The multicultural and geographically diverse South American country of Venezuela shares its northern shore line with the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, drawing vacationers with its beauty annually. Visitors soon discover there is much more to Venezuela than gorgeous beaches and water sports, however. Read on to discover 82 interesting facts about Venezuela.
Geography, Environment, and Climate
1. Venezuela is blessed with magnificent, diverse geography. It has Caribbean islands, rivers, marshlands, mountains, glaciers, highlands, grasslands (los llanos), deserts, canyons, mesas, forests, and jungles.
2. The country’s habitats range from the Andes Mountains (west) to the Amazon Basin rainforest (south) to the Caribbean coast (north) via the extensive llanos plains (central) to the Orinoco River Delta (east).
3. The northern edge of the Amazon Basin is in the southern part of Venezuela.
4. The largest lake in South America is located in Venezuela. Lake Maracaibo, at 20 to 40 million years old, is also one of the oldest lakes on earth.
5. Catatumbo lightning is a meteorological phenomena that only occurs at the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it joins Lake Maracabio. For up to 160 days a year, lightning strikes the lake repeatedly for up to ten hours at a time in the evening.
6. Entirely located in the tropics, the country has two types of seasonal weather: the hot-humid season and the hot-dry season. The difference is the amount of rain received during the season.
7. Venezuela is one of the 17 most biodiverse countries on the planet (a megadiverse country).
8. The scrublands, mangrove and cloud forests, and rainforests are especially rich in biodiversity.
9. Venezuela is one of the top 20 countries in the world whose animals and plants are endemic (unique) to the country.
10. Fifty percent of the amphibians and 23 percent of the reptiles are unique to Venezuela. Thirty eight percent of the plant species and 48 percent of the birds are.
11. Venezuela’s cloud forests are home to over 25,000 species of orchids including the ‘flor de mayo’, the country’s national flower.
12. Over 3,900 species of fungi have been discovered and recorded from Venezuela.
13. Venezuelan animal life includes three-toed and two-toed sloths, Amazon river dolphins, Orinoco crocodiles (which grow up to 22ft/6.6 m in length), giant anteaters, jaguars, and capybaras.
14. More than half of all the mammal and bird species of Venezuela are found in the Amazon forests south of the Orinoco River basin including the troupial, Venezuela’s national bird.
15. Venezuela has 43 national parks and up to 33 percent of its forested land is protected.
16. In the country’s far south is a 32,000 square mile (82,880 km) reserve for the Yanomami tribes that is off-limits to miners, farmers and all non-Yanomami settlers.
17. Before Europeans came to the country, the ancient Timoto-Cuica culture had permanent villages, irrigated and terraced fields, and even stored their water in tanks. After the conquest, many died of diseases brought by the Europeans.
18. In 1497 on his third voyage to the Americas, Christopher Columbus sailed to the Orinoco Delta and declared he had found “Heaven on Earth”. He named this region “Land of Grace” and that remains the country’s nickname today.
19. In 1499 Alonso de Ojeda’s expedition visited the country’s coast and discovered the stilt houses around Lake Maracaibo. Because they reminded his navigator Amerigo Vespucci of the city of Venice, he named the region Veneziola (“Little Venice”).
20. The territory was colonized by Spain in 1522. It became one of the first Spanish-American colonies to declare independence in 1811 and finally gained it in 1821 under Simón Bolívar as part of Gran Columbia.
21. In 1830 the country broke away from Colombia to become an independent republic. Páez became the first president.
22. From 1830 until democracy was restored in 1958, Venezuela experienced revolutions, dictatorships, counter-revolutions and military juntas.
23. Hugo Chavez attempted two coups in 1992 and was imprisoned when both failed.
24. Chavez was elected president by a landslide in December 1998 and immediately began to bypass the Congress and constitution in order to control the economy and extend his term.
25. In 2000 Chavez was re-elected in another landslide and more turmoil began with coup attempts, general strikes, a recall attempt, and sanctions from other countries. He was re-elected in 2006 and again in 2012 but died in office in March 2013.
26. President Nicolas Madura expelled U.S. diplomats in September 2013. U. S. President Obama placed sanctions on Venezuela and labeled them a national security threat in March of 2015.
Flag of Venezuela
27. Venezuela is one of the most urban countries in Latin America. Its capital is the city of Caracas.
28. Local currency is the Bolivar Fuerte. Once you change your money to this currency, you can’t change it back to dollars or euros so be aware of this and plan accordingly.
