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Venezuela was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Ecuador and New Granada, which became Colombia). For most of the first half of the 20th century, Venezuela was ruled by generally benevolent military strongmen, who promoted the oil industry and allowed for some social reforms. Democratically elected governments have held sway since 1959. Current concerns include: a weakening of democratic institutions, political polarization, a politicized military, drug-related violence along the Colombian border, increasing internal drug consumption, overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.


Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana

Geographic coordinates:

8 00 N, 66 00 W


total: 912,050 sq km
land: 882,050 sq km
water: 30,000 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 4,993 km
border countries: Brazil 2,200 km, Colombia 2,050 km, Guyana 743 km


2,800 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 15 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands


Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Pico Bolivar (La Columna) 5,007 m

Natural resources:

petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds

Land use:

arable land: 2.85%
permanent crops: 0.88%
other: 96.27% (2005)

Irrigated land:

5,750 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

subject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts

Environment - current issues:

sewage pollution of Lago de Valencia; oil and urban pollution of Lago de Maracaibo; deforestation; soil degradation; urban and industrial pollution, especially along the Caribbean coast; threat to the rainforest ecosystem from irresponsible mining operations

Geography - note:

on major sea and air routes linking North and South America; Angel Falls in the Guiana Highlands is the world's highest waterfall


25,730,435 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 29.1% (male 3,860,116/female 3,620,440)
15-64 years: 65.7% (male 8,494,944/female 8,410,874)
65 years and over: 5.2% (male 609,101/female 734,960) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 26 years
male: 25.4 years
female: 26.6 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.38% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

18.71 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

4.92 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 21.54 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 24.58 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 74.54 years
male: 71.49 years
female: 77.81 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.23 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.7% - note - no country specific models provided (2001 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

110,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

4,100 (2003 est.)


noun: Venezuelan(s)
adjective: Venezuelan

Ethnic groups:

Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people


nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%


Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.4%
male: 93.8%
female: 93.1% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
conventional short form: Venezuela
local long form: Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela
local short form: Venezuela

Government type:

federal republic



Administrative divisions:

23 states (estados, singular - estado), 1 capital district* (distrito capital), and 1 federal dependency** (dependencia federal); Amazonas, Anzoategui, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Bolivar, Carabobo, Cojedes, Delta Amacuro, Dependencias Federales**, Distrito Federal*, Falcon, Guarico, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Tachira, Trujillo, Vargas, Yaracuy, Zulia
note: the federal dependency consists of 11 federally controlled island groups with a total of 72 individual islands


5 July 1811 (from Spain)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 5 July (1811)


30 December 1999

Legal system:

open, adversarial court system


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (167 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; three seats reserved for the indigenous peoples of Venezuela)
elections: last held 4 December 2005 (next to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - pro-government 167 (MVR 114, PODEMOS 15, PPT 11, indigenous 2, other 25), opposition 0

Judicial branch:

Supreme Tribunal of Justice or Tribuna Suprema de Justicia (magistrates are elected by the National Assembly for a single 12-year term)

Economy - overview:

Venezuela continues to be highly dependent on the petroleum sector, accounting for roughly one-third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings, and over half of government operating revenues. Government revenue also has been bolstered by increased tax collection, which has surpassed its 2005 collection goal by almost 50%. Tax revenue is the primary source of non-oil revenue, which accounts for 53% of the 2006 budget. A disastrous two-month national oil strike, from December 2002 to February 2003, temporarily halted economic activity. The economy remained in depression in 2003, declining by 9.2% after an 8.9% fall in 2002. Output recovered strongly in 2004-2005, aided by high oil prices and strong consumption growth. Venezuela continues to be an important source of crude oil for the US market. Both inflation and unemployment remain fundamental problems.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$164.1 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$116.2 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

9.1% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$6,500 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 4.6%
industry: 48.2%
services: 47.2% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

12.31 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 13%
industry: 23%
services: 64% (1997 est.)

Unemployment rate:

12.3% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

47% (1998 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 0.8%
highest 10%: 36.5% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

49.1 (1998)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

15.7% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

23.8% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $39.63 billion
expenditures: $41.27 billion; including capital expenditures of $2.6 billion (2005 est.)

