The territory was famous for heron plumes, which adorned European courts. At the same time, it was the scene of armed encounters that marked the evolution of the War for Independence, as well as numerous battles during the civil war. In the Apurean environs, Rómulo Gallegos was inspired to write his novel Doña Bárbara, which describes the magnitude of this land.
The state capital is San Fernando de Apure.
Based on the 2011 census information, the estimated population of Apure State in 2011 is 459,025 inhabitants.
The origins of the name Apure have not been unanimously accepted: certain sources point to a shrub called apure as inspiration; others to an ancient aboriginal chief named Apur. However, in this specific case, it is not about the name of the Apure River but the name of the State, and obviously the name of the State of Apure comes from the name of the Apure River. The work of friar Jacinto de Carvajal (1648) makes reference to the discovery of the Apure River and this name was already known between the Spanish from the first half of the sixteenth century, that is, well before the Venezuelan name of the region, province, or state.
One of the most comprehensive works about Venezuelan etymology, which refers exhaustively to the toponymy of the river and the state of Apure, is that by Tulio Chiossone. It states that, "The state of Apure as a federal entity takes its name from the Apure River." ("El estado Apure como entidad federal, toma su nombre del Río Apure."
The conquest of these wild lands started mid XVII when the land was populated by many Indian tribes like the peaceful Arawaks and the dangerous Caribs among others. Actual settlement did not start until early XVIII with large cattle foundations started by landowners looking to expand their already crowded cattle ranches in San Carlos de Austria and other cities. Some of the most famous were Jose Ignacio Pumar (Marquee of Pumar), Joseph Blanco Y Salazar along with Franciscan missionaries from Andalucia and others missionaries and landowners that would "pacify" and remove the natives by the sword or converting them to Christianity.
In the colonial era, Apure was at one time part of the Province of Mérida del Espíritu Santo de la Grita, which merged with Maracaibo in 1676 to form Maracaibo Province. Its territory was part of the territory split from Maracaibo Province in 1786 to form Barinas Province. Apure Province was split from Barinas in 1823, and in 1864 it was given state status.
Apure is an independent state from 1864, when the Venezuelan territory organized itself as los Estados Unidos de Venezuela, or United States of Venezuela. In 1881 it formed part of the state of Bolívar along with Guayana, but recovered the category of independent state in 1899.
Apure has existed as a state as of 1864.
As of 2012 airstrips operated by a Colombian guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, in Apure were the point of origin for significant amounts of cocaine which were transported first to Honduras and other Central American and Caribbean locations by small planes and then to North America by Mexican drug cartels. Due to security considerations Venezuela ceased to cooperate with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration in 2005. Subsequent drug interdiction operations by Venezuela were showy but ineffective due to pervasive corruption. Apure is attractive for traffickers because besides bordering Colombia and the Caribbean, its dry plains make it easy to create landing strips for small planes simply by dragging a log behind a pickup truck.
The state of Apure is located to the southwest of Venezuela, positioned between 06º03’45’’ and 08º04’22’’ latitude North and 66º21’45’’ and 72º22’30’’ longitude West. It is bordered on the north by the states of Táchira, Barinas, and Guárico, on the east and southeast by the states of Bolívar and Amazonas and on the south and west by Colombia.
Originating in the Tertiary (Neogene) and Quaternary (Pleistocene) Periods, the llanos (plains) of Apure are formed by sediments of little or no consolidation, with sandy and clayey deposits built up by floods in recent times. On the banks of the Orinoco one finds outcroppings of rocks, from the Archean era, which are part of the Guiana Shield and appear at heights called galleys. Likewise, in the Andean foothills, rocks from the Terciary Period form hills and short slopes in the mountain range.
A large part of the state of Apure is constituted by an extensive field of dunes (occupying some 30,000 km²), which has the peculiarity of not being a desert climate but a savannah, with natural grasslands alternating with corridors of jungle and voluminous rivers with sand dunes of more than 100 km in length and 20 m in height. Some of these dunes are used by llaneros to establish dairy farms, which, in addition to processing milk, prepare a group of cattle to go to the head of the pack (which in the llanos is referred to as the godmother of the herd), according to the work of Calzadilla Valdés. Also, they allow the livestock to take refuge from the floods. So too, this very strange and picturesque ecosystem in the savanna is the result of having been modeled by the wind (aeolian processes). It is not, as noted in the Atlas of Venezuela: A Spatial Image (Atlas de Venezuela: Una imagen espacial, also known as El Atlas de Petróleos de Venezuela), an ecosystem of "paleodunas", literally 'old dunes,' formed in an environment with a much drier climate than the current one, but a mechanism of dune formation that acts only in the dry season since the lowering of the water level of the Orinoco at the rivers' lowest point, especially that of those that originate in the llanos, extensive beaches of fine sand are left behind, that the trade winds very quickly will transfer to the southeast, forming what now constitutes el Parque Nacional Santos Luzardo (the Santos Luzardo National Park), which takes its name from one of the main characters in the famous novel Doña Bárbara by Rómulo Gallegos.
It is almost entirely flat, with extensive plains from the convergence of the Apure, Arauca, and Capanaparo Rivers with the Orinoco to the foothills of the Andes. With little unevenness of terrain, the altitude fluctuates between 40 and 200 meters above sea level. The Apurean llanos feature several important physiographic events, generated by the type of soil, climate, and its hydrological pattern. Protruding between them are zones of dunes, delta plains, and such features as shoals, banks, and estuaries, which are very prone to floods during the rainy season. Furthermore, in the west of the territory, one finds foothills and mountains with altitudes of greater than 3 km, in a portion of the Cordillera Oriental Andina (Eastern Andean Range) that borders Estado Táchira.
The state is sliced by numerous rivers of great length and breadth, all of which are part of the Orinoco river basin. The Apure River, the most important of these, is at the same time the main Venezuelan tributary of the Orinoco from its left border, and the second longest in the country: it covers some 1000 km from its source to its mouth. All of the lands in the south of the state constitute a zone where the springs, the branches, the rivers, the lagoons, and the swamps extraordinarily complicate the hydrography. Apure relies on an abundant phreatic zone that supplies the cities and towns with potable water, and a few decades ago networks of modules were created that allowed water storage for use in periods of drought. The most important rivers in the state are: the Apure for which the state is named; the Arauca, at more than 700 km long, which has its source in Colombia and forms the border between the two countries for a stretch, and unites the Apure by means of various branches and springs before flowing into the Orinoco; the Orichuna Channel at more than 500 km long; the Capanaparo, Cinaruco, Cunaviche, Matiyure, and Meta. The upper courses of the Apure River are formed by the Uribante and the Sarare, whose lower parts are found in the state of Apure.
Apure is made up of 7 municipalities and 26 parishes. The municipalities Páez and Rómulo Gallegos make up the Distrito del Alto Apure.
According to the 2011 Census, the racial composition of the population was: