Venezuela is located on the northern coast of South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in the north and northeast. The country has four distinct geographical regions: the Venezuelan Highlands, the Maracaibo Lowlands, the Orinoco Plains, and the Guiana Highlands.
The Natural Landscape of Venezuela
Venezuela is located on the northern coast of South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean in the north and northeast.
Shaped roughly like an inverted triangle, the country's northern coastline spans about 2,800 km (1,700 mi). Venezuela also maintains jurisdiction over several islands in the Caribbean Sea.
Venezuela has a hot and humid climate that moderates with altitude. Annual precipitation ranges between 400 mm (16 in) in the northwestern arid zones and 4,000 mm (160 in) in the country's south. The wet season is from May to October, and the dry season is from December through March.
Venezuela is a biodiverse country, home to a wide variety of plants and animals. According to the Global Biodiversity Index, Venezuela is the 11th most biodiverse country in the world. With 1,386 bird species, 365 amphibian species, 1,735 fish species, 376 mammal species, 419 reptile species, and an estimated 30,000 vascular plant species, Venezuela is one of 17 megadiverse countries.
Map depicting the countries on the continent of South America
Natural Geography of Venezuela
Venezuela's topography can be divided into three broad elevational divisions.
Lowland plains: from sea level to elevations of approximately 500 m (1,640 ft)
Interior forested uplands: scattered peaks may rise to 2,000 m (6,560 ft)
Mountains: elevations may reach up to 5,000 m (16,400 ft)
Seven physiographic regions can be found within them:
the islands and coastal plains in the north, including the Orinoco Delta in the northeast
the coastal mountain system (with its Coastal and Interior ranges) in the north
the Lake Maracaibo Lowlands in the northwest
the Mérida and Perijá ranges of the Andes Mountains in the northwest
the northwestern valleys and hill ranges, also known as the Segovia Highlands
the Llanos in the center of the country
the Guiana Highlands in the south
Relief map of Venezuela
Venezuelan Highlands (Andes)
The Venezuelan Highlands are the northeasternmost extension of the Andes Mountains and border the Caribbean Sea. Physiographically, the Segovia Highlands, northwest of Barquisimeto, and the coastal ranges may also be considered parts of the Andes chain.
The highest point in the country is Pico Bolivar at 4,978 m (16,332 ft). Its peak is permanently covered in snow. A large portion of the population lives in the valleys between the mountains.
The Maracaibo Lowlands region in the northwest is relatively flat and surrounded by mountains on three sides. Lake Maracaibo dominates the region, which is known for its oil fields.
Orinoco Plains (Los Llanos)
The Orinoco Plains is a lowland grassland region in central Venezuela, known as Los Llanos, with elevations that never exceed 200 m (656 ft). The Orinoco River is a well-known area feature and is the most important river in Venezuela.
The Guiana Highlands (or Guyana Highlands) proper is located in southern Venezuela, east of the Orinoco River. The Gran Sabana is found in this region. Featuring unique geography, the highlands extend into western Guyana and northern Brazil.
Venezuela physiographic map
Because of its natural structure, Venezuela can be divided into eight distinct natural regions.
Cordillera de La Costa Region
The Cordillera de La Costa consists of two parallel ranges that run along the central and eastern portions of Venezuela's northern Caribbean coast, divided by a wide bay. The range is a northeastern extension of the Andes, also known as the Maritime Andes. It is the fourth-largest natural region in Venezuela.
Orinoco Delta Region
The Orinoco Delta Region encompasses the vast delta of the Orinoco River. The fan-shaped delta hosts numerous distributaries called caños, which meander their way to the coast. The main distributary is the Rio Grande, which empties through the southeast portion of the delta. The second major distributary is Caño Manamo, which runs northward along the western edge of the delta.
Maracaibo Basin Region
The Maracaibo Basin is located between the high Andean ranges in the country's northwestern corner. Lake Maracaibo, a large shallow tidal estuary, is near its center. The region is hydrocarbon-rich and is one of the main oil-producing regions of the country.
This heavily forested plateau and low-mountain region, the Guyana Highlands, comprises over half of the country. This is where the table-like mountains called tepuis are found and some of the world's most spectacular waterfalls, such as Angel Falls (the world's highest), Kaieteur Falls and Kuquenan Falls.
The Insular Region comprises the nation's islands and is formed by the state of Nueva Esparta and the Federal Dependencies. Nueva Esparta includes Margarita Island, Coche Island, and the largely uninhabited Cubagua Island. The Federal Dependencies encompass other offshore islands.
The western branch, known as the Perijá Mountains (Sierra de Perijá or Serranía de Los Motilones), is a much smaller section that runs along the border with Colombia at the western extreme of the Venezuelan state of Zulia.
Los Llanos Region
Along the course of the Orinoco River lie the Llanos, a relatively level region of savannas and tropical rainforests. The Llanos extend from the Andean foothills to the Orinoco Delta for approximately 1,300 km (800 mi).
Lara-Falcón Highlands Region
The Lara-Falcón Formation or Coriano system Is a hilly and semi-mountainous area in northwest Venezuela. It consists mainly of east-west running ridges, except the Sierra de Siruma or Empalado, which run north-south. The region's coastal plain contains Venezuela's only desert, the Médanos de Coro on the Paraguaná Peninsula.
Map depicting the natural regions of Venezuela
Venezuela has diverse mountain ranges that offer stunning landscapes and ecological significance. These mountain ranges contribute to Venezuela's natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and cultural heritage. They offer opportunities for adventure, exploration, and appreciation of the diverse landscapes that make Venezuela a captivating destination for nature enthusiasts and travelers.
See more: Mountain Ranges of Venezuela
Islands and Archipelagos
Venezuela stretches along the northern coast of South America and embraces a tapestry of islands and archipelagos that dot the surrounding Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Venezuela.
Steeped in history and ecologically significant, these islands and archipelagos offer an array of landscapes, from pristine white sand beaches to vibrant coral reefs and rugged coastlines.
See more: Islands and Archipelagos of Venezuela
Bodies of Water
The country of Venezuela, situated on the northern coast of South America, has a variety of water bodies that influence its geography, ecosystems, and human activities.
Venezuela's waterways are diverse, ranging from the mighty Orinoco River, one of the continent's largest and most significant waterways, to the beautiful Lake Maracaibo, the largest lake in South America.
These water bodies are critical to the country, serving as transportation routes, supporting agriculture in the fertile Llanos plains, and providing habitats for various aquatic species.
See more: Water Bodies of Venezuela
Venezuela is a federation of 23 states and a capital district. In addition, a special territory known as the Federal Dependencies encompasses most of the country's offshore islands not already integrated into an existing state. Administratively, the states are divided into 335 municipalities, subdivided into parishes.
See more: Cultural Landscape of Venezuela
The following is a list of terrestrial ecoregions in Venezuela, as defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Venezuela is in the Neotropical realm. Ecoregions are classified by biome type - the major global plant communities determined by rainfall and climate.
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Catatumbo moist forests
Cordillera de la Costa montane forests
Cordillera Oriental montane forests
Guianan Piedmont and lowland moist forests
Japurá-Solimões-Negro moist forests
Negro-Branco moist forests
Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests
Apure-Villavicencio dry forests
Lara-Falcón dry forests
Maracaibo dry forests
Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Flooded grasslands and savannas
Montane grasslands and shrublands
Cordillera de Merida páramo
Deserts and xeric shrublands
Araya and Paria xeric scrub
La Costa xeric shrublands
Paraguana xeric scrub
Coastal Venezuelan mangroves
Vegetation map of Venezuela