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Honeymoon in Venezuela

A huge variety of destinations for your honeymoon: the Angel Falls, Isla Margarita, the Caribbean islands, Los Llanos, The Gran Sabana, The Orinoco Delta, The Andes and Amazonas.

Tourism in Venezuela

Venezuela's tourist industry plays a major role in the country's economy. Today, tens of thousands of foreign tourists visit the country from Europe and North America, and Venezuelans also frequent the country's beaches and tourist attractions every year.

The growth in tourism is a relatively recent development. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Bolívar was a formidable currency. It was, therefore, considerably cheaper for Venezuelans to holiday abroad, mostly to Miami and other North American destinations. However, the 1980s saw the fall of the Bolívar against the Dollar with a drop so dramatic that Venezuelans could no longer afford to visit the now expensive North American resorts, and instead began to holiday at home.

Among the most popular tourist destinations in the country are the Angel Falls, Isla Margarita, The Caribbean islands, Los Llanos, The Gran Sabana, The Orinoco Delta, The Andes and Amazonas.

A growing number of travel agents, hotels and posadas (inns) can be found in all towns and cities. Facilities at resorts are developing fast and now package deals to the country are being sold in Europe and North America.

By Procsilas Moscas (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Nature

Venezuela is home to an enormous variety of animals and plants, and is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. The evolution of the country's flora and fauna was the result of two principal factors: the diversity of the landscape, which facilitated the development of numerous, distinct habitats, and the natural history of the continent. After being geographically isolated for 70 million years, South America became linked to Central America when a landbridge (now Panama) emerged from the sea some 3.5 million years ago. Gradually, new species spread from Asia down North and Central America and filtered into South America. Although this movement of wildlife and plants enhanced the biodiversity of the continent, it brought renewed competition and some species became extinct. Moreover, in later years, South America did not encounter the ice ages that engulfed North America and parts of Europe and Asia. As a result, the species that had become established in the continent survived an era that saw the loss of many from northern parts of the world.

Today, there are about 250 species of mammal in Venezuela, including the jaguar, puma, capybara (chiguire), manatee, howler monkey, sloth and two species of fresh water dolphin. The country is also home to the giant otter or 'water-wolf', which is the rarest otter in the world. The bird population consists of over 1,200 species, among which are the condor, hoatzin (guacharaca), flamingo, pelican, several species of parrot, macaw (guacamayo) and toucan and a rare, nocturnal species, the oilbird (guacharo). Venezuela's reptiles include five species of cayman, the common iguana, rattlesnake, boa and the largest snake in the world: the anaconda.

The plant life of Venezuela is as diverse as its wildlife, ranging from the cacti of the desert to the epiphytes of the rainforest. Extraordinary species of flower grow on the isolated, flat-topped mountains of the Gran Sabana (tepui), some of which are endemic to a single plateau. Several thousand species of orchid bloom throughout the year, and there is a huge variety of fruiting trees. Flora of cultural significance includes the moriche palm, which grows in the swamps of the Orinoco delta. Known as the 'tree of life', the moriche plays an essential role in the existence of the Warao Indians, providing food and materials for their daily life.

Food and Drink

Venezuela has a variety of traditional dishes which are found in nearly all local restaurants. Most are fried maize or wheatflour based pancakes or breads. The most common meat dishes in Venezuela are fried and grilled fish and meats usually served with rice. Generally, beef and chicken are most popular, though other meats such as goat are preferred in certain regions. Pork is eaten mostly at Christmas. The huge variety of fish includes trout, red snapper, dorado, parrot fish, catfish and the baby shark (cazon). Oysters, clams and other shellfish are also widely enjoyed.

There is an abundance of fruits in Venezuela. Mango, papaya (lechosa), avocado (aguacate) oranges (naranja), banana (cambur) coconut (coco), passionfruit (parchita), melon (melón), pineapple (piña), guava (guayaba) and soursap (guanábana) are just a few.

