Venezuela is one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America, thanks to the oil money that has financed its meteoric growth since the 1970s. It is also thanks to this self same oil money that Venezuela is often accused of being too over-developed and Americanised. However a visit to the country will quickly reveal that there is a lot more to Venezuela than just cheap petrol. Venezuela is famed for its abundance of outstandingly beautiful women, a fact that is not lost on the Venezuelans themselves. They have been equally quick to cash in on this resource and the famed beauty schools of Caracas have groomed a record number of Miss Worlds and Miss Universes.

Beyond the exquisite looks of its women is the rare beauty of Venezuela’s spectacular range of vistas. Within its borders it is possible to trek among the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, enjoy 1,800 miles of Caribbean coastline, marvel at the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls, and even have a bona fide ‘Heart of darkness’ experience exploring the wilds of the Amazon.

Regions like Los Llanos, a vast wilderness of flood plains which takes up a large proportion of the country’s interior, and the Gran Sabana which is home to the unique flat-topped Tepuis Mountains, can be quite overwhelming in terms of their sheer immensity and dramatic natural surroundings. Venezuela has come a long way since the arrival of the Spanish and Christopher Columbus in the 16th Century, but not so far as to diminish any of its initial wonder or allure.

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