Due to the harsh realities of a struggling economy, most citizens in Venezuela have left the country to seek greener pastures. However, there’s more to Venezuela than the struggles that it faces. Naturally rich in resources, Venezuela has played a big part in Latin American history. Aside from its heritage, people from around the world visit Venezuela to experience the wonders of its Caribbean islands. Find out more about this country with these Venezuela facts.
- Venezuela’s population has reached 29 million as of 2020.
- José Antonio Páez served as the first President of Venezuela from January 13th, 1830, to January 20th, 1835.
- Venezuela is approximately 916,445 km²―which is about 65% larger than France.
- The first currency coins with the name “Republic of Venezuela” arrived in the country in the year 1844.
- Venezuelan Sign language (VSL) was declared as the national deaf sign language in the country in the 1930s.
- Venezuela lies on the northern coast of South America.
- Its official language is Spanish.
- ‘Venezuelan’ is the term for its citizens.
- Christianity is the most dominant religion in the country.
- Venezuelan bolívar (VEF) is Venezuela’s currency.
- Caracas is the capital and the largest city of Venezuela.
- Caracas has the highest murder rates in the world per capita.
- Venezuela’s ethnic groups are the Mestizos, Europeans, Africans, and Amerindians.
- The Venezuelan government operates through a dominant party system.
- Venezuela’s President serves as both the head of state and head of government of the country.
- The Caribbean Sea surrounds the country.
- The Atlantic Ocean lies toward its north.
- Venezuela’s bordering countries are Brazil (south), Colombia (west and southwest), and Guyana to the east.
- The country’s currency is named after its national hero, Simón Bolívar.
- Venezuela’s motto is Dios y Federación, or “God and Federation.”
The people of Venezuela speak more than 35 different languages.
After the declaration of the 1999 Constitution of Venezuela, Spanish became its official language. Although Spanish is the official and most used language in the country, Venezuelans continue to use more than 35 different languages. The most widely-spoken indigenous languages in the country are Manduhuaca, Yanomami, Warao, and Guahibo, among others.
The Chinese language is not uncommon in Venezuela.
For non-indigenous languages, Chinese, Italian, and Portuguese are the most spoken languages in Venezuela after Spanish. Furthermore, Wayuu is the most spoken indigenous language with more than 150,000 speakers.
By the end of 2020, Venezuela’s GDP capped at $250 billion, which is a record high for the country. GDP refers to the final value of the goods and services produced in the country within a year. That said, it is one of the most important indicators in measuring the overall health of a country’s economy.
Venezuela used to be the richest country in South America.
One of the more surprising Venezuela facts is that Venezuela used to be the richest country in South America. However, around the past decade, corruption and failed government policies pushed the country’s economy to collapse. In its wake, it crippled its infrastructures and left millions of Venezuelans in poverty.
Heavy money printing caused Venezuela’s hyperinflation.
According to experts, the country’s economy started to experience hyperinflation or the uncontrollable general price increases in an economy during the first year of Nicolás Maduro’s presidency in 2014. Among the major causes of hyperinflation are heavy money-printing and deficit spending.
Pastelitos are a Venezuelan breakfast staple.
Among all the savory treats from the Venezuelan Andes, locals have enjoyed pastelitos throughout the years. This pastry is made with wheat flour and filled with chicken or cheese, and is usually eaten for breakfast.
Venezuela’s current inflation rate is more than 400%.
Because of Venezuela’s current struggle with hyperinflation, its average inflation rate in the country has reached 438.12%. Inflation describes a general rise in the price level in an economy at a specific time, which reduces the purchasing power of the people’s savings or money. With that, the 400% inflation rate is completely absurd, since the average inflation rate for a country should only be around 1 to 5%. Now, there’s one for shocking Venezuela facts.
The peak of Venezuela’s hyperinflation drove many people to starve.
These are some devastating Venezuela facts: Not very long ago, many Venezuelans faced hunger due to the hyperinflation. Like a domino effect, this hyperinflation also led to an education crisis that drove more than 1 million students out of school.
From 2013 to 2019, Venezuelans had more than 20 minimum wage increases.
To fight extreme poverty in Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro mandated more than 20 minimum wage increases while he was in office. One of these decrees involved a mandated 300% wage increase in early 2019.
Juan Guaidó serves as Venezuela’s legitimate interim President.