Besides all the traditional Venezuelan dishes, a wide variety of world cuisines are available in the country. Caracas has everything from Italian to Chinese. Generally, a 10% service charge is added to restaurant bills, and it is usual to give an additional tip of around 5%. Several fast-food chains are common in larger towns, and burger and hot-dog vendors are found on many street corners.

Some traditional Venezuelan dishes are:

Arepa
A plain fried corn pancake. They are filled with almost anything, including eggs and tomato for breakfast, beef, chicken, ham, sausage, shrimp, cheese, salad and even baby shark.

Empanada
Deep-fried cornmeal turnover filled with chicken, ham, cheese, fish (baby shark included) or meat.

Cachito
Hot croissant filled with chopped ham and or cheese.

Cachapa
Thick, slightly sweet pancake made with maize and served with mozzarella-type cheese (queso guayanesa).

Hallaca
Traditional Christmas dish made from chopped beef, pork and chicken with green peppers, onion, garlic, tomatoes, raisins, olives and various herbs and spices all mixed into maize dough. It is then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.

Pabellón Criollo
Venezuela’s national dish, consisting of shredded beef, black beans (caraotas negras) and cheese, served with fried plantain (cooking banana) and rice.

Drinks

Fresh fruit juices are readily available, as are batidos, a thicker juice, and milkshakes (merengada).

Sugar cane juice with lemon (papelón con limón) and fresh coconut milk are also on offer. Beer is ubiquitous, and the most popular brand is Polar. Rum, the commonly found spirit, comes in several varieties and is mixed with coke to make Cuba Libre, a favourite drink amongst Venezuelans.

Coffee is domestically produced in Venezuela and is the most common hot beverage. It is always offered to visitors as a welcome drink.

By User:Wilfredor (Own work) [GFDL (<a href=&/quot;http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html" class="external free" rel="nofollow">http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html</a>), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Culture

In the years that followed the conquest, the Spanish colonists came to entirely shape the national culture of Venezuela. The influence of the native, pre-Hispanic communities was marginal, as they were soon assimilated by the strong cultural and political unity of the Spaniards.

Music

After the Spanish conquest, Venezuelan music evolved as a blend of Spanish, African and Indigenous rhythms. Today, an African influence is particularly apparent in the music of the northeast coast, formerly the 'slave coast'. The Gaita is the traditional music of Zulia State and consists of improvised rhyming vocals over four-string guitars and maracas. The Gaita is featured in festivals throughout the year and has now become Venezuela's traditional Christmas music. The national Venezuelan dance is the Joropo, which is associated with the Llanos region and, like the Gaita is a rhythm accompanied by improvised vocals, four-string guitars, maracas and harps. However, the merengue of the Dominican Republic and the Puerto Rican salsa are the most popular dances in Venezuela.

Literature

Venezuelan literature only began to develop during the colonial period, and writings of the era were dominated by Spanish culture and thinking. Chronicles and various styles of poetry were the chief literary manifestations of the 1700s. The 1800s and independence saw the rise of political literature, including the autobiography of Franciso de Miranda. Romanticism, the first important literary genre in Venezuela, unfolded in the mid 1800s and is best illustrated by Peonia, by Manuel Romero García. After independence, Venezuelan literature began to diversify, but only began to rapidly evolve under the regimes of Guzmán Blanco, from 1870 to 1888. The early 1900s saw the rise of several significant writers, novelists and poets, among them Andrés Eloy Blanco, Rómulo Gallegos, Arturo Uslar Pietri and Miguel Otero Silva. Literary tradition became established in Venezuela in the mid 1900s.

Architecture

Colonial architecture in Venezuela did not really compare to the grand buildings of Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Churches and houses were simple, and most buildings were constructed in a Spanish style. However, Venezuela stands out for its Modernism. Modern architecture came in two phases, the first under the regime of Guzmán Blanco in the 1870s, and second and most significant in the mid 1900s, when much of the new-found oil wealth was invested in the renovation of Caracas. Today, Caracas is one of the most modern cities in the world.

