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  The World Factbook.  2008.
 
Venezuela
 
Flag of Venezuela                                Map of Venezuela
 
Background: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. Hugo CHAVEZ, president since 1999, seeks to implement his "21st Century Socialism," which purports to alleviate social ills while at the same time attacking globalization and undermining regional stability. 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.
  
Geography
  
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: 2.85%
permanent crops: 0.88%
other: 96.27% (2005)
Irrigated land:5,750 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:1,233.2 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):total: 8.37 cu km/yr (6%/7%/47%)
per capita: 313 cu m/yr (2000)
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
  
People
  
Population:26,023,528 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 31.6% (male 4,169,979/female 4,046,170)
15-64 years: 63.4% (male 8,120,661/female 8,369,065)
65 years and over: 5.1% (male 586,863/female 730,790) (2007 est.)
Median age:total: 24.9 years
male: 24.3 years
female: 25.5 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate:1.486% (2007 est.)
Birth rate:21.22 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate:5.08 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate:-1.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio:at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.031 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.803 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate:total: 22.52 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 26.14 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 18.72 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:total population: 73.28 years
male: 70.24 years
female: 76.48 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate:2.55 children born/woman (2007 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.)
Major infectious diseases:degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne disease: dengue fever, malaria, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis (2008)
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%
male: 93.3%
female: 92.7% (2001 census)
  
Government
  
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:name: Caracas
geographic coordinates: 10 30 N, 66 56 W
time difference: UTC-4.5 (half an hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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
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); Executive Vice President Ramon Alonzo CARRIZALEZ Rengifo (since 4 January 2008); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 3 February 1999); Executive Vice President Ramon Alonzo CARRIZALEZ Rengifo (since 4 January 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 3 December 2006 (next to be held in December 2012)
note: in 1999, a National Constituent Assembly drafted a new constitution that increased the presidential term to six years; an election was subsequently held on 30 July 2000 under the terms of this constitution
election results: Hugo CHAVEZ Frias reelected president; percent of vote - Hugo CHAVEZ Frias 62.9%, Manuel ROSALES 36.9%
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; total seats by party as of 1 January 2008 - pro-government 152 (PSUV 114, PPT 11, indigenous 2, other 25), PODEMOS 15
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:A New Time or UNT [Manuel ROSALES]; Christian Democrats or COPEI [Cesar PEREZ Vivas]; Communist Party of Venezuela or PCV [Jeronimo CARRERA]; Democratic Action or AD [Henry RAMOS Allup]; Fatherland for All or PPT [Jose ALBORNOZ]; Justice First [Julio BORGES]; Movement Toward Socialism or MAS [Hector MUJICA]; United Socialist Party of Venezuela or PSUV [Hugo CHAVEZ]; Venezuela Project or PV [Henrique SALAS Romer]; We Can or PODEMOS [Ismael GARCIA]
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), CDB, CSN, FAO, G-3, G-15, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, LAS (observer), Mercosur (associate), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Bernardo ALVAREZ Herrera
chancery: 1099 30th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 342-2214
FAX: [1] (202) 342-6820
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico)
Diplomatic representation from the US:chief of mission: Ambassador Patrick DUDDY
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] (212) 975-9234, 975-6411
FAX: [58] (212) 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 eight white five-pointed stars centered in the blue band
  
