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12 Days of South American Independence

July is a month of patriotism in North and South America.

On July 1 the most northern among us celebrated Canada Day, commemorating the country's shift to a self-governed entity. Just a few days later, on the 4th of July, the United States overflows with picnics and firework displays in celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a 1776 act that signaled separation from British colonial rule.

South America isn’t all that different. Many of the continent's 12 independent countries gained their freedom from European rulers in the months of July, August, or September, typically between the years of 1810-1825. Like Canada and the United States, the areas in South America that declared independence looked different than they do today. Much of the continent was divided into viceroyalties that do not align with modern day boarders.

If you’re traveling to South America this summer, keep an eye on the date. Many businesses will be closed during national holidays, but you’ll be able to enjoy parades, festivals, and other national-themed celebrations.

Fast Facts about Independence in South America

  • South American nations won their independence primarily from Spain, but also from Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

  • The first country to declare independence was Colombia in 1810. The last was Suriname in 1975.

  • French Guiana is still an official part of France.

  • Gran Colombia was the first union of independent nations in South America. It included most of northern South America and existed from 1819 until 1831.

  • Simon Bolivar, a military and political leader from Venezuela, played a major role in the independence movement in at least 5 South American nations. The country Bolivia is named after him.

  • Several countries celebrate other milestones. Guyana, for example, celebrates Republic Day (also called Mashramani) on February 23 to mark the day Guyana became a republic in 1970.

Independence Days in South America by Date

May

Paraguay - 14 May 1811 (from Spain)

Guyana - 26 May 1966 (from the United Kingdom, originally settled by Netherlands)

July

Venezuela - 5 July 1811 (from Spain)

Argentina - 9 July 1816 (from Spain)

Colombia - 20 July 1810 (from Spain)

Peru - 28 July 1821 (from Spain)

August

Bolivia - 6 August 1825 (from Spain)

Ecuador – 10 August 1822 (from Spain)

Uruguay - 25 August 1825 (from Spain, then  Brazil)

September

Brazil - 7 September 1822 (from Portugal)

Chile - 18 September 1810 (from Spain)

November

Suriname - 25 November 1975 (from the Netherlands)

 

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​​​​​​​Last updated: February 2020

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