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The Federal War (Spanish: Guerra Federal) — also known as the Great War or the Five Year War — was a civil war (1859–1863) in Venezuela between the Conservative party and the Liberal party over the monopoly the Conservatives held over government positions and land ownership, and their intransigence to granting any reforms. This drove the Liberals – known as the Federalists – to look for greater autonomy for the provinces: a new federalism for Venezuela, as it were. It was the biggest and bloodiest civil war that Venezuela had since its independence from Spain on 5 July 1811. Hundreds of thousands died in the violence of the war, or from hunger or disease, in a country with a population of just over a million people.

Federal War
Combate de Maiquetia, el 2 de septiembre de 1859.jpg
Combat of Maiquetía, during the beginning of the Federal War, 2 September 1859
Date20 January 1859 - 24 April 1863
Mainly the Barinas, Portuguesa, Cojedes, Apure and Guárico states of Venezuela
Result Federalist Victory, Treaty of Coche, Establishment of a Federalist Government
boderFlag of Partido liberal de Venezuela.svg
Flag of Venezuela (1836–1859).svgFlag of Partido conservador de Venezuela.svg
Conservative Government
Commanders and leaders
Ezequiel Zamora,
Juan Crisóstomo Falcón
Antonio Guzman Blanco
José Antonio Páez
Julián Castro


The Federal War was primarily a guerrilla war fought largely without a centralized command for the Federalists, who professed to ride on social resentment. Just three major conventional battles were fought:

The hostilities ended with the signing of the Treaty of Coche in April 1863.

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