The state is the smallest one in area, and is located off the northeast Caribbean coast of Venezuela. It is the only insular state of Venezuela. Its name comes from the heroism shown by its inhabitants during the Venezuelan War of Independence, deemed similar to that of the Spartan soldiers of Ancient Greece. The main island of Margarita alone has an area of 934 km². In 1909 the state was constituted (then comprising Margarita and Coche Islands) and in 1947 the island of Cubagua was added. Its capital city is La Asunción, but the main urban center is Porlamar. Other important towns are Juan Griego, Pampatar (home of the Port Authority), Punta de Piedras, San Juan Bautista, Las Guevaras, Las Hernández, Villa Rosa, Bella Vista (Margarita), El Valle del Espíritu Santo.
In 1864, when the country was divided into 20 states and a Federal District, Margarita took the name of State of New Sparta. In 1881 its status was changed to be a mere section of the Greater Guzmán Blanco State (Called Miranda from 1889 to 1898). In 1901, two years after the autonomy of the states was restored, it retook the name of New Sparta, but again lost it between 1904 and 1909, period in which it was included in the Federal District as "Eastern Section". Finally, in 1909 it recovered the condition of a State, and in 1948 it annexed the island of Cubagua.