What Italian City Gave Its Name to a South American Country?

Venice is the Italian city that gave its name to a South American country: Venezuela. The country’s name actually means “Little Venice.” It was named by Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda in 1499. He thought that some of the country’s small houses constructed on stilts above Lake Maracaibo were reminiscent of Venice, a city built on 118 small islands connected by canals and bridges and with its structures on stilts. The first Spanish settlement in Venezuela was established a year after its naming, but it was destroyed in a tsunami. Venezuela did not officially become independent from the Spanish until 1819.

More about Venezuela:

  • Venezuela is home to the world’s highest waterfall, Angel Falls, which has a height of 3,212 feet (979 m).
  • There are over 21,000 species of plants, 350 mammal species, and 1,400 bird species in Venezuela, making it one of the most biodiverse places on Earth due to the country’s expansive rain forests.
  • The largest rodent in the world, the capybara, is native to Venezuela—the rodent can grow up to 2 feet (60 centimeters) tall.

Discussion Comments


I haven't been to Venezuela before, but I did learn about its diversity a few years ago. While I definitely found it to be fascinating and intriguing, one thing that has always concerned me is about the wildlife there. In other words, times have changed, due to the intrusion of people and their cutting down of rainforest, it's entirely possible that there aren't as many plants and species as before.

While I can't say for certain, I really think it's something to take into consideration, especially if one plans on taking a trip to Venezuela. No matter where you're taking a trip to, wildlife is becoming more and more scarce, and something really has to be done about it. However, on the other hand, I do think it's incredibly interesting how much wildlife really does exist there. It really shows how unique our culture us.


After reading the third bullet point, I decided to do some research on the world's largest rodent, and I was actually quite surprised at how big it was.

All I can really say is that I'm glad it doesn't live around here, ha ha. Also, in my opinion, the fact that the capybara is only native to Venezuela, not only shows how unique the animal kingdom is, but even more so, how many animals one can find if they travel outside of their "comfort zone", so to speak.

From my perspective, I often feel that as Americans, we're only used to seeing certain kinds of animals, and due to this, when we see unique animals such as the capybara, it comes off as very unusual. Just a thought, but it's certainly something interesting to think about.


Venezuela has always been one of those places that I've wanted to visit. In fact, reading some of the tidbits in this article make me want to go there even more, especially in reference to the number of islands and species that are discussed.

I don't know about anyone else, but in all, I feel that no matter what place you want to take a vacation to, it's always a very good idea to brush up on the history of the place, and other important factors as well.

I mean, not only is it a good idea to know about the culture of the area, but even more so, it's also a great idea to know what kind of animals are there as well.

After all, don't forget that some animals can be quite dangerous, and sometimes, there have been numerous deaths because one was ill prepared for what was in store for them.

Using one more example, would be the plant called poison ivy. While it's not Native to Venezuela, on the other hand, if one doesn't know much about the plant, they could end up getting a rash if they go on the vacation, and don't know much about it. Overall, it's always a good idea to be careful.

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