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 capitalist globalization and existing democratic institutions. Current concerns include: a weakening of democratic institutions, political polarization, a politicized military, drug-related violence along the Colombian border, overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.

Geography ::Venezuela

Capital: Caracas


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


total: 912,050 sq km

country comparison to the world: 33

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


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 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:

5,800 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 ::Venezuela


noun: Venezuelan(s)

adjective: Venezuelan

Ethnic groups:

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


Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects


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


28,047,938 (July 2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 45

Age structure:

0-14 years: 29% (male 4,147,023/ female 3,995,375)

15-64 years: 65.4% (male 9,025,781/ female 9,311,262)

65 years and over: 5.6% (male 692,321/ female 876,176) (2012 est.)

Median age:

total: 26.3 years

male: 25.6 years

female: 27.1 years (2012 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.468% (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 82

Birth rate:

19.88 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 89

Death rate:

5.2 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 180

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 111


urban population: 93% of total population (2010)

rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major cities - population:

CARACAS (capital) 3.051 million; Maracaibo 2.153 million; Valencia 1.738 million; Barquisimeto 1.159 million; Maracay 1.04 million (2009)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:

92 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

country comparison to the world: 78

Infant mortality rate:

total: 20.18 deaths/1,000 live births

country comparison to the world: 96

male: 23.65 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 16.54 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 74.08 years

country comparison to the world: 111

male: 70.98 years

female: 77.34 years (2012 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.4 children born/woman (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 92

Physicians density:

1.94 physicians/1,000 population (2001)

Hospital bed density:

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2007)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

NA; note - no country specific models provided

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:


HIV/AIDS - deaths:


Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: high

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria (2009)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:

3.7% (2007)

country comparison to the world: 96

Education expenditures:

3.7% of GDP (2007)

country comparison to the world: 112


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 93%

male: 93.3%

female: 92.7% (2001 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 14 years

male: 13 years

female: 15 years (2008)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:

total: 13.6%

country comparison to the world: 84

male: 12.3%

female: 15.9% (2008)