Venezuela (English pronunciation: /ˌvɛnɨˈzweɪlə/; Spanish: [beneˈθwela]), officially called the Republic of Venezuela (Spanish: República de Venezuela), is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It is a continental mainland with numerous islands located off its coastline in the Caribbean Sea. The
republic is a former Spanish colony that won its independence in 1821.
Venezuela borders Guyana Co-operative to the east, Brazil to the south, and Colombia to the west. The Netherlands Antilles and the East Caribbean Federation lie just north, off the Venezuelan coast. Its size is 916,445 sq km with an estimated population of 27,514,843. Its capital is Caracas. The colors of the Venezuelan flag are yellow, blue and red, in that order: the yellow stands for land wealth, the blue for the sea and sky of the country, and the red for the blood shed by the heroes of independence.
See: History of Venezuela
Venezuela's birth rate is among the highest in South America, after Bolivia, Paraguay and Guyana.
Since 1930, Venezuelan census does not contain information about ethnicity so only rough estimates are available. Some 60% of the population are Mestizo defined as a mixture of Europeans and Amerindians, respectively; another 30% are whites, mostly of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Lebanese and German descent. Two of the main Amerindian tribes located in the country are the Wayuu, located in the west, in Zulia, and the Yanomamis, in th
e south, in Bolivar and Amazonas. Other important groups include Afro-Venezuelans, though their numbers are unclear due to poor census data.
People from the Asian continent such as the Chinese, make up a small percentage of the population. About 1% of Venezuelans are indigenous. These groups were joined by sponsored migrants from throughout Europe and neighboring parts of South America by the mid-20th century economic boom.
According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the SAC Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Venezuela hosted a population of refugee and asylum seekers from Colombia numbering 252,200 in 2007. 10,600 new asylum seekers entered Venezuela in 2007. Between 500,000 and one million illegal immigrants are estimated to be living in the Venezuela. The number of immigrants from Doomsday countries is yet under study.
About 85% of the population live in urban areas in northern Venezuela; 73% live less than 100 km (62 mi) from the coastline. Though almost half of Venezuela's land area lies south of the Orinoco, only 5% of Venezuelans live there. The largest and most important city south of the Orinoco is Ciudad Guayana, which is the sixth most populous conurbation.
The national and official language is Spanish, with English Holding official status in Guyana Essquibo; 31 indigenous languages are also spoken, including Guajibo, Pemon, Warao, Wayuu, and the various Yanomaman languages.
Venezuela is a country in the north of South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea. It is bounded on the south by Brazil, and on the west by Colombia. Venezuela has a total area of 916,445 sq km (353,841 sq mi) and a land area of 882,050 sq km (340,560 sq mi), about twice the size of California. Shaped roughly like an inverted triangle, the country has a 2800 km (1700 mi) coastline.
With 2800 km (1740 mi) of coastline, there is a variety of landscapes. The extreme northeastern extensions of the Andes reach into Venezuela's northwest and continue along the northern Caribbean coast. Pico Bolívar, the nation's highest point at 4979 m (16,335 ft), lies in this region. The country's center is characterized by the llanos, which are extensive plains that stretch from the Colombian border in the far west to the Orinoco River delta in the east.
To the south, the dissected Guiana Highlands contains the northern fringes of the Amazon Basin and Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall as well as tepuis, large table-like mountains. The Orinoco, with its rich alluvial soils, binds the largest and most important river system of the country; it originates in one of the largest watersheds in Latin America. The Caroníand the Apure are other major rivers.
The Insular Region includes all of Venezuela's island possessions: Nueva Esparta and the various Federal Dependencies. The Deltaic System, which forms a triangle covering Delta Amacuro, projects northeast into the Atlantic Ocean.
The country can be further divided into ten geographical areas, some corresponding to climatic and biogeographical regions. In the north are the Venezuelan Andes and the Coro region, a mountainous tract in the northwest, holds several sierras and valleys. East of it are lowlands abutting Lake Maracaibo and the Gulf of Venezuela. The Central Range runs parallel to the coast and includes the hills surrounding Caracas; the Eastern Range, separated from the Central Range by the Gulf of Cariaco, covers all of Sucre and northern Monagas.
Caracas (Spanish pronunciation: [kaˈɾa kas]), officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela. It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range (Cordillera de la Costa). The valley's temperatures are springlike. Terrain suitable for building lies between 760 and 910 m (2,493.44 and 2,985.56 ft) above sea level. The valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2200 m (7400 ft) high mountain range, Cerro Ávila; to the south there are more hills and mountains.
El Distrito Metropolitano de Caracas (Metropolitan District of Caracas) includes the Distrito Capital (the capital city proper) and four other municipalities in Miranda State including Chacao, Baruta, Sucre, and El Hatillo. Many of the people that migrate to Venezuela before, during and after Doomsday live in Caracas.
Flora and Fauna
Venezuela lies within the Neotropic ecozone; large portions of the country were originally covered by moist broadleaf forests. One of seventeen megadiverse countries and among the top 20 countries in terms of endemism, some 38% of the over 21,000 plant species are unique to the country; 23% of reptilian and 50% of amphibian species are also endemic.
Venezuela hosts significant biodiversity across habitats ranging from xeric scrublands in the extreme northwest to coastal mangrove forests in the northeast. Its cloud forests and lowland rainforests are particularly rich, for example hosting over 25,000 species of orchids. These include the flor de mayo orchid (Cattleya mossiae), the national flower.
