German colonization of the Americas
The German colonization of the Americas consisted of failed attempts to settle Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 , St. Thomas
Saint Thomas (Brandenburg colony)
The Brandenburg colony of St. Thomas consisted of a leased part of the Danish island of St. Thomas - History :...

, the Crab Island
Crab Island, Guyana
Crab Island is an island located in the mouth of the Berbice River in Guyana, located at .Crab Island is so named due to the presence of numerous crabs there, and is approximately one mile in circumference. Until the British took over Berbice in 1815, the Dutch had a fort here called St. Andries....

Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

) and Tertholen in the 16th and 17th centuries.


The Augsburg
Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a...

 banking families of Anton and Bartholomeus Welser
Welser is the surname of an important German banking and merchant family, originally from Augsburg. Along with the Fugger family, the Welser family controlled various sectors of the European economy, and accumulated enormous wealth through trade and the German colonization of the...

 obtained rights in 1528 to Venezuela from Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 and King of Spain
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

. Heinrich Ehinger and Hieronymus Sailer, either independently or as agents of the Welsers, negotiated the rights. By 1531, the Welsers controlled the privilege. They set up a colonization scheme and sent Ambrosius Ehinger
Ambrosius Ehinger
Ambrosius Ehinger, also Dalfinger, Thalfinger, was a German conquistador and the first governor of the Welser concession, also known as “Little Venice” , in New Granada, now Venezuela and Colombia.Ehinger was a factor in Madrid for the Welser...

 as governor to Santa Ana de Coro
Santa Ana de Coro
Coro is the capital of Falcón State and the oldest city in the west of Venezuela.-History:The city was founded on July 26, 1527 by Spanish colonists. The name "Coro" is believed to be an indigenous word meaning "wind".The city had a turbulent history in colonial times and suffered a number of...

 , the capital of Klein-Venedig in 1529. Ehinger left Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

 on 7 October 1528 with the Spaniard García de Lerma and 281 settlers. At Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. Its metropolitan population was 2,084,852 in 2003, and estimated at 3,294,385 in 2010. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River...

, de Lerma with 50 companions left for Santa Marta, to reestablish Spanish control following the murder of the governor there. Ehinger and the remainder headed for the Venezuelan coast and landed on 24 February 1529 at Santa Ana de Coro
Santa Ana de Coro
Coro is the capital of Falcón State and the oldest city in the west of Venezuela.-History:The city was founded on July 26, 1527 by Spanish colonists. The name "Coro" is believed to be an indigenous word meaning "wind".The city had a turbulent history in colonial times and suffered a number of...

. From there, he explored the interior in search of the legendary golden city of El Dorado
El Dorado
El Dorado is the name of a Muisca tribal chief who covered himself with gold dust and, as an initiation rite, dived into a highland lake.Later it became the name of a legendary "Lost City of Gold" that has fascinated – and so far eluded – explorers since the days of the Spanish Conquistadors...

. On 8 September 1529 Ehinger founded the colony of New Nuremberg , today know as Maracaibo
Maracaibo is a city and municipality located in northwestern Venezuela off the western coast of the Lake Maracaibo. It is the second-largest city in the country after the national capital Caracas and the capital of Zulia state...


Other German governors followed: Nikolaus Federmann
Nikolaus Federmann
Nikolaus Federmann was a German adventurer and conquistador in the colonies of Venezuela and Colombia. He worked in the service of the Welser brothers.- Life :...

, Georg Hohermuth von Speyer
Georg von Speyer
Georg von Speyer was a German conquistador in New Granada, now Venezuela and Colombia. His birth name was Georg Hohermuth but he chose to call himself after his place of birth...

, Philipp von Hutten
Philipp von Hutten
Philipp von Hutten was a German adventurer, an early European explorer of Venezuela.-Biography:He passed some of his early years at the court of the Roman emperor Charles V...

, all of whom engaged primarily in the search for gold. Federmann crossed the Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 to Bogotá
Bogotá, Distrito Capital , from 1991 to 2000 called Santa Fé de Bogotá, is the capital, and largest city, of Colombia. It is also designated by the national constitution as the capital of the department of Cundinamarca, even though the city of Bogotá now comprises an independent Capital district...

, where he and Sebastián de Belalcázar
Sebastián de Belalcázar
Sebastián de Belalcázar was a Spanish conquistador.-Early life:He was born Sebastián Moyano in the province of Córdoba, Spain, in either 1479 or 1480. He took the name Belalcázar as that was the name of the castle-town near to his birthplace in Córdoba...

 initially contested Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada
Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada
Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada was a Spanish explorer and conquistador in Colombia. He explored the northern part of South America. While successful in many of his exploits, acquiring massive amounts of gold and emeralds, he ended his career disastrously; and has been suggested as a possible model...

's claims to that province. They transported German miners to the colony, as well as 4,000 African slaves as labor to work sugar cane plantations. By 1541 disputes arose with Spain, which stripped the bankers of control of their colony in 1556.

Many of the German colonists died from tropical diseases, to which they had no immunity
Immunity (medical)
Immunity is a biological term that describes a state of having sufficient biological defenses to avoid infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion. Immunity involves both specific and non-specific components. The non-specific components act either as barriers or as eliminators of wide...

, or hostile Indian attacks during frequent journeys deep into Indian
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 territory in search of gold.

Brandenburg colonisation

The Brandenburgisch-Africanische Compagnie of Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

, which became the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

, established colonies in Africa and on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas.

Courland colonisation

The Duchy of Courland, a German-led vassal state of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

, colonized
Courland colonization of the Americas
The Duchy of Courland was the smallest nation to colonize the Americas with a colony on the island of Tobago from 1654 to 1659, and intermittently from 1660 to 1689. -History:...

