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Venezuela

Related subjects Americas; Countries

República Bolivariana de Venezuela
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Flag of Venezuela Coat of arms of Venezuela
Flag Coat of arms
' Motto: 'Dios y Federacion  (Spanish)
God and Federation
Anthem:  Gloria al Bravo Pueblo  (Spanish)
Glory to the Brave People

Location of Venezuela
Capital
(and largest city)
Caracas
Official languages Spanish
Demonym Venezuelan
Government Presidential republic
 -  President Hugo Chávez Frías
Independence
 -  from Spain July 5, 1811 
 -  from Gran Colombia January 13, 1830 
 -  Recognised March 30, 1845 
Area
 -  Total 916,445 km² ( 33rd)
353,841  sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.32
Population
 -  July 2007 estimate 27,730,469 ( 42nd)
 -  2001 census 23,054,210 
 -  Density 30.2/km² ( 173rd)
77/sq mi
GDP ( PPP) 2006 estimate
 -  Total $223.4 billion ( 45th)
 -  Per capita $7,165 ( 90th)
Gini (2000) 44.1 (medium
HDI (2007) 0.792 (medium) ( 74th)
Currency Bolívar fuerte ( VEF)
Time zone UTC-4:30
Internet TLD .ve
Calling code +58
^  The "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" has been the full official title since the adoption of the new Constitution of 1999, when the state was renamed in honour of Simón Bolívar.
^  Formerly "God and Federation" (Spanish: «Dios y Federación»).
^  The Constitution also recognizes all indigenous languages spoken in the country.
^  Area totals include only Venezuelan-administered territory.
^  On 1 January 2008 a new bolivar, the bolívar fuerte (ISO 4217 code VEF), worth 1,000 VEB, was introduced.

Venezuela (pronounced /ˌvɛnəˈzweɪlə/, Amer. Span. IPA [veneˈswela]), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Spanish: República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America.

The country comprises a continental mainland and numerous islands located off the Venezuelan coastline in the Caribbean Sea. Currently, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela possesses borders with Guyana to the east, Brazil to the south, and Colombia to the west. Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Lucia, Barbados, Curaçao, Bonaire, Aruba, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Leeward Antilles lie just north, off the Venezuelan coast. Falling within the tropics, Venezuela sits close to the equator, in the Northern Hemisphere.

A former Spanish colony, which has been an independent republic since 1821, Venezuela holds territorial disputes with Guyana, largely concerning the Essequibo area, and with Colombia concerning the Gulf of Venezuela. There was a Venezuelan Boundary Crisis in 1985. Today, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is known widely for its petroleum industry, the environmental diversity of its territory, and its natural features. Venezuela is considered to be among 17 of the most megadiverse countries in the world.

Venezuela is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America; the vast majority of Venezuelans live in the cities of the north, especially in the capital Caracas which is also the largest city. Other major cities include Maracaibo, Valencia, Maracay, Barquisimeto, Ciudad Guayana and the popular tourist city of Mérida. Venezuela is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.

Etymology

A palafito, similar to those seen by Amerigo Vespucci.
A palafito, similar to those seen by Amerigo Vespucci.

The name "Venezuela" is believed to have originated from the cartographer Amerigo Vespucci who, together with Alonso de Ojeda, led a 1499 naval expedition along the northwestern coast's Gulf of Venezuela. On reaching the Guajira Peninsula, the crew observed villages ( palafitos) that the people had built over the water. This reminded Vespucci of the city of Venice ( Italian: Venezia), so he named the region "Venezuola", meaning "little Venice" in Italian. In Spanish, the suffix -zuela is used as a diminutive term (e.g., plaza / plazuela, cazo / cazuela); thus, the term's original sense would have been that of a " little Venice".

Martín Fernández de Enciso, a member of Vespucci and de Ojeda's crew, states in his work Summa de Geografía that the indigenous population they found were called "Veneciuela", suggesting that the name "Venezuela" may have evolved from a native word. The Vespucci story, however, remains the most popular and accepted version of the origin of the country's name. In English, the word Venezuela is pronounced as IPA: /ˌvɛnɨzˈweɪlə/. The Venezuelan Spanish is IPA [beneˈswela].

