Venezuela, or Republic of Venezuela, a country in northern South America. It was given its name, meaning “Little Venice,” by an early Spanish explorer after he saw native huts built on posts in Lake Maracaibo. The country lies entirely within the tropical zone of the Northern Hemisphere. It is bounded on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; on the east by Guyana; on the south by Brazil; and on the west by Colombia.

There are 72 Caribbean islands that belong to Venezuela. Margarita, with an area of 440 square miles (1,140 km 2), is the largest.

Facts in brief about Venezuela
Capital: Caracas.
Official language: Spanish.
Official name: Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela).
Area: 352,145 mi2 (912,050 km2). Greatest distances—north-south, 790 mi (1,271 km); east-west, 925 mi (1,489 km). Coastline—1,750 mi (2,816 km).
Elevation: Highest—Pico Bolívar, 16,411 ft (5,002 m) above sea level. Lowest—sea level along the coast.
Population: Current estimate—28,112,000; density, 80 per mi2 (31 per km2); distribution, 88 percent urban, 12 percent rural. 2001 census—23,054,210.
Chief products: Agriculture—bananas, beef cattle, chickens and eggs, coffee, milk. Manufacturing—aluminum, petrochemicals, pig iron, processed foods, refined petroleum, steel. Mining—alumina, coal, iron ore, natural gas, petroleum.
National anthem: "Gloria al Bravo Pueblo" ("Glory to the Brave People").
Flag: Venezuela's state flag, adopted in 1954, has three horizontal stripes, yellow, blue, and red (top to bottom). The blue stripe has seven stars. The civil flag has no coat of arms. On the coat of arms, the running horse symbolizes liberty; the wheat sheaf, unity; and the swords, independence.
Money: Basic unit—bolívar. One hundred centimos equal one bolívar.