Economy
  
Economy—overview:Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for roughly 90% of export earnings, more than 50% of the federal budget revenues, and around 30% of GDP. A nationwide strike between December 2002 and February 2003 had far-reaching economic consequences - real GDP declined by around 9% in 2002 and 8% in 2003 - but economic output since then has recovered strongly. Fueled by high oil prices, record government spending helped to boost GDP in 2006 by about 9% and in 2007 by about 8%. This spending, combined with recent minimum wage hikes and improved access to domestic credit, has created a consumption boom but has come at the cost of higher inflation-roughly 20 percent in 2007. Imports also have jumped significantly. Embolden by his December 2006 reelection, President Hugo CHAVEZ in 2007 nationalized firms in the petroleum, communications, and electricity sectors, which reduced foreign influence in the economy. Although voters in December 2007 rejected CHAVEZ's proposed constitutional changes, CHAVEZ still has significant control of the economy and has indicated he intends to continue to consolidate and centralize authority over the economy by implementing "21st Century Socialism."
GDP (purchasing power parity):$335 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):$226.9 billion (2007 est.)
GDP—real growth rate:8.3% (2007 est.)
GDP—per capita (PPP):$12,800 (2007 est.)
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 3.5%
industry: 40%
services: 56.5% (2007 est.)
Labor force:12.5 million (2007 est.)
Labor force—by occupation:agriculture: 13%
industry: 23%
services: 64% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:9.1% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line:37.9% (end 2005 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:lowest 10%: 0.7%
highest 10%: 35.2% (2003)
Distribution of family income—Gini index:48.2 (2003)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):20.7% (Year ending November 2007)
Investment (gross fixed):25.4% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget:revenues: $63.27 billion
expenditures: $68.22 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt:27% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture—products:corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish
Industries:petroleum, construction materials, food processing, textiles; iron ore mining, steel, aluminum; motor vehicle assembly
Industrial production growth rate:5.5% (2007 est.)
Electricity—production:99.2 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—consumption:73.36 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity—exports:0 kWh (2005)
Electricity—imports:0 kWh (2005)
Oil—production:2.802 million bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil—consumption:599,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil—exports:2.203 million bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil—imports:0 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil—proved reserves:79.73 billion bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas—production:27.53 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—consumption:27.53 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—exports:0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas—imports:0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas—proved reserves:4.112 trillion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance:$17.02 billion (2007 est.)
Exports:$65.94 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports—commodities:petroleum, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures
Exports—partners:US 46.2%, Netherlands Antilles 13.5%, China 3.2% (2006)
Imports:$44.38 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports—commodities:raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials
Imports—partners:US 30.6%, Colombia 10.2%, Brazil 10.1%, Mexico 5.9%, China 4.9%, Panama 4.8% (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$31.63 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt—external:$45.44 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment—at home:$45.4 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment—abroad:$11.56 billion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:$8.251 billion (2006)
Economic aid—recipient:$48.66 million (2005)
Currency (code):bolivar (VEB)
Exchange rates:bolivares per US dollar - 2,147 (2007), 2,147 (2006), 2,089.8 (2005), 1,891.3 (2004), 1,607 (2003)
Fiscal year:calendar year
  
Communications
  
Telephones—main lines in use:4.217 million (2006)
Telephones—mobile cellular:18.79 million (2006)
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; fixed-line teledensity, at 16 per 100 persons, is low by regional standards; mobile-cellular subscribership jumped 50 percent in 2006
international: country code - 58; submarine cable systems provide connectivity to the Caribbean, Central and South America, and US; 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:.ve
Internet hosts:126,500 (2007)
Internet users:4.14 million (2006)
  
Transportation
  
Airports:390 (2007)
Airports—with paved runways:total: 128
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 34
914 to 1,523 m: 61
under 914 m: 18 (2007)
Airports—with unpaved runways:total: 262
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 97
under 914 m: 149 (2007)
Heliports:2 (2007)
Pipelines:extra heavy crude oil 992 km; gas 5,400 km; oil 7,607 km; refined products 1,650 km; unknown (oil/water) 141 km (2007)
Railways:total: 682 km
standard gauge: 682 km 1.435-m gauge (2006)
Roadways:total: 96,155 km
paved: 32,308 km
unpaved: 63,847 km (1999)
Waterways:7,100 km
note: Orinoco River (400 km) and Lake de Maracaibo navigable by oceangoing vessels (2005)
Merchant marine:total: 59 ships (1000 GRT or over) 808,721 GRT/1,285,783 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 7, cargo 14, chemical tanker 3, container 1, liquefied gas 6, passenger/cargo 10, petroleum tanker 17, refrigerated cargo 1
foreign-owned: 12 (Denmark 3, Greece 3, Mexico 3, Panama 1, Russia 1, Spain 1)
registered in other countries: 11 (Bahamas 1, Panama 10) (2007)
Ports and terminals:La Guaira, Maracaibo, Puerto Cabello, Punta Cardon
  
Military
  
Military branches:National Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales or 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 service age and obligation:18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 30 months; all citizens of military service age (between 18 and 50 years old) are obligated to register for military service (2007)
Manpower available for military service:males age 18-49: 6,236,012
females age 18-49: 6,137,622 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:males age 18-49: 4,907,947
females age 18-49: 5,151,843 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:males age 18-49: 252,396
females age 18-49: 237,300 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures—percent of GDP:1.2% (2005 est.)
  
Transnational Issues
  
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 maritime boundary and Venezuelan-administered Los Monjes islands near the Gulf of Venezuela; Colombian-organized illegal narcotics and paramilitary activities penetrate Venezuela's shared border region; in 2006, an estimated 139,000 Colombians sought protection in 150 communities along the border in Venezuela; US, France, and the Netherlands recognize Venezuela's granting full effect to Aves Island, thereby claiming a Venezuelan EEZ/continental shelf extending over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea; Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines protest Venezuela's full effect claim
Trafficking in persons:current situation: Venezuela is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor; women and children from Colombia, China, Peru, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic are trafficked to and through Venezuela and subjected to commercial sexual exploitation or forced labor; Venezuelans are trafficked internally and to Western Europe, particularly Spain and the Netherlands, and to countries in the Caribbean region for commercial sexual exploitation; Venezuela is a transit country for illegal migrants from other countries in the region and for Asian nationals, some of whom are believed to be trafficking victims
tier rating: Tier 3 - Venezuela does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so
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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