Politics is also one of the most interesting topics in Venezuela. Currently, around 60 countries recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim President of Venezuela. The National Assembly renewed his interim presidency on January 5th, 2020, disputing Nicolás Maduro on January 10th, 2019.
None of Nicolás Maduro’s plans have worked thus far.
To this day, there is no “magic pill” to cure the country’s hyperinflation immediately. Through the years, Nicolás Maduro has proposed the use of virtual currencies, removing the zeroes from insane values in the currency, and many kinds of reforms.
However, none of these methods have been able to curb Venezuela’s hyperinflation. Even beyond the country, hyperinflation in Valenzuela has also tool a toll on the rest of Latin America.
In Venezuela, the cost of a toilet paper roll is about 2.6 million Venezuelan bolivars.
In the middle of 2018, inflation in Venezuela peaked at 1 million percent. During this time, experts estimated that a toilet paper roll would cost around 2.6 million Venezuelan bolivars. If compared to US dollars, that toilet paper roll would have cost around 40 cents only.
Full dollarization is also an option for Venezuela.
Full dollarization refers to the process of aligning Venezuela’s currency with the US dollar. While being a viable option for Venezuela in its economic crisis, it has its disadvantages as well.
For instance, if Venezuela gave up its own currency in exchange for the US dollar, it would remove the ability to enforce monetary policies, which can be a very crucial economic stabilization tool for the country in the future. Moreover, if Venezuela is fully dollarized, it becomes subject to the Federal Reserve’s unpredictability. Consequently, if the U.S. central bank hikes its interest rates, monetary conditions will be tightened in both Venezuela and the United States.
Venezuela has numerous islands and islets.
Venezuela is made up of a continental landmass and numerous islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. Throughout the whole Caribbean, the country has the most coastline and offshore islands. Venezuela takes pride in these islands by maintaining its authentic beauty and culture.
Los Roques is one of the best places on earth for scuba diving.
About 162 km north of Caracas in the Caribbean Sea lies the Los Roques Venezuelan archipelago. With more than 280 islands and cays as well as a 400 km² lagoon, this protected area is famous for its coral reefs. Aside from this, Los Roques also earned a global reputation for its pristine white-sand beaches, that are perfect for windsurfing, fishing, and sailing.
Las Aves Archipelago plays an important role in the fishing industry.
Directly translating to “The Birds,” the Las Aves Archipelago can be found towards the north of the Venezuelan states of Carabobo and Aragua. Included in the Federal Dependencies of Venezuela, Las Aves plays an important role in Venezuela’s fishing industry.
The Federal Dependencies of Venezuela oversees most of the country’s offshore islands.
The Dependencias Federales de Venezuela or The Federal Dependencies of Venezuela manages most of the country’s offshore islands in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Venezuela. However, they don’t have authority over the State of Nueva Esparta.
Venezuela is divided into 23 states.
Venezuela is divided into 23 estados or states. Of all its states, the most populated ones are Zulia, Miranda, and Carabobo with a combined population of at least 9 million. Meanwhile, the biggest states in Venezuela are Bolívar (accounting for 26% of Venezuela’s land), Amazonas (19.%), and Apure (8.3%).
Ciudad Bolívar preserved its colonial architectures.
The State of Bolívar’s capital is Ciudad Bolívar. Throughout the Spanish Empire’s rule, Bolívar became part of the province of Nueva Andalucía. In the 1770s, it was also extended to the province of Guayana when King Charles III built the Captaincy General of Venezuela. Today, Bolívar’s capital draws visitors in with its preserved colonial architecture.
Bolívar holds some of the most valuable tourist attractions in Venezuela.
The state of Bolívar holds some of the most valuable tourist attractions in Venezuela and South America as a whole. Aside from its tourist sites, Bolívar contributes significantly to Venezuela’s agriculture by providing cotton, yucca, cassava, and Guiana cheese. Furthermore, certain parts of its land are also rich in minerals like iron, bauxite, and gold.
The Angel Falls can be found in Venezuela.
Venezuela’s Angel Falls is the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall. Standing 979 meters high, it splashes over the edge of the Auyán-Tepui Mountain in the Canaima National Park. Also known as “Salto Angel,” the Angel Falls takes its name from US aviator Jimmie Angel, who was the first person to fly over the falls.
