(Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, República Bolivariana de Venezuela)
- Location: Northern Coast of South America
- Capital: Caracas
- Language: Spanish
- Population: 29,105,632
- Total Area: 916,445 sq km
- Currency: Bolivar Fuerte (VEF)
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption per Capita: 8.23
- Most Popular Drink: Rum and coke, which Venezuelans call Cuba Libre, is quite popular.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a tropical country that includes various islands in the Caribbean. The llanos plains, tropical grasslands that include the Orinoco River, Andes Mountains, and Amazon rainforest are all the different landscapes that make up Venezuela. Colonized by the Spanish in the early sixteenth century, this South American country was the first to declare its independence and became its own sovereign nation in 1821. This republic is comprised of 23 states, one Capital District, and Federal Dependencies which basically cover the island territories. Venezuela came to be called this when explorer Amerigo Vespucci first saw the country’s stilt houses which reminded him of Venice, thus “little Venice”(Venezia is Venice in Italian), or “Venezuela”.
Venezuelans are of mixed backgrounds: Indian, African, Spanish, and various combinations of each. Approximately half of the population of the country is mestizo, white, or European descent. Many immigrants from the Canary Islands came to Venezuela over the course of decades until after World War II. Huge groups of Spanish, Italians, and Portuguese call Venezuela home. The Amerindian tribes of the Wayuu and Timotocuicas also inhabit the country. Spanish is the official language of Venezuela although there are over thirty recognized indigenous languages spoken. The majority of the country is Roman Catholic.
The culture of Venezuela is diverse, but the main influences are African, Indigenous, and Spanish. The cuatro is a small guitar-like instrument that is popular nationally. Joropo is a popular dance that is similar to a waltz with African and European influences. Although football (American soccer) has become very popular in the recent years, baseball is actually the national favorite. The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League has been in existence since 1945.
Venezuelan cuisine includes everything from fresh fish, tubers, cereal, beef, vegetables and fruit to goat with tomatoes, pasta, deer, and cheeses. This eclectic menu appeals to the country’s diverse population. Popular dishes such as arepas, filled ground corn dough, mandocas (deep-fried pretzel made from cornmeal served with butter and cheese), polenta with sausage, and pabellon criollo (the national dish) which is rice, shredded beef, banana and stewed black beans.
Cuba Libre, rum and coke, is a popular drink in Venezuela. Thick juice called batidos and sugarcane juice with lemon (papelon de limon) are also greatly enjoyed. Beer is very well liked by Venezuelans, particularly the brand named Polar. Coffee is the most common hot beverage, and it is produced in Venezuela.
Story By World By Shotglass
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Special thanks to our contributors:
Rebecca Dimyan, Danbury, CT, USA.