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Venezuela occupies a territory of 916.445 km2, located north of the South American continent and bordered by the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, Guyana, Brazil and Colombia. Upon his arrival, Christopher Columbus described it as follows: “Found a sweet temperament, and the earth with very green trees, and as beautiful as the gardens in Valencia, and the people of good height and whiter than others I saw in India, and with long and straight hair and more audacious and not fearful.” After this, Columbus named Venezuela “Tierra de Gracia” when he reached the Paria Peninsula, upon seeing the green mountains and the encounter of the sea, rivers and the sky which seemed the closet thing to Paradise on earth. In 1499, Americo Vespucci, upon arrival in the Guajira Peninsula and entering Lake Maracaibo baptized the country “Venezuela”, small Venice for its “palafitos” (pile houses perched over the water on palm trunks) where the indigenous communities lived. Venezuela still charms visitors with majestic landscapes, lands of amazing beauty, geographic variety and uncommon versatility. Jungles, infinite plains, green and snow capped mountains, rivers meandering amidst the green jungle, imposing waterfalls that spring from sacred mountains, islands that look like open flowers set in crystal clear waters ranging from green to light and deep blue hues. Venezuela is also a land of records: it has the tallest waterfall, Angel Falls, the longest and tallest cable car from Mérida up to Pico Espejo (4.763 m), the most ancient mountains, the tepuys, the most heterogeneous orchid concentration on top of the Roraima in Gran Sabana, the longest Caribbean coast, as well as the enormous delta of the Orinoco river. The Orinoco river divides Venezuela almost in half, meandering through the whole country, bordering Colombia and ending in the Atlantic Ocean through the delta. South of the Orinoco, the country’s wildest, most virgin territory is found: the Amazonian forest on one side and the Gran Sabana, the earth’s most ancient formation, on the other. North of the Orinoco are the endless plains of the Llanos and the start of the Andean mountain range which crosses all of South America and ends in the Antarctic. The coastal mountain range which starts in Morrocoy National Park reaches the Paria Peninsula. The grace, beauty, exoticism and diversity of human traits found in Venezuela reflect a history of cultural and ethnic blending of indigenous people with African descendants and European immigrants. On the streets of any Venezuelan town, the visitor will encounter a mix of Africans and Indians, blacks and whites, Asians and Arabs that reflect a history of waves of immigration that have resulted in a human mosaic.



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