History

Human habitation of Venezuela is estimated to have commenced at least 15,000 years ago, from which period leaf-shaped flake tools, together with chopping and plano- convex scraping implements, have been found exposed on the high riverine terraces of the Rio Pedregal in western Venezuela. Late Pleistocene hunting artifacts, including spear tips, have been found at a similar series of sites in northwestern Venezuela known as "El Jobo"; according to radiocarbon dating, these date from 13,000 to 7,000 BC. In the 16th century, when the Spanish colonization of Venezuela began, indigenous peoples such as the Mariches, themselves descendants of the Caribs, were systematically killed. Indian caciques (leaders) such as Guaicaipuro and Tamanaco attempted to resist Spanish incursions, but were ultimately subdued; Tamanaco himself, by order of Caracas' founder Diego de Losada, was also put to death.

Detail of Martín Tovar y Tovar's La Batalla de Carabobo
Detail of Martín Tovar y Tovar's La Batalla de Carabobo

Venezuela was first colonized by Spain in 1522, when it hosted the Spanish Empire's first permanent South American settlement in what is now Cumaná. Originally part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, most of Venezuela eventually became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada; portions of eastern Venezuela were incorporated into New Andalusia. After a series of unsuccessful uprisings, Venezuela—under the leadership of Francisco de Miranda, a Venezuelan marshal involved in the French Revolution—declared independence on 5 July 1811. This began the Venezuelan War of Independence. However, a devastating earthquake that struck Caracas in 1812, together with the rebellion of the Venezuelan llaneros, helped bring down the first Venezuelan republic. A second Venezuelan republic, proclaimed on 7 August 1813, lasted several months before being crushed as well.

Sovereignty was only attained after Simón Bolívar, known as El Libertador ("The Liberator") and aided by José Antonio Páez and Antonio José de Sucre, won the Battle of Carabobo on 24 June 1821. José Prudencio Padilla and Rafael Urdaneta's victory in the Battle of Lake Maracaibo on 24 July 1823 helped seal Venezuelan independence. New Granada's congress gave Bolívar control of the Granadian army; leading it, he liberated several countries and founded Gran Colombia. Sucre, who won many battles for Bolívar, went on to liberate Ecuador, and later become the second president of Bolivia. Venezuela remained part of Gran Colombia until 1830, when a rebellion led by Páez allowed the proclamation of a new Republic of Venezuela; Páez became its first president.

Much of Venezuela's nineteenth century history was characterized by political turmoil and dictatorial rule. During first half of the 20th century, caudillos (military strongmen) continued to dominate, though they generally allowed for mild social reforms and promoted economic growth. Following the death of Juan Vicente Gómez in 1935 and the demise of caudillismo (authoritarian rule), pro-democracy movements eventually forced the military to withdraw from direct involvement in national politics in 1958. Since that year, Venezuela has had a series of democratically elected governments. The discovery of massive oil deposits, totaling some 400 million  barrels, during World War I prompted an economic boom that lasted into the 1980s; by 1935, Venezuela's per capita GDP was Latin America's highest, and globalization and heavy immigration from Southern Europe and poorer Latin American countries markedly diversified Venezuelan society.

The huge public spending and accumulation of internal and external debts by the government and private sector during the Petrodollar years of the 1970s and early 80s, followed by the collapse of oil prices during the 1980s, crippled the Venezuelan economy. As the government devalued the currency in order to face its mounting local and non-local financial obligations, Venezuelans' real standard of living fell dramatically. A number of failed economic policies and increasing corruption in government and society at large, has led to rising poverty and crime and worsening social indicators and increasing political instability, resulting in three major coup attempts, two in 1992 and another in 2002. In the February 1992 coup, Hugo Chávez, a former paratrooper, attempted to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez as anger grew against the President's economic austerity measures. Chávez was unsuccessful and landed in jail. In November of that year, another unsuccessful coup attempt occurred, organized by other revolutionary groups in the Venezuelan Armed Forces and those that remained from Chávez’s previous attempt. By 2002, the tables had turned, and Hugo Chávez, now a democratically elected president, was temporarily ousted from power by his opponents. The current president Hugo Chávez, who led the first unsuccessful coup in 1992, was elected as a reaction against the established political parties and the corruption and inequalities their policies created. Since coming to power, Chávez has attracted some controversy through his reforms of the Constitution, the implementation of his "Bolivarian Revolution," and his assumption, approved by the elected National Assembly, of powers to rule by decree.

