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The Venezuela–Guyana Dispute Explained in 3 Maps



In a territorial dispute spanning nearly two centuries, tensions between Guyana and Venezuela have once again reached a boiling point. The focal point of this dispute is the vast Essequibo region which encompasses around 70% of Guyana’s territory, and is roughly equivalent to the size of Florida.

Venezuela claims historical rights dating back to the Spanish colonial period when Essequibo fell within its boundaries. In 1840, the British government drew the Schomburgk Line expanding the territory of British Guiana (now Guyana) far beyond the occupied area and to the strategically-located mouth of the Orinoco River.

Historical map shows British border claims in Venezuela and British Guiana (circa 1840)

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This line played a pivotal role in shaping the modern borders of the region by defining the territory claimed by the UK, and later, a decolonized Guyana, as the country gained independence in 1966. That same year, Venezuela and the UK signed an agreement aiming for a negotiated solution.

In 2004, President Hugo Chávez eased border tensions under the advice of Fidel Castro, stating that he considered the dispute to be finished.

Recent events, however, have reignited the dispute. Between 2015 and 2021, Guyana announced the discovery of about 8 billion barrels of oil, elevating a country with fewer than a million people to a prominent position among the top nations in terms of oil reserves. ExxonMobil, leading a consortium, operates three offshore projects in the country, earning nearly $6 billion in 2022 alone.

Venezuela’s Referendum and New Map

On December 1, 2023, the World Court ordered Venezuela to refrain from actions in the border dispute with Guyana. However, just two days later, on December 3, Venezuelans approved a referendum claiming sovereignty over Essequibo.

President Maduro's new map of Venezuela which includes the new state of Guayana Esequiba

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President Maduro subsequently ordered the creation of a new state, Guayana Esequiba, within Venezuela’s borders, and released a new map of the country.

Venezuela’s new territorial claims don’t stop on land, they extend far out into sea as well. Specifically, Venezuela is claiming a critical area called the Stabroek Oil Block, where ExxonMobil and others are already active.

Venezuela offshore claim of the Stabroek Oil Block

With a population of around 125,000 people, the disputed region is full of dense rainforest, making a military incursion from Venezuela feasible only by sea or through the Brazilian state of Roraima. Brazil, maintaining good diplomatic relationships with both countries, has already increased military personnel on the border. The U.S. announced joint military flight drills in Guyana on December 7.

Despite increased military presence in the region, many experts believe that President Maduro has no intention of actually annexing Essequibo, and that this recent claim is a tactic to bolster his own image within Venezuela.

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Mapped: North America Population Patterns by Density

Nearly half a billion people live on the third-largest continent. We take a closer look in this population map of North America.



A map of North America along with its population patterns.

Mapped: North America Population Patterns by Density

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

From the icy expanses of the Arctic to the warm Caribbean sea, the North American continent covers nearly 25 million square kilometers, or about 15% of the Earth’s land area. Populating this vast region are nearly half a billion people, spread out from coast to valley, along the edges of arid scrublands and rainforests.

We visualize a map of North America population patterns, including Central America and the Caribbean, with spikes illustrating densely populated areas.

Data for this map is sourced from Statistics Canada, the World Bank, and WorldPop—a research group based out of the University of Southampton that tracks population growth and movement across the globe.

Ranked: Countries and Territories by Population Density

Deep in the Atlantic, seen as a small dot near Haiti on the map, the island state of Bermuda is the most densely populated jurisdiction on the continent. Measuring just 53 km² in area, and home to 65,000 people, results in an average population density of 1,266 people per km².

Also in the Caribbean, Barbados ranks second with an average population density 647 people/km², followed by Puerto Rico, ranked third-highest at 430 people/km², despite its much larger area—9,104 km².

RankCountry/TerritoryAverage Population
Density (per km²)
Area (km²)
1🇧🇲 Bermuda1,22653
2🇧🇧 Barbados647431
3🇵🇷 Puerto Rico4309,104
4🇲🇶 Martinique3931,100
5🇦🇼 Aruba370193
6🇸🇻 El Salvador31821,040
7🇻🇮 Virgin Islands308352
8🇻🇨 Saint Vincent &
the Grenadines
9🇭🇹 Haiti29227,750
10🇱🇨 Saint Lucia269616
11🇬🇵 Guadeloupe2521,780
12🇯🇲 Jamaica24810,991
13🇧🇶 Netherlands Antilles229960
14🇹🇹 Trinidad & Tobago2125,128
15🇩🇴 Dominican Republic18348,730
16🇰🇾 Cayman Islands168262
17🇦🇬 Antigua & Barbuda155443
18🇰🇳 Saint Kitts & Nevis149261
19🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands147153
20🇬🇹 Guatemala134108,890
21🇦🇮 Anguilla129102
22🇨🇺 Cuba102110,860
23🇩🇲 Dominica91754
24🇲🇸 Montserrat91102
25🇨🇷 Costa Rica7851,100
26🇭🇳 Honduras62112,090
27🇲🇽 Mexico531,972,550
28🇹🇨 Turks &
Caicos Islands
29🇳🇮 Nicaragua42129,494
30🇵🇦 Panama3878,200
31🇺🇸 U.S.319,629,091
32🇵🇲 Saint-Pierre
& Miquelon
33🇧🇸 The Bahamas2113,940
34🇧🇿 Belize1222,966
35🇨🇦 Canada39,984,670
36🇬🇱 Greenland02,166,086
37🇺🇸 Navassa Island05.2

Source: WorldAtlas.

Naturally the largest countries on the continent—Canada, the U.S., and Mexico—have some of the lowest average population densities compared to other nations in the region.

However, thanks to their size, their overall population distribution is more apparent on a map of this scale. In Canada, the Greater Toronto Area is home to one-fifth the country’s entire population. In stark contrast, the rest of the country seems almost empty—averaging just 3 people/km².

Major U.S. cities—New York, Chicago, and San Francisco—also stand out, though the more regular dispersion of Americans, particularly in the Northeast, South, and Midwest can also be seen.

Interestingly, Monterrey in Mexico jumps out on the map; the city is built at the foot of Cerro de la Silla, and several districts are densely populated as a result.

Ranked: Continents by Population Density

How does North America compare to the other continents by population density?

Unsurprisingly, thanks to its large land area, as well as comparatively smaller population, North America is one of the least densely populated continents in the world, beaten only by Oceania, which averages 5 people/km², and Antarctica.

RankContinentAverage Population
Density (per/km²)
4South America25
5North America25

Source: World Population Review

In comparison, Asia, while being the largest continent, is also home to 60% of the global population, and averages 149 people/km².

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