Home to the largest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls, Venezuela means “Little Venice” after the homes built along Lake Maracaibo that were built on stilts. Venezuela has one of the most diverse ethnic backgrounds but nonetheless has one of the most stable national identities in South America. Up through the 1990’s, Venezuela was also one of the richest countries on the continent due to its abundance of oil.
Traditional gender roles are present in Venezuela with men taking on more demanding labor intense work and women relegated to domestics. However, women are more and more a part of the general workforce, increasing their economic standing and discarding the exclusive domestic burden of the household and child rearing.
Most homes are made up of nuclear families with extended family nearby. If members migrate, Venezuelans make every effort to keep in contact with the distant relative. Parents are expected to provide everything for their child and most children live at home until they are married. Both parents play a part in raising children, with additional help from extended family. Children are raised to be friendly, generous, and good-natured.
Baseball is the national sport of Venezuela and many young boys dream of playing the major leagues in the U.S. Soccer is played, though not as popular as in the rest of Latin America. Teens play video and computer games and in cities, parents will often sign up their children for after–school educational activities. Rural children enjoy riding bicycles, playing football (soccer) and baseball in open spaces. It is also common for kids to work to help their parents financially.
Arepas, the most distinctive Venezuelan food, are thick disks made of precooked cornmeal, either fried or baked. Large arepas, with a variety of fillings (ham and cheese is the most popular one), are eaten as snacks throughout the day; smaller arepas are typically served as side companions at all meals. Similar to arepas are empanadas (deep-fried pastries) and cachapas (a pancake/crepe-like dish), which are filled with cheese, ham, and/or bacon. Fruit juices are also extremely popular and there is also a great variety of salads, although these are traditionally seen as a complementary, not a main, dish.
Spanish is the official language of Venezuela but English is associated with commercial and cultural success and is slowly becoming the second most common language spoken. 90% of the population is Catholic.