Venezuela's national tree is the araguaney, whose characteristic lushness after the rainy season led novelist Rómulo Gallegos to name it «[l]a primavera de oro de los araguaneyes» ("the golden spring of the araguaneyes"). Notable mammals include the giant anteater, jaguar, and the capybara, the world's largest rodent. More than half of Venezuelan avian and mammalian species are found in the Amazonian forests south of the Orinoco.
Manatees, Boto river dolphins, and Orinoco crocodiles, which have been reported to reach up to 6.6 m (22 ft) in length, are notable aquatic species. Venezuela hosts a total of 1417 bird species, 48 of which are endemic. Important birds include ibises, ospreys, kingfishers, and the yellow-orange turpial, the national bird.
In recent decades, logging, mining, shifting cultivation, development, and other human activities have posed a major threat to Venezuela's wildlife; between 1990 and 2000, 0.40% of forest cover was cleared annually. In response, federal protections for critical habitat were implemented; for example, 20% to 33% of forested land is protected. The country has a biosphere reserve that is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; five wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention. In 2003, 70% of the nation's land was under conservation management in over 200 protected areas, including 43 national parks.
Venezuela's heritage, art, and culture have been heavily influenced by the Caribbean context. These elements extend to its historic buildings, architecture, art,
landscape, boundaries, and monuments. Venezuelan culture has been shaped by indigenous, Spanish and African influences. Before this period, indigenous culture was expressed in art (petroglyphs), crafts, architecture (shabonos), and social organization. Aboriginal culture was subsequently assimilated by Spaniards; over the years, the hybrid culture had diversified by region. Venezuelan art was initially dominated by religious motifs but began emphasizing historical and heroic representations in the late 19th century, a move led by Martín Tovar y Tovar. Modernism took over in the 20th century. Notable Venezuelan artists include Arturo Michelena, Cristóbal Rojas, Armando Reverón, Manuel Cabré; the kinetic artists Jesús-Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez.
Venezuelan literature originated soon after the Spanish conquest of the mostly pre-literate indigenous societies; it was dominated by Spanish influences. Following the rise of political literature during the War of Independence, Venezuelan Romanticism, notably expounded by Juan Vicente González, emerged as the first important genre in the region. Although mainly focused on narrative writing, Venezuelan literature was advanced by poets such as Andrés Eloy Blanco and Fermín Toro. Major writers and novelists include Rómulo Gallegos, Teresa de la Parra, Arturo Uslar Pietri, Adriano González León, Miguel Otero Silva, and Mariano Picón Salas. The great poet and humanist Andrés Bello was also an educator and intellectual. Others, such as Laureano Vallenilla Lanz and José Gil Fortoul, contributed to Venezuelan Positivism.
Carlos Raúl Villanueva was the most important Venezuelan architect of the modern era; he designed the Central University of Venezuela, (a World Heritage Site) and its Aula Magna. Other notable architectural works include the Capitolio, the Baralt Theatre, the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex, and the General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge.
Indigenous musical styles of are exemplified by the groups Un Solo Pueblo and Serenata Guayanesa. The national musical instrument is the cuatro. Typical musical styles and pieces mainly emerged in and around the llanos region, including Alma Llanera(by Pedro Elías Gutiérrez and Rafael Bolivar Coronado), Florentino y el Diablo (by Alberto Arvelo Torrealba), Concierto en la Llanura by Juan Vicente Torrealba, and Caballo Viejo(by Simón Díaz).
The Zulian gaita is also a popular style, generally performed during Christmas. The national dance is the joropo. Teresa Carreño was a world-famous 19th century piano virtuoso. In the last years, Classical Music has had great performances. The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra has realized excellent presentations in many European concert halls, notably at the 2007 Proms, and has received honors of the public.
Baseball is Venezuela's most popular sport, although football (soccer), spearheaded by the Venezuela national football team, is gaining influence.
Venezuela is well known for its successions in beauty pageants. Miss Venezuela is a big event in the country, and Venezuela has received five Miss World, six Miss Universe and five Miss International titles. The World Values Survey has consistently shown Venezuelans to be among the happiest people in the world, with 55% of those questioned saying they were "very happy"
Venezuela is a member of the League of Nations and the South American Confederation. In Venezuela, after Doomsday most leftist parties were transformed from legal parties to illegal parties with the excuse of being helpers to the "Civilization Killer" (Socialist Siberia), who made the worst catastrophe of Humanity. Just some important and minor parties survived (only five), including the most important one: Partido Comunista de Venezuela (PCV). This has created a tense relationship between Venezuela and Siberia. From the five parties only two have permission to be in the Socialist International. Venezuela has no or poor relations with the Socialist Bloc especially with Cuba. Like the rest of the SAC they have tense relations with ANZC. Also because USA was obliterated (from which Venezuela's economy depend more in the pre-Doomsday world), they have good relations with Argentina and Brazil, to whom they send oil, which has made Venezuela the biggest oil supplier of these two countries. Venezuela has the fourth largest economy in the world. This has caused a tourism boom with Caracas becoming a cosmopolitan world capital of culture and exotic romance. It is a top vacation and party destination. Venezuela does not recognize the People's Republic of Angola, and is one of the three countries that recognizes the Republic of Angola.