The Hilton resort on the island of Margarita, located 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela, has been seized by the Venezuelan government on the orders of President Hugo Chavez.

While Margarita Island, also known as Isla Margarita, does not attract large numbers of American tourists, it is one of the top vacation spots for Venezuelans. Increasingly popular with European tourists, the Caribbean island includes 50 beaches scattered along over 100 miles of coastline.

According to various news reports from correspondents in Venezuela, the hotel was seized because its local owners tried to impose conditions on its use by the government to host a summit there last month. It is anticipated the hotel will be renamed, as was the Hilton in Caracas, Venezuela, after it was seized in 2005. Since that time, it has been called the Hotel Alba.

Also located off the Venezuelan north coast, east of Margarita Island, are the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, somewhat more popular with American tourists. Trinidad and Tobago became an independent nation (from the United Kingdom) in 1962.

Located off the north coast of Venezuela more than 500 nautical miles to the west are the ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. These islands, very popular with both American and Dutch tourists, are part of the Netherlands Antilles, so are not under the jurisdiction of the Venezuelan government.

Tourists traveling to these islands – Trinidad & Tobago, and the ABC islands – should not be affected by these recent developments on Margarita Island.