Venezuela is a country in South America, and part of Caribbean South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana. It is situated on major sea and air routes linking North and South America. Located at the northernmost end of South America, Venezuela has a total area of 916,445 square kilometers and a land area of 882,050 square kilometers, about twice the size of California. Shaped roughly like an inverted triangle, the country has a 2,800-kilometer coastline and is bounded on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by Guyana, on the south by Brazil, and on the west by Colombia.Venezuela is 352,144 sq mi (912,050 km2).
Geographic coordinates: 8°00′N 66°00′W / 8°N 66°W
Most observers describe Venezuela in terms of four fairly well-defined regions: the Maracaibo lowlands in the northwest, the northern mountains extending in a broad east-west arc from the Colombian border along the Caribbean Sea, the wide Orinoco plains (llanos) in central Venezuela, and rank highly dissected Guiana highlands in the southeast.
The Maracaibo lowlands form a large spoon-shaped oval bounded by mountains on three sides and open to the Caribbean on the north. The area is remarkably flat with only a gentle slope toward the center and away from the mountains that border the region. Lake Maracaibo occupies much of the lower-lying territory. Areas around the southern part of Lake Maracaibo are swampy, and, despite the rich agricultural land and significant petroleum deposits, the area was still thinly populated in 1990.
Although the country lies wholly within the tropics, its climate varies from tropical humid to alpine, depending on the elevation, topography, and the direction and intensity of prevailing winds. Seasonal variations are marked less by temperature than by rainfall. Most of the country has a distinct rainy season; the rainy period (May through November) is commonly referred to as winter and the remainder of the year as summer.
The country falls into four horizontal temperature zones based primarily on elevation. In the tropical zone—below convert|800 meters—temperatures are hot, with yearly averages ranging between 26 and 28 °C (78.8 and 82.4 °F). The temperate zone ranges between 800 and 2,000 meters (2,625 and 6,562 ft) with averages from convert|12|to|25|°C|°F|1; many of Venezuela's cities, including the capital, lie in this region. Colder conditions with temperatures from 9 to 11 °C (48.2 to 51.8 °F) are found in the cool zone between 2,000 and 3,000 meters (6,562 and 9,843 ft). Pastureland and permanent snowfield with yearly averages below 8 °C (46 °F) cover land above 3,000 meters (9,843 ft) in the high mountain areas known as the páramos.
Average yearly rainfall amounts in the lowlands and plains range from a semiarid 430 millimeters (16.9 in) in the western part of the Caribbean coastal areas to around 1,000 millimeters (39.4 in) in the Orinoco Delta. Rainfall in mountainous areas varies considerably; sheltered valleys receive little rain, but slopes exposed to the northeast trade winds experience heavy rainfall. Caracas averages 750 millimeters (29.5 in) of precipitation annually, more than half of it falling from June through August.
Full article ▸