Skip to main content

Maracaibo, Lake

Lake Maracaibo, largest lake of South America, c.5,100 sq mi (13,210 sq km), NW Venezuela, extending c.110 mi (180 km) inland. A strait, 34 mi (55 km) long, connects it with the Gulf of Venezuela. Discovered in 1499 by the Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda, the lake lies in the extremely hot, humid lowlands of the Maracaibo basin, a region that, almost enclosed by mountains, is semiarid in the north but has an average annual rainfall of 50 in. (127 cm) in the south. The basin is one of the major oil-producing areas of the world, and was developed beginning in 1918. Although petroleum production is the most significant economic activity locally, sugarcane, cacao, and livestock are raised. In addition, fish are caught in the lake, despite pollution from agricultural runoff and oil spills. Lake Maracaibo, with the Catatumbo River, its chief tributary, is a major artery of communication for products of the adjacent region and those of the Colombian-Venezuelan highlands. A dredged channel gives oceangoing vessels access to the lake. Cabimas and the port of Maracaibo are the principal cities on the lake. Gen. Rafael Urdaneta Bridge (c.5 mi/8 km long; completed 1962), spanning the lake's outlet, is one of the longest bridges in the world.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Maracaibo, Lake." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Maracaibo, Lake." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/maracaibo-lake

"Maracaibo, Lake." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/maracaibo-lake

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.