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La Gran Sabana

by David Hernández-Palmar

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The Gran Sabana (English: The Great Savanna) is an important natural attraction in Venezuela, located in the south of Bolívar State on the Venezuelan-Brazilian border, approximately 1,400 km from Caracas. The area has a tropical humid climate with an average temperature of 28 °C, but at night it can go down to 13 °C. The most important town in the region is Santa Elena de Uairen, the municipal capital, which is 5 kilometers from the Venezuelan-Brazilian border. It has a population of approximately 12,000 inhabitants.

The Gran Sabana lies on a plateau with a mean altitude of 1,000 meters above sea level and is dotted with huge table-top mountains called tepuis, which rise dramatically from the surrounding plains. The tallest of the tepuis is Mount Roraima at 2,810 meters above sea level. Mount Roraima also marks the triple border point for Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana.
Kukenan Tepuy at sunset.

The Gran Sabana is inhabited by several indigenous groups, including the Pemon, who are the most numerous. Canaima National Park, which was created by a decree on the 12th of June, 1962, encompasses most of the Gran Sabana but the areas do not exactly match. In 1975 the Canaima National Park was extended from the original 10,000 km² to 30,000 km², making it the sixth largest national park in the world.

The main attractions for visitors to the region are Churun Meru (Angel Falls), the world's highest waterfall, Mount Roraima, the mountain which inspired Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel The Lost World, and the many other mountains and waterfalls.
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