Government

The National Assembly, Caracas
The National Assembly, Caracas

The Venezuelan president is elected by a vote, with direct and universal suffrage, and functions as both head of state and head of government. The term of office is six (seis) years, and a president may be re-elected to a single consecutive term. The president appoints the vice-president and decides the size and composition of the cabinet and makes appointments to it with the involvement of the legislature. The president can ask the legislature to reconsider portions of laws he finds objectionable, but a simple parliamentary majority can diminish these objections.

The unicameral Venezuelan parliament is the National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional. Its 167 deputies, of which three are reserved for indigenous people, serve five-year terms and may be re-elected for a maximum of two additional terms. They are elected by popular vote through a combination of party lists and single member constituencies. The highest judicial body is the Supreme Tribunal of Justice or Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, whose magistrates are elected by parliament for a single twelve-year term. The National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral, or CNE) is in charge of electoral processes; it is formed by five main directors elected by the National Assembly.

Politics

There are currently two major blocs of political parties: the leftist Fifth Republic Movement (MVR) and its major allies For Social Democracy (PODEMOS), Fatherland for All (PPT), and the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV); and A New Era (UNT) together with its allied parties Project Venezuela, Justice First, Movement for Socialism (Venezuela) and others. Following the fall of Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958, Venezuelan politics was dominated by the centre-right Christian democratic COPEI and the centre-left social democratic Democratic Action (AD) parties; this two-party system was formalized by the puntofijismo arrangement. However, this system has been sidelined following the initial 1998 election of current president Hugo Chávez, which started the bolivarian revolution.

The voting age in Venezuela is 18 and older. Voting is not compulsory. Most of the political opposition boycotted the 2005 parliamentary election. Consequently, the MVR-led bloc secured all 167 seats in the National Assembly. Then, the MVR voted to dissolve itself in favour of joining the proposed United Socialist Party of Venezuela, while Chávez requested that MVR-allied parties merge themselves into it as well. The National Assembly has twice voted to grant Chávez the ability rule by decree in several broadly defined areas, once in 2000 and again in 2007. This power has been granted to previous administrations as well..

Public health

Infant mortality in Venezuela stood at 16 deaths per 1,000 births in 2004, much lower than the South American average (by comparison, the U.S. stands at 5 deaths per 1,000 births in 2006). Child malnutrition (defined as stunting or wasting in children under age five) stands at 17%; Delta Amacuro and Amazonas have the nation's highest rates. According to the United Nations, 32% of Venezuelans lack adequate sanitation, primarily those living in rural areas. Diseases ranging from typhoid, yellow fever, cholera, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis D are present in the country. Only 3% of sewage is treated; most major cities lack treatment facilities. 17% of Venezuelans lack access to potable water.

Travelers to Venezuela are advised to obtain vaccinations for a variety of diseases including typhoid, yellow fever, cholera, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis D. In a cholera epidemic of contemporary times in the Orinoco Delta, Venezuela's political leaders were accused of racial profiling of their own indigenous people to deflect blame from the country's institutions, thereby aggravating the epidemic.

As had previous administrations, the government is attempting to create a national universal health care system that is free of charge. The current vehicle for this idea is Misión Barrio Adentro.

Foreign relations

Soil from Venezuela and four other countries—Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru—liberated by the Venezuelan leader Simón Bolívar is buried at the Parque de las Cinco Repúblicas in Mérida.
Soil from Venezuela and four other countries—Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru—liberated by the Venezuelan leader Simón Bolívar is buried at the Parque de las Cinco Repúblicas in Mérida.

Throughout most of the 20th century, Venezuela maintained friendly relations with most Latin American and Western nations. Relations between Venezuela and the United States worsened in 2002, when the U.S. was hasty to approve of the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt. Correspondingly, ties to various leftist-led Latin American and anti-U.S. Middle-Eastern countries have strengthened. Venezuela stresses hemispheric integration via such proposals as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas trade proposal and the newly launched pan-Latin American television network teleSUR. Venezuela was a proponent of OAS's decision to adopt its Anti-Corruption Convention, and is actively working in the Mercosur trade bloc to push increased trade and energy integration. Globally, it seeks a " multi-polar" world based on strengthened ties among Third World countries.

Military

Venezuela's national armed forces include roughly 87,500 personnel spread through four service branches: the Ground Forces, the Navy (including the Marine Corps), the Air Force, and the Armed Forces of Cooperation (FAC), commonly known as the National Guard. As of 2005, a further 100,000 soldiers were incorporated into a new fifth branch, known as the Armed Reserve; these troops bear more semblance to a militia than the older branches. The President of Venezuela is the commander-in-chief of the national armed forces.

Subdivisions

Venezuela is divided into twenty-three states (Estados), a capital district (distrito capital) corresponding to the city of Caracas, the Federal Dependencies (Dependencias Federales, a special territory), and Guayana Esequiba (claimed in a border dispute with Guyana). Venezuela is further subdivided into 335 municipalities (municipios); these are subdivided into over one thousand parishes (parroquias). The states are grouped into nine administrative regions. (regiones administrativas), which were established by presidential decree. Historically, Venezuela has also claimed all Guyanese territory west of the Essequibo River; this 159,500 square kilometres (61,583 sq mi) tract was dubbed Guayana Esequiba or the Zona en Reclamación (the "zone to be reclaimed").

States
 Name Capital
1 Flag of Amazonas  Amazonas Puerto Ayacucho
2 Flag of Anzoátegui  Anzoátegui Barcelona
3 Flag of Apure  Apure San Fernando de Apure
4 Flag of Aragua  Aragua Maracay
5 Flag of Barinas  Barinas Barinas
6 Flag of Bolívar  Bolívar Ciudad Bolívar
7 Flag of Carabobo  Carabobo Valencia
8 Flag of Cojedes  Cojedes San Carlos
9 Flag of Delta Amacuro  Delta Amacuro   Tucupita
10 Flag of Falcón  Falcón Coro
11 Flag of Guárico  Guárico San Juan De Los Morros      
12 Flag of Lara  Lara Barquisimeto
 Name Capital
13 Flag of Mérida  Mérida Mérida
14   Miranda Los Teques
15 Flag of Monagas  Monagas Maturín
16 Flag of Nueva Esparta  Nueva Esparta   La Asunción
17 Flag of Portuguesa  Portuguesa Guanare
18 Flag of Sucre  Sucre Cumaná
19 Flag of Táchira  Táchira San Cristóbal  
20 Flag of Trujillo  Trujillo Trujillo
21 Flag of Vargas  Vargas La Guaira
22 Flag of Yaracuy  Yaracuy San Felipe
23 Flag of Zulia  Zulia Maracaibo


Dependencies
         Name Capital
   Flag of Venezuela  Federal Dependencies (none)


Administrative regions
      Name Subregions
     Andean Barinas, Mérida, Táchira, Trujillo, Páez Municipality of Apure
     Capital Miranda, Vargas, Capital District
     Central Aragua, Carabobo, Cojedes
     Central-Western Falcón, Lara, Portuguesa, Yaracuy
     Guayana Bolívar, Amazonas, Delta Amacuro
     Insular Nueva Esparta, Federal Dependencies
     Llanos Apure (excluding Paez Municipality), Guárico
     North-Eastern Anzoátegui, Monagas, Sucre
     Zulian Zulia

Geography

Monte Roraima, a tepui in Canaima National Park in southeastern Venezuela. The park lies atop the Guiana Shield; its Precambrian geological formations rank among the world's oldest.
Monte Roraima, a tepui in Canaima National Park in southeastern Venezuela. The park lies atop the Guiana Shield; its Precambrian geological formations rank among the world's oldest.

Venezuela's mainland rests on the South American Plate; With 2,800 kilometres (1,740 mi) of coastline, Venezuela is home to a wide variety of beautiful landscapes. The extreme northeastern extensions of the Andes reach into Venezuela's northwest and continue along the northern Caribbean coast. Pico Bolívar, the nation's highest point at 4,979 metres (16,335 ft), lies in this region. The country's centre is characterized by the llanos, extensive plains that stretch from the Colombian border in the far west to the Orinoco River delta in the east. To the south, the dissected Guiana Highlands is home to the northern fringes of the Amazon Basin and Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall. The Orinoco, with its rich alluvial soils, binds the largest and most important river system of the country; it originates in one of the largest watersheds in Latin America. The Caroní and the Apure are other major rivers.

Pico Bolívar in the northwestern state of Mérida.
Pico Bolívar in the northwestern state of Mérida.