29. Since the discovery of massive oil deposits in the Lake Maracaibo area during the early 20th century, Venezuela has been one of the world’s leading oil exporters.
30. Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves and is a founding member of OPEC.
31. The country consistently ranks among the world’s top ten crude oil producers and has the eighth largest natural gas reserves.
32. The petroleum sector is the major economic force and accounts for approximately 80% of their exports. Price controls begun under Chavez and continued under President Maduro have caused rampant shortages of basic supplies like milk and diapers nationwide.
33. The Guri Dam, one of the world’s largest, generates all the hydroelectric power the country relies upon.
34. After declaring an economic emergency in January 2016 due to shortages of food and basic needs Maduro declared a constitutional state of emergency in May when drought caused a power shortage. He imposed rolling blackouts and reduced work hours throughout the country.
35. According to some experts, inflation in Venezuela could reach 2000 per cent in 2017 amid a chronic shortage of basic foods, goods and medicines.
36. President Nicolás Maduro demonetized 100 bolivar note from circulation last month, giving people just 72 hours for exchanging their old currency for the new one from banks. The president accused U.S. based ‘mafias’ of their intention to destabilize the economy by hoarding Venezuelan bank notes.
Culture and People
37. The majority of the Venezuelan population is of mestizo, or mixed, ethnic ancestry. Ethnic minorities in the country are groups that descend mainly from African or indigenous peoples.
38. According to a DNA genetic study conducted in 2008 by the University of Brasilia, the composition of the population is almost 61 percent European, 23 percent indigenous, and a little over 16 percent African.
39. Spanish is the national language but the Constitution also recognizes more than 30 indigenous languages for the peoples’ use. In addition, immigrants speak their own languages.
40. The population is 88 percent Christian, predominantly Roman Catholic. There are small but influential Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist communities.
41. The Spanish influence can be seen experienced in the language, bull fights, food, architecture, religion, and food.
42. The African influence is notable in cuisine and the arts, especially music and dance. From the United States comes the national interest in baseball.
43. The sport of baseball was played in Venezuela as early as the late 19th century. North American immigrants who came to work in the 1930’s oil industry helped popularize it in the 20th century.
44. Venezuela has had a National Professional Baseball League since 1945 and today baseball is the nation’s most popular sport.
45. Famous Venezuelans who have played baseball in the U. S. include Bo Diaz, Manny Trillo, Cesar Tovar, Luis Sojo, and Dave Concepcion.
46. Basketball is also popular. Venezuela hosted the 2012 Basketball World Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the 2013 FIBA Basketball Americas Championship.
47. Football (soccer) is also popular.
The Arts, Festivals, and Beauty Pageants
48. Venezuelan music is a mixture of African and Spanish music, full of the use of percussion instruments and guitars.
49. A type of small guitar named the cuatro (for its four strings) is the national instrument.
50. A waltz-like dance called joropo is Venezuela’s national dance.
51. The richness and variety of its musical styles and dances includes the bambuco and callipso.
52. For immersion in the visual arts, visit Funducíon Bigott in Petare for workshops in popular arts and artisan crafts.
53. The annual Red Devils of Yare Festival on Corpus Christi Day simulates Christianity winning over Satan.
54. Venezuela is famous around the world for its beautiful women. Its beauty pageant winners hold seven Miss Universe crowns, six Miss World crowns, seven Miss International crowns and two Miss Earth crowns. The Miss Venezuela Pageant is popular annual event in the country.
55. Venezuelans eat their largest meal between noon and three in the afternoon. Many go home to eat lunch with their families. At night they eat a light supper at eight o’clock or later.
56. ‘Arepas’ are the national dish, and what’s for breakfast and any other time of day. Made of thick corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and a variety of shredded meats and other fillings, these are popular everywhere.
57. Traditional lunches include ‘pabellón’ (rice, black beans, and meat with a side of plantain slices) and ‘reina pepiada’ (shredded chicken salad with avocado).
58. ‘Cachapas’ are corn pancakes topped with a salty cheese called “queso de mano” or “telita”.
59. ‘Hallacas’ are the country’s version of the tamale. They include meat, olives and raisins covered in cornmeal then wrapped in plantain leaves and steamed.
60. A popular local drink is ‘chi cha andina’ made from rice or corn flour. Venezuelan coffee is excellent.
61. Venezuela’s northern coastline along the Caribbean is the longest stretch of Caribbean coastline of any country. Enjoy a relaxing day on the fine white sand overlooking clear blue sea, or go scuba diving, snorkeling, scuba diving, kite surfing, paragliding and other ocean activities.
