Venezuela: Joropo, oil, and the world’s highest waterfall

Located in South America, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is home to many beautiful and natural wonders, thanks to its extremely high biodiversity. It covers the Andes Mountains, Amazon rainforest, extensive plains, and Caribbean coast. Venezuela is one of the most urbanized countries in Latin America, with about 93 percent of its population living in urban areas in the northern part of the country. According to a DNA study conducted in 2008, the average Venezuelan is 60.6 percent European, 23 percent Amerindian, and 16.3 percent of African descent. This is a reflection of the cultural melting pot the country is.

The cultural mix is also evident in the country’s music. A traditional Venezuelan musical genre is the Joropo, a style that originated in the plains of the Venezuela-Colombia region. The European influence can be observed in the foot stomping, and the African and native influences in the rhythm and choreography.   Executed as a partner dance, with fast foot movements, waltz turns, and twirls, it is accompanied by musical instruments such as the cuatro, bandola, and maracas.

Venezuela is home to some of the largest reserves of natural gas and oil in the world, which allows them to offer the lowest gas prices worldwide, rank among the top ten world crude oil producers, and sometimes   surpass the production of oil giants such as Saudi Arabia. Venezuela’s main petroleum deposits are located around and beneath Lake Maracaibo, the Gulf of Venezuela, and in the Orinoco River basin.

In Venezuela, you will also find the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls. Located in the Canaima National Park of the Bolivar State, the waterfall is 3,212 feet (979 m) high with a plunge of 2,648 feet (807 m.) Because of its altitude, the water vaporizes due to high winds even before it touches the ground, generating mist. The waterfall can be viewed from two different places. The first is from the top, sitting in a small airplane, and the other one is from the bottom, sitting in a boat. To get to the base of the fall, you would have to walk through the jungle. The waterfall has carried its current name since the mid-20th century; it is named after Jimmie Angel, a U.S. aviator, who was the first person to fly over it.

Did you know…? One of the largest national parks in the world is Canaima National Park. The Mérida Cable Car in Venezuela is the highest aerial tramway in the world. The approximate number of Venezuelan-born players currently signed to Major League Baseball is around 800.

This is the final entry in a series of articles spotlighting different countries in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. To see a complete list of previous entries, click here.