Venezuela is located in the north of South America and is made up a mainland and a large number of small Caribbean islands. It covers an area of 916445 square kilometres. Venezuela is currently classed as a developing country with an emerging economy. Its economy is largely based on oil and mineral extraction. It has the largest proven oil reserves in the world and is also recognised as one of the 17 world’s ‘Megadiverse’ countries as it has geographic features including arid regions, forests, vast savannas and Andean environments.
In general Venezuela has a warm climate with significant rainfall. It only has two seasons. The dry season which runs from October to March and a rainy season from April to September. Due to variation in the terrain, wind, and the sea, there is climatic variation. Latitude is largely irrelevant but the altitude can drastically affect the climate, particularly the temperature, with vast contrasts seen.
Venezuela currently has two major highways and a network of roads that cover a large proportion of the country. There is a bus line which connects the whole country, recognised internationally for its economical price. The country has nine major highways, including the Caracas – La Guaira highway; the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho highway, which connects Caracas to eastern Venezuela; the Jose Antonio Paez highway from Barines to Valencia which goes through the centre of Los Llanos; the Valencia – Puerto Cabello highway, which connects the industrial centre with the country’s first seaport and the Barquisimento-Acarigua Expressway, which allows connectiong between the Los Llanos and central-western regions.
Venezuela has approximately 360 airports, 11 of which are international and 2 are amongst the most important in Latin America; Caracas Simon Bolivar International Airport, with approximately 9 million passengers a year and the Santiago Mariño de Porlamar Caribbean International Airport, which attends approximately 2.5 million passengers a year.
Due to low fuel costs, the country’s railways are underused compared to other countries on the continent. The line between Caracas and the Tuy Valleys is still currently in operation, which has the largest rail tunnel in Latin America.
Gastronomy is an integral part of the Venezuelan culture, and is influenced in large part by European and Indigenous elements. Grains like corn are used as well as game, game animals, seafood, vegetables and dairy products such as cheese. The hallaca is considered a national dish, usually prepared at Christmas, which is a corn flour substance wrapped in banana leaves and later boiled. Also a national dish is the Creole Pabellón, made of rice, black beans, fried egg and arepa. Also included in Venezuelan cuisine are well known dishes such as cachapas, chivo en coco, reina peplada, carne en vara, asado negro, mondogo soup, pizca andina and bollos pelones, amongst others. ‘Tequeños’ are the most popular snack in the country, and empanadas are also very popular.
Venezuela has the fourth largest number of national holidays in Latin America. Among the highlights are the day of Divine Shepherdess (14th July) en Lara, the Virign Consolation (15th August) in Tachira, the virigin of Socorro (13th November) in Carabobo, the virgin of Chiquinquirá (18th November) in el Zuila, which is celebrated with the Chinita Fair.