cassava and cocoa (in the Cordillera area, they had arranged the slopes of the mountains in terraces) and possessed ornaments and idols of clay or stone (schist, gneiss and occasionally nephrite). Most of these tribes were Caribbean. For their daring and ferocity, the Caribs, also called Camballi, Caniba, Cannibals by Fernando Colombo, Amerigo Vespucci, Pietro Martire d’Angangolo, Michele da Cuneo and the others who reported about them, were feared by the other Indian populations.

Among the Caribbean tribes still existing in the territory are those of the Motiloni (high valleys of the Sierra de Perija), the Arecuna (high Caroní), the Palenque (Unare basin) and the Mariquitare (Ventuari basin). The cultural conditions of these very different tribes do not show the kinship shown by the affinity of the language. Among the uses of the Caribs it is well known that of poisoning arrows with the powerful poison extracted from the leaves and bark of some Strychnos.

The Motiloni in the colonial period gave much to do to the Spaniards, whose villages they burned, plundered and destroyed several times. Even today they, as well as the Caribs of Guiana, live almost independent.

There are also numerous Arowak tribes, including those of the Goajiro of the peninsula that bears their name, the Maipure of the upper Orinoco and the Baniva of the Atabapo and Guainia (upper Río Negro).

There are also various populations that linguistically do not seem to fall within either the Caribbean or the Arowak ones, nor in any of the other large South American ethnic-linguistic groups: such are the Guaraunos who live in the Orinoco delta, the Guahibos of the Meta basin. and the Otomachus of the middle Orinoco, who are geophages: that is, when they lack fish, they eat a soapy clay which they call poya.

Demographics. – Venezuela is one of the South American countries where the population has grown more slowly. Humboldt estimated that in 1800 it was about 780,000 residents, Which in 1839 had risen to just 945,000. The massacres carried out during the war of independence (all prisoners and even civilians were used for arms regardless of sex or age), the formidable earthquake of 1812 and various epidemics caused such a small increase. In the second half of the century. XIX the improved living conditions, especially from the hygienic point of view, and the greater political tranquility of the country, allowed a relatively strong increase in population: in 1854 it seems that the residents were 1.5 million, in 1891 they were 2,324,000, increased to 3,027,000 in 1926 and to 3,324,000 in 1935. The immigration has never been very considerable, and, on the other hand, mortality is still strong. The shortage of manpower has serious repercussions on the economic life of the republic.

The density for the whole country would be 3.5 residents per sq. km. (in the penultimate place among the South American states). But in this regard there are enormous differences between one side and the other, due to the very different natural conditions. 77% of the total population lives in the northern mountainous region and in the coastal region that faces it, which together have an area that is just one fifth of the total, and which therefore have almost 12 residents. per sq. km. In the llanos less than 1/5 of the population lives, while they correspond to 1/3 of the total area of ​​the country (less than 2 residents per sq. km.). Guiana is home to just 5% of the population on an area that is almost half that of the entire republic (1 residents Every 2 sq. Km.). If we consider the densities of the various states and territories forming the federation, we see that the federal district has almost 100 residents per sq. km, Nueva Esparta 64, Carabobo 32, Miranda 25, etc., when the state of Bolívar on an area almost equal to that of Yugoslavia does not even have double (102,000 residents) the population of Ljubljana.

There are various areas of northern Venezuela where there are densities between 50 and 100 residents. per; in the llanos and in Guiana very large areas far from the main rivers are completely uninhabited.

In 1800, according to Humboldt, half of the Venezuelan population was made up of Mestizos, Mulattos, Zambos and other bloodsuckers; a quarter, by Bianehi; then there were 120,000 Indians (15%) and 62,000 Negroes (8%). The crossings intensified after the independence, and now it is estimated that the bloodsuckers form as much as 9000 of the population, the Whites just 3%, the Indians 2% and the Negroes 5%. The Whites essentially inhabit the northern part of the country. There are about 30,000 foreigners, mainly Spaniards (13,000), Colombians, Italians, English, Dutch and French. There are about 7,000 Italians, mostly traders, builders, farmers and cattle breeders.

The important centers (almost all located in the northern part of the country) are few: only two cities exceed 100,000 residents: Caracas, the capital, and Maracaibo, which has become the largest economic center of the republic.

Another 13 cities have more than 10,000 residents. and of these only two (Valencia and Barquisimeto) exceed 20,000.

Venezuela Anthropology