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Town Full of Losers
By Entry Pages > Visit Detail > Country Facts for Venezuela
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Map of Venezuela
IntroductionTop
Background:Venezuela was one of 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: a polarized political environment, 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.
GeographyTop
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:territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 15 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

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: 2.95%
permanent crops: 0.92%
other: 96.13% (2001)

Irrigated land:540 sq km (1998 est.)
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
Environment - international agreements:party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed but not ratified:: none of the selected agreements

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
PeopleTop
Population:25,375,281 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 29.9% (male 3,909,876/female 3,667,958)
15-64 years: 65% (male 8,287,255/female 8,209,599)
65 years and over: 5.1% (male 590,236/female 710,357) (2005 est.)

Median age:total: 25.6 years
male: 24.98 years
female: 26.24 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:1.4% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:18.91 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:4.9 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 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: 0.83 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:total: 22.2 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 25.31 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:total population: 74.31 years
male: 71.27 years
female: 77.58 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:2.26 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.7% - note - no country specific models provided (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:110,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:4,100 (2003 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: 93.4%
male: 93.8%
female: 93.1% (2003 est.)

GovernmentTop
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
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:open, adversarial court system
Suffrage:18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 3 February 1999); Vice President Jose Vicente RANGEL Vale (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 Vale (since 28 April 2002); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 30 July 2000 (next to be held NA 2006)
election results: Hugo CHAVEZ Frias reelected president; percent of vote - 60%
note: a special presidential recall vote on 15 August 2004 resulted in a victory for CHAVEZ; percent of vote - 58% in favor of CHAVEZ fulfilling the remaining two years of his term, 42% in favor of terminating his presidency immediately

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)
elections: last held 30 July 2000 (next to be held July 2005)
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)

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 [Jesus MENDEZ Quijada]; Fifth Republic Movement or MVR [Hugo CHAVEZ]; Homeland for All or PPT [Jose ALBORNOZ]; Justice First [Julio BORGES]; Movement Toward Socialism or MAS [Hector MUJICA]; National Convergence or Convergencia [Juan Jose CALDERA]; Radical Cause or La Causa R [Andres VELASQUEZ]; Social Christian Party or COPEI [Eduardo FERNANDEZ]; 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, CDB, CSN, FAO, G-3, G-15, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO
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
EconomyTop
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. 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. Despite continued domestic instability, output recovered strongly in 2004, aided by high oil prices. Both inflation and unemployment remain fundamental problems.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $145.2 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:16.8% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $5,800 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:agriculture: 0.1%
industry: 46.5%
services: 53.4% (2004 est.)

Labor force:12.25 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:agriculture 13%, industry 23%, services 64% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:17.1% (2004 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:49.5 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):22.4% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):12.9% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:revenues: $26.91 billion
expenditures: $30.7 billion, including capital expenditures of $2.6 billion (2004 est.)

Public debt:43.1% of GDP (2004 est.)
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
Industrial production growth rate:12.3% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:89.7 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 31.7%
hydro: 68.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:89.3 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports:450 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:30 million kWh (2003)
Oil - production:2.6 million bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:500,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:2.1 million bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - imports:NA
Oil - proved reserves:78 billion bbl (2004 est.)
Natural gas - production:29.4 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:29.4 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - exports:0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:4.19 trillion cu m (2004)
Current account balance:$14.59 billion (2004 est.)
Exports:$35.84 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:petroleum, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures
Exports - partners:US 58.7%, Netherlands Antilles 4.1%, Canada 2.5% (2004)
Imports:$14.98 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials
Imports - partners:US 33.2%, Colombia 5.7%, Brazil 5%, Germany 4% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$25.75 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:$33.29 billion (2004 est.)
Currency (code):bolivar (VEB)
Currency code:VEB
Exchange rates:bolivares per US dollar - 1,891.3 (2004), 1,607 (2003), 1,161 (2002), 723.7 (2001), 680 (2000)
Fiscal year:calendar year
CommunicationsTop
Telephones - main lines in use:2,841,800 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:6,463,600 (2002)
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)
Radios:10.75 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:66 (plus 45 repeaters) (1997)
Televisions:4.1 million (1997)
Internet country code:.ve
Internet hosts:35,301 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):16 (2000)
Internet users:1,274,400 (2002)
TransportationTop
Railways:total: 682 km
standard gauge: 682 km 1.435-m gauge (2004)

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

Waterways:7,100 km
note: Orinoco River and Lake de Maracaibo navigable by oceangoing vessels, Orinoco for 400 km (2004)

Pipelines:extra heavy crude 992 km; gas 5,262 km; oil 7,360 km; refined products 1,681 km; unknown (oil/water) 141 km (2004)
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: 56 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 740,919 GRT/1,191,483 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 16, chemical tanker 1, container 1, liquefied gas 5, passenger/cargo 9, petroleum tanker 19, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 9 (Denmark 2, Greece 1, Hong Kong 2, Mexico 1, Russia 2, Spain 1)
registered in other countries: 20 (2005)

Airports:369 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:total: 127
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
1,524 to 2,437 m: 31
914 to 1,523 m: 61
under 914 m: 19 (2004 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:total: 242
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 88
under 914 m: 144 (2004 est.)

MilitaryTop
Military branches:National Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales, FAN): 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)
Military manpower - military age and obligation:18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 30 months (2004)
Military manpower - availability:males age 18-49: 6,236,012 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 18-49: 4,907,947 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:males: 252,396 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:$1.687 billion (2004)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:1.5% (2004)
Transnational IssuesTop
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 UNCLOS that the 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



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