You can visit La Tortuga Island from a day tour cruise.
La Tortuga Island is an unsettled island in Venezuela and is the biggest island of all the Federal Dependencies of Venezuela. Although La Tortuga Island is uninhabited and largely untouched, fishermen can visit the island seasonally. Above all, tourists can also enjoy day tour cruises to La Tortuga Island.
Isla de Margarita offers the perfect vacation getaway.
Venezuela’s Isla de Margarita or Margarita Island sits in the Caribbean Sea, approximately 40 km north of the mainland. In all of South America, Isla de Margarita is one of the top holiday destinations. Most people who choose to visit stay on the eastern peninsula.
There are more than 60 beaches in Isla de Margarita.
Isla de Margarita is filled with first-class beaches with excellent island activities. With a 171km coastline, around 60 beaches can be found on Isla de Margarita. Popular beaches include Playa Punta Arenas, Playa Parguito, Playa Puerto Cruz, Playa Caribe, Playa El Yaque, and Playa El Agua. Furthermore, its towns also carry historic architecture, museums, colorful houses, cafes, and shops.
“El Chapo” used to had frequent visits to Isla Margarita.
One of the more unfortunate Venezuela facts is that the Isla de Margarita’s image has been stained by a history of organized crime. At the height of El Chapo’s power, the islands served as an international hub for the illegal drug trade. Famous Mexican drug lord, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera once used Isla de Margarita for his Aerial drug shipments. During his reign, “El Chapo” visited the islands once every two to three months for transactions.
A military leader designed the Venezuelan flag.
In 1806, military leader and revolutionary Francisco de Miranda designed the flag of Venezuela. Moreover, Miranda played a huge role not only in the independence of Venezuela, but also in the revolution for Latin America as a whole. The National Congress approved the flag that he made in 1811.
Originally, the flag’s design featured a horizontal tricolor of yellow, blue, and red. The new version of the flag now includes an arc of eight stars and the National Coat of Arms on the upper left corner, this has been introduced in 2006.
The design of the Venezuelan flag resembles the flags of Colombia and Ecuador.
All these flags bear the primary colors, yellow, blue, and red. These three countries were once part of Gran Colombia, a short-lived South American republic. During this period, Gran Colombia acted as a prestigious country that included most parts of northern South America and parts of southern Central America.
The colors of the Venezuelan flag symbolize wealth, courage, and independence.
The yellow color signifies “golden Venezuela,” which means wealth. Meanwhile, the red color represents the courage needed to separate from “bloody Spain,” while the color blue sea symbolizes independence.
Its seven white stars embody the provinces of Venezuela that supported the independence, while the eighth star or “Bolivar star” pays tribute to the statesman Simon Bolivar.
Lake Maracaibo connects to the Caribbean Sea.
Venezuela’s large brackish tidal bay known as Lake Maracaibo is an inlet of the Caribbean Sea. Considered a lake rather than a lagoon or bay, Lake Maracaibo connects to the Gulf of Venezuela via the Tablazo Strait, which spans approximately 5 kilometers wide at the northern end.
Lake Maracaibo’s southern part has freshwater, while it has more salinity further north.
Several rivers that flow into Lake Maracaibo, such as the Catatumbo River that stretches 340 km long and serves as an international boundary between Colombia and Venezuela.
In its southern regions, Lake Maracaibo’s water is fresh, while its northern waters have a more brackish composition.
Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela is the lightning capital of the world.
Catatumbo Lightning is an atmospheric phenomenon that happens within the Catatumbo River and Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. The lighting starts from storm clouds at a height of at least 1 km and occurs more than 140 nights a year around 10 hours per day. Because of this duration, locals named it “The Never-Ending Storm” where more than 1 million lightning strikes per year take place.
Venezuela is one of the world’s biggest oil producers.
The economy of the country largely depends on petroleum as well as other manufacturing sectors. Although Venezuela has struggled in its economy since 2010, it remains one of the biggest members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Venezuela and Iran are industrial trading partners.
Since 2015, the cement industry became one of the significant projects of the partnership between Venezuela and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Despite the challenges that tormented the cement sector during the past few years, the yearly cement exports between these two countries became consistent.
Iran and Venezuela are contemporary strategic allies.