Art

Pre-Columbian art in Venezuela consisted mainly of rock carvings and cave paintings in the form of petroglyphs. The colonial era was characterised by religious painting and sculpture in Spanish style, of which notable examples include the sculpture St Peter the Apostle by Enrique Antonio Hernández Prieto, and Antonio José Landaeta's painting The Immaculate Conception. In the years following independence, history took over from religion as the dominant theme of art, a genre best illustrated by the exceptional work of Martín Tovar y Tovar. 20th century art has been marked by modernism, and many changes of style occurred in the 1930s and 1940s. Kinetic art has emerged in the last few decades, and has been most successfully represented by the work of Carlos Cruz Díez and Jesús Soto.

Museums

There are many museums in Caracas, including the Museum of Fine Art, the Museum of Colonial Art, the Natural Sciences Museum and the Simon Bolívar Museum.

Theaters

Venezuela's theatre tradition began in the late 1700s and has been progressively growing ever since. The national theatre became established some thirty years ago, and is now based in Caracas. Venezuela is not noted for its cinema; few films are made and foreign films are favoured.

Folk Culture

Venezuela has a strong folk and popular culture. Many regions have well-known symbolic icons which personify their cultural roots. Most significant are the andinos, the hardy mountain folk; the guayanés, the tough frontiersman following a dream; the Llanero, the cowboy of the Llanos and the maracucho, the energetic entrepreneur of the Maracaibo area.

History

The pre-Hispanic Indian cultures of Venezuela, which arose from approximately 14,000 BC, did not form part of the better-known Andean or Central American civilizations, and were primitive in comparison. From around 2,000 BC, the isolated tribes settled extensively in the coastal and Llanos (plains) regions, and developed into culturally distinct groups of different ethnic origin. Formerly nomadic, their now settled lifestyle brought about a significant increase in population, and on the eve of the Spanish conquest, it is estimated that about half a million Indians inhabited what we now know as Venezuela.

It was on his third voyage of discovery that Christopher Columbus sighted Venezuela, and, on discovering the mouth of the Orinoco River, realized he had come across something far greater than another island. The following year, Spanish explorers sailed up to the western tip of the country and into Lake Maracaibo. There, observing Indian houses sitting on wooden stilts above the waters' edge, they christened the land 'Venezuela', meaning 'little Venice'.

After its discovery, Venezuela became a colony run by Spanish bureaucrats and the clergy. The earlier colonists originally searched for gold, but soon turned their attention to agriculture, using Indian labor and imported black slaves. Rebellions against colonial rule were few, and for the next 300 years Venezuela's history was not characterized by any major events.

Between 1820-1825, Simón Bolívar led the South American independence movement previously started by Francisco de Miranda, which resulted in the defeat of the Spanish and liberation of Venezuela in 1821. Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador then unified into one state: Gran Colombia. Its leaders, however, were unable to control such a vast region and by 1830, Gran Colombia had divided into three independent republics. From 1830-1858, Venezuela found itself controlled by a succession of military dictatorships, and underwent a period of political strife and civil war. Internationally, too, there were problems. In the 1840s, Venezuela laid a claim to two thirds of British Guyana territory, giving birth to a long running border dispute that was to put a heavy strain on the relations between the two countries. Today, Venezuela still claims this land and modern Venezuelan maps mark this region as a 'zona en reclamación' (territory to be reclaimed).

Military rule continued into the 1900s, and under the regime of General Juan Vicente Gómez the country became stabilized, thanks mainly to the discovery of oil. Venezuela soon became the world's leading oil exporter, and prospered. Little money, however, reached the people and much of the nation remained poor. Oil production boomed in the 1940s and 50s, and enabled President Marcos Pérez Jiménez to reward members of his government with large sums of money and modernize the country. However, opposition to the Jiménez regime began to grow. After his overthrow in 1958, the country found its way to democracy with Rómulo Bertancourt elected President. The first Venezuelan president to serve a full term, he enjoyed popular support and his programs marked the beginning of economic and political stability. Five presidents took office over the next 25 years, all constitutionally elected.

Source: www.think-venezuela.net/

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