A republic on the northern coast of South America, on the Caribbean Sea; population 31,100,000 (estimated 2015); capital, Caracas; language, Spanish (official). Official name Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century, Venezuela won its independence in 1821 after a ten-year struggle. It did not, however, emerge as a separate nation until its secession from federation with Colombia in 1830. It is a major oil-exporting country, with the industry based on the area around Lake Maracaibo in the northwest
Spanish, literally ‘little Venice’, named by early explorers when they saw native houses built on stilts over water.