Land of grace was the nickname given to Venezuela by Christopher Columbus, a European explorer who visited the country during his voyage around the world. Historically, many travellers frequented Venezuela in search of gold and precious metals. Venezuela is known to have a wealth of natural resources, such as fossil fuels, natural gas, iron ore, gold, diamonds and other minerals. It is one of the biggest sources of Petroleum and has been an oil producer since 1914, after an oil well went commercial. Recent events regarding the current state of Venezuela’s economy has brought the country back into the spotlight, yet it is a country which may still have much to offer to the world.
Located on the northern coast of South America, Venezuela is a physiographically and biodiverse country. It is home to a large variety of plant life and animal species, and its landscape varies from mountainous regions to vast plains. Venezuela’s diversified natural environment provides the perfect home for many rare birds and animals of which may scarcely be found anywhere else in the world, such as the Tepui Tinamou tropical bird species and the Ciencia Guayana bat species. Venezuela is also home to 43 national parks with differentiating features, such as Canaima National Park which is a mountainous region home to an indigenous group which have limited exposure to Westerners. In contrast to this, Morrocoy National Park is nearer the coast and features coral reefs, beaches, parks and the opportunity to go snorkeling.
In addition to Venezuela’s natural resources and environment, there are a number of popular tourist spots which may be of interest to those visiting the area. For example, Angel Falls in Canaima National Park is the highest waterfall in the world and there are many tours which offer the opportunity for adventurous types to hike to the top. Another popular tourist attraction is Mount Roraima, a tabletop mountain which is home to rare plants and animals. There are tours of different lengths available for those keen to trek to the top. For those who may prefer the beach, La Isla Margarita may be a popular tourist destination situated north of Venezuela. It features tropical beaches lined with palm trees and has a Caribbean vibe.
Venezuela is home to many indigenous people and the culture may be described as a melting pot. A mix of African, European and Indian cultural traditions may be found in Venezuela, commonly known as Criollo (Creole). Each region of the country has its own distinctive music style as well as typical foods, such as Hallaca (a sweet cornmeal dough cooked in banana leaves). Arepa is the most famous dish from Venezuela, and is a cornmeal cake normally grilled and filled with a variety of cheese and meats. Venezuela also produces rum and it is normally mixed with Coke or sugar cane juice.
During the month of January, there are several local events and festivities which aim to take place as part of religious traditions. For example, La Paradura del Nino is a parade which takes place at the beginning of the month in honour of baby Jesus. Furthermore, the San Sebastian International Fair is held in the second week of January in honour of the patron saint of the city San Sebastian. This is considered one of the most traditional celebrations in Venezuela and has deep roots in Venezuelan culture.12 Venezuela has the largest oil reserves and the eighth largest natural gas reserves in the world. It has an abundance of natural beauty and attractions which may help the Venezuelan tourism industry thrive in the future.
How might Venezuela’s natural resources help in rebuilding its economy?