Top Ten Venezuelan Attractions

Top Ten Venezuelan Attractions

       Venezuela is a country on the northern coast of South America covering an area of 916,445 square km (353,841 sq mi) with an estimated population of 29,105,632. Venezuela is considered a state with extremely high biodiversity, with habitats ranging from the Andes mountains in the west to the Amazon Basin rainforest in the south, via extensive llanos plains and Caribbean coast in the center and the Orinoco River Delta in the east. Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522 despite resistance from indigenous peoples and became the first Spanish American colony to declare independence (in 1811), but did not securely establish independence until 1821 (as a department of the federal republic of Gran Colombia, gaining full independence in 1830). During the 19th century Venezuela suffered political turmoil and dictatorship, and it was dominated by regional caudillos (military strongmen) well into the 20th century. The country has intermittently had democratic governments between 1945 and the present day; like most countries of Latin America, it has suffered some coups and military dictatorships. Economic shocks in the 1980’s and 1990’s led to a political crisis causing up to 3,000 deaths in the Caracazo riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez for embezzlement of public funds in 1993. A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 election of former career officer Hugo Chávez, and the launch of the Bolivarian Revolution, beginning with a 1999 Constituent Assembly to write a new Constitution of Venezuela. Venezuela is a federal presidential republic consisting of 23 states, the Capital District (covering Caracas), and Federal Dependencies (covering Venezuela’s offshore islands). Venezuela claims all Guyanese territory west of the Essequibo River; this 159,500 square km (61,583 sq mi) tract was dubbed Guayana Esequiba or the Zona en Reclamación (the “zone being reclaimed”). Venezuela is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America; the vast majority of Venezuelans live in the cities of the north, especially in the capital, Caracas, which is also the largest city. Since the discovery of oil in the early 20th century, Venezuela has been one of the world’s leading exporters of oil and has the largest oil reserves. Previously an underdeveloped exporter of agricultural commodities such as coffee and cocoa, oil quickly came to dominate exports and government revenues.

  1. Canaima National Park

           Canaima National Park is a 30,000 km² park in south-eastern Venezuela that borders Brazil and Guyana. It is located in Bolívar State, and roughly occupies the same area as the Gran Sabana region. The park was established on June 12, 1962. It is the 2nd largest park in the country, after Parima-Tapirapecó, and 6th biggest national park in the world, equal, in size to both Belgium and Maryland. About 65% of the park is occupied by plateaus of rock called tepuis. These constitute a unique biological environment, also of a great geological interest. Its sheer cliffs and waterfalls (including the Angel Falls, which is the highest waterfall in the world, to 1,002 m) are spectacular landscapes. The most famous tepuis in the park are Mount Roraima, the tallest and easiest to climb, and Auyantepui, from which fall the Angel Falls. The tepuis are sandstone and date back to a time when South America and Africa were part of a super-continent. The park is home to indigenous Pemon Indians, part of the Carib linguistic group. The Pemon have an intimate relationship with the Tepuis, and believe they are the home of the ‘Mawari’ spirits. The park is relatively remote, with only a few roads connecting towns. Most transport within the park is done by light plane from the airstrips built by various Capuchin missions, or by foot and canoe. Pemons have developed some basic and luxurious camps, which are mainly visited by tourists from across the world. In 1994 the Canaima National Park was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, as a natural reserve that has abrupt relief special and unique around the world, the tepuis, which are a kind of plateau of millions of years old, with vertical walls and almost flat tops.
    Links: National Parks, Top Ten South American National Parks, Top Ten Waterfalls, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canaima_National_Park,
  2. Los Roques Archipelago

           The Los Roques islands are a federal dependency of Venezuela, consisting of about 350 islands, cays or islets. The archipelago is located 80 miles (128 km) directly north of the port of La Guaira, and is a 40-minute flight, has a total area of 40.61 square kilometers. Being almost an untouched coral reef, it attracts many “high-end” visitors, especially from Europe, some of which come in their own yachts and anchor in the inner, protected shallow waters. However, development and tourism are controlled. Because of the wide variety of seabirds and rich aquatic life, the Venezuelan government declared Los Roques a National Park in 1972.
    Links: Top Ten Reefs, Top 100 Beaches, National Parks, Top Ten South American National Parks, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Roques_Archipelago,
  3. Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas

    The University City of Caracas is the main Campus of the Central University of Venezuela. It was designed by the Venezuelan architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. The Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas is considered a masterpiece of architecture and urban planning and is the only university campus designed by a single architect in the 20th century that has received such recognition by UNESCO. The Campus and buildings of the Universidad Central de Venezuela are considered to be Villanueva’s masterwork. Built on the site of the old Hacienda Ibarra, which originally belonged to Simon Bolívar’s family and connected to the new city center around Plaza Venezuela, the project required a massive undertaking of both urban planning and architectural design. The administration of President Isaías Medina Angarita bought the Hacienda Ibarra in 1942 in order to give the University a larger location than the Saint Francis Covent, giving Villanueva a unique opportunity to apply his conscious integration of art and architecture on a grand scale. This vast urban complex of about 2 km² included a total of forty buildings and it became one of the most successful applications of Modern Architecture in Latin America. Villanueva worked closely with all the artists who contributed with their oeuvres and personally supervised the project for over 25 years until the late 1960’s when his deteriorating health forced him to leave some buildings in the design stage.
    Links: Top Ten Architectural Works by Carlos Villanueva, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciudad_Universitaria_de_Caracas,
  4. City of La Guaira

           La Guaira is the capital city of the Venezuelan state of Vargas and the country’s chief port. It was founded in 1577 as an outlet for Caracas, 30 km (19 mi) to the southeast. The town and the port were badly damaged during the December 1999 floods and mudslides that affected much of the region. Today, La Guaira exports cocoa beans, coffee, and tobacco. After the founding of Caracas by the Spanish in 1567, toward the turn of the 16th century, the Port of La Guaira emerged on the coast and, since that time, has been the gateway to Caracas. This coastal city, almost without land to develop and bathed by the Caribbean Sea, became an important harbor during the 18th century. Attacked by buccaneers and by the English, Dutch and French armadas, La Guaira was transformed into a fortified, walled city. During the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739 – 1748), the Battle of La Guaira took place off the coast of La Guaira. This period also saw the trading monopoly of the Real Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas, which controlled the major ports of La Guaira and Puerto Cabello and was instrumental in the development of large-scale cocoa production along the valleys of the coast. Another small naval battle was fought off La Guaira in 1812, between privateers of the U.S. and the UK. Now this is the second port by importance in Venezuela after Port of Puerto Cabello.
    Links: Cities, Top Ten South American Cities, Top Ten Portshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Guaira,
  5. Ciudad Bolivar

           Ciudad Bolívar is the capital of Venezuela’s southeastern Bolivar State. It was founded with the name Angostura in 1764, renamed in 1846, and, as of 2005, had an estimated population of 338,250. The town lies at a narrowing of the Orinoco River and the original name was a contraction of the town’s full descriptive name, Santo Tomé de Guayana de Angostura del Orinoco (“Saint Thomas of Guiana of the narrows of the Orinoco”). The city lies at a spot where the Orinoco narrows to about 1 mile (1.6 km) in width, and is the site of the first bridge across the river. Another bridge has recently been constructed downstream at Puerto Ordaz. Ciudad Bolivar’s historic centre is in a good state of preservation, with original colonial buildings around the Plaza Bolívar, including a cathedral. It today serves as an important port on the Orinoco River for the eastern regions of Venezuela. One of the Orinoco Basin’s chief commercial centers, its main products include gold, iron ore, cattle, hides and rare woods. The town also gave its name to the Angostura tree which grows in the area. The bark of the small shrub-like tree was traditionally used as a bitter tonic and fever reducer. Angostura bitters were invented there, though the company which produced them has since moved to Trinidad and Tobago. In 1973 a Museum of Modern Art opened. It was designed by Carlos Raúl Villanueva and was named after the city’s famous son, the kinetic sculptor Jesús Rafael Soto.
    Links: Top Ten Architectural Works by Carlos Raúl Villanueva, Top Ten Sculptures by Jesús Rafael Soto, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciudad_Bol%C3%ADvar,
  6. Hacienda Chuao (Chuao Plantation)

           Chuao is a small village located in the northern coastal range of Venezuela. It was founded in the 16th century. The village is famous for its cacao plantations where some of the finest cocoa beans in the world are produced. The village is surrounded by mountains and dense rainforests to the south and by the Caribbean Sea to the north. There is no road access and visitors must come by boat from the town of Puerto Colombia along the coast, or by foot, crossing the mountains and the luxurious cloud forest from Turmero near Maracay. In the Chuao plantation there are currently pure Criollo and hybrid varieties of cacao being grown. Criollo beans from Chuao are of very high quality, and are considered Venezuela’s finest beans together with Porcelana Blanca beans from Lake Maracaibo (another genetically pure variety of Criollo).
    Links: Top Ten Chocolates, Top Ten Chocolate Makers, Top Ten Cacao Regionshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuao,
  7. Coro and its Port

           Coro, also known as Santa Ana de Coro, is the capital of Falcón State and the oldest city in the west of Venezuela.
    Links: Top Ten Ports, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Ana_de_Coro,
  8. Links: Top Ten South American Attractions, Top Ten Venezuelan Hotels, Top Ten Venezuelan Restaurantshttp://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/vehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venezuela,

Recommendations for Vacationing in Venezuela