In recent years, the Iran–Venezuela relations have become stronger. Apart from the thriving economic fields, the stable partnership between Venezuela and Iran became a bridge to their respective cultural and scientific domains.
Venezuela has seasonal blackouts since 2011.
The Venezuelan electrical grid experiences seasonal blackouts in several districts of the country. Since 2011, Venezuela had multiple problems with the rations of electricity for easing these blackouts.
It became more challenging in late 2013, when more than 50% of the country fell into darkness. During this incident, 14 states of Venezuela reported that they did not have electricity during day time.
The Guri Dam is one of the largest dams on the planet.
Venezuela’s Guri Dam is one of the largest dams on Earth. Supplying more than 30% of Venezuela’s electricity, the Guri Dam plays a central role to the country’s power supply. However, it also faces problems with its water level. In 2016, its low water levels caused 4-hour power delays each day. Nevertheless, the Guri Dam usually generates 47,000 GWh per year.
According to experts, underfunding and mismanagement causes blackouts in the country.
During the peak of blackouts in the country in 2019, analysts and engineers stated that the main cause of it was underfunding and mismanagement. They criticized the Venezuelan government for deploying soldiers to operate electrical substations rather than professional electricians. Meanwhile, others believe that economic sabotage was to blame.
Venezuela nationalizes its foreign-run oilfields.
The American multinational energy corporation, Chevron leads the industry of private oil companies in Venezuela. Intriguingly, its fellow American companies, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips left years ago after Venezuela’s former President Hugo Chavez nationalized its foreign-run oilfields.
The US gave Chevron a few more months to stay in Venezuela.
Chevron has operated for nearly 100 years now in Venezuela. Unfortunately, this 141-year-old company could finally be forced to leave the country.
Currently, The Treasury Department gave Chevron the rights to remain in Venezuela until June 3rd, 2021, preventing the company from purchasing Venezuelan-origin crude oil products, lifting, and drilling due to the US sanctions. In the midst of the crisis, Venezuelan officials blamed US sanctions for the additional burden.
Venezuela leads the world in the largest oil reserves.
With around 304 billion barrels’ worth of oil, Venezuela leads the world in the largest proven oil reserves of any country. It bypasses Saudi Arabia’s 298 billion and Canada’s 170 billion barrels. That said, Venezuela officially has roughly 17.5% of the global oil resources.
Venezuela can’t capitalize on its oil resources.
It may have the most oil reserves in the world, but Venezuela struggles to capitalize it. This is due to political instability and economic sanctions over the past few years. Notwithstanding, Venezuela also has large deposits of oil sands, or a type of unconventional petroleum deposit similar to Canada’s.
Venezuela already won 7 times in the Miss Universe Pageant.
Established in 1952, the Miss Universe Pageant has aimed to celebrate women’s diversity throughout the world. Of all countries, Venezuela comes second to the United States with the most Miss Universe winners. While the U.S. has 8 winners, Venezuela has 7, followed by Puerto Rico with 5, and the Philippines with 4 winners.
The first Venezuelan Miss Universe married a tennis player.
Born on February 16th, 1961, Maritza Sayalero became the first Venezuelan Miss Universe in the year 1979. Maritza married the Mexican tennis player Raúl Ramírez and had 3 children―Daniel, Raúl, and Rebecca. After her Miss Universe career, Sayalero owned a boutique where she enjoyed creating and selling her own designs.
After Venezuela won the Miss Universe in 1979, the country got it again in 1981.
After Maritza Sayalero won the title in 1979, Irene Sáez became the 2nd Venezuelan to win the Miss Universe Pageant in 1981. She was followed by Bárbara Palacios in 1986, Alicia Machado in 1996, and Dayana Mendoza in 2008. More recently, Stefanía Fernández won the title in 2009, and Gabriela Isler secured the win once more in 2013.
Venezuela has diverse wildlife.
With over 350 mammal species, 340 reptile species, and 1,400 bird species, Venezuela features a diverse local ecology. Aside from this, nearly 2,000 marine species can be found along its coastal regions.
The Orinoco Crocodile got its name from the Orinoco river.
The Orinoco Crocodile got its name from the Orinoco River. Unfortunately, this croc became endangered due to hunting, primarily for its skin. According to reports, the old breed of Orinoco crocodiles can grow nearly 7 meters or 22 feet. This crocodile is recognizable by its relatively long and narrower snout compared to an American crocodile.