The country can be further divided into ten geographical areas, some corresponding to climatic and biogeographical regions. In the north are the Venezuelan Andes and the Coro region, a mountainous tract in the northwest, is home to several sierras and valleys. East of it are lowlands abutting Lake Maracaibo and the Gulf of Venezuela. The Central Range runs parallel to the coast and includes the hills surrounding Caracas; the Eastern Range, separated from the Central Range by the Gulf of Cariaco, covers all of Sucre and northern Monagas. The Llanos region comprises a third of the country's area north of the Orinoco River. South of it lies the Guiana Shield, a massive two billion year old Precambrian geological formation featuring tepuis, mysterious table-like mountains. The Insular Region includes all of Venezuela's island possessions: Nueva Esparta and the various Federal Dependencies. The Deltaic System, which forms a triangle covering Delta Amacuro, projects northeast into the Atlantic Ocean.

Though Venezuela is entirely situated in the tropics, its climate varies substantially; it varies from that of humid low-elevation plains, where average annual temperatures range as high as 28 °C (82 °F), to glaciers and highlands (the páramos) with an average yearly temperature of 8 °C (46 °F). Annual rainfall varies between 430 millimetres (17 in) in the semiarid portions of the northwest to 1,000 millimetres (39 in) in the Orinoco Delta of the far east. Most precipitation falls between May and November (the rainy season or "winter"); the drier and hotter remainder of the year is known as "summer", though temperature variation throughout the year is not as pronounced as at temperate latitudes.

Flora and fauna

The araguaney (Tabebuia chrysantha), Venezuela's national tree.
The araguaney (Tabebuia chrysantha), Venezuela's national tree.

Venezuela lies within the Neotropic ecozone; large portions of the country were originally covered by moist broadleaf forests. One of seventeen megadiverse countries and among the top twenty countries in terms of endemism, some 38% of the over 21,000 plant species are unique to the country; 23% of reptilian and 50% of amphibian species are also endemic. Venezuela hosts significant biodiversity across habitats ranging from xeric scrublands in the extreme northwest to coastal mangrove forests in the northeast. Its cloud forests and lowland rainforests are particularly rich, for example hosting over 25,000 species of orchids. These include the flor de mayo orchid (Cattleya mossiae), the national flower.

The golden silk orb-weaver is among the more common of Venezuela's arthropods.
The golden silk orb-weaver is among the more common of Venezuela's arthropods.

Venezuela's national tree is the araguaney, whose characteristic lushness after the rainy season led novelist Rómulo Gallegos to name it «[l]a primavera de oro de los araguaneyes» ("the golden spring of the araguaneyes"). Notable mammals include the giant anteater, jaguar, and the capybara, the world's largest rodent. More than half of Venezuelan avian and mammalian species are found in the Amazonian forests south of the Orinoco. Manatees, Boto river dolphins, and Orinoco crocodiles, which reach up to 8 metres (26 ft) in length, are notable aquatic species. Venezuela also hosts a huge number of bird species, a total of 1,417, 48 of which are endemic. Important birds include ibises, ospreys, kingfishers, and the yellow-orange turpial, the national bird.

In recent decades, logging, mining, shifting cultivation, development, and other human activities have posed a major threat to Venezuela's wildlife; between 1990 and 2000, 0.40% of forest cover was cleared annually. In response, federal protections for critical habitat were implemented; for example, 20% to 33% of forested land is protected. Venezuela is currently home to a biosphere reserve that is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; five wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention. In 2003, 70% of the nation's land was under conservation management in over 200 protected areas, including 43 national parks.

Economy

The petroleum sector dominates Venezuela's mixed economy, accounting for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of exports, and more than half of government revenues. The country's main petroleum deposits are located around and beneath Lake Maracaibo, the Gulf of Venezuela, and in the surroundings of the Orinoco River where the biggest reserve of the country is located.

Demographics

Caracas, Libertador Avenue
Caracas, Libertador Avenue

Since 1926, Venezuelan Census does not contain information about ethnicity so only rough estimates are available. Some 68% of the population are Mestizo, defined as a mixture of any other races; another 21% are unmixed caucasians, mostly of Spanish, Italian, German, and Portuguese stock. Other important groups include Afro-Venezuelans, though their numbers are unclear due to poor census data. Asians, predominantly Arab and Chinese descent, make up a small percentage of the population. Only about 2% of Venezuelans are Indigenous. These groups were joined by sponsored migrants from throughout Europe and neighboring parts of South America by the mid-20th century economic boom. About 85% of the population live in urban areas in northern Venezuela; 73% live less than 100 kilometres (62 mi) from the coastline. Though almost half of Venezuela's land area lies south of the Orinoco, only 5% of Venezuelans live there.

