Country List | World Factbook Home
CIA Seal  World Factbook Seal Venezuela
Flag of Venezuela
Map of Venezuela
Introduction Venezuela
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, has promoted a controversial policy of "democratic 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 Venezuela
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
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 (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
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
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.)
HIV/AIDS - 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.)
Government Venezuela
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
name: Caracas
geographic coordinates: 10 30 N, 66 56 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 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
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
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 3 February 1999); Vice President Jorge RODRIGUEZ Gomez (since 3 January 2007); 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 Jorge RODRIGUEZ Gomez (since 3 January 2007)
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
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]; Democratic Action or AD [Henry RAMOS Allup]; Fatherland for All or PPT [Jose ALBORNOZ]; Fifth Republic Movement or MVR [Hugo CHAVEZ]; Justice First [Julio BORGES]; Movement Toward Socialism or MAS [Hector MUJICA]; 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:
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 William R. BROWNFIELD
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 Venezuela
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. Tax collection-Venezuela's primary source of non-oil revenue-is expected to surpass $23 billion in 2006, exceeding the yearend collection goal by more than 20%. 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 higher oil prices, record government spending helped to boost GDP growth in 2004 and 2005 to approximately 18% and 11%, respectively. Economic growth in 2006 reached around 9%. This spending, combined with recent minimum wage hikes and improved access to domestic credit, has fueled a consumption boom - car sales in 2006 increased by around 70% - but has come at the cost of higher inflation. Despite government attempts to withdraw liquidity from the economy, Venezuela's money supply set a record in June 2006, approximately 70% higher than the previous year. Imports have also jumped significantly.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$176.4 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$147.9 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
8.8% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$6,900 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 3.7%
industry: 41%
services: 55.3% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
12.5 million (November 2006 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 13%
industry: 23%
services: 64% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:
8.9% (October 2006 est.)
Population below poverty line:
37.9% (end 2005 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):
15.8% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
19.8% of GDP (2006 est.)
revenues: $52.24 billion
expenditures: $52.9 billion; including capital expenditures of $2.6 billion (2006 est.)
Public debt:
28.4% of GDP (2006 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:
7% (2006 est.)
Electricity - production:
93.03 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 31.7%
hydro: 68.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
86.52 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
3.081 million bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
560,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
2.1 million bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day
Oil - proved reserves:
75.27 billion bbl (2006 est.)
Natural gas - production:
27.2 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
27.2 billion cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
4.276 trillion cu m (1 January 2005 est.)
Current account balance:
$31.82 billion (2006 est.)
$69.23 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
petroleum, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures
Exports - partners:
US 50.9%, Netherlands Antilles 7.2%, Canada 2.4% (2005)
$28.81 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials
Imports - partners:
US 31.6%, Colombia 11%, Brazil 9.1%, Mexico 6.9% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$35.95 billion (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
$35.63 billion (2006 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$74 million (2000)
Currency (code):
bolivar (VEB)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
bolivares per US dollar - 2,147 (2006), 2,089.8 (2005), 1,891.3 (2004), 1,607 (2003), 1,161 (2002)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Venezuela
Telephones - main lines in use:
3.605 million (2005)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
12.496 million (2005)
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)
10.75 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
66 (plus 45 repeaters) (1997)
4.1 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
51,968 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
16 (2000)
Internet users:
3.04 million (2005)
Transportation Venezuela
375 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 129
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
1,524 to 2,437 m: 34
914 to 1,523 m: 60
under 914 m: 19 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 246
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 90
under 914 m: 147 (2006)
1 (2006)
extra heavy crude 992 km; gas 5,369 km; oil 7,607 km; refined products 1,681 km; unknown (oil/water) 141 km (2006)
total: 682 km
standard gauge: 682 km 1.435-m gauge (2005)
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: 56 ships (1000 GRT or over) 824,941 GRT/1,327,924 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 7, cargo 10, chemical tanker 2, container 1, liquefied gas 6, passenger/cargo 12, petroleum tanker 18
foreign-owned: 13 (Denmark 3, Greece 3, India 1, Mexico 3, Panama 1, Russia 1, Spain 1)
registered in other countries: 15 (Bahamas 1, Panama 14) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Amuay, La Guaira, Maracaibo, Puerto Cabello, Punta Cardon
Military Venezuela
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 (2004)
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 - dollar figure:
$1.61 billion (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
2% (2006 est.)
Transnational Issues Venezuela
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

This page was last updated on 15 March, 2007