The Gulf of Venezuela is part of the Caribbean Sea, and borders the Venezuelan states of Falcón and Zulia. To its north lies the boundless Caribbean Sea, to its south lies Maracaibo Lake, a large brackish tidal estuary. The Gulf of Venezuela has a surface area of around 17,840 km2. The gulf is of great economic importance due to its connection with both Lake Maracaibo—an important source of crude petroleum—and the Caribbean Sea. As such, the gulf is used to ship products from the oil wells and refineries in Lake Maracaibo to foreign markets.