Venezuela is located in the northern part of South America. Its territory occupies 916.445 km2 and the sea spans approximately 900,000 km2. It consists of a Capital District, twenty-three States and Federal Dependencies, that comprise numerous islands in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Because of its geographical position Venezuela has highly different climate zones, where precipitation can go from less than 400 mm per year in the arid and semi-arid zones of Central and coastal regions, to more than 4,000 mm towards the South of the Orinoco River. Daily average temperatures vary from 28°C to les than 0°C in the high peaks of the moors of the Andes. It has a variety of ecosystems with an extraordinary biodiversity. Venezuela is a tropical country, and can be subdivided into ten bioregions: Continental-Coastal, Sea, Insular, Lake of Maracaibo Depression, Lara-Falcon States Mountain Range, Seaside Mountain Range, the Andes, the Plains, Deltaic Plains of the Orinoco River and the swampy coast of the San Juan River, Guiana Bioregion (Orinoquia-Amazonia).
Talking about Venezuela means talking about untouched nature, megadiversity, varied ecosystems, endemism, beautiful and paradisiacal beaches, islands and archipelagos, coastal lagoons, mountains and cloud forests, lush, impenetrable humid rain forests, of table-top mountains, moors, vast plains and savannas, of mighty rivers and towering waterfalls, ancient cultures, human warmth, traditions; in order to talk about Venezuela we must speak of the Caribbean, the Amazon and the Andes in a single country.
The potential of our country as a destination for naturalists, researchers, eco-tourists and non-traditional sports players is huge. Venezuela is among the top 10 most diverse countries on the planet, meaning that our forests, mountains, coasts, plains, rivers, coastal lagoons, deserts, moors, mangroves, tepuis, morichal swamps and savannahs are home to one of the more diverse biological riches of the world, this is due to our privileged geographical position that allows us to be a summary of all the South American geography and have unique environments becoming a Caribbean, Atlantic, Guiana, Amazonian and Andean country. Just as an overview of our biodiversity we will mention the following:
Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Mexico and Indonesia are the leading countries around the world in biodiversity. Venezuela is the sixth country with the greatest diversity of bird species of the planet; we have about 1,400 species of birds, representing 44% of all species of South America and 13% of all the global avifauna. Fifth place regarding higher plants with over 15 thousand species and the tenth in amphibians, with 315 species, sixth place with 351 species of mammals. As of the number of reptiles, the country is ranked tenth, with 341 species and ninth in butterflies. Venezuela houses at least 1.790 species of fish and more than 100 thousand species of insects.
All these figures could increase as further studies are carried out in relatively unstudied regions. We have an invaluable wealth, which must be handled in a sustainable, responsible and well-planned way to ensure this heritage to future generations.
We have an extensive system of protected areas which cover 40% of the Venezuelan territory; among them we have 43 national parks (which protect more than 15 different types of ecosystems), 21 natural monuments, 7 wildlife shelters, 2 biosphere reserves, in addition to other 32 categories under the regime of special administration.
Culturally speaking, we have a very rich culture and folklore. There is an interesting ethnic culture represented in about 30 different groups counting more than 300 thousand Indians in Venezuelan territory. Each of these ethnic groups is currently in possession of their own culture, language, folklore, traditions, music, architecture, worldview, natural medical knowledge, ethnographic expressions, etc.
Another very important aspect within the historical and cultural heritage of our country is our archaeological heritage. Venezuela is no less important when it comes to recreate the history of mankind: petroglyphs, megalithic monuments, paintings, ceramics, crafts, treasures and others adorn our ancient history; as also the rich mythological our more than 30 indigenous ethnic groups, which told in their ancestral language can be compared to the most exquisite old world literatures. In Venezuela, a total of 401 sites of rock art have been found until now (art carved on rocks by Indians in past times, during the pre-Hispanic period - approx. 5,000 years ago), of which 320 are petroglyphs, 28 are paintings, 6 megalithic sets, 1 geoglyph, 10 are stones or natural mythical hills, punts, 16 stone grinding and 2 sites of micro petroglyphs. (Each site or rock station contains a number of petroglyphs or paintings).
We have a rich historical past, house a wide variety of cultures, languages and traditions, that make us one of the most peculiar and interesting zones in the world, ethnologically speaking.
On the other hand, Venezuela has a great range of religious and traditional celebrations of cultural manifestations produced b the union of three very rich cultures: European, African and Indigenous. Every region of our country has costumes of their own, each one very distinct and different from other regions of the country. It can be said that our population is heterogeneous. In addition to our indigenous culture, there are the descendants of black cultures that came from Africa bound to slavery, rich fusion that was formed with the mixture of indigenous, black and European makes our people something very admirable and interesting in terms of culture, traditions and population structure.
We can only invite you to discover and enjoy this wonderful, greatly diverse and multicultural neotropical country full of warmth and indescribable nature.
Alberto Blanco Dávila
Rio Verde Magazine