With a length of 2140 km, the Orinoco is one of the largest rivers of South America. It flows through Venezuela, having its source in Parima on the Brazilian frontier, and from there making a wide arc, first flowing southwest, then west, north and finally northeast, into the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Paria.
Bridge over the Orinoco at Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela (2004)
At its mouth it forms a wide delta that branches off into hundreds of rivers and waterways that flow through 41000 km▓ of swampy forests. In the rainy season it can swell to a breadth of 22 kilometres and a depth of 100 meters. Most of the important Venezuelan rivers are tributaries of the Orinoco, the largest being the CaronÝ, which joins the Orinoco at Puerto Ordaz, close to the Llovizna Falls. The river is navigable for most of its length, and dredging enables ocean ships to go as far as Ciudad Bolivar, 435 km upstream. You can find it at about 9 degrees north (latitude) and 60 degrees west (longitude).
A peculiarity of the Orinoco river system is the Casiquiare canal, which starts as an arm of the Orinoco, and finds its way to the Rio Negro, a tributary of the Amazon, thus forming a 'natural canal' between the Orinoco and the Amazon.
Irish singer Enya had a hit with Orinoco Flow (Sail Away). Also, The Boto, or Amazon River Dolphin, is known to inhabit the Orinoco River system.
This region also contains large tar sands which may be a source of future oil production.
Orinoco is also the name of one of The Wombles, all of whom take their names from an old atlas.
The Orinoco is one of the longest rivers in South America at 2,410 km, (1,497.5 miles).
The delta of the Orinoco, and tributaries in the eastern llanos such as the Apure and Meta, were explored in the 16th Century by German expeditions under Ambrosius Ehinger and his successors.
The Orinoco course describes a wide ellipsoidal arc, surrounding the Guiana Shield; it is divided in four stretches of unequal length that roughly correspond to the longitudinal zonation of a typical large river:
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