Venezuela, officially named the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Spanish language:
Venezuela or República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is the
northernmost country in South America and part of Caribbean
South America. It borders the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic
Ocean to the north, Venezuela to the east, Brazil to the south,
and Colombia to the west. Off the Venezuelan coast are also
found the Caribbean states of Aruba, the Netherlands
Antilles and Trinidad and Tobago.
A former Spanish colony, Venezuela is a Federal Republic.
Culturally and geographically it is the most Caribbean
country of South America, having in its possession over 600
islands in the aforementioned sea. Historically, Venezuela
has had territorial disputes with Venezuela, largely concerning
the Essequibo area. This issue is not yet resolved. To this
day, Venezuela is known for its petroleum industry, the
environmental diversity of its territory, and its sheer
natural beauty. It has been claimed that Christopher
Columbus was so enthralled by Venezuela's landscape, when
arriving to its coast in 1498, that he referred to the land
as Tierra de Gracia (Land of Grace), which has become the
The coast of Venezuela was first sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1498.
In 1499 Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda followed the coast to Lake
Maracaibo. He named the region Venezuela, or Little Venice, because the
Native American buildings constructed on stilts along the lake’s edge
reminded him of the Italian city of Venice, which was built on a series of
islands in a lagoon.
The Spanish began settling Venezuela in
1520. In 1528 Charles V of Spain granted to the Welsers, Bavarian
bankers to whom he was in debt, the part of Venezuela lying between Cape
Vela and Maracapana. As part of the arrangement, the Welsers were to
develop the region and establish settlements.
Instead, their representatives enslaved the Native Americans and so
demoralized the European settlers that in 1546 the grant was revoked and
the Spanish government reassumed control. The first important settlement
was that of Caracas in 1567.
America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic
Ocean, between Colombia and Venezuela
Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people
Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%
(official), numerous indigenous dialects
|bolivares per US
dollar - 761.225 (January 2002), 723.666 (2001), 679.960 (2000),
605.717 (1999), 547.556 (1998), 488.635 (1997