Lake Maracaibo Venezuela Map and Information Page

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Lake Maracaibo is the largest lake on the South American continent, and one of the planet's oldest bodies of water.

Geologists report that Maracaibo is one of only a handful of ancient lakes on earth, and it is estimated to be the second oldest; formed nearly 35 million years ago.

This brackish body of water is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea by a 34 mile (55 km) long strait on its northern edge.

That strait was finally spanned in 1962 when the General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge was completed. That structure (5 mi, 8 km long), is one of the longest bridges in the world, and crossed by an average of 37,000 vehicles each day.

The basin surrounding Lake Maracaibo is one of the major oil-producing areas of the world. Venezuelan crude oil is subsequently shipped through the port city of Maracaibo to dozens of oil-starved nations.

The lake's primary flow of fresh water is from the Catatumbo River.

As a historical note, the "Battle of Lake Maracaibo," fought on the lake on July 24, 1823, was the last (and decisive battle) of the Venezuelan War of Independence from Spain

General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge video

Maracaibo from space

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