27 interesting facts about Venezuela

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The most interesting facts about Venezuela include the world’s tallest waterfall, megadiverse flora and fauna and an everlasting storm.

Interesting facts about Venezuela include an everlasting storm
Interesting facts about Venezuela include an everlasting storm (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Capital city: Caracas
Population: 30.5 million
Area: 912,050 sq km
Major languages: Spanish
Major religions: Christianity
Time zone: UTC-4 (Venezuelan Standard Time)
(Source: CIA World Fact Book)

Interesting facts about Venezuela

1. Before colonisation, Venezuela was inhabited by the Carib, Arawak and Chibcha peoples. There is evidence of human habitation in Venezuela going back more than 10,000 years.
(Source: Britannica)

2. In 1498, during his third trip to South America, Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot in what is now Venezuela. European explorers named the region Venezuela “Little Venice”.
(Source: Britannica)

3. Spanish colonisation began in 1521 and lasted until 1810 when Venezuelans first declared independence from Spain.
(Source: BBC News)

4. Modern Venezuela was one of three countries created in 1830 following the collapse of Gran Colombia, the short-lived republic (1819–30) created by revolutionary Simón Bolívar. It included the territories of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama as well as parts of northern Peru, western Guyana and northwest Brazil.
(Source: Britannica)

The flag of Venezuela
The flag of Venezuela (Shutterstock)

5. The Venezuelan flag includes the tricolour initially adopted by Gran Colombia along with an arc of stars that represent the original provinces. It also includes a coat of arms that features a wheatsheaf, a horse, tools, weapons, flags, two cornucopia and branches of laurel and palm bound by ribbon.
(Source: Britannica)

6. In 1998 Venezuelans elected controversial left-winger Hugo Chavez, a former army officer who declared a ‘Bolivarian revolution’, named after Simón Bolívar.
(Source: BBC News)

7. Hugo Chavez was in office for 14 years. During this time he styled himself as a champion of the poor, investing billions of dollars of Venezuela’s oil wealth into social programmes. He died in 2013.
(Source: BBC News)

President Hugo Chavez at a press conference
President Hugo Chavez in 2009 (Shutterstock)

8. In recent years, Venezuela has struggled economically and suffered from hyperinflation. In 2020, a UN survey found a third of Venezuelans – 9.3 million people – were not getting enough to eat.
(Source: The Guardian)

9. The humanitarian crisis has led more than 4.5 million people to flee overseas leading to a population decline.
(Source: The Guardian)

10. Venezuela has the world’s tallest waterfall. Angel Falls has a height of 979m (3,212ft) and a drop of 807m (2,648ft).
(Source: Guinness World Records)

Angel Falls surrounded by mist
Angel Falls account for two interesting facts about Venezuela (Shutterstock)

11. They are named after American aviator Jimmie Angel. In 1933, he became the first person to fly over the falls, confirming their existence.
(Source: Guinness World Records)

12. Venezuela has one of the world’s highest number of gun deaths. In 2016 it was the 6th highest, making it one of six countries that make up over 50% of the world’s firearm-related deaths.
(Source: World Economic Forum)

13. Venezuela has some of the most dangerous roads in the world (7th) and the most dangerous in South America.
(Source: World Health Organisation)

A busy highway near Caracas
Venezuela has some of the world’s most dangerous roads (Shutterstock)

14. Venezuela is thought to have the world’s largest oil reserves at 303.2 billion barrels (17.9% of the world’s total) as well as large amounts of coal, iron ore and gold.
(Source: USA Today, BBC News)

15. Venezuela has the world’s cheapest gasoline (petrol). For years the price has averaged around $0.01 per litre.
Source: Global Petrol Prices)

16. The world’s largest rodent can be found in Venezuela. The capybara can grow up to 1.4m long and weigh up to 65kg.
(Source: National Geographic)

The world's largest rodent, the capybara
The world’s largest rodent, the capybara (Shutterstock)

17. The most electric place on Earth is in Venezuela. Where the Catatumbo River meets Lake Maracaibo, lightning flashes up to 28 times a minute. Known as the Beacon of Maracaibo, the Catatumbo lightning or the ‘everlasting storm’, there is an average of 260 storm days per year.
(Source: BBC Travel)

18. 50% of amphibian and 23% of reptilian species in Venezuela are endemic, meaning they are not found anywhere else in the world.
(Source: The Telegraph)

19. The Miss Venezuela beauty pageant has produced six Miss World and seven Miss Universe winners.
(Source: The Independent)

20. Often referred to as the world’s tallest slum, there is an unfinished skyscraper in Caracas that was illegally occupied by over 3,000 squatters from 2007 to 2014. The 52-story building was originally conceived as a bank but was never finished and was abandoned in 1994. In 2014, Venezuelan soldiers removed the squatters but the building remains incomplete.
(Source: The Guardian)

The Tower of David
The Tower of David in Caracas (Shutterstock)

21. The 1981 Miss Universe winner, Irene Sáez, ran for president in 1998. Following her success in the global beauty pageant, she went on to become a mayor and a governor in Venezuela, before losing out to Hugo Chávez in the presidential race of 1998.
(Source: The Guardian)

22. Another unfinished building in Caracas, The Helix (El Helicoide), was conceived in the 1950s to be a shopping mall housing 300 boutique shops. Instead, the building became a homeless shelter, a prison, police headquarters and eventually a torture chamber, described by former inmates as ‘hell on earth’.
(Source: The Guardian)

23. Mount Roraima in Venezuela, a tepui mountain – a type of flat-topped sandstone mountain – is believed to have inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.
(Source: BBC Travel)

Mount Roraima in Venezuela
Mount Roraima in Venezuela (Shutterstock)

24. Venezuela is the country with the world’s highest proportion of protected territory. 54.1% of its total land area is protected. Only the French territory of New Caledonia has a higher proportion (54.4%).
(Source: World Bank)

25. Venezuela is one of 17 megadiverse countries. Megadiverse countries are the world’s most biodiversity-rich countries.
(Source: The Telegraph)

26. During Christmastime in Caracas, streets are closed off to allow people to roller-skate to church for early-morning mass. En route, skaters tug on the ends of long pieces of string tied by children to their big toes.
(Source: The Week)

27. Venezuela is currently off-limits to travellers. Unfortunately, most countries advise against visiting Venezuela. This is a shame as the country is home to an array of natural beauty that includes the Andes mountains, Caribbean beaches, picturesque islands, an array of wildlife, the Orinoco Delta and several natural wonders.
(Source: Lonely Planet)

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Venezuela using primary sources. If you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.