• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Colombia
    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

  • Ecuador!

    Ecuador: Sally Lightfoot Crab. Go Now!

    Ecuador
    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    Chile
    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

  • Venezuela!

    Venezuela: Los Roques. Go Now!

    Venezuela
    Rooted in Europe, Venezuela boasts an impressive history, culture, and beauty, including the Caribbean Coast (pictured). Explore Venezuela!

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    Bolivia
    This hidden gem is full of surprises, from the impressive salt flats (pictured) to the migrating flamingos. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent. Explore Bolivia!

VenezuelaThere is debate on the origin of the name Venezuela as two stories are popularly believed. The first states that Alonso de Ojeda named the region "Veneziola" after the city of Venice since many local homes on Lake Maracaibo stood on stilts, much like Venice. This name, from Ojeda's visit in 1499, translates to mean "little Venice." The second prominent story comes from Martin Fernandes de Enciso who, a sailor on Ojeda's ship, claimed the local people called themselves "Veneciuela."

WARNING: Violence is common in Venezeula, please read this travel warning before going!

Introduction:

Venezuela's lands are fairly diverse as the country moves from the high mountains to the Caribbean coastline. This geography led to a great number of people and cultures from the past as some people lived off the seas, while others were reliant on animals and hardy root crops in the mountains. However, with the arrival of Europeans many of these past cultures were lost or dominated by the new European cultures and today Venezuelan culture remains closely tied to that of Europe, although it is fairly unique.

The indigenous people of Venezuela truly lived off the lands and seas; however these people were generally very diverse culturally and in terms of lifestyle, meaning there was little unity. When the Spanish and later Europeans arrived, this lack of organization, and the many European diseases, led to a quick collapse of these people and their cultures, although some fled to the mountains.

The Spanish truly took over the region in every sense, although Spain had little political hold on the lands. This led to an area that provided great opportunities as many Europeans immigrated, particularly Spanish, Italians, and Germans. Like the people before them, the cultures and lifestyles varied, but these Europeans tended to settle the lands, often starting large farms or ranches. To help run these farms many of the surviving indigenous people were used as slaves as were Africans who arrived via the slave trade.

The many influences, from the indigenous people and the early Europeans to the African slaves led to a unique culture and lifestyle that integrated aspects of all these people. In the country's early history this diverse was quite pronounced as political unity was rare as people fought over lifestyle, culture, and direction. Differing ethnic groups sought different paths while the people along the coasts, on ranches, on farms, and in the mountains all saw different visions of the future.

Over the past century numerous changes have continued as the people have argued over direction, power, and culture. However, the growing trend during much of this time came in the form of social rights and power by the working class. Today the country is united as one as changes are bringing the people, culture, and lifestyle closer together, however many argue these changes come at the expense of freedoms.

These recent political changes have slowly altered the many diverse cultures and lifestyles to one that is more uniform. However, influences from the country's past are still recognizable and the culture that is authentically Venezuelan is ever growing on its own path, distinguishing this country from its neighbors in South America.

Information for Venezuela was last updated: March, 2014 ● View our: Sources & Special Thanks