Simón Bolívar is regarded in Hispanic America as a hero, visionary, revolutionary, and liberator. During his lifetime, he led Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama,and Venezuela to independence, and helped lay the foundations for democratic ideology in much of Hispanic America.
The surname Bolívar derives from the Bolívar aristocrats who came from a small villagein the Basque Country, Spain, called La Puebla de Bolívar. His father came from the male line of the de Ardanza family. His maternal grandmother, however, was descended from some familiesfrom Canary Island that settled in the country.
The Bolívars settled in Venezuela in the sixteenth century. His first South American Bolivar ancestor was Simón de Bolívar (or Simon de Bolibar; thespelling was not standardized until the nineteenth century), who lived and worked with the governor of the Santo Domingo from 1550 to 1570. When the governor of Santo Domingo was reassigned toVenezuela in 1589, Simón de Bolívar came with him. As an early settler in Caracas Province, he became prominent in the local society, and he and his descendants were granted estates, encomiendas, andpositions in the Caracas cabildo.
The social position of the family is illustrated by the fact that when the Caracas Cathedral was built in 1594, the Bolívar family had one of the...