Venezuela’s Vase-Shaped Lake Maracaibo 

by | Nov 7, 2023

The Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission takes us over Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo, the largest natural body of water in South America. 

The vase-shaped Lake Maracaibo extends about 200 kilometers inland and is linked to the Gulf of Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea through a narrow straight, which looks like the “neck” of the vase at the top of the image.  

With an area of more than 13,000 square kilometers, Lake Maracaibo is generally considered the largest lake in South America, although by some estimates it should be considered an inlet of the Caribbean Sea since much of its water is brought in by its direct connection to the ocean. 

As a result, the water in the northern part of the lake is rather brackish, while the southern waters are fresh, owing to the many rivers that flow into the lake. The biggest, the Catatumbo River, can be seen entering the lake from southwest, where a large amount of sediment carried by the river appears as a yellowish plume. 

The port of Maracaibo can be seen in light brown on the west side of the strait. After Caracas, Maracaibo is Venezuela’s second city and the country’s oil capital. 


May Issue 2024