The Orinoco River runs some 1,600 miles from the Guiana highlands at the Brazilian border to the Gulf of Paria. Historically it constituted part of Venezuela's waterway transportation between Ciudad Bolívar and Maracaibo. The Orinoco drains most of the country.
In the late sixteenth century, Walter Raleigh raided the Orinoco region. During the wars of independence, Simón Bolívar used the river as a means of attacking and defeating the Spanish forces in Venezuela. The river basin now comprises an important part of Venezuela's modern economy. It produces some 21 percent of Venezuelan oil. In 1970, the Guri dam on the Caroní River, one of the Orinoco's major tributaries, began to generate tremendous hydroelectric power. The river also facilitates Venezuelan exploitation of rich iron ore deposits and expansion of steel production in eastern Venezuela.
See alsoGuiana Highlands .
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Rafael Gómez Picón, Orinoco, río de libertad: Biografía, aspectos geográficos, históricos, socioeconómicos, 2d ed. (1978).
Belton, Benjamin Keith. Orinoco Flow: Culture, Narrative, and the Political Economy of Information. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2003.
Penn, James R. Rivers of the World: a Social, Geographical, and Environmental Sourcebook. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2001.
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Winthrop R. Wright