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Venezuela

  • General Info
The clear, warm waters of its Caribbean coastline are ideal for snorkelling and diving, while numerous islands off the coast invite visitors to explore. The tropical lowlands hide a huge array of wildlife, lush vegetation and dramatic waterfalls, yet within the same country lie high Andean peaks, providing a challenge to trekkers and mountaineers. The country is home to the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls (about 16 times higher than Niagara Falls), and the world’s longest and highest cable car, whisking tourists from the university town of Mérida to the 4,765m- (15,629ft-) high Pico Espejo.

Practical Information

Area: 916 445 km² (353 841 miles²)

Capital: Caracas. Population: 3.6 million

Population: 26.6 million

Currency: Bolívar (VEB) = 100 céntimos

Government: Republic. Gained independence from Spain in 1830.

Tipping: Tips are discretionary but in the majority of bars and restaurants, 10% is added to the bill and it is customary to leave another 10% on the table.

Time zone: GMT - 4

Languages: Spanish

Additional descriptions

Venezuela: Social customs

Shaking hands or using the local abrazo, a cross between a hug and a handshake, are the normal forms of greeting. In Caracas, conservative casual wear is the norm. Men are expected to wear suits for business,Read more and jackets and ties are usual for dining out and social functions. Dress on the coast is less formal but beachwear and shorts should not be worn away from the beach or pool. Smoking follows European habits and in most cases it is obvious where not to smoke. Some public buildings are also non-smoking areas.

Venezuela: Food and local specialties

Cumin and saffron are used in many dishes but the distinctive and delicate flavour of most of the popular dishes comes from the use of local roots and vegetables. There is no good local wine, although foreign wines are bottled locally. There are several good local beers, mineral waters, gin and excellent rum. Things to know: Bars have either table or counter service. A lisa is a glass of draught beer and a tercio a bottled beer. Most bars are open very late and there are no licensing laws. Table service is the norm and opening hours are 2100-2300. The national specialties are: Arepas (the native bread made from primitive ground corn, water and salt). Pabellón criollo (hash made with shredded meat and served with fried plantains and black beans on rice). Hallaca (cornmeal is combined with beef, pork, ham and green peppers, wrapped in individual pieces of banana leaves and cooked in boiling water, traditionally eaten at Christmas and New Year). Parrilla criolla (beef marinated and cooked over a charcoal grill). Hervido (soup made with chunks of beef, chicken or fish and native vegetables or roots). Coffee. Merengada (fruit pulp, ice, milk and sugar). Pousse-café (an after-dinner liqueur). Read more foreign wines are bottled locally. There are several good local beers, mineral waters, gin and excellent rum. Things to know: Bars have either table or counter service. A lisa is a glass of draught beer and a tercio a bottled beer. Most bars are open very late and there are no licensing laws. Table service is the norm and opening hours are 2100-2300. The national specialties are: Arepas (the native bread made from primitive ground corn, water and salt). Pabellón criollo (hash made with shredded meat and served with fried plantains and black beans on rice). Hallaca (cornmeal is combined with beef, pork, ham and green peppers, wrapped in individual pieces of banana leaves and cooked in boiling water, traditionally eaten at Christmas and New Year). Parrilla criolla (beef marinated and cooked over a charcoal grill). Hervido (soup made with chunks of beef, chicken or fish and native vegetables or roots). Coffee. Merengada (fruit pulp, ice, milk and sugar). Pousse-café (an after-dinner liqueur).

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