Public debt:

32% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish


petroleum, construction materials, food processing, textiles; iron ore mining, steel, aluminum; motor vehicle assembly

Industrial production growth rate:

3.4% (2005 est.)

Electricity - production:

87.44 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

81.32 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

3.081 million bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

530,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - exports:

2.1 million bbl/day (2004 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

75.59 billion bbl (2005 est.)

Natural gas - production:

29.7 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

29.7 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

4.191 trillion cu m (2005)

Current account balance:

$20.3 billion (2005 est.)


$52.73 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

petroleum, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures

Exports - partners:

US 55.5%, Netherlands Antilles 4.7%, Dominican Republic 2.8% (2004)


$24.63 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials

Imports - partners:

US 28.8%, Colombia 9.9%, Brazil 7%, Mexico 4.1% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$30.74 billion (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$39.79 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$74 million (2000)

Currency (code):

bolivar (VEB)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

3,346,500 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

8.421 million (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: modern and expanding
domestic: domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations; recent substantial improvement in telephone service in rural areas; substantial increase in digitalization of exchanges and trunk lines; installation of a national interurban fiber-optic network capable of digital multimedia services
international: country code - 58; 3 submarine coaxial cables; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 PanAmSat; participating with Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia in the construction of an international fiber-optic network

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 201, FM NA (20 in Caracas), shortwave 11 (1998)

Television broadcast stations:

66 (plus 45 repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

57,875 (2005)

Internet users:

3.04 million (2005)


370 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 128
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
1,524 to 2,437 m: 33
914 to 1,523 m: 60
under 914 m: 19 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 242
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 89
under 914 m: 144 (2005)


1 (2005)


extra heavy crude 992 km; gas 5,262 km; oil 7,360 km; refined products 1,681 km; unknown (oil/water) 141 km (2004)


total: 682 km
standard gauge: 682 km 1.435-m gauge (2004)


total: 96,155 km
paved: 32,308 km
unpaved: 63,847 km (1999)


7,100 km
note: Orinoco River and Lake de Maracaibo navigable by oceangoing vessels, Orinoco for 400 km (2005)

Merchant marine:

total: 57 ships (1000 GRT or over) 800,040 GRT/1,285,206 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 7, cargo 14, chemical tanker 1, container 1, liquefied gas 5, passenger/cargo 9, petroleum tanker 19, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 11 (Denmark 2, Greece 2, Hong Kong 1, India 1, Mexico 1, Russia 1, Singapore 1, Spain 1, US 1)
registered in other countries: 14 (Panama 14) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Amuay, La Guaira, Maracaibo, Puerto Cabello, Punta Cardon

Military branches:

National Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales or FAN) - includes Ground Forces or Army (Fuerzas Terrestres or Ejercito), Naval Forces (Fuerzas Navales or Armada; includes Marines, Coast Guard), Air Force (Fuerzas Aereas or Aviacion), Armed Forces of Cooperation or National Guard (Fuerzas Armadas de Cooperacion or Guardia Nacional)

Disputes - international:

claims all of the area west of the Essequibo River in Guyana, preventing any discussion of a maritime boundary; Guyana has expressed its intention to join Barbados in asserting claims before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that Trinidad and Tobago's maritime boundary with Venezuela extends into their waters; dispute with Colombia over Los Monjes islands and maritime boundary near the Gulf of Venezuela; Colombian-organized illegal narcotics and paramilitary activities penetrate Venezuela's shared border region resulting in several thousand residents migrating away from the border; US, France, and the Netherlands recognize Venezuela's claim to give full effect to Aves Island, which creates a Venezuelan EEZ/continental shelf extending over a large portion of the Caribbean Sea; Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines protest Venezuela's claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation and other states' recognition of it

Illicit drugs:

small-scale illicit producer of opium and coca for the processing of opiates and coca derivatives; however, large quantities of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana transit the country from Colombia bound for US and Europe; significant narcotics-related money-laundering activity, especially along the border with Colombia and on Margarita Island; active eradication program primarily targeting opium; increasing signs of drug-related activities by Colombian insurgents on border