Miss Venezuela, 22-year-old Ivian Sarcos, was crowned Miss World 2011 in a final ceremony at the beauty pageant on Sunday.
Wearing a frilly bright pink princess dress, Sarcos wept and crossed herself when her victory was announced and last year's winner, Alexandria Mills of the US, handed over the crown at Earls Court in London.
Sarcos, who triumphed over more than 100 other contestants to win Venezuela's sixth Miss World title, currently works for a broadcasting company and one day hopes to promote NGOs and work with children, according to her biography on the pageant's website.
She spent five years in an orphanage run by nuns after losing her parents at age eight and told AFP that her past "has taught me that life, although it may be bad, doesn't have to end badly. Although I no longer have my parents, it has taught me to be stronger."
After being crowned, she said she was excited to work with Miss World's charitable organization Beauty with a Purpose and wants to help "people like me" -- other orphans.
Miss World chairman and chief executive Julia Morley heaped praise on Sarcos, telling AFP, "She's a very real person, very sweet and very genuine and I think that we're really lucky to have her."
"We're going to Ghana to work on a project there and I know that she's a down-to-earth person and she won't be afraid to get her hands dirty," Morley added.