62. Favorite and recommended beaches include Cayo de Aqua, Cayo Francisqui, Isla Coche, Playa El Yaque, Praia Crasky, and Cayo Sombrero. These are located in Los Roques National Park, Margarita Island, Merida and Isla el Gran Roque, among other places.
63. The Los Roques archipelago is one of the country’s main attractions. There you’ll find Morrocoy National Park with islets and mangrove groves. See turtles, birds, dolphins, hundreds of pelicans and more.
64. Canaima National Park is the world’s sixth largest national park at over 30,000 square kilometers. There are many rock mesa plateaus called tepuis in the park of geological interest. Its cliffs, waterfalls and lagoon are spectacular vistas.
65. Canaima is the home of Angel Falls, the world’s tallest continuous fall (979 m) which is only accessible by curiara (canoe), airplane, or helicopter. It is sixteen times the height of Niagara Falls and named after bush pilot Jimmy Angel who crash landed there in the 1930s.
66. The Sierra Nevada National Park is home to half of the Venezuela’s highest mountains, including Pico Bolivar, the highest (5007m/16,427 ft). Register at Pico de Aguila to enter the park for hiking and bundle up. Take a guide. The climate becomes polar near the peaks.
Only in Venezuela
67. Venezuelan president ordered the women in the country to abstain from using hair dryers because of shortage of electricity in the country. The country was on the verge of a total power outage in April, 2016.
68. Christopher Columbus is the first European to find the country.
69. In Venezuela, mothers have to carry their children’s birth certificate for buying diapers and other baby products.
70. Sometimes, Venezuelan police have to hire security for themselves as many police officers have been killed while doing their duty.
71. Coke Zero was banned in Venezuela in 2009.
72. The Venezuelan people enjoy the cheapest gasoline (petrol) in the world since the government subsidizes their oil industry. At a penny a liter, you can literally fill your tank with the small change from your pocket. Oil is cheaper that water in Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.
73. In Venezuela, children have the option to choose the timing of their school. They can choose to attend school in the morning, afternoon or at night.
74. Venezuela abolished slavery in 1854, freeing approximately 25,000 slaves, three percent of the population at that time.
Information about crime and social life in Venezuela
75. Crime is rampant in the cities day and night, and on the roads after dark. Kidnappings are common.
76. Venezuela’s murder rate is the highest in the world. Robbers are quick to murder their victims.
77. The government no longer produces or releases crime data as violent crimes have become so prevalent in Venezuela.
78. There are approximately 33 prisons housing about 50,000 inmates. Its prisons have capacity for only 14,000 prisoners.
79. Venezuela ranks fourth in the world for cocaine seizures, behind Colombia, the United States, and Panama. It has significant involvement in drug trafficking with Colombian cocaine.
80. Quite a few Venezuelan graduates seek their future elsewhere due to the country’s troubled economy and heavy crime rate. It is believed nearly 12% of Venezuelans live abroad.
81. Violent crime, the unstable economic as well as political situations plus the decline in basic living conditions, including shortages of medication, food and water, has led to social unrest in the country.
82. The CDC has identified Venezuela as an area affected by the Zika outbreak.
Venezuela has beautiful national parks, beaches, waterfalls, and mountains to visit and explore as well as a rich culture, delicious food and a multiethnic population to experience. Also share some interesting facts that you might have noticed during your stay or visit to Venezuela.
Quick facts about Venezuela
|Total area||912,050 sq km|
|Population||30,912,302 (July 2016 est.)|
|Independence||5 July 1811 (from Spain)|
|National anthem||"Gloria al bravo pueblo" (Glory to the Brave People)|
|National symbol||troupial (bird)|
|National colors||yellow, blue, red|
|Government type||federal presidential republic|
|Borders||Colombia, Brazil and Guyana.|
|Life expectancy||75.8 Years (2016)|
|Industries||agricultural products, livestock, raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, iron and steel products, crude oil and petroleum products|
|Exports||petroleum and petroleum products, bauxite and aluminum, minerals, chemicals, agricultural products|
|Imports||agricultural products, livestock, raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials, medical equipment, petroleum products, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, iron and steel products|
|GDP - per capita (PPP)||$16,700 (2015 est.)|
|Climate||tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands|
|Terrain||Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast|
|Natural resources||petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds|
|Birth rate||19.2 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)|
|Death rate||5.2 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)|
|Sex ratio||1.05 male(s)/female|
|Time Zone||VET (UTC–4)|
|Internet country code||.ve|
|Drives on the||Right|