Learn about Venezuela and improve your listening skills in this podcast episode.
Voice message from Rafa from Mislata, Valencia
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Voice message from Vanessa from Venezuela
Venezuela is on the northern coast of South America. It shares its border with Brazil in the south, Colombia in the west, Guyana in the east, and the islands of Trinidad and Tobago lie to the north-east.
Caracas is the capital and the population is around 30 million.
The Venezuelan flag is colored yellow, blue and red. The yellow is for land wealth, the blue for the sea that separates Venezuela from Spain, and the red represents the bloodshed by the heroes of independence (1821).
It’s very similar to the flags of Colombia and Ecuador, as all three countries once formed then newly independent Gran Colombia.
It used to have seven stars, representing the seven provinces that make up the nation. But in 2006 an eighth star was added, symbolizing Venezuela’s long-standing unresolved claim to part of the Esequibo province in neighbouring Guyana.
Venezuela used to rely on coffee and cocoa as its main exports. Oil was discovered during World War I. These days, it is one of the world’s leading exporters of oil.
The name Venezuela is a diminutive version of Venezia (Venice). When Italian explorer/cartographer Amerigo Vespucci first saw the houses on stilts over water in the Guajira peninsula, it reminded him of Venice, Italy.
Tumultuous to say the least!
A history of power struggles, coups and attempted coups. At the moment Nicolás Maduro is president. Or is he? On 23 January 2019, the President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, was declared the interim President by the National Assembly.
Guaidó has been recognized as the acting President of Venezuela by about 60 countries. However, China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, Syria, and Turkey support Maduro.
On January 6, 2021, all members of the European Union stopped recognizing Guaidó as president, but the EU still does not recognize Maduro as the legitimate president and plans to promote his removal. (source: Wikipedia)
Venezuela has had more Miss World winners than any other country (six). The UK and India both have each won five times.
Venezuela is considered to be among the 17 most megadiverse countries in the world. The largest living rodent is native to Venezuela. The Capybara. Over 1 metre long, over half a metre high and weighing 35-66 kg!
Other exotic animals include the jaguar, the amazon crocodile, the manatee (sea cow), the giant anteater, the anaconda and the 3-toed and 2-toed sloth.
Venezuela has three world heritage sites: Canaima National Park; Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas; the port of Coro.
Venezuela can be dangerous. It has the second highest number of gun-related deaths in the world. Honduras has the most.
(source: https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/gun-deaths-by-countryhttps://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/gun-deaths-by-country )
It has the largest proven oil reserves in the world and also has the cheapest fuel prices in the world. Unfortunately, you have to queue hours and hours to buy it.
It has the world’s highest waterfall. Angel Falls in Canaima National Park. Total height: 979 metres.
Lake Maracaibo is the largest lake in South America. It’s also one of the oldest in the world, between 20 and 40 million years old!
It’s customary for inhabitants of Caracas to go to church to hear Christmas mass on roller skates!
Pabellón Criollo (Venezuela’s National Dish) pulled beef with spicy rice and black beans. Served with plantains or a fried egg on top.
Mandocas (like a doughnut. Made with cornmeal and plantains. Can be sweet or salty. Deep-fried and served with white cheese and/or butter. Great for breakfast.
Simón Bolívar (Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte-Andrade y Blanco). He was a military and political leader. Bolívar played a key role in Latin America’s successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire.
He’s considered one of the most influential politicians in the history of the Americas. During his lifetime, he led Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia to independence from the Spanish Empire.
Carolina Herrera – Fashion Designer
Félix Hernández (King Felix) – Baseball pitcher (born in Valencia, Venezuela in 1986)
He played in Major League Baseball for the Seattle Mariners from 2005 to 2019. In his younger days, his fastball got to 100mph (over 160 kmh). There are many famous Venezuelan baseball players because, together with football, it’s the national sport.
Édgar Ramírez – actor
The Bourne Ultimatum, Manos de Piedra (Roberto Durán), Carlos (TV Mini-Series)
Ilich Ramírez Sánchez ‘Carlos (The Jackal)’, the terrorist who was also born in Venezuela. Once the most-wanted man in the world.
…and now it’s your turn to practise your English.
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On next week’s episode: Changing Habits
The music in this podcast is by Pitx. The track is called ‘See You Later’
music by Jason Shaw from audionautix.com Creative Commons 4.0 International license