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República Bolivariana de Venezuela

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela


Venezuela is a South American country located on the northern coast. The Capital is Caracas, the language is Spanish. Venezuela is a developing country and since the Bolivarian Revolution in 1999 it is governed by a left-wing populist social movement. The results are devastating, hyperinflation, riots, human rights violations, and faked elections. While the country has fascinating quartzite karst, tinkengs, the largest cave entrance of the world, and the original Oilbird Cave, we can not recommend traveling there at the moment.

Located on the South American Plate immediately north of the equator, there is a mountain ridge in the northwest, a lowland in the center, and another mountainous area in the south. The two show caves are located in the mountains at the coast. The lowland has no underground sites for obvious reasons. The mountains in the south are dominated by old rock of the craton, crystalline rocks, metamorphites, and quartzite. There are vast layers of quartzite, forming huge plateaus, which are partly eroded. The hard quartzite forms escarpments which are several hundred meters high. The result are tepuis, table mountains, which are full of quartzite karst caves. This is the location of the dinosaurs in Arthur Conan Doyle (1912) The Lost World. In reality, it is really spectacular and still as remote as in the books. You have to climb 300 m high vertical walls to reach the plateaus, or use a helicopter.

The lack of underground sights in Venezuela is not based on the lack of caves, it's a result of the lack of tourism, both domestic and foreign. The country could develop dozens of great sites once it was out of the hole where it is currently in.

Speleology started in Venezuela in the 1960s. The Sociedad Venezolana de Espeleología (Venezuelan Speleological Society, SVE) was founded in 1967 and still exists. They publish a yearly publication, the Boletín de la Sociedad Venezolana de Espeleología (Bulletin of the Venezuelan Speleological Society). They also have a national registry, or cadastre, which contains maps and descriptions of over 700 caves [2011]. It is a non-profit organization formed by volunteers, only a few are actually scientist, which is normal for speleological societies all over the world.