A llanero is a cowboy of the plains, or llanos, of Venezuela and Colombia. You could compare him to the Argentinian gaucho, or cowboys of the American old west.
The llanos are a vast savanna larger than Texas. The lowland plains, or llanos bajos, are very level and flat, and during the rainy season, from May to October, they flood, and the cows must be herded in in very wet conditions, in a maze of little rivers and marshes. During the dry season, the llanos bajos dry up almost completely, except for right next to the main rivers, the Apure, Meta, Arauca, and Guaviare, which are tributaries of the Orinoco. In the west,
the llanos altos, or high plains, are huge mesas between the rivers.
The llanero wears a poncho and a straw hat, or a wide-brimmed beaver felt hat called a pelo e'guama. He is reputed to be independent and brave. His trusty horse is his beloved companion on his journeys. He usually works for a large cattle ranch, or hato.
During the independence movement of the early 19th century, the llaneros were reputed to be fearless fighters. Many llaneros initially fought on the loyalist side, driving Bolivar out of the country and into the Andean highlands. But a few years later, José Antonio Páez led a mixed-race band of llaneros in defense of The Liberator
Small towns in the llanos have rather squalid bullfights, where a bunch of drunken llaneros ride around on horseback in a corral, catching bulls by the tail and trying to throw the bull to the ground.
Llaneros are associated with particular styles of folk music: the joropo, the tonada, the contrapunteo, the gaita, the vals venezolano, and more. The traditional anthem of the llanero is Alma Llanera, Soul of the Plains.