It was the Guaiqueri Indians who inhabited the Island when Christopher Columbus first discovered it in 1498. The natives were hospitable and kind to the Spanish conquistadors, not knowing that they would become slaves there later when the discovery of the Island became more noteworthy: while not wholly significant at the time Columbus arrived, when Cristobal de la Guerra and Pedro Alfonso Niño found a bed of pearls hidden in the Island years later, the Island became considerably more important. They returned to Spain with about 80 pounds of pearls, and it was from this point forward that the Island began to rapidly settle, becoming the first to do so in South America.
    The Island needed to be protected from pirates over the course of its history. The castles and forts that were built to do so can be seen to this day, however they have fallen into disrepair over the years despite their historic value.
    The movement for independence began in Caracas in 1810, and Margarita Island jumped on board immediately. The Island became the first free Venezuelan territory in 1814, following its people’s heroic struggle for independence. The “Libertador,” Simon Bolivar, became the Commander in Chief of the new republic, la Gran Colombia. He went on to contribute to the liberation of Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia from the Spanish Monarchs’ rule.