VENEZUELA (Ital., Little Venice, from the lake dwellings on Maracaibo; officially Los Estados Unidos de Venezuela, the United States of Venezuela), a republic lying in the northern part of South America and bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean end the Caribbean Sea, on the east by British Guiana, on the south by Brazil and Colombia and on the west by Colombia. It extends from lat. 0° 45' N. to 12° 26' N. and from long. 59° 35' W. to 73° 20' W., and has an area of approxi mately 393,976 square miles, divided among 20 states, a federal district and two territories.
Topography.— Nature has established in this land of varied physical characteristics five main divisions: (1) The long coast-line with its picturesque harbors; (2) the highlands of all that region south and east of the Orinoco, which may be called Venezuelan Guiana, or Guiana Highlands; (3) the great central area of plains or Llanos, those wide expanses, low-lying, nearly level, grassy but often treeless —with, at most, groups of palms and small trees near river banks; (4) the northeastern branch of the Andes Mountains; (5) the comparatively small regions of the Lake Maracaibo Basin, etc. The coast-line and the Orinoco alone would be sufficient to give Venezuela importance in the world. Concerning the vast, more or less un explored tract lying on the right bank of the Orinoco and near the headwaters of that river, Mr. Dalton has written that (the area is pri marily one huge elevated plateau about 1,000 feet or more above the sea, and from this rise a few principal mountain ranges, with some peaks over 8,000 feet high. The highest ground is found on the Brazilian frontier beginning at Mount Roraima (8,500 feet), where the three boundaries of Venezuela, British Guiana and Brazil meet, and extends thence westward and southward to the headwaters of the Orinoco. The whole area (about 294,600 square miles) is well watered,)) and nearly all is covered with forests (containing rubber, tonka-beans, brazil nuts, copaiba, and all the varied natural produce of the South American tropics)) The Llanos of the Orinoco have a total area of 108,300 square miles. The elevation of the Llanos ranges up to 650 feet, and more than this in the mesas of the central region, but large tracts are less than 300 feet above sea-level. The whole area is traversed by numerous streams and rivers. The fourth great tract, the northeast
spur of the Andes, is all divided naturally into three parts — the Caribbean range, along the shores of the sea of the same name, the Segovia Highlands, linking the former to the higher mountains of western Venezuela, and the Cor dillera of Merida, or the Venezuelan Andes. The total area occupied by those mountain and hill-tracts is about 41,800 square miles. The fifth division includes, besides the alluvial area of the lake of Maracaibo, the Coro and Para guana lowlands and the numerous islands in the Caribbean which belong to Venezuela, and the area is estimated as about 27,800 square miles.
From Roraima the Orinoco-Cuyuni water shed extends northward within Venezuela to the Sierra Piacoa, and thence southeast along tke Sierra Imataca to the British limits again. The Sierra Maigualida forms the watershed be tween the Caura and the Ventuari. This south ern and southeastern region is well watered by the upper Orinoco and Ventuari, with the other great tributaries, the Cuchivero, Canra, Aro, Caroni and their affluents. And yet, large as these rivers are, they are so broken by rapids that travel along them is possible only in small portable boats or rafts.
It is necessary to differentiate carefully the river system of the Llanos region, where, north of the Meta, in addition to many smaller streams which broaden out into marshy lakes or cienagas, we find the navigable rivers Arauca (the main waterway tq eastern Colombia) and Apure, flowing from the Andes to the Orinoco in an easterly direction. The Apure receives many tributaries on its lett bank from the Venezuelan Andes, most imortatit of which are the Portuguesa and the Guarico— the latter flowing through the state to which it gives its name, and receiving the waters of at least one stream that has its source less than 30 miles from the coast in longitude 66°. Most import ant among the Orinoco tributaries from the north beyond the Apure is the Manapire. The waters of the eastern Llanos are carried north ward by the Unare and Aragua into the Carib bean Sea. About.11,500 square miles are com prised in the famous Delta of the Orinoco. a region of inundated forest, savannah and man grove swamp, in which the water-courses called calms are not regarded as portions of the Ori noco itself.