Tobago is the smaller of the two main islands that make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It is located in the southern Caribbean, northeast of the island of Trinidad and southeast of Grenada. The island lies outside the hurricane belt...

 in the Caribbean and St. Andrews Island in Gambia.

German immigration to Americas

German settlers also immigrated to the established colonies in North America, Colonia Tovar
Colonia Tovar
Colonia Tovar is a city located in the Tovar Municipality of the state of Aragua in Venezuela, 60 km west of Caracas. The town was named after Martín Tovar y Ponte who donated the land over 150 years ago, and was founded by Agostino Codazzi...

Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

), Chile's Southern Zone
Zona Sur
The Zona Sur is one of the five natural regions on which CORFO divided continental Chile in 1950. Its northern border is formed by the Bío-Bío River, the limit with the Central Chile Zone. By west with the Pacific Ocean, by the east with the Andean mountains and Argentina. Its southern border is...

, Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

, southern Brazil
Southern Region, Brazil
The South Region of Brazil is one of the five regions of Brazil. It includes the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul and covers 576,409.6 km ², being the smallest portion of the country...

, Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

, Soconusco
Soconusco is a region of the Mexican state of Chiapas, located in the extreme south of the state and separated from Guatemala by the Suchiate River. It is a region of rich lowlands and foothills. The economic center is Tapachula. Soconusco consists of 16 municipalities.The name comes from the...

 region in Chiapas
Chiapas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Chiapas is one of the 31 states that, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 118 municipalities and its capital city is Tuxtla Gutierrez. Other important cites in Chiapas include San Cristóbal de las...

, Mexico; Alta Verapaz
Alta Verapaz
Alta Verapaz is a department in the north central part of Guatemala. The capital and chief city of the department is Cobán. Verapaz is bordered to the north by El Petén, to the east by Izabal, to the south by Zacapa, El Progreso, and Baja Verapaz, and to the west by El Quiché.Also in Alta Verapaz...

, Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

; Pozuzo and Oxapampa
Oxapampa is a town in Peru, on the eastern side of the department of the Pasco Region. A ranching and coffee centre, it was founded by German settlers in the 19th century....

, both in Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

 and Patagonia
Patagonia is a region located in Argentina and Chile, integrating the southernmost section of the Andes mountains to the southwest towards the Pacific ocean and from the east of the cordillera to the valleys it follows south through Colorado River towards Carmen de Patagones in the Atlantic Ocean...

. They founded a few towns in Paraguay
History of Paraguay
The history of Paraguay is poorly documented, as almost no archaeological research has been done and little is known of Paraguay's pre-Columbian history. What is certain is that the eastern part of the country was occupied by Guaraní peoples for at least 1,000 years before the Spanish colonization...

 at about the same time as the Welsh migrated to the Argentine Patagonia
Welsh colonization of the Americas
Welsh settlement in the Americas was the result of several individual initiatives to found distinctively Welsh settlements in the New World. It can be seen as part of the more general British colonization of the Americas.-The Madoc legend:...


The Germans established the thriving town of Colonia Tovar
Colonia Tovar
Colonia Tovar is a city located in the Tovar Municipality of the state of Aragua in Venezuela, 60 km west of Caracas. The town was named after Martín Tovar y Ponte who donated the land over 150 years ago, and was founded by Agostino Codazzi...

 in Venezuela. They were invited by local governments and did not owe allegiance to any European nations. Their descendants have intermarried with and merged into the local populations of those countries.

See also

  • German colonial empire
    German colonial empire
    The German colonial empire was an overseas domain formed in the late 19th century as part of the German Empire. Short-lived colonial efforts by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but Imperial Germany's colonial efforts began in 1884...

  • German Argentine
  • German Brazilian
    German Brazilian
    A German Brazilian is a Brazilian person of ethnic German ancestry or origin...

  • German Chilean
  • Germans of Paraguay
    Germans of Paraguay
    The German minority in Paraguay came into existence with immigration during the industrial age. The "Nueva Germania" colony was founded in Paraguay in 1888; though regarded as a failure, still exists despite being abandoned by many of its founders in the 1890s...

  • Nueva Germania
    Nueva Germania
    Nueva Germania is a district of San Pedro Department in Paraguay. It was founded as a German colony on August 23, 1887 by Bernhard Förster, who was married to Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, sister of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche...

  • Tapachula
    Tapachula is a town and with a hot, humid climate in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It is located in southern part of the state on the Soconusco coastal plain, near the border with Guatemala, at 14.91° N 92.27° W...

  • Pozuzo
  • Blumenau
    Blumenau is a city in Vale do Itajaí, state of Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil. It was founded on September 2, 1850 by Dr. Hermann Bruno Otto Blumenau along with 17 German immigrants. A few years later Fritz Müller migrated to Blumenau as well....

  • Gramado
    Gramado is a municipality and small touristic town, southeast of Caxias do Sul and east of Nova Petrópolis in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, in the Serra Gaúcha region. Most of the population of Gramado is of German or Italian descent...

  • Pennsylvania Dutch
    Pennsylvania Dutch
    Pennsylvania Dutch refers to immigrants and their descendants from southwestern Germany and Switzerland who settled in Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries...

    , a U.S. community of German origin.
  • German-American
  • German-Chilean
    German Chileans are an important ethnic group in Chile; they are Chileans of German descent deriving their German ethnicity from one or both parents – they also include a minority of German citizens holding permanent residency in Chile...

External links

  • History of colony
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