The national and official language is Spanish; 31 indigenous languages are also spoken, including Guajibo, Pemon, Warao, Wayuu, and the various Yanomaman languages. European immigrant communities and their descendants commonly use their own native languages. Nominally, 96% of the population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church.

Culture

Basílica de La Chinita, Our Lady of Rosario of Chiquinquirá Basilica, Maracaibo
Basílica de La Chinita, Our Lady of Rosario of Chiquinquirá Basilica, Maracaibo

Venezuela's heritage, art, and culture have been heavily influenced by its Latin American context. These elements extend to its historic buildings, architecture, art, landscape, boundaries, and monuments. Venezuelan culture has been shaped by indigenous, Spanish and African influences. Before this period, indigenous culture was expressed in art ( petroglyphs), crafts, architecture ( shabonos), and social organization. Aboriginal culture was subsequently assimilated by Spaniards; over the years, the hybrid culture had diversified by region.

Venezuelan art was initially dominated by religious motifs, but began emphasizing historical and heroic representations in the late 19th century, a move led by Martín Tovar y Tovar. Modernism took over in the 20th century. Notable Venezuelan artists include Arturo Michelena, Cristóbal Rojas, Armando Reverón, Manuel Cabré, the kinetic artists Jesús-Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez.

Venezuelan literature originated soon after the Spanish conquest of the mostly pre-literate indigenous societies; it was dominated by Spanish influences. Following the rise of political literature during the War of Independence, Venezuelan Romanticism, notably expounded by Juan Vicente González, emerged as the first important genre in the region. Although mainly focused on narrative writing, Venezuelan literature was advanced by poets such as Andrés Eloy Blanco and Fermín Toro. Major writers and novelists include Rómulo Gallegos, Teresa de la Parra, Arturo Uslar Pietri, Adriano González León, Miguel Otero Silva, and Mariano Picón Salas. The great poet and humanist Andrés Bello was also an educator and intellectual. Others, such as Laureano Vallenilla Lanz and José Gil Fortoul, contributed to Venezuelan Positivism.

The Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex in Caracas.
The Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex in Caracas.
The joropo, as depicted in a 1912 drawing by Eloy Palacios.
The joropo, as depicted in a 1912 drawing by Eloy Palacios.

Carlos Raúl Villanueva was the most important Venezuelan architect of the modern era; he designed the Central University of Venezuela, (a World Heritage Site) and its Aula Magna. Other notable architectural works include the Capitol, the Baralt Theatre, the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex, and the General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge.

Indigenous musical styles of Venezuela are exemplified by the groups Un Solo Pueblo and Serenata Guayanesa. The national musical instrument is the cuatro. Typical musical styles and pieces mainly emerged in and around the llanos region, including Alma Llanera (by Pedro Elías Gutiérrez and Rafael Bolivar Coronado), Florentino y el Diablo (by Alberto Arvelo Torrealba), Concierto en la Llanura by Juan Vicente Torrealba, and Caballo Viejo (by Simón Díaz). The Zulian gaita is also a popular style, generally performed during Christmas. The national dance is the joropo. Teresa Carreño was a world-famous 19th century piano virtuosa.

Baseball is Venezuela's most popular sport, although football (soccer), spearheaded by the Venezuela national football team, is gaining influence. Famous Venezuelan baseball players include Luis Aparicio (inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame), David (Dave) Concepción, Oswaldo (Ozzie) Guillén (current White Sox manager, World Series champion in 2005), Cubs Ace Carlos Zambrano, Freddy Garcia, Andrés Galarraga, Omar Vizquel (an eleven-time Gold Glove winner), Luis Sojo, Miguel Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, Felix Hernandez, Magglio Ordóñez, Ugueth Urbina, Víctor Martínez, Rafael Betancourt, and Johan Santana (a two-time unanimously selected Cy Young Award winner).

The World Values Survey has consistently shown Venezuelans to be among the happiest people in the world, with 55% of those questioned saying they were "very happy".

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