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Venezuela Flag

Country Profile

Capital City: Caracas (metro. area pop. 3.6 million)

Other major Cities: Maracaibo, Valencia, Barquisimeto.

Local Time
: UTC -4h

Location: Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.
Area: 912 050 sq. km. (352 143 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains; Guiana Highlands in southeast.

Border countries
: Brazil, Colombia, Guyana

Climate: Varies from tropical to temperate, depending on elevation.

Type: Federal Republic.
Independence: 5 July 1811.
Constitution: 30 December 1999.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Venezuelan(s).
Population: 24 700 000.
Ethnic groups: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, Amerindian.
Religion: Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%
Languages: Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects.
Literacy: 93%


Currency: Bolivar (VEB)

Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds.

Agriculture products: Corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish.

Industries: Petroleum, iron ore mining, construction materials, food processing, textiles, steel, aluminum, motor vehicle assembly.

Exports partners:
USA 58.7%, Netherlands Antilles 4.1%, Canada 2.5% (2004)

Imports partners: USA 33.2%, Colombia 5.7%, Brazil 5%, Germany 4% (2004)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Venezuela

Ministerio de la Presidencia de la República de Venezuela

Asamblea Nacional de Venezuela

Gobierno en Línea

Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (MRE)

Diplomatic Missions
Misión Permanente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela ante las Naciones Unidas

Embassy of the Republic of Venezuela

Diplomatic Missions of Venezuela

Oficina Central de Estadística e Informática

Map of Venezuela

Map of South America



Background:  Venezuela was one of the three countries that emerged from
the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Colombia and
Ecuador). 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:
an embattled president who is losing his once solid support among
Venezuelans, a divided military, drug-related conflicts 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

Geography Venezuela

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

Geographic coordinates:  8 00 N, 66 00 W

Map references:  South America

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

Area - comparative:  slightly more than twice the size of California

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

Coastline:  2,800 km

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

Climate:  tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands

Terrain:  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: 3% permanent crops: 1% other: 96% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  540 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:  subject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic

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

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Antarctic Treaty,
Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species,
Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone
Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94,
Wetlands signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping

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

People Venezuela

Population:  24,287,670 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 31.6% (male 3,955,132; female 3,710,159)
15-64 years: 63.6% (male 7,756,362; female 7,695,738) 65 years and over:
4.8% (male 533,559; female 636,720) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  1.52% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  20.22 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  4.91 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  -0.11 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.07
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.84 male(s)/female total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  24.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   76.81 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  2.41 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  0.49% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  62,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  2,000 (1999 est.)

Nationality:  noun: Venezuelan(s) adjective: Venezuelan

Ethnic groups:  Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African,
indigenous people

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

Languages:  Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 91.1% male: 91.8% female: 90.3% (1995 est.)

Government Venezuela

Country name:  conventional long form: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
 Venezuela local long form:
Government type:  federal republic

Capital:  Caracas

Administrative divisions:  23 states (estados, singular - estado),
1 federal district* (distrito federal), 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

Independence:  5 July 1811 (from Spain)

National holiday:  Independence Day, 5 July (1811)

Constitution:  30 December 1999

Legal system:  based on organic laws as of July 1999; open, adversarial
court system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 3
February 1999); Vice President Jose Vicente RANGEL (since 28 April 2002);
note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 3 February 1999);
Vice President Jose Vicente RANGEL (since 28 April 2002); note - the
president is both the chief of state and head of government cabinet:
CHAVEZ Frias reelected president; percent of vote - 60% elections:
held 30 July 2000 (next to be held NA 2006)

Legislative branch:  unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional
(165 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms;
three seats reserved for the indigenous peoples of Venezuela) election
results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - pro-government
108 (MVR 92, MAS 6, indigenous 3, other 7), opposition 57 (AD 33,
COPEI 6, Justice First 5, other 13) elections: last held 30 July 2000
(next to be held NA 2005)

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

Political parties and leaders:  Democratic Action or AD [Claudio FERMIN];
Fifth Republic Movement or MVR [Garcia PONCE]; Homeland for All or PPT
[Jose ALBORNIZ]; Justice First [Julio BORGES]; Movement Toward Socialism
or MAS [Hector MUJICA]; National Convergence or Convergencia [Juan
Jose CALDERA]; Radical Cause or La Causa R [Antonio HERRERA]; Social
Christian Party or COPEI [Oswaldo ALVAREZ Paz]; Venezuela Project or PV
[Henrique SALAS Romer]

Political pressure groups and leaders:  FEDECAMARAS, a conservative
business group; VECINOS groups; Venezuelan Confederation of Workers or
CTV (labor organization dominated by the Democratic Action)

International organization participation:  CAN, Caricom (observer), CCC,
CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-3, G-15, G-19, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO,

Diplomatic representation in the US:   Ambassador Designate Roy CHADERTON
Matos chancery:  Chicago, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San
Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico) FAX: [1] (202) 342-6820 telephone:
[1] (202) 342-2214

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Charles SHAPIRO embassy: Calle F con Calle Suapure, Urbanizacion Colinas
de Valle Arriba, Caracas 1080 mailing address: P. O. Box 62291, Caracas
1060-A; APO AA 34037 telephone: [58] (0212) 975-9234, 975-6411 FAX: [58]
(0212) 975-8991

Flag description:  three equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), blue,
and red with the coat of arms on the hoist side of the yellow band and
an arc of seven white five-pointed stars centered in the blue band

Economy Venezuela

Economy - overview:  The petroleum sector dominates the economy,
accounting for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings,
and more than half of government operating revenues. Venezuelan
officials estimate that GDP grew by 2.7% in 2001. A strong rebound in
international oil prices fueled the recovery from the steep recession
in 1999. Nevertheless, a weak nonoil sector and capital flight - and
a temporary fall in oil prices - undercut the recovery. In early 2002,
President CHAVEZ changed the exchange rate regime from a crawling peg
to a free floating exchange rate, causing the bolivar to depreciate

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $146.2 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  2.7% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $6,100 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 5% industry: 40% services: 55%
(2001 est.)

