The northernmost of the South American states. After discovering Curaçao (the Island of the Giants), Amerigo Vespucci landed on another island where the residents (as he tells in a letter dated 18 July 1500, addressed to Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de ‘Medici) “kept their chase founded on the sea chome in Vinega with much artifice and wonder “. This second island, now called Aruba, was given the name of Venezuela, “Little Venice”, a name that later passed to the nearby coast.
Venezuela politically borders with Colombia to the west (about 2000 km of border, defined after a long dispute in 1921 by an arbitration award of the king of Spain and marked in part by the Negro, Orinoco, Meta and Arauca rivers), with Brazil (State of Amazonas) in S. and with British Guiana in E. The border with Brazil was fixed with the Treaty of Caracas of 1859 and subsequently confirmed, with some modifications, by a series of agreements and protocols. It is over 1300 km long. and runs mostly on the sierras (Pirapucú, Imeri, Tapirapecó, Curupira, Parima, Pacaraima) that separate the Amazon basin from that of the Orinoco. The border with British Guiana was established in 1897 and is about 650 km long. To the north, the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea bathe the Venetian coasts for 3200 km.
Venezuela is three times the size of Italy (912,000 sq. Km.), Coming in 6th place among the South American states in terms of surface area; the population is lower than that of Piedmont (3,324,000 residents in 1935), with a density of not even 4 residents per sq. km.
Venezuela is between 12 ° 12 ′ and 0 ° 48 ′ north latitude and between 59 ° 45 and 73 ° 30 west longitude.
Explorations. – Christopher Columbus in 1498, during his third voyage, touched the Orinoco delta and skirted the shores of Venezuela for a short distance. The following year Peralonso Niño and Cristóbal Guerra landed on the Venetian coast and the Ojeda expedition, with the Vespucci and Juan de la Cosa, followed the coast of the South American continent from Guiana to Cape Vela, also visiting the Gulf of Maracaibo. In 1527 Juan de Ampuez founded Coro. The penetration into the interior was instead the work of Germans sent by the bankers of Augusta, to whom Charles V had made the concession of the country for a period of twenty years. We remember Ambrosius Alfinger, who in 1530 reached the Río Magdalena and perished there; Georg von Speier who, having left Coro in 1534, for five years went in search of llanos and arrived at the Río Guaviare; and Fredemann, who in 1538 entered the country of the Muisca at the same time as Belalcázar from Quito and G. Jiménez de Quesada from Santa Marta. The numerous successive expeditions, such as those of Quesada of 1569 and of Antonio Berrio of 1591 had no geographical importance: the penetration was greater during the century. XVII by Father Samuele Fritz and many other Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries. Scientific exploration began thanks to Alexander of Humboldt, who crossed the country with the Bonpland and discovered the famous Casiquiare fork; in 1840 R. Schomburgk (v.) coming from Guiana descended the Río Padamo and the Orinoco. Followed by Agostino Codazzi (v.) Who from 1830 to 1840 explored and surveyed most of the Venetian provinces and built the Physical and political atlas of the Republic of Venezuela (Paris 1841), which for a long time remained the main cartographic document of the state. In the second half of the century. XIX there were the exploratory journeys of C. Sachs (1877), of J. Chaffanion (1886-87) who went up the Orinoco to the source, and especially those of W. Sievers who visited the country twice, in 1884- 85 (Cordillera de Mérida) and in 1892-93, and by S. Paterson (1897-98). The plant world and botanical geography were illustrated in numerous works by Adolf Ernst, who was for many years professor of natural history and director of the national museum, which he himself founded, in Caracas, where he died in 1899. Finally in 1908 the Bingham he led an expedition to Venezuela and Colombia and more recently O. Bürger made scientific exploration journeys which he accounted for in numerous publications.
Climate. – Although Venezuela also presents similarities in climate with northern and eastern Colombia, on the whole it is much less humid than this one. Given the latitude, temperatures in the low areas are tropical, with annual averages of 27-28 ° and relatively small annual excursions; However, rainfall varies greatly from place to place, which on the coast is generally very scarce, not reaching 300 mm in some point of the central part (Coro, La Guaira), however increasing considerably towards the west (Maracaibo, 456 mm.) and to the east (Río Caribe, in the Paria Peninsula, 850 mm.). They fall mainly from May to September or October (in the western part there are two rainy periods, one from September to November and a minor one in May-June). For Venezuela geography, please check franciscogardening.com.
In the mountainous region, climatic conditions vary greatly with height: as this increases, the average annual temperature decreases and the excursion and rainfall increase. Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, located at about 1000 m., Has an annual average temperature of 19 °, 6 °; Mérida, at over 1600 m., 18 °, 7; Tovar, more than 2000 m., 14 °, 4. The annual excursions are generally small, while the diurnal ones are quite considerable. The lower limit of permanent snow is between 4500 and 4700 m. The rains are very unevenly distributed: they are more abundant in the Cordillera de Mérida than in the Caribbean Mountains, and fall mainly from April to October.
In the llanos the temperatures are more or less those of the low coastal areas; as for rainfall, a dry season is clearly distinguished, lasting from 5 to 7 months; the vegetation, therefore, is mainly herbaceous, and the savannah predominates, as has been said. The annual amount of precipitation decreases from west to east: in fact San Fernando de Apure receives 1350 mm., While in Ciudad Bolívar not even 900 mm falls. Between the Caura and the Caroní there are almost desert areas, with sparse vegetation of Cactaceae and thorny shrubs. The trade winds blow in the llanos so regularly, that they can be used for river navigation.
Little is known about the climate of Guiana; the temperatures, high in the lower parts, naturally decrease with height, the rains abound, overall, and increase towards the higher southern areas: 1500-1700 mm. in the lower Caura basin, over 3000 mm. on the Roraima.
The sanitary conditions for government care are improving year by year; they are quite good in the tierras templadas and frías of the mountainous region, but not in the lower parts, where various terrible diseases (such as yellow fever) still take many victims. Malaria is rampant in the Zulia lowlands, the llanos and parts of Guiana.
Territory – Almost 8/10 of the Venetian territory are part of the Orinoco basin (see), the third most important among the rivers of South America. Its course, about 3000 km long, takes place entirely in Venezuela; of its tributaries, which are over 400, some of the largest (Guaivare, Vichada, Meta) instead carry out all or almost their course in Colombian territory. The Orinoco is the main route for internal Venezuelan trade: medium-tonnage ships go up it as far as Ciudad Bolívar, where, at 420 km. from the ocean, the tide is still heard, and small ships up to the raudales (rapids) of Atures.
A part of Venezuelan Guiana, south of the Sierra Imataca, flows into the Cuyuni, a tributary of the Essequebo, the main river of British Guiana. The rest of Venezuela, north of the Orinoco basin, that is the northern slope of the mountainous region and the coastal region, sends its waters to the Caribbean Sea by means of relatively short rivers due to the proximity of the mountainous areas to the coast, but rich in waters and navigable for a stretch. Such are the Zulia (320 km.) With its tributary Catatumbo (290 km.); the Sucuy (210 km.), the Motatán (260 km.) and the Escalante (200 km.), all of which flow into the Lake of Maracaibo, as well as the Tocuyo and the Tuy. Lake Maracaibo (v.) Is the largest lake basin in South America (13,600 sq km), in the southern part it seems to be 250 meters deep.
Another large Venetian lake is that of Valencia (v.), Also known as Lake Tacarigua, 405 meters high, almost as wide as Lake Garda (350 sq. Km.) And a maximum depth of 70 m. It has no outlet, but in the past, when it had a higher level, it had to communicate with the Orinoco basin.