After centuries of Spanish rule, many colonies began to seek independence from Spain in the early 19th century. Influenced by the Enlightenment and a desire for self-rule, revolutions began throughout Central and South America. Several key military figures led the colonies to victory. Among them was the South American general known as El Libertador (the Liberator), Simón Bolívar.
Bolívar (1783-1830) brought independence to six present-day nations, and he is considered one of the greatest military figures in South American history. His victories helped Bolivia (named in his honor), Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela win independence from Spain.