Lake Maracaibo: geographical location, description, origin
Lake Maracaibo is considered to be one of the oldest water formations on the planet. According to scientists, its age is more than 27 million years. At present, the largest body of water in South America, located on the territory of Venezuela. The area of the lake is quite impressive in size - its banks stretch for 13,210 km², and the volume of water flow is more than 280 km³. As for the depth of a given reservoir, it is different in its different parts. For example, on one side it can reach 250 meters, and on the opposite side - only 60 meters. Having found Lake Maracaibo on the map, it could be taken as a bay, since there is a small isthmus connecting this water body to the Caribbean Sea. The depth of this strait is only 4 meters, and in some places it is no more than two meters.
Interesting is the geographical location of Lake Maracaibo.This unique water formation is located between the picturesque Cordillera de Merida ridges and the Sierra de Perich, forming a tectonic depression. To find Lake Maracaibo, you need to go towards the Gulf of Venezuela, where you can see it, sailing along a narrow passage formed by rock formations.
Due to the fact that a very large number of freshwater rivers flow into the lake, the water has a faint taste of salt, so scientists call it “brackish”. Due to its geographical location, a rather hot but mild climate prevails on its territory, which contributes to the successful occupation of agriculture. For the most part, sugar cane is grown on the south side, but on the western shores you can see endless cocoa plantations, which are among the best in the world. In addition, on its territory fruit trees occupy a fairly large area and an equally significant place is reserved for grazing animals.
The origin of the lake
As for the history, to date, reliable information about the origin of Lake Maracaibo has not been found, despite the long period of its existence.There are several different legends, and which of them is more reliable, difficult to say. One tells of the fact that during military battles with colonial troops a tribal leader named Mara was wounded, and seeing this, the Indians began shouting "Mara Coy", which translates as "Mara fell." Therefore, the lake was named after the brave Native American leader. According to another version, Lake Maracaibo owes its name to its direct location to the marshland of Ma'ara Ivo, meaning - "Snake Place."
From a geographical point of view, the appearance of the reservoir is explained as follows. A large number of mountain peaks caused ground subsidence between them. The result was a huge trench. Melting glaciers, a lot of mountain streams, rushing into it, filled the lake with water.
Given the fact in which country Lake Maracaibo is located, it is quite clear that the main natural wealth is the significant oil deposits that are located on the territory of the reservoir both in the coastal zone and in its waters. Residents knew about the presence of oil for a long time, but because of their illiteracy they used it mainly as a remedy for gastrointestinal diseases.Until in 1539 the local doctor sent several barrels to his colleagues in Europe. Up to this point, the pirates used an oily liquid as a tar, coating their ships.
After 300 years, oil production has become quite popular, and mass drilling of wells began in the lake. Today Venezuela is the largest exporter of black gold in the world. Thanks to this natural wealth, the state ensures its economic stability.
In addition to oil, other natural resources are located on the territory, which attracts South America. Lake Maracaibo is famous for its amazing nature with its majestic greenery and numerous fauna. One of the main attractions is the Chienagas del Catatumbu National Park, located in the southwestern part, where, in addition to exotic vegetation, rare species of howler monkeys and other equally interesting representatives of the animal world live.
A unique phenomenon that occurs in Venezuela is considered a natural phenomenon, which attracts tourists from all over the world who dream to see it with their own eyes.In a place where the Katatumba River flows into Lake Karakaibo, after sunset a natural light show takes place, which is created by numerous lightning charges. Over the course of a year, for about 150 days, one can observe such a spectacle, called the “Catatumba Lighthouse”. These silent flashes descend on the silent expanses of water, and they can be observed at a distance of about 400 kilometers.
Because of this, Lake Maracaibo is also called a lighthouse, since it serves as a landmark for ships passing by. According to scientists, this phenomenon is preceded by an excessive concentration of methane in the air, which stands out from a large area covered with swamps. Such a light show often occurs during bad weather and can sometimes be observed for 7-10 hours. Locals counted up to 300 lightning flashes within an hour.
A find for tourists
Many lovers of the exotic, traveling through the colorful places of the planet, are looking for Lake Maracaibo on the map, plotting their route. The unusual nature of these places allows you to enjoy the incredible atmosphere. Hospitality of the local population makes it possible to spend an unforgettable vacation in Venezuela. A unique natural phenomenon only adds to the popularity of the mainland.For those who want to spend a truly fabulous vacation, comfortable small houses built on the water are provided, where at night you can contemplate a local phenomenon while lying in an outdoor hammock. In addition, to explore all the surroundings, tourists are offered excursions on pleasure boats.
Initially, on the territory near the lake there was a small settlement, where the locals mostly engaged in farming and fishing. But after the opening of the first well and the subsequent extensive oil production, residents from other cities began to arrive in it.
To date, thanks to the technical progress of the village is a million. Agriculture is still thriving here, a huge seaport has been built, allowing to export oil. To date, the territory that surrounds Lake Maracaibo, home to more than a quarter of the entire population of Venezuela, and most of them are different tribes of Indians. Here you can see numerous buildings that are built in accordance with their customs and culture, which adds to this place colorful and, most importantly, all this is built on the water, using wooden piles.