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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: 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 peoples.



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:

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


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: 2.99%
permanent crops: 0.96%
other: 96.05% (1998 est.)

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, 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 waterfall



24,654,694 (July 2003 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 31% (male 3,944,749; female 3,700,799)
15-64 years: 64.1% (male 7,931,194; female 7,864,697)
65 years and over: 4.9% (male 552,291; female 660,964) (2003 est.)

Median age:

total: 24.8 years
male: 24.3 years
female: 25.4 years (2002)

Population growth rate:

1.48% (2003 est.)

Birth rate:

19.78 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)

Death rate:

4.9 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)

Net migration rate:

-0.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 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: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2003 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 23.79 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.28 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 27.05 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 73.81 years
male: 70.78 years
female: 77.07 years (2003 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.36 children born/woman (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.5% - note: no country specific models provided (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

62,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

2,000 (2001 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.)


Country name:

conventional long form: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
conventional short form: Venezuela
local short form: Venezuela
local long form: Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela

Government type:

federal republic



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


5 July 1811 (from Spain)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 5 July (1811)


30 December 1999

Legal system:

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


18 years of age; universal

Source: CIA World Factbook