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Venezuela was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Colombia and Ecuador). For most of the first half of the 20th century, Venezuela was ruled by generally benevolent military strongmen, who promoted the oil industry and allowed for some social reforms. Democratically-elected governments have held sway since 1959. Current concerns include: an embattled president who is losing his once solid support among Venezuelans, a divided military, drug-related conflicts along the Colombian border, increasing internal drug consumption, overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.
Location: Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana
Climate: Tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands
Borders: Brazil 2,200 km, Colombia 2,050 km, Guyana 743 km
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Venezuela is bounded by the Caribbean, Guyana, the Atlantic Ocean, Brazil and Colombia. Venezuela offers the tourist a great variety of landscapes – tropical beaches, immense plains, enormous rivers, forests, jungle, waterfalls and great mountains. Nestling in a long narrow valley, Caracas, the capital, is typical of the ‘new Venezuela’, despite being one of the oldest established cities in the country (founded in 1567). The 4000km (2800 miles) of Caribbean coastline represents the major tourist destination in the country. The area has numerous excellent beaches and resorts ranging from the comparatively luxurious to the unashamedly opulent, which stretch along the coastline. The coastal regions to the north of the Guyana Highlands have some fine tourist beaches and resorts. These include Higuerote and Lecheria. The Guyana Highlands lie to the south of the Orinoco River and constitute half the land area of the country. The Gran Sabana National Reserve is the largest of the Venezuelan plateaux and has an extraordinary array of wildlife.

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Venezuela hotels, hostels and youth hostels worldwide. June 25