There is evidence of human habitation in the area now known as Venezuela from approximately 15,000 years ago; leaf-shaped tools from this period, together with chopping and plano-convex scraping implements, have been found exposed on the high riverine terraces of the Rio Pedregal in western Venezuela.
Late Pleistocene hunting artifacts, including spear tips, have been found at a similar series of sites in northwestern Venezuela known as “El Jobo”; according to radiocarbon dating, these date from 13,000 to 7,000 BC.
It is not known how many people lived in Venezuela before the Spanish Conquest; it may have been approximately one million, and in addition to today’s indigenous peoples the population included groups such as the Kalina (Caribs), Auaké, Caquetio, Mariche, and Timoto-cuicas.
The number was reduced after the Conquest, mainly through the spread of new diseases from Europe. There were two main north-south axes of pre-Columbian population; producing maize in the west and manioc in the east.
Large parts of the llanos plains were cultivated through a combination of slash and burn and permanent settled agriculture.