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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of Venezuela

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Venezuela
Definition Field Listing
Venezuela was one of the 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.
   Geography    Venezuela
Definition Field Listing
Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
8 00 N, 66 00 W
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
South America
Definition Field Listing
total: 912,050 sq km
land: 882,050 sq km
water: 30,000 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly more than twice the size of California
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 4,993 km
border countries: Brazil 2,200 km, Colombia 2,050 km, Guyana 743 km
Definition Field Listing
2,800 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
contiguous zone: 15 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Definition Field Listing
tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands
Definition Field Listing
Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Pico Bolivar (La Columna) 5,007 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 2.99%
permanent crops: 0.96%
other: 96.05% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
540 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
subject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
24,287,670 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 31.6% (male 3,955,132; female 3,710,159)
15-64 years: 63.6% (male 7,756,362; female 7,695,738)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 533,559; female 636,720) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.52% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
20.22 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
4.91 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-0.11 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
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: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing
24.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 73.56 years
female: 76.81 years (2002 est.)
male: 70.53 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.41 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.49% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
62,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing
2,000 (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Venezuelan(s)
adjective: Venezuelan
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people
Definition Field Listing
nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%
Definition Field Listing
Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.1%
male: 91.8%
female: 90.3% (1995 est.)
   Government    Venezuela
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
conventional short form: Venezuela
local short form: Venezuela
local long form: Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
federal republic
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
5 July 1811 (from Spain)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Independence Day, 5 July (1811)
Definition Field Listing
30 December 1999
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
based on organic laws as of July 1999; open, adversarial court system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 3 February 1999); Vice President Jose Vicente RANGEL (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 (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
election results: Hugo CHAVEZ Frias reelected president; percent of vote - 60%
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 30 July 2000 (next to be held NA 2006)
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
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)
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)
elections: last held 30 July 2000 (next to be held NA 2005)
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Democratic Action or AD [Claudio FERMIN]; Fifth Republic Movement or MVR [Garcia PONCE]; Homeland for All or PPT [Jose ALBORNIZ]; Justice First [Julio BORGES]; Movement Toward Socialism or MAS [Hector MUJICA]; National Convergence or Convergencia [Juan Jose CALDERA]; Radical Cause or La Causa R [Antonio HERRERA]; Social Christian Party or COPEI [Oswaldo ALVAREZ Paz]; Venezuela Project or PV [Henrique SALAS Romer]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
FEDECAMARAS, a conservative business group; VECINOS groups; Venezuelan Confederation of Workers or CTV (labor organization dominated by the Democratic Action)
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d' Affaires Luis HERERRA Marcano
chancery: 1099 30th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico)
FAX: [1] (202) 342-6820
telephone: [1] (202) 342-2214
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
chief of mission: Ambassador Charles S. SHAPIRO
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:
Definition Field Listing
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
   Economy    Venezuela
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
The petroleum sector dominates the economy, accounting for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings, and more than half of government operating revenues. Venezuelan officials estimate that GDP grew by 2.7% in 2001. A strong rebound in international oil prices fueled the recovery from the steep recession in 1999. Nevertheless, a weak nonoil sector and capital flight - and a temporary fall in oil prices - undercut the recovery. In early 2002, President CHAVEZ changed the exchange rate regime from a crawling peg to a free floating exchange rate, causing the bolivar to depreciate significantly.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $146.2 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.7% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $6,100 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 5%
industry: 40%
services: 55% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
67% (1997 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 38% (1997) (1997)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
Definition Field Listing
49 (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
12.3% (2001) (2001)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
9.9 million (1999) (1999)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
services 64%, industry 23%, agriculture 13% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
14.1% (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $21.5 billion
expenditures: $27 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.) (2000 est.)
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, iron ore mining, construction materials, food processing, textiles, steel, aluminum, motor vehicle assembly
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
80.754 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 23%
hydro: 77%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
75.101 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish
Definition Field Listing
$29.5 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 60%, Brazil 5.5%, Colombia 3.5%, Italy 3.5%, Spain 3.4% (2000)
Definition Field Listing
$18.4 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
US 35.8%, Colombia 6.8%, Brazil 4.5%, Germany 3.9%, Italy 3.9% (2000)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$34.5 billion (2000) (2000)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$35 million with more assistance likely as a result of flooding (1999)
Definition Field Listing
bolivar (VEB)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
bolivares per US dollar - 761.225 (January 2002), 723.666 (2001), 679.960 (2000), 605.717 (1999), 547.556 (1998), 488.635 (1997)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Venezuela
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
2.6 million (however, 3,500,000 have been installed) (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
2 million (1998)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
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: 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:
Definition Field Listing
AM 201, FM NA (20 in Caracas), shortwave 11 (1998)
Definition Field Listing
10.75 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
66 (plus 45 repeaters) (1997)
Definition Field Listing
4.1 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
16 (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
1.3 million (2002)
   Transportation    Venezuela
Definition Field Listing
total: 682 km
standard gauge: 682 km 1.435-m gauge
note: 248 km of the existing system are privately owned; passenger services are nonexistent; however, a National Railways Plan, intended to provide a significant railway system, has been initiated (2001)
Definition Field Listing
total: 96,155 km
paved: 32,308 km
unpaved: 63,847 km (1997 est.)
Definition Field Listing
7,100 km
note: Rio Orinoco and Lago de Maracaibo accept oceangoing vessels
Definition Field Listing
crude oil 6,370 km; petroleum products 480 km; natural gas 4,010 km
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
total: 45 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 716,361 GRT/1,267,095 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Denmark 1, Greece 1, Italy 1, United Kingdom 1, United States 2 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 7, cargo 9, liquefied gas 3, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 14, roll on/roll off 10, short-sea passenger 1
Definition Field Listing
372 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 127
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 61
under 914 m: 18 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 32
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 246
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 97
under 914 m: 139 (2002)
Definition Field Listing
1 (2002)
   Military    Venezuela
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
National Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales or FAN) includes Ground Forces or Army (Fuerzas Terrestres or Ejercito), Naval Forces (Fuerzas Navales or Armada - including marines and 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:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 6,647,718 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 4,786,849 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 246,185 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$934 million (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
0.9% (FY99)
   Transnational Issues    Venezuela
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
claims all of Guyana west of the Essequibo (river); maritime boundary dispute with Colombia in the Gulf of Venezuela; several Caribbean states protest Venezuela's claim to Islas des Aves (Bird Islands), 565 km from Venezuelan mainland
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
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 19 March 2003

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