Population below poverty line:  67% (1997 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: 1.6%
highest 10%: 37.6% (1997)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  48.8 (1997)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  12.3% (2001)

Labor force:  9.9 million (1999)

Labor force - by occupation:  services 64%, industry 23%, agriculture 13%
(1997 est.)

Unemployment rate:  14.1% (2001 est.)

Budget:  revenues: $21.5 billion expenditures: $27 billion, including
capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)

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

Industrial production growth rate:  NA%

Electricity - production:  80.754 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 22.87% hydro: 77.13%
other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  75.101 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  0 kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas,
vegetables, coffee; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish

Exports:  $29.5 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Exports - commodities:  petroleum, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals,
agricultural products, basic manufactures

Exports - partners:  US 60%, Brazil 5.5%, Colombia 3.5%, Italy 3.5%,
Spain 3.4% (2000)

Imports:  $18.4 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Imports - commodities:  raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport
equipment, construction materials

Imports - partners:  US 35.8%, Colombia 6.8%, Brazil 4.5%, Germany 3.9%,
Italy 3.9% (2000)

Debt - external:  $34.5 billion (2000)

Economic aid - recipient:  $35 million with more assistance likely as
a result of flooding (1999)

Currency:  bolivar (VEB)

Currency code:  VEB

Exchange rates:  bolivares per US dollar - 761.225 (January 2002), 723.666
(2001), 679.960 (2000), 605.717 (1999), 547.556 (1998), 488.635 (1997)

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Venezuela

Telephones - main lines in use:  2.6 million (however, 3,500,000 have
been installed) (1998)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  2 million (1998)

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:  (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

Radios:  10.75 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  66 (plus 45 repeaters) (1997)

Televisions:  4.1 million (1997)

Internet country code:  .ve

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  16 (2000)

Internet users:  950,000 (2001)

Transportation Venezuela

Railways:  total: 682 km standard gauge: 682 km 1.435-m gauge note:
248 km of the existing system are privately owned; passenger services
are nonexistent; however, a National Railways Plan, intended to provide
a significant railway system, has been initiated (2001)

Highways:  total: 96,155 km paved: 32,308 km unpaved: 63,847 km
(1997 est.)

Waterways:  7,100 km note: Rio Orinoco and Lago de Maracaibo accept
oceangoing vessels

Pipelines:  crude oil 6,370 km; petroleum products 480 km; natural gas
4,010 km

Ports and harbors:  Amuay, Bajo Grande, El Tablazo, La Guaira, La Salina,
Maracaibo, Matanzas, Palua, Puerto Cabello, Puerto la Cruz, Puerto Ordaz,
Puerto Sucre, Punta Cardon

Merchant marine:  total: 45 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 716,361
GRT/1,267,095 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here
as a flag of convenience: Denmark 1, Greece 1, Italy 1, United Kingdom 1,
United States 2 (2002 est.)  ships by type: bulk 7, cargo 9, liquefied
gas 3, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 14, roll on/roll off 10,
short-sea passenger 1

Airports:  372 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 124 over 3,047 m: 5 2,438 to
3,047 m: 11 914 to 1,523 m: 59 under 914 m: 17 (2001) 1,524 to 2,437 m: 32

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 248 1,524 to 2,437 m: 11 914
to 1,523 m: 97 under 914 m: 140 (2001)

Heliports:  1 (2001)

Military Venezuela

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 - including marines and
Coast Guard), Air Force (Fuerzas Aereas or Aviacion), Armed Forces
of Cooperation or National Guard (Fuerzas Armadas de Cooperacion or
Guardia Nacional)

Military manpower - military age:  18 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 6,647,718 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 4,786,849
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 246,185
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $934 million (FY99)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  0.9% (FY99)

Transnational Issues Venezuela

Disputes - international:  claims all of Guyana west of the Essequibo
(river); maritime boundary dispute with Colombia in the Gulf of Venezuela;
several Caribbean states protest Venezuela's claim to Islas des Aves
(Bird Islands), 565 km from Venezuelan mainland

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; important money-laundering center; active eradication
program primarily targeting opium; increasing signs of drug-related
activities by Colombian insurgents on border

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

El Nacional

El Universal


Yahoo! News Full Coverage-Venezuela

Arts & Culture
Biblioteca Nacional de Venezuela

Galería de Arte Nacional

Sofía Imber Contemporary Art Museum of Caracas

Business & Economy
Banco Central de Venezuela

Bolsa de Valores de Caracas

Camara de Comercio de Caracas Dreccion Ejecutiva

Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. - PDVSA


Destination Venezuela - Travel and Tour Guides
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Ministerio del Ambiente y de los Recursos Naturales Renovables

A brief History of Venezuela

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