The Orinoco River is among the longest rivers in South America.
The Orinoco River is among the longest rivers in South America, stretching around 2,250 km or 1,400 mi between Venezuela and Colombia. It is also one of the largest rivers in the world in terms of water discharge by volume.
The world’s biggest rodent is found in Venezuela.
The capybara is the world’s biggest living rodent, growing up to 2 ft tall and weigh more than 50 kg. This is definitely one of the more amusing Venezuela facts.
The scarlet ibis is also found in Venezuela.
Trinidad and Tobago’s national bird, the Scarlet ibis, is also found in Venezuela. Furthermore, the country is also known for other unique animals such as the howler monkey, white-bellied spider monkey, giant anteater, crab-eating fox, and the giant otter.
Venezuela is a global leader in conservation.
Although Venezuela struggles with forest certification, the country is a global leader in conservation efforts. Throughout Venezuela, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN ) classifies more than 17 million hectares of forest as an I-IV protected area.
Pabellon Criollo is the national dish of Venezuela.
This staple in Venezuelan cooking features a dish of white rice, black beans, and shredded beef. Served in two varieties, Pabellon Criollo can be enjoyed in the form of Pabellon a Caballo or Pabellon con Barandas y a Caballo.
For Pabellon a Caballo, the dish is served with fried eggs on top. Meanwhile, the Pabellon con Barandas y a Caballo is served with fried eggs and plantains on the side.
Cachita de Jamon is another delicious delicacy of Venezuela.
This mouth-watering Venezuelan breakfast food makes a great match for coffee or fruit juices like orange, apple, or passion fruit. Similar to Christmas ham bread, this pastry has soft dough with cubes of ham inside.
While there are no exact details about the origin of this delicacy, many believe that Portuguese immigrants brought it to Venezuela in the early 20th century.
Cachapa is a traditional dish in the country.
Arepa de Choclo or Cachapa is a popular Venezuelan dish that uses corn flour or fresh corn dough as its base. In terms of preparation, you can cook it like pancakes or wrap it in dry corn leaves to boil. This dish is easy to find, as it is popular at roadside stands.
The Cachapa dish is commonly eaten with soft hand-made cheese (queso de mano) which tastes like mozzarella. It is a perfect dish for breakfast and can also be served as an appetizer with fried pork (chicharron) on the side.
Venezuela also has its own version of a pretzel.
Originating from the state of Zulia, the mandoca pastry has become a vital and basic part of the culture in Venezuela. Made of fried cornmeal, mandoca is commonly eaten with butter and cheese. Its other ingredients are ripe plantain, cornmeal, grated white cheese, sugar, salt, and water. Now, there’s one of the Venezuela facts you’d want to taste for yourself.
The country has a high number of gun-related deaths.
Venezuela has one of the highest number of gun-related deaths in the world. Other countries with increased casualties due to firearms include Brazil, the United States, India, Mexico, Colombia, and the Philippines.
Venezuela has a high number of road accidents.
The country also experiences the highest number of road accidents, together with Namibia, Thailand, Iran, Sudan, and the Dominican Republic, to name a few. Definitely one of the Venezuela facts to remember if you want to drive around the country.
Venezuela produces 3 trademark varieties of alcohol.
If you love alcohol, you shouldn’t miss the Venezuelan “big three” of Rum, Cocuy, and Angostura bitters. Throughout the world, Venezuelan rum is regarded as one of the best rum in any country. Meanwhile, Cocuy and Angostura bitters give you a taste of centuries’ worth of the country’s native breweries.
Over 390 Venezuelans made it into Major League Baseball.
As the most popular sport in Venezuela, you can expect that most locals are big fans or players of baseball. Throughout history, over 390 local players from Venezuela made it to Major League Baseball (MLB), which is the biggest baseball league in the world.
Machiques recorded the hottest temperature in Venezuela.
The hottest recorded temperature in Venezuelan history was a scorching 42°C or 108°F in Machiques to the country’s northwest. Meanwhile, the coldest temperature ever recorded was −11 °C or 12 °F in Páramo de Piedras Blancas in Mérida.
Venezuela abolished slavery before the U.S.
As one of the first few countries to abolish slavery, Venezuela officially outlawed slavery in 1854. In comparison, the United States’ ratification only became official on December 6th, 1865.