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Driving Directions Venezuela

VENEZUELA forms the northernmost crest of South America. Its northern coast lies along the Caribbean Sea, and it is bounded to the west by Columbia, to the south by Brazil, and the southeast by Guyana.

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Over two-thirds of Venezuela is forested. The country provides a home for animals such as anacondas and boa constrictors, crocodiles, ocelots, jaguars, monkeys, bears, deer, sloths, armadillos, and anteaters.

Venezuela has four distinctive topographical regions. The Guiana Highlands in the south occupy about half the total land area, while north of these is the plains known as the Llanos, which the River Orinoco drains. This is a region of grassy plains used mainly for cattle ranching.

The Maracaibo Lowlands occupy a basin in the northwest of the country and include Lake Maracaibo, an inlet of the Gulf of Venezuela or the Caribbean Sea. The lowlands separate two mountain ranges called the Venezuelan Highlands in the north and northwest, in which the country’s highest peak, Pico Bolivar (5,007 meters or 16,427 feet), is situated.

The climate ranges from warm temperate to tropical, and rainfall is plentiful.

Agricultural activities include cattle ranching in the Llanos area and the rearing of pigs, sheep, and goats. Crops include sugar cane, bananas, oranges, maize, sorghum, rice, plantains, coffee, and cassava.

There are also rich fishing grounds around the coast and off Venezuela’s 72 islands. Venezuela’s economy is built on its oilfields located in the Maracaibo region. It also has other important mineral reserves, including bauxite, iron ore, coal, and precious metals and stones, such as gold, silver, platinum, and diamonds.

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Venezuela occupies a large and varied region of northern South America, with a Caribbean coast, extensions of the Andes Mountains, rainforests, and grassy plains. Geographers divide Venezuela into four regions: the Maracaibo Lowlands, the Northern Mountains, the Orinoco Lowlands, and the Guiana Highlands.

Venezuela is situated on the South American Tectonic Plate. The northern shoreline, however, sits on the border between this plate and the Caribbean Plate. The South American Tectonic Plate is slowly sliding westward while the Caribbean Plate is sliding eastward. Over millions of years, these plates’ action has caused the formation of rocky cliffs on the Caribbean Coast and myriad fault lines running through north-central Venezuela. The major fault line, the San Sebastian Fault, runs along the border between the two plates. Earthquakes and landslides often occur here.

Venezuela’s northern shore meets the Caribbean Sea, which is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. Silt buildups and tourist development have damaged the coral reefs off the coast.

Did you know about Venezuela?

Angel Falls—the highest waterfall in the world at 979 meters (3,212 feet), including a straight drop of 807 meters (2,647 feet)—is a spectacular sight in Venezuela’s Guiana Highlands. Its waters plunge from the 600-square-kilometer (232- square-mile) mesa, Auyán Tepuy, considered the abode of spirits by local Pemon Indians. The waterfall is named after American bush pilot Jimmie Angel, who revealed its existence to the world in 1935.

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