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PostBaden on the Caribbean: Colonia Tovar, Venezuela (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 03/09/21 4:26 pm)
Recent WAIS postings about cities of foreign origin, especially German ones, in some countries, have reminded me of Colonia Tovar in Venezuela.
This city was founded by German settlers in 1843, by 340 emigrants from the state of Baden. It presently has 21,600 inhabitants. Colonia Tovar is nestled in the mountains near Caracas at 2200 mt altitude, with a moderate tropical climate. This immigration was promoted by the Venezuelan government, under the advice of Alexander von Humboldt, to develop agriculture in the country.
Because of their relative isolation in the mountains, they preserved much of their culture over the generations, the architectural style, the kaisersthul; their language, originally the Badish that today has been transformed into Alemannisch or Aleman coloniero; their clothing, food and festivals. Among the first settlers there were not only farmers, but also scientists, writers and painters who contributed significantly to the cultural progress of the country.
This small city had great significance in the 19th century, being one of the first for the transit of German migrations through Latin America. With respect to that, I also remember visiting in Brazil another city founded by German immigrants, who have also preserved their culture and traditions. In fact I learned that there were many other similar cities in that country, which arose at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, especially in the south of the country, Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul, agricultural and mining areas, with names as suggestive as Wegner, Blumenau, Fraiburgo, Novo Hamburg, Westfalia, Teutona, Sevach and Alfredo Wegner, and many others with German names.
The reasons for these migrations and settlements were apparently different from the Venezuelan. In the first place the industrialization of Germany ruined many peasants and craftsmen, who had to look for places to survive and found those opportunities in Brazil. Second, because the German government of the time promoted emigration to develop new markets and promote German culture. I suppose it is something similar to what modern China intends to do with its New Silk Road strategy.
JE comments: Fascinating! That the various German states would encourage the emigration of its citizens seems counterintuitive, but it seems to have been a common tactic in the 19th century. Besides spreading German culture and markets, emigration was more likely an escape valve for overpopulation.
Come to think of it, Eipper lore has it that our ancestors came from the Stuttgart region (Baden). We might well have ended up in Colonia Tovar!
How about another coincidence? Colonia Tovar has a "twin" city in the US: Helen, Georgia. Here's Bert Westbrook's post from a fortnight ago: