Venezuela

Venezuela

Overview
Venezuela officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

: República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. It borders Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 to the west, Guyana
Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

 to the east, and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 to the south. Its northern coastline of roughly 2800 kilometres (1,739.8 mi) includes numerous islands in the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

, and in the north east borders the northern Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

, Grenada
Grenada
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

, Curaçao
Curaçao
Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Country of Curaçao , which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao , is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands...

, Bonaire, Aruba
Aruba
Aruba is a 33 km-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located 27 km north of the coast of Venezuela and 130 km east of Guajira Peninsula...

 and the Leeward Antilles
Leeward Antilles
The Leeward Antilles are a chain of islands in the Caribbean – specifically, the southerly islands of the Lesser Antilles along the southeastern fringe of the Caribbean Sea, just north of the Venezuelan coast of the South American mainland...

 lie near the Venezuelan coast.
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Timeline

1498   Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to visit what is now Venezuela.

1558   Mérida is founded in Venezuela.

1567   Don Diego de Losada founds the city of Santiago de Leon de Caracas, modern-day Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela.

1810   Venezuela achieves home rule: Vicente Emparan, Governor of the Captaincy General is removed by the people of Caracas and a Junta is installed.

1811   Venezuela declares independence from Spain.

1812   An earthquake destroys Caracas, Venezuela.

1813   South American independence leader Simón Bolívar enters Mérida, leading the invasion of Venezuela, and is proclaimed ''El Libertador'' ("The Liberator").

1819   Simón Bolívar declares the independence of the Republic of Gran Colombia in Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar in Venezuela).

1821   The Battle of Carabobo takes place. It is the decisive battle in the war of independence of Venezuela from Spain.

1821   The Republic of Gran Colombia (a federation covering much of present day Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador) is established, with Simón Bolívar as the founding President and Francisco de Paula Santander as vice president. thumb

 
Encyclopedia
Venezuela officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

: República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. It borders Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 to the west, Guyana
Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

 to the east, and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 to the south. Its northern coastline of roughly 2800 kilometres (1,739.8 mi) includes numerous islands in the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

, and in the north east borders the northern Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

, Grenada
Grenada
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

, Curaçao
Curaçao
Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Country of Curaçao , which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao , is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands...

, Bonaire, Aruba
Aruba
Aruba is a 33 km-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located 27 km north of the coast of Venezuela and 130 km east of Guajira Peninsula...

 and the Leeward Antilles
Leeward Antilles
The Leeward Antilles are a chain of islands in the Caribbean – specifically, the southerly islands of the Lesser Antilles along the southeastern fringe of the Caribbean Sea, just north of the Venezuelan coast of the South American mainland...

 lie near the Venezuelan coast. Venezuela's territory covers around 916445 sqkm with an estimated population of 29,105,632. Venezuela is considered a state with extremely high biodiversity
Megadiverse countries
The megadiverse countries are a group of countries that harbor the majority of the Earth's species and are therefore considered extremely biodiverse...

, with habitat
Habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

s ranging from the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 mountains in the west to the Amazon Basin
Amazon Basin
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about , or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela...

 rainforest in the south, via extensive llanos
Llanos
The Llanos is a vast tropical grassland plain situated to the east of the Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, in northwestern South America. It is an ecoregion of the Flooded grasslands and savannas Biome....

plains and Caribbean coast in the center and the Orinoco River Delta in the east.

Venezuela was colonized by Spain
Spanish colonization of the Americas
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...

 in 1522, overcoming resistance from indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples in Venezuela
Indigenous peoples in Venezuela form about 1.5% of the total population, although many Venezuelans share some indigenous ancestry. Indigenous peoples are concentrated in the southern Amazon rainforest state of Amazonas, where they make up nearly 50% of the population, and in the Andes of the...

. It became the first Spanish American colony to declare independence (in 1811), but did not securely establish independence until 1821 (initially as a department of the federal republic of Gran Colombia
Gran Colombia
Gran Colombia is a name used today for the state that encompassed much of northern South America and part of southern Central America from 1819 to 1831. This short-lived republic included the territories of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, northern Peru and northwest Brazil. The...

, gaining full independence in 1830). During the 19th century Venezuela suffered political turmoil and dictatorship, and it was dominated by regional caudillo
Caudillo
Caudillo is a Spanish word for "leader" and usually describes a political-military leader at the head of an authoritarian power. The term translates into English as leader or chief, or more pejoratively as warlord, dictator or strongman. Caudillo was the term used to refer to the charismatic...

s
(military strongmen) into the 20th century. It first saw democratic rule from 1945 to 1948, and after a period of dictatorship has remained democratic since 1958, during which time most countries of Latin America suffered one or more military dictatorship
Military dictatorship
A military dictatorship is a form of government where in the political power resides with the military. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military....

s. Economic crisis in the 1980s and 1990s led to a political crisis which saw hundreds dead in the Caracazo
Caracazo
The Caracazo or sacudón is the name given to the wave of protests, riots and looting and ensuing massacre that occurred on 27 February 1989 in the Venezuelan capital Caracas and surrounding towns. The riots — the worst in Venezuelan history — resulted in a death toll of anywhere between...

 riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez Rodríguez , also known as CAP and often referred to as El Gocho , was a Venezuelan politician, President of Venezuela from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1993. His first presidency was known as the Saudi Venezuela due to its economic and social prosperity thanks to...

 for embezzlement of funds in 1993. A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 election
Venezuelan presidential election, 1998
In the Venezuelan presidential election of 1998, Hugo Chávez was elected to his first term as President of Venezuela with the largest percentage of the popular vote in four decades...

 of former career officer Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

, and the launch of a "Bolivarian Revolution
Bolivarian Revolution
The “Bolivarian Revolution” refers to a leftist social movement and political process in Venezuela led by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, the founder of the Fifth Republic Movement...

", beginning with a 1999 Constituent Assembly
1999 Constituent Assembly of Venezuela
The 1999 Constituent Assembly of Venezuela was a constitutional convention held in Venezuela in 1999 to draft a new Constitution of Venezuela. The Assembly was endorsed by a referendum in April 1999 which enabled Constituent Assembly elections in July 1999...

 to write a new Constitution of Venezuela
Constitution of Venezuela
||The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the current and twenty-sixth constitution of Venezuela. It was drafted in mid-1999 by a constitutional assembly that had been created by popular referendum. Adopted in December 1999, it replaced the 1961 Constitution - the longest...

.

Venezuela is a federal
Federation
A federation , also known as a federal state, is a type of sovereign state characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions united by a central government...

 presidential republic consisting of 23 states
States of Venezuela
Venezuela is divided into 23 states , 1 Capital District and the Federal Dependencies that consist of a large number of Venezuelan islands...

, the Capital District
Venezuelan Capital District
The Capital District of Venezuela is a federal district corresponding to the capital Caracas. It has an area of 433 km² and there is only one administrative division , Libertador, which contains about half City of Caracas. It is the seat of the federal government and the head of the public...

 (covering Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

), and Federal Dependencies
Federal Dependencies of Venezuela
The Federal Dependencies of Venezuela encompass all of Venezuela's off shore islands in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Venezuela...

 (covering Venezuela's offshore islands). Venezuela is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

; the vast majority of Venezuelans live in the cities of the north, especially in the capital, Caracas, which is also the largest city. Venezuela is a founder member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 (1945), the Organization of American States
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

 (1948), the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
OPEC
OPEC is an intergovernmental organization of twelve developing countries made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. OPEC has maintained its headquarters in Vienna since 1965, and hosts regular meetings...

 (1960), the Group of 15
Group of 15
The Group of 15 was established at the Ninth Non-Aligned Movement Summit Meeting in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in September 1989.This informal forum was set up to foster cooperation and provide input for other international groups, such as the World Trade Organization and the Group of Eight...

 (1989), the World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

 (1995), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) (2004) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) (2008). Since the discovery of oil in the early 20th century, Venezuela has been one of the world's leading exporters of oil. Previously an underdeveloped exporter of agricultural commodities such as coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

 and cocoa, oil quickly came to dominate exports and government revenues. The 1980s oil glut
1980s oil glut
The 1980s oil glut was a serious surplus of crude oil caused by falling demand following the 1970s Energy Crisis. The world price of oil, which had peaked in 1980 at over US$35 per barrel , fell in 1986 from $27 to below $10...

 led to an external debt crisis
Latin American debt crisis
The Latin American debt crisis was a financial crisis that occurred in the early 1980s , often known as the "lost decade", when Latin American countries reached a point where their foreign debt exceeded their earning power and they were not able to repay it.-Origins:In the 1960s and 1970s many...

 and a long-running economic crisis, which saw inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 peak at 100% in 1996 and poverty rates rise to 66% in 1995 as (by 1998) per capita
Per capita
Per capita is a Latin prepositional phrase: per and capita . The phrase thus means "by heads" or "for each head", i.e. per individual or per person...

 GDP fell to the same level as 1963, down a third from its 1978 peak. The recovery of oil prices
Price of petroleum
The price of petroleum as quoted in news generally refers to the spot price per barrel of either WTI/light crude as traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange for delivery at Cushing, Oklahoma, or of Brent as traded on the Intercontinental Exchange for delivery at Sullom Voe.The price...

 after 2001 boosted the Venezuelan economy and facilitated social spending, although the fallout of the 2008 global financial crisis saw a renewed economic downturn.

Etymology


In 1499, an expedition led by Alonso de Ojeda
Alonso de Ojeda
Alonso de Ojeda was a Spanish navigator, governor and conquistador. His name is sometimes spelled Alonzo and Oxeda.-Early life:...

 visited the Venezuelan coast. The stilt houses in the area of Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo is a large brackish bay in Venezuela at . It is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela by Tablazo Strait at the northern end, and fed by numerous rivers, the largest being the Catatumbo. It is commonly considered a lake rather than a bay or lagoon, and at 13,210 km² it would be the...

 reminded the navigator Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer. The Americas are generally believed to have derived their name from the feminized Latin version of his first name.-Expeditions:...

 of the city of Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, so he named the region "Veneziola", which in contemporary Tuscan (Vespucci's native tongue) meant "little Venice". The name acquired its current spelling as a result of Spanish influence, where the suffix
Suffix
In linguistics, a suffix is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs...

 -uela is used as a diminutive
Diminutive
In language structure, a diminutive, or diminutive form , is a formation of a word used to convey a slight degree of the root meaning, smallness of the object or quality named, encapsulation, intimacy, or endearment...

 term (e.g., plaza / plazuela, cazo / cazuela); thus, the term's original sense would have been that of a "little Venice". The German term for the area, "Klein-Venedig", also means little Venice (lit. "small Venice").

Nonetheless, although the Vespucci story remains the most popular and accepted version of the origin of the country's name, a different reason for the name comes up in the account of Martín Fernández de Enciso
Martín Fernández de Enciso
Martín Fernández de Enciso was a navigator and geographer from Seville, Spain. He was instrumental in colonising the Isthmus of Darien. Fernandez de Enciso founded a village near the Cabo de la Vela with the name Nuestra Señora Santa María de los Remedios del Cabo de la Vela, the first settlement...

, a member of the Vespucci and Ojeda crew. In his work Summa de Geografía, he states that they found an indigenous population who called themselves the "Veneciuela," which suggests that the name "Venezuela" may have evolved from the native word.

History



Human habitation of Venezuela could have commenced at least 15,000 years ago from which period leaf
Leaf
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

-shaped tools, together with chopping and plano
Plane (tool)
A hand plane is a tool for shaping wood. When powered by electricity, the tool may be called a planer. Planes are used to flatten, reduce the thickness of, and impart a smooth surface to a rough piece of lumber or timber. Planing is used to produce horizontal, vertical, or inclined flat surfaces on...

-convex scraping implements, have been found exposed on the high riverine terraces of the Rio Pedregal in western Venezuela. Late Pleistocene
Late Pleistocene
The Late Pleistocene is a stage of the Pleistocene Epoch. The beginning of the stage is defined by the base of the Eemian interglacial phase before the final glacial episode of the Pleistocene 126,000 ± 5,000 years ago. The end of the stage is defined exactly at 10,000 Carbon-14 years BP...

 hunting artifacts, including spear tips, have been found at a similar series of sites in northwestern Venezuela known as "El Jobo"; according to radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

, these date from 13,000 to 7000 BC.

It is not known how many people lived in Venezuela before the Spanish Conquest
Spanish colonization of the Americas
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...

; it may have been around a million people, and in addition to today's indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples in Venezuela
Indigenous peoples in Venezuela form about 1.5% of the total population, although many Venezuelans share some indigenous ancestry. Indigenous peoples are concentrated in the southern Amazon rainforest state of Amazonas, where they make up nearly 50% of the population, and in the Andes of the...

 included groups such as the Auaké
Auaké
Auaké is a Native South American nation of the Amazonia of Venezuela and Brazil. They were sedentary slash-and-burn farmers, which requires periodic relocation as soil becomes exhausted, and were also hunters, fishers and gatherers. They spoke Arutani...

, Caquetio
Caquetio
Caquetio, Caiquetio, or Caiquetia, were Indians of northwestern Venezuela, living along the shores of Lake Maracaibo at the time of the Spanish conquest. They moved inland to avoid enslavement by the Spaniards but were eventually destroyed as were their neighbours, the Quiriquire and the Jirajara...

, Mariche
Mariche
Mariche is the name of a former native Venezuelan tribe.Not much information from them as a tribe has survived to the present day. It is known that they lived in what is now called Filas de Mariches, distrito Sucre, Estado Miranda and in the area of El Hatillo both near Caracas, Venezuela, where...

 and Timoto-cuicas
Timoto-cuicas
Timoto–Cuica people were an indigenous group compromised primarily of two tribes, the Timotes and the Cuicas, that inhabited in the Andean region of western Venezuela. They were closely related to the Muisca, or also known as the Chibchas, indigenous people of the Andes...

. The number was reduced after the Conquest, mainly through the spread of new diseases from Europe. There were two main north-south axes of pre-Columbian population, producing maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 in the west and manioc in the east. Large parts of the llanos
Llanos
The Llanos is a vast tropical grassland plain situated to the east of the Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, in northwestern South America. It is an ecoregion of the Flooded grasslands and savannas Biome....

 plains were cultivated through a combination of slash and burn
Slash and burn
Slash-and-burn is an agricultural technique which involves cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create fields. It is subsistence agriculture that typically uses little technology or other tools. It is typically part of shifting cultivation agriculture, and of transhumance livestock...

 and permanent settled agriculture.

Colonization



In 1498, during his third voyage to the Americas, Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 sailed near the Orinoco Delta and then landed in the Gulf of Paria
Gulf of Paria
The Gulf of Paria is a shallow inland sea between the island of Trinidad and the east coast of Venezuela. This sheltered body of water is considered to be one of the best natural harbours on the Atlantic coast of the Americas...

. Amazed, Columbus expressed in his moving letter to Isabella and Ferdinand that he had reached the heaven on Earth (the paradise
Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

), and confused by the unusual saltiness of the water, he wrote:

His certainty of having attained Paradise made him name this region Land of Grace, a phrase which has become the country's nickname.

Spain's colonization of mainland Venezuela started in 1522, establishing its first permanent South American settlement in the city of Cumaná
Cumaná
Cumaná is the capital of Venezuela's Sucre State. It is located 402 km east of Caracas. It was the first settlement founded by Europeans in the mainland America, in 1501 by Franciscan friars, but due to successful attacks by the indigenous people, it had to be refounded several times...

. The 16th century also saw fitful attempts at German colonization
German colonization of the Americas
The German colonization of the Americas consisted of failed attempts to settle Venezuela , St. Thomas, the Crab Island and Tertholen in the 16th and 17th centuries.-Klein-Venedig:...

. Native cacique
Cacique
Cacique is a title derived from the Taíno word for the pre-Columbian chiefs or leaders of tribes in the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles...

s (leader
Leadership
Leadership has been described as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task". Other in-depth definitions of leadership have also emerged.-Theories:...

s) such as Guaicaipuro
Guaicaipuro
Guaicaipuro was a native Venezuelan chief of both the Teques and Caracas tribes. Though known today as Guaicaipuro, in documents of the time his name was written Guacaipuro.-Life:...

 (c. 1530–1568) and Tamanaco
Tamanaco
Tamanaco was a native Venezuelan chief, who as leader of the Mariches and Quiriquires tribes led during part of the 16th century the resistance against the Spanish conquest of Venezuelan territory in the central region of the country, specially in the Caracas valley...

 (died 1573) attempted to resist Spanish incursions, but the newcomers ultimately subdued them; Tamanaco was put to death by order of Caracas' founder Diego de Losada
Diego de Losada
Diego de Losada was a Spanish conquistador and the founder of Santiago de León de Caracas, the current capital of Venezuela.Losada was born in Rionegro del Puente, in what is now the province of Zamora. He reached Puerto Rico in 1533....

. In the 16th century, during the Spanish colonization
Spanish colonization of the Americas
Colonial expansion under the Spanish Empire was initiated by the Spanish conquistadores and developed by the Monarchy of Spain through its administrators and missionaries. The motivations for colonial expansion were trade and the spread of the Christian faith through indigenous conversions...

, indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples in Venezuela
Indigenous peoples in Venezuela form about 1.5% of the total population, although many Venezuelans share some indigenous ancestry. Indigenous peoples are concentrated in the southern Amazon rainforest state of Amazonas, where they make up nearly 50% of the population, and in the Andes of the...

 such as many of the Mariches, themselves descendants of the Caribs converted to Roman Catholicism. Some of the resisting tribes or leaders are commemorated in place names, including Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

, Chacao, and Los Teques
Los Teques
Los Teques is the capital city of the Venezuelan state of Miranda. Its population is 140,617 .-History:The city was founded in 1777 and was named after the Aractoeques Carabs, an indigenous tribe that once inhabited the area...

. The early colonial settlements focussed on the northern coast, but in the mid-18th century the Spanish pushed further inland along the Orinoco River. Here the Ye'kuana
Ye'kuana
The Ye'kuana, also called Ye'Kuana, Yekuana, Yequana, Yecuana, Dekuana, Maquiritare, Makiritare, So'to or Maiongong, are a Cariban-speaking tropical rain forest tribe who live in the Caura River and Orinoco River regions of Venezuela in Bolivar State and Amazonas State...

 (then known as the Makiritare) organised serious resistance in 1775 and 1776.

Spain's eastern Venezuelan settlements were incorporated into New Andalusia Province
New Andalusia Province
New Andalusia Province was a Spanish province in the 16th century. It was first colonized by Spaniards in 1569, led by explorer Diego Hernández de Serpa. It comprised what is now eastern Venezuela, western Guyana, and far northern Brazil...

. Administered by the Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo from the early 16th century, most of Venezuela became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

 in the early 18th century, and was then reorganized as an autonomous Captaincy General
Captaincy General of Venezuela
The Captaincy General of Venezuela was an administrative district of colonial Spain, created in 1777 to provide more autonomy for the provinces of Venezuela, previously under the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalty of New Granada and the Audiencia of Santo Domingo...

 starting in 1776. The town of Caracas, founded in the central coastal region in 1567, was well-placed to become a key location, being near the coastal port of La Guaira
La Guaira
La Guaira is the capital city of the Venezuelan state of Vargas and the country's chief port. It was founded in 1577 as an outlet for Caracas, to the southeast. The town and the port were badly damaged during the December 1999 floods and mudslides that affected much of the region...

 whilst itself being located in a valley in a mountain range, providing defensive strength against pirates and a more fertile and healthy climate.

Independence



After a series of unsuccessful uprisings, Venezuela—under the leadership of Francisco de Miranda
Francisco de Miranda
Sebastián Francisco de Miranda Ravelo y Rodríguez de Espinoza , commonly known as Francisco de Miranda , was a Venezuelan revolutionary...

, a Venezuelan marshal who had fought in the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 and the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

declared independence
Venezuelan Declaration of Independence
The Venezuelan Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by a congress of Venezuelan provinces on July 5, 1811 through which Venezuelans made the decision to break away from the Spanish Crown in order to establish a new nation based on the premises of equality of individuals, abolition of...

 on 5 July 1811. This began the Venezuelan War of Independence
Venezuelan War of Independence
-The First Republic:Criollos resented the mercantilist policies of Spain. Trade was only allowed in Pacific ports which was a terrible burden for Argentina, Paraguay and the Caribbean colonies. This is significant as Cuba and Puerto Rico were forced to allow free trade in 1763 by Britain and...

. However, a devastating earthquake that struck Caracas in 1812
1812 Caracas earthquake
The 1812 Caracas earthquake took place in Venezuela on March 26, 1812 at 4:37 p.m. It measured 7.7 on the Richter magnitude scale. It caused extensive damage in Caracas, La Guaira, Barquisimeto, San Felipe, and Mérida...

, together with the rebellion of the Venezuelan llanero
Llanero
A llanero is a Venezuelan or Colombian herder. The name is taken from the Llanos grasslands occupying western Venezuela and eastern Colombia. The Llanero were originally part Spanish and Indian and have a strong culture including a distinctive form of music.During the wars of independence,...

s
, helped bring down the first Venezuelan republic. A second Venezuelan republic, proclaimed on 7 August 1813, lasted several months before being crushed as well.

Sovereignty was only attained after Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

, aided by José Antonio Páez
José Antonio Páez
José Antonio Páez Herrera was General in Chief of the army fighting Spain during the Venezuelan Wars of Independence, in addition to becoming the President of Venezuela once it was independent of the Gran Colombia...

 and Antonio José de Sucre
Antonio José de Sucre
Antonio José de Sucre y Alcalá , known as the "Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho" , was a Venezuelan independence leader. Sucre was one of Simón Bolívar's closest friends, generals and statesmen.-Ancestry:...

, won the Battle of Carabobo
Battle of Carabobo
The Battle of Carabobo, 24 June 1821, was fought between independence fighters, led by Simón Bolívar, and the Royalist forces, led by Spanish Field Marshal Miguel de la Torre. Bolívar's decisive victory at Carabobo led to the independence of Venezuela....

 on 24 June 1821. José Prudencio Padilla
José Prudencio Padilla
Admiral José Prudencio Padilla López was a Colombian military leader who fought in the Spanish American wars of independence...

 and Rafael Urdaneta
Rafael Urdaneta
Rafael José Urdaneta y Faría was a Venezuelan General and hero of the Spanish American wars of independence in several countries in northern South America.- Biographic data :...

's victory in the Battle of Lake Maracaibo
Battle of Lake Maracaibo
The Battle of Lake Maracaibo also known as the "Naval Battle of the Lake" was fought on 24 July 1823 in Venezuela's Lake Maracaibo between Admiral José Prudencio Padilla and royalist Captain Ángel Laborde....

 on 24 July 1823, helped seal Venezuelan independence. New Granada's congress gave Bolívar control of the Granadian army; leading it, he liberated several countries and founded Gran Colombia
Gran Colombia
Gran Colombia is a name used today for the state that encompassed much of northern South America and part of southern Central America from 1819 to 1831. This short-lived republic included the territories of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, northern Peru and northwest Brazil. The...

.

Sucre, who won many battles for Bolívar, went on to liberate Ecuador and later become the second president of Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

. Venezuela remained part of Gran Colombia until 1830, when a rebellion led by Páez allowed the proclamation of a newly independent Venezuela; Páez became the first president of the new republic. Between one- fourth and one-third of Venezuela's population was lost during these two decades of warfare (including perhaps one-half of the white population), which by 1830 was estimated at about 800,000.

The colors of the Venezuelan flag are yellow, blue and red, in that order: the yellow stands for land wealth, the blue for the sea that separates Venezuela from Spain, and the red for the blood shed by the heroes of independence.

19th century



Much of Venezuela's 19th century history was characterized by political turmoil and dictator
Dictator
A dictator is a ruler who assumes sole and absolute power but without hereditary ascension such as an absolute monarch. When other states call the head of state of a particular state a dictator, that state is called a dictatorship...

ial rule, including Independence leader José Antonio Páez
José Antonio Páez
José Antonio Páez Herrera was General in Chief of the army fighting Spain during the Venezuelan Wars of Independence, in addition to becoming the President of Venezuela once it was independent of the Gran Colombia...

, who gained the presidency three times and served a total of eleven years between 1830 and 1863. This culminated in the Federal War
Federal War
The Federal War - also known as the Great War or the Five Year War - was a civil war in Venezuela between the conservative party and the liberal party about the monopoly of the conservatives of the land and the government positions, and their reluctance to grant any reforms. This drove the...

 (1859–1863), a civil war in which hundreds of thousands died, in a country with a population of not much more than a million people. In the latter half of the century Antonio Guzmán Blanco
Antonio Guzmán Blanco
Antonio Leocadio Guzmán Blanco was President of Venezuela for three separate terms, from 1870–1877, from 1879–1884, and from 1886–1887....

, another caudillo
Caudillo
Caudillo is a Spanish word for "leader" and usually describes a political-military leader at the head of an authoritarian power. The term translates into English as leader or chief, or more pejoratively as warlord, dictator or strongman. Caudillo was the term used to refer to the charismatic...

, served a total of thirteen years between 1870 and 1887, with three other presidents interspersed.

In 1895 a longstanding dispute with Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 about the territory of Guayana Esequiba
Guayana Esequiba
Guayana Esequiba is a territory administered by Guyana but claimed by Venezuela. It includes the territory between the Cuyuni River to the west and the Essequibo River to the east...

, which Britain claimed as part of British Guiana
British Guiana
British Guiana was the name of the British colony on the northern coast of South America, now the independent nation of Guyana.The area was originally settled by the Dutch at the start of the 17th century as the colonies of Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice...

 and Venezuela saw as Venezuelan territory, erupted into the Venezuela Crisis of 1895
Venezuela Crisis of 1895
The Venezuela Crisis of 1895 occurred over Venezuela's longstanding dispute with the United Kingdom about the territory of Guayana Esequiba, which Britain claimed as part of British Guiana and Venezuela saw as Venezuelan territory...

. The dispute became a diplomatic crisis when Venezuela's lobbyist William L. Scruggs
William Lindsay Scruggs
William Lindsay Scruggs was an American author, lawyer, and diplomat. He was a scholar of South American foreign policy and U.S. ambassador to Colombia and Venezuela. He played a key role in the Venezuela Crisis of 1895 and helped shape the modern interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine.- Early...

 sought to argue that British behaviour over the issue violated the United States' Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

 of 1823, and used his influence in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 to pursue the matter. Then US President Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents...

 adopted a broad interpretation of the Doctrine that did not just simply forbid new European colonies but declared an American interest in any matter within the hemisphere. Britain ultimately accepted arbitration, but in negotiations over its terms was able to persuade the US on much of the details. A tribunal convened in Paris in 1898 to decide the issue, and in 1899 awarded the bulk of the disputed territory to British Guiana.

Early 20th century


In 1899 Cipriano Castro
Cipriano Castro
José Cipriano Castro Ruiz was a high ranking member of the Venezuelan military, politician and the President of Venezuela from 1899 to 1908...

, assisted by his friend Juan Vicente Gómez
Juan Vicente Gómez
Juan Vicente Gómez Chacón was a military general and de facto ruler of Venezuela from 1908 until his death in 1935. He was president on three occasions during this time, and ruled as an unelected military strongman for the rest of the era.-Early years:Gómez was a barely literate cattle herder and...

, seized power in Caracas, marching an army from his base in the Andean state of Táchira. Castro defaulted on Venezuela's considerable foreign debts, and declined to pay compensation to foreigners caught up in Venezuela's civil wars. This led to the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903
Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903
The Venezuela Crisis of 1902 was a naval blockade from December of 1902 to February of 1903 imposed against Venezuela by Britain, Germany and Italy over President Cipriano Castro's refusal to pay foreign debts and damages suffered by European citizens in a recent Venezuelan civil war...

, in which Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 imposed a naval blockade of several months, before international arbitration at the new Permanent Court of Arbitration
Permanent Court of Arbitration
The Permanent Court of Arbitration , is an international organization based in The Hague in the Netherlands.-History:The court was established in 1899 as one of the acts of the first Hague Peace Conference, which makes it the oldest institution for international dispute resolution.The creation of...

 in The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

 was agreed. In 1908 another dispute
Dutch-Venezuela War
In 1908 a dispute broke out between the Netherlands and Cipriano Castro's Venezuela on the grounds of the harbouring of refugees in Curaçao. Venezuela expelled the Dutch ambassador, prompting a Dutch dispatch of three warships - a battleship, the Jacob van Heemskerk, and two cruisers, the...

 broke out with the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, which was resolved when Castro left for medical treatment in Germany and was promptly overthrown by Juan Vicente Gómez.

The discovery of massive oil deposits
Oil field
An oil field is a region with an abundance of oil wells extracting petroleum from below ground. Because the oil reservoirs typically extend over a large area, possibly several hundred kilometres across, full exploitation entails multiple wells scattered across the area...

 in Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo is a large brackish bay in Venezuela at . It is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela by Tablazo Strait at the northern end, and fed by numerous rivers, the largest being the Catatumbo. It is commonly considered a lake rather than a bay or lagoon, and at 13,210 km² it would be the...

 during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 would prove pivotal for Venezuela, and soon transformed the basis of its economy, from a heavy dependence on agricultural exports. It prompted an economic boom that would last into the 1980s; by 1935, Venezuela's per capita gross domestic product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 was Latin America's highest. Gómez benefited handsomely from this, as corruption thrived, but at the same time, the new source of income helped him centralise the Venezuelan state and develop its authority. He remained the most powerful man in Venezuela until his death in 1935, although at times he ceded the Presidency to others. The gomecista dictatorship system largely continued under Eleazar López Contreras
Eleazar López Contreras
José Eleazar López Contreras was President of Venezuela . López was a general and one of Juan Vicente Gómez's collaborators.Eleazar López was the only child of Col. Manuel Maria López and Catalina Contreras...

, but from 1941, under Isaías Medina Angarita
Isaías Medina Angarita
Isaías Medina Angarita was a Venezuelan military and political leader, president of Venezuela from 1941 until 1945....

, was relaxed, with the latter granting a range of reforms, including the legalization of all political parties. After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

 and heavy immigration from Southern Europe
Southern Europe
The term Southern Europe, at its most general definition, is used to mean "all countries in the south of Europe". However, the concept, at different times, has had different meanings, providing additional political, linguistic and cultural context to the definition in addition to the typical...

 (mainly from Spain, Italy
Italo-Venezuelans
Italian-Venezuelans are the Venezuelan citizens of Italian descent. The word may refer to someone born in Venezuela of Italian descent or to someone who has emigrated to Venezuela from Italy...

, Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

) and poorer Latin American countries markedly diversified Venezuelan society.

In 1945 a civilian-military coup overthrew Medina Angarita and ushered in a three-year period of democratic rule under the mass membership Democratic Action
Democratic Action
Democratic Action is a centrist Venezuelan political party established in 1941. The party and its antecedents played an important role in the early years of Venezuelan democracy, and led the government during Venezuela's first democratic period...

, initially under Rómulo Betancourt
Rómulo Betancourt
Rómulo Ernesto Betancourt Bello , known as "The Father of Venezuelan Democracy", was President of Venezuela from 1945 to 1948 and again from 1959 to 1964, as well as leader of Accion Democratica, Venezuela's dominant political party in the 20th century...

, until Rómulo Gallegos
Rómulo Gallegos
Rómulo Ángel del Monte Carmelo Gallegos Freire was a Venezuelan novelist and politician. For a period of some nine months during 1948, he was the first cleanly elected president in his country's history....

 won the Venezuelan presidential election, 1947
Venezuelan presidential election, 1947
General elections were held in Venezuela on 14 December 1947. The presidential elections were won by Rómulo Gallegos of Democratic Action, who received 74.3% of the vote, whilst his party won 83 of the 110 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 38 of the 46 seats in the Senate. It was the first...

 (generally believed to be the first free and fair elections in Venezuela). Gallegos governed until overthrown by a military junta led by Marcos Pérez Jiménez
Marcos Pérez Jiménez
Marcos Evangelista Pérez Jiménez was a soldier and Presidents of Venezuela from 1952 to 1958.-Career:Marcos Evangelista Pérez Jiménez was born in Michelena, Táchira State. His father, Juan Pérez Bustamante, was a farmer; his mother, Adela Jiménez, a schoolteacher...

 and Gallegos' Defense Minister Carlos Delgado Chalbaud
Carlos Delgado Chalbaud
Carlos Román Delgado Chalbaud Gómez was a Venezuelan career military officer, and as leader of a military junta was President of Venezuela from 1948 to 1950. By 1945 he was a high-ranking officer and was among the leaders of a military coup which brought to power the mass membership party...

 in the 1948 Venezuelan coup d'état
1948 Venezuelan coup d'état
The 1948 Venezuelan coup d'état took place on 27 November 1948, when Carlos Delgado Chalbaud, Marcos Pérez Jiménez and Luis Felipe Llovera Páez overthrew the elected president Rómulo Gallegos. Gallegos had been elected in the Venezuelan presidential election, 1947 and taken office in February 1948...

. Pérez Jiménez was the most powerful man in the junta (though Chalbaud was its titular President), and was suspected of being behind the death in office of Chalbaud, who died in a bungled kidnapping in 1950. When the junta unexpectedly lost the election it held in 1952
Venezuelan presidential election, 1952
Constitutional Assembly elections were held in Venezuela on 30 November 1952. After its election, the Assembly would nominate a provisional President and then draft a new constitution...

, it ignored the results and Pérez Jiménez was installed as President, where he remained until 1958.

Democratic period (1958–present)



The military dictator Pérez Jiménez was forced out on 23 January 1958. In an effort to consolidate the young democracy, the major political parties (with the notable exception of the Communist Party of Venezuela
Communist Party of Venezuela
The Communist Party of Venezuela is a Marxist-Leninist political party, and the oldest continuously existing party in Venezuela...

) signed the Punto Fijo Pact
Punto Fijo Pact
Punto Fijo Pact was a formal arrangement arrived at between representatives of Venezuela's three main political parties in 1958: Acción Democrática, COPEI and Unión Republicana Democrática, for the acceptance of the 1958 presidential elections, and the preservation of the rising democratic regime.-...

. Democratic Action and COPEI
COPEI
Copei – Social Christian Party of Venezuela is a third way political party in Venezuela. The name stands for Comité de Organización Política Electoral Independiente...

 would dominate the political landscape for four decades. The 1960s saw substantial guerilla movements, including the Armed Forces of National Liberation and the Revolutionary Left Movement
Revolutionary Left Movement (Venezuela)
The Revolutionary Left Movement , was a left-wing Marxist political party in Venezuela...

, which had split from Democratic Action in 1960. Most of these movements lay down their arms under Rafael Caldera
Rafael Caldera
Rafael Antonio Caldera Rodríguez was president of Venezuela from 1969 to 1974 and again from 1994 to 1999.Caldera taught sociology and law at various universities before entering politics. He was a founding member of COPEI, Venezuela's Christian Democratic party...

's presidency (1969–74); Caldera had won the 1968 election
Venezuelan presidential election, 1968
General elections were held in Venezuela on 1 December 1968. The presidential elections were won by Rafael Caldera of Copei, who received 29.1% of the vote, whilst Democratic Action remained the largest party in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate...

 for COPEI
COPEI
Copei – Social Christian Party of Venezuela is a third way political party in Venezuela. The name stands for Comité de Organización Política Electoral Independiente...

, being the first time a party other than Democratic Action took the presidency through a democratic election.

The election of Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez Rodríguez , also known as CAP and often referred to as El Gocho , was a Venezuelan politician, President of Venezuela from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1993. His first presidency was known as the Saudi Venezuela due to its economic and social prosperity thanks to...

 in 1973
Venezuelan presidential election, 1973
General elections were held in Venezuela on 9 December 1973. The presidential elections were won by Carlos Andrés Pérez of Democratic Action, who received 48.7% of the vote, whilst his party won a majority of seats in the Chamber of Deputies and Senate. Voter turnout was 96.5%.-President:-Congress:...

 coincided with the 1973 oil crisis
1973 oil crisis
The 1973 oil crisis started in October 1973, when the members of Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries or the OAPEC proclaimed an oil embargo. This was "in response to the U.S. decision to re-supply the Israeli military" during the Yom Kippur war. It lasted until March 1974. With the...

, which saw Venezuela's income explode as oil prices soared (Oil was nationalized in 1976). This led to massive increases in public spending, but also increases in external debts, which continued into the 1980s when the collapse of oil prices during the 1980s
1980s oil glut
The 1980s oil glut was a serious surplus of crude oil caused by falling demand following the 1970s Energy Crisis. The world price of oil, which had peaked in 1980 at over US$35 per barrel , fell in 1986 from $27 to below $10...

 crippled the Venezuelan economy. As the government started to devalue the currency in February 1983 in order to face its financial obligations, Venezuelans' real standard of living fell dramatically. A number of failed economic policies and increasing corruption in government led to rising poverty and crime, worsening social indicators, and increased political instability. Corruption remains a problem; Venezuela was ranked near the bottom of countries in the Corruptions Perceptions Index in 2009.

Economic crisis in the 1980s and 1990s led to a political crisis which saw hundreds dead in the Caracazo
Caracazo
The Caracazo or sacudón is the name given to the wave of protests, riots and looting and ensuing massacre that occurred on 27 February 1989 in the Venezuelan capital Caracas and surrounding towns. The riots — the worst in Venezuelan history — resulted in a death toll of anywhere between...

 riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez Rodríguez , also known as CAP and often referred to as El Gocho , was a Venezuelan politician, President of Venezuela from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1993. His first presidency was known as the Saudi Venezuela due to its economic and social prosperity thanks to...

 (re-elected in 1988) for corruption in 1993. Coup leader Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

 was pardoned in March 1994 by president Rafael Caldera, with a clean slate and his political rights intact. A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw Chávez elected President in 1998
Venezuelan presidential election, 1998
In the Venezuelan presidential election of 1998, Hugo Chávez was elected to his first term as President of Venezuela with the largest percentage of the popular vote in four decades...

, and the subsequent launch of a "Bolivarian Revolution
Bolivarian Revolution
The “Bolivarian Revolution” refers to a leftist social movement and political process in Venezuela led by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, the founder of the Fifth Republic Movement...

", beginning with a 1999 Constituent Assembly
1999 Constituent Assembly of Venezuela
The 1999 Constituent Assembly of Venezuela was a constitutional convention held in Venezuela in 1999 to draft a new Constitution of Venezuela. The Assembly was endorsed by a referendum in April 1999 which enabled Constituent Assembly elections in July 1999...

 to write a new Constitution of Venezuela
Constitution of Venezuela
||The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the current and twenty-sixth constitution of Venezuela. It was drafted in mid-1999 by a constitutional assembly that had been created by popular referendum. Adopted in December 1999, it replaced the 1961 Constitution - the longest...

.

In April 2002, Chávez was briefly ousted from power in the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt following popular demonstrations by his opposers, but he was returned to power after two days as a result of popular demonstrations by his supporters and actions by the military. Chávez also remained in power after an all-out national strike that lasted more than two months in December 2002 – February 2003
Venezuelan general strike of 2002–2003
The Venezuelan general strike of 2002–2003, also known as the oil strike or oil lockout, was an attempt by the Venezuelan opposition to President Hugo Chávez to force a new presidential election. It took place from December 2002 to February 2003, although within this period the effectiveness of the...

, including a strike/lockout in the state oil company PDVSA, and an August 2004 recall referendum. He was elected for another term in December 2006
Venezuelan presidential election, 2006
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela held presidential elections on 3 December 2006, to choose a president for the six-year term to begin on 10 January 2007...

.

Geography




Venezuela is located in the north of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

; geologically
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 its mainland rests on the South American Plate
South American Plate
The South American Plate is a continental tectonic plate which includes the continent of South America and also a sizeable region of the Atlantic Ocean seabed extending eastward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge....

. It has a total area of 916445 square kilometres (353,841.4 sq mi) and a land area of 882050 square kilometres (340,561.4 sq mi), making it the 33rd largest country. The territory it controls lies between latitudes
Equator
An equator is the intersection of a sphere's surface with the plane perpendicular to the sphere's axis of rotation and containing the sphere's center of mass....

 and 13°N
13th parallel north
The 13th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 13 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 59°
59th meridian west
The meridian 59° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Atlantic Ocean, South America, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 74°W
74th meridian west
The meridian 74° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, South America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

.

Shaped roughly like an inverted triangle, the country has a 2800 kilometres (1,739.8 mi) coastline in the north, which includes numerous islands in the Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean located in the tropics of the Western hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and southwest, to the north by the Greater Antilles, and to the east by the Lesser Antilles....

, and in the north east borders the northern Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

. Most observers describe Venezuela in terms of four fairly well-defined topographical
Topography
Topography is the study of Earth's surface shape and features or those ofplanets, moons, and asteroids...

 regions: the Maracaibo lowlands
Maracaibo Basin
The Maracaibo Basin in Western Venezuela is a prolific, oil-producing sedimentary basin. The basin is bounded on the north by the Oca Fault which separates it from the Caribbean Sea. The remaining sides of the basin are bounded by a branching in the northern Andes Mountains termed the Sierra de...

 in the northwest, the northern mountains extending in a broad east-west arc from the Colombian border along the northern Caribbean coast, the wide plains in central Venezuela, and the Guiana highlands in the southeast.


The northern mountains are the extreme northeastern extensions of South America's Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 mountain range reach. Pico Bolívar
Pico Bolívar
Pico Bolívar is the highest mountain in Venezuela, at 4,981 metres. Located in Mérida State, its top is permanently covered with névé snow and three small glaciers. It can be reached only by walking; the Mérida cable car, the highest cable car in the world, only reaches Pico Espejo. From there it...

, the nation's highest point at 4979 metres (16,335 ft), lies in this region. To the south, the dissected Guiana Highlands
Guayana Region
The Guayana Region is an administrative region of Venezuela.The region has a population of 1,383,297 inhabitants and a territory of 458,344 km². It borders the independent nation of Guyana which forms part of The Guyanas...

 contains the northern fringes of the Amazon Basin
Amazon Basin
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about , or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela...

 and Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall
Waterfall
A waterfall is a place where flowing water rapidly drops in elevation as it flows over a steep region or a cliff.-Formation:Waterfalls are commonly formed when a river is young. At these times the channel is often narrow and deep. When the river courses over resistant bedrock, erosion happens...

 as well as tepui
Tepui
A tepui , or tepuy, is a table-top mountain or mesa found in the Guiana Highlands of South America, especially in Venezuela. The word tepui means "house of the gods" in the native tongue of the Pemon, the indigenous people who inhabit the Gran Sabana....

s, large table-like mountains. The country's center is characterized by the llanos
Llanos
The Llanos is a vast tropical grassland plain situated to the east of the Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, in northwestern South America. It is an ecoregion of the Flooded grasslands and savannas Biome....

, which are extensive plains that stretch from the Colombian border in the far west to the Orinoco River delta
River delta
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river...

 in the east. The Orinoco, with its rich alluvial soil
Alluvium
Alluvium is loose, unconsolidated soil or sediments, eroded, deposited, and reshaped by water in some form in a non-marine setting. Alluvium is typically made up of a variety of materials, including fine particles of silt and clay and larger particles of sand and gravel...

s, binds the largest and most important river system
Drainage system (Geomorphology)
In geomorphology, a drainage system is the pattern formed by the streams, rivers, and lakes in a particular drainage basin. They are governed by the topography of the land, whether a particular region is dominated by hard or soft rocks, and the gradient of the land. Geomorphologists and...

 of the country; it originates in one of the largest watersheds
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 in Latin America. The Caroní and the Apure
Apure River
The Apure River is a river of southwestern Venezuela, formed by the confluence of the Sarare and Uribante near Guasdualito, in Venezuela, at , and flowing across the llanos into the Orinoco...

 are other major rivers.

Venezuela borders Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 to the west, Guyana
Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

 to the east, and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 to the south. Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles...

, Grenada
Grenada
Grenada is an island country and Commonwealth Realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea...

, Curaçao
Curaçao
Curaçao is an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off the Venezuelan coast. The Country of Curaçao , which includes the main island plus the small, uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao , is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands...

, Aruba
Aruba
Aruba is a 33 km-long island of the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, located 27 km north of the coast of Venezuela and 130 km east of Guajira Peninsula...

 and the Leeward Antilles
Leeward Antilles
The Leeward Antilles are a chain of islands in the Caribbean – specifically, the southerly islands of the Lesser Antilles along the southeastern fringe of the Caribbean Sea, just north of the Venezuelan coast of the South American mainland...

 lie near the Venezuelan coast. Venezuela has territorial disputes with Guyana (formerly United Kingdom), largely concerning the Essequibo
Guayana Esequiba
Guayana Esequiba is a territory administered by Guyana but claimed by Venezuela. It includes the territory between the Cuyuni River to the west and the Essequibo River to the east...

 area, and with Colombia concerning the Gulf of Venezuela
Gulf of Venezuela
The Gulf of Venezuela is a gulf of the Caribbean Sea bounded by the Venezuelan states of Zulia and Falcón and by Guajira Department, Colombia...

. In 1895, after years of diplomatic attempts to solve the border dispute, from Venezuela, the dispute over the Essequibo River
Essequibo River
The Esequibo River is the largest river in Guyana, and the largest river between the Orinoco and Amazon. Rising in the Acarai Mountains near the Brazil-Guyana border, the Essequibo flows to the north for 1,010 km through forest and savanna into the Atlantic Ocean.-Geography:There are countless...

 border flared up, it was submitted to a "neutral" commission (composed of United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n representatives and without a direct Venezuelan representative), which in 1899 decided mostly against Venezuela's claim.

Venezuela most significant natural resources are petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 and natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

, iron ore, gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 and other minerals. It also has large areas of arable land
Arable land
In geography and agriculture, arable land is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under temporary crops , temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow...

 and water
Water
Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water is a liquid at ambient conditions, but it often co-exists on Earth with its solid state, ice, and gaseous state . Water also exists in a...

.

Climate



Though Venezuela is entirely situated in the tropics, its climate varies from humid low-elevation plains, where average annual temperatures range as high as 28 °C (82.4 °F), to glaciers and highlands (the páramo
Páramo
The term páramo can refer to a variety of ecosystems. Some ecologists describe the páramo broadly as “all high, tropical, montane vegetation above the continuous timberline”. A more narrow term classifies the páramo according to its regional placement - specifically located in “the northern Andes...

s
) with an average yearly temperature of 8 °C (46.4 °F). Annual rainfall varies between 430 millimetres (16.9 in) in the semiarid portions of the northwest to 1000 millimetres (39.4 in) in the Orinoco Delta of the far east. Most precipitation falls between June and October (the rainy season or "winter"); the drier and hotter remainder of the year is known as "summer", though temperature variation throughout the year is not as pronounced as at temperate latitudes.

The country falls into four horizontal temperature zones based primarily on elevation, having Tropical, Dry, Temperate with Dry Winters, and Polar (Alpine tundra
Alpine tundra
Alpine tundra is a natural region that does not contain trees because it is at high altitude. Alpine tundra is distinguished from arctic tundra, because alpine soils are generally better drained than arctic soils...

) climates, amongst others. In the tropical zone—below 800 metres (2,625 ft)—temperatures are hot, with yearly averages ranging between 26 and 28 °C (78.8 and 82.4 °F). The temperate zone ranges between 800 and 2000 m (2,624.7 and 6,561.7 ft) with averages from 12 to 25 °C (53.6 to 77 °F); many of Venezuela's cities, including the capital, lie in this region. Colder conditions with temperatures from 9 to 11 °C (48.2 to 51.8 °F) are found in the cool zone between 2000 and 3000 m (6,561.7 and 9,842.5 ft), especially in the Venezuelan Andes, where Pastureland and permanent snowfield with yearly averages below 8 °C (46.4 °F) cover land above 3000 metres (9,843 ft) in the high mountain areas known as the páramo
Páramo
The term páramo can refer to a variety of ecosystems. Some ecologists describe the páramo broadly as “all high, tropical, montane vegetation above the continuous timberline”. A more narrow term classifies the páramo according to its regional placement - specifically located in “the northern Andes...

s.

Biodiversity



Venezuela lies within the Neotropic ecozone; large portions of the country were originally covered by moist broadleaf forests
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests , also known as tropical moist forests, are a tropical and subtropical forest biome....

. One of seventeen megadiverse countries
Megadiverse countries
The megadiverse countries are a group of countries that harbor the majority of the Earth's species and are therefore considered extremely biodiverse...

, Venezuela's habitat
Habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

s range from the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 mountains in the west to the Amazon Basin
Amazon Basin
The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about , or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela...

 rainforest in the south, via extensive llanos
Llanos
The Llanos is a vast tropical grassland plain situated to the east of the Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, in northwestern South America. It is an ecoregion of the Flooded grasslands and savannas Biome....

plains and Caribbean coast in the center and the Orinoco River Delta in the east. They include xeric scrublands
Deserts and xeric shrublands
Deserts and xeric shrublands is a biome characterized by, relating to, or requiring only a small amount of moisture.-Definition and occurrence:...

 in the extreme northwest and coastal mangrove
Mangrove
Mangroves are various kinds of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics – mainly between latitudes N and S...

 forests in the northeast. Its cloud forest
Cloud forest
A cloud forest, also called a fog forest, is a generally tropical or subtropical evergreen montane moist forest characterized by a persistent, frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover, usually at the canopy level. Cloud forests often exhibit an abundance of mosses covering the ground and...

s and lowland rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

s are particularly rich.

Animals
Fauna of Venezuela
The fauna of Venezuela consists of a huge variety of unique animals; some 23% of reptilian and 50% of amphibian species that inhabit the country are endemic to Venezuela...

 of Venezuela are diverse and include manatee
Manatee
Manatees are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows...

s, Amazon river dolphins, and Orinoco crocodile
Orinoco Crocodile
The Orinoco crocodile, Crocodylus intermedius, is a critically endangered crocodile found in freshwater in northern South America, in particular the Orinoco River. Typical measurements for adults range from 3 to 4.8 m . Typical weight for mature females is 200 kg and 380 kg for males...

s, which have been reported to reach up to 6.6 metres (22 ft) in length. Venezuela hosts a total of 1,417 bird species, 48 of which are endemic. Important birds include ibis
Ibis
The ibises are a group of long-legged wading birds in the family Threskiornithidae....

es, osprey
Osprey
The Osprey , sometimes known as the sea hawk or fish eagle, is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor, reaching more than in length and across the wings...

s, kingfisher
Kingfisher
Kingfishers are a group of small to medium sized brightly coloured birds in the order Coraciiformes. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, with most species being found in the Old World and Australia...

s, and the yellow-orange turpial
Troupial
The Troupial , Icterus icterus is the national bird of Venezuela and one of about 25 or so species of "New World Orioles"...

, the national bird. Notable mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s include the Giant Anteater
Giant Anteater
The Giant Anteater, Myrmecophaga tridactyla, is the largest species of anteater. It is the only species in the genus Myrmecophaga. It is found in Central and South America from Honduras to northern Argentina...

, jaguar
Jaguar
The jaguar is a big cat, a feline in the Panthera genus, and is the only Panthera species found in the Americas. The jaguar is the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion, and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. The jaguar's present range extends from Southern United States and Mexico...

, and the capybara
Capybara
The capybara , also known as capivara in Portuguese, and capibara, chigüire in Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador ronsoco in Peru, chigüiro, and carpincho in Spanish, is the largest living rodent in the world. Its closest relatives are agouti, chinchillas, coyphillas, and guinea pigs...

, the world's largest rodent
Rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

. More than half of Venezuelan avian and mammalian species are found in the Amazonian forests
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

 south of the Orinoco.

For the fungi, an account was provided by R.W.G. Dennis which has been digitized and the records made available on-line as part of the Cybertruffle Robigalia database. That database includes nearly 3900 species of fungi recorded from Venezuela, but is far from complete, and it is likely that the true total number of fungal species already known from Venezuela is higher. The true total number of fungal species occurring in Venezuela, including species not yet recorded, is likely to be far higher, given the generally accepted estimate that only about 7% of all fungi worldwide have so far been discovered.


Among plants of Venezuela, over 25,000 species of orchid
Orchidaceae
The Orchidaceae, commonly referred to as the orchid family, is a morphologically diverse and widespread family of monocots in the order Asparagales. Along with the Asteraceae, it is one of the two largest families of flowering plants, with between 21,950 and 26,049 currently accepted species,...

s are found in the country's cloud forest
Cloud forest
A cloud forest, also called a fog forest, is a generally tropical or subtropical evergreen montane moist forest characterized by a persistent, frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover, usually at the canopy level. Cloud forests often exhibit an abundance of mosses covering the ground and...

s and lowland rainforest
Rainforest
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750-2000 mm...

s ecosystems. These include the flor de mayo orchid (Cattleya mossiae), the national flower. Venezuela's national tree is the araguaney
Tabebuia chrysantha
Tabebuia chrysantha , known as cañaguate in northern Colombia , as tajibo in Bolivia, and as ipê-amarelo in Brazil, is a native tree of the intertropical broadleaf deciduous forests of South America above the Tropic of Capricorn...

, whose characteristic lushness after the rainy season led novelist Rómulo Gallegos
Rómulo Gallegos
Rómulo Ángel del Monte Carmelo Gallegos Freire was a Venezuelan novelist and politician. For a period of some nine months during 1948, he was the first cleanly elected president in his country's history....

 to name it «[l]a primavera de oro de los araguaneyes» ("the golden spring of the araguaneyes").

Venezuela is among the top twenty countries in terms of endemism. Among its animals, 23% of reptilian
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

 and 50% of amphibian
Amphibian
Amphibians , are a class of vertebrate animals including animals such as toads, frogs, caecilians, and salamanders. They are characterized as non-amniote ectothermic tetrapods...

 species are endemic. Although the amount of available information is still very small, a first effort has been made to estimate the number of fungal species endemic to Venezuela: 1334 species of fungi have been tentatively identified as possible endemics of the country. Some 38% of the over 21,000 plant species known from Venezuela are unique to the country.

Environment


In recent decades, logging, mining, shifting cultivation
Shifting cultivation
Shifting cultivation is an agricultural system in which plots of land are cultivated temporarily, then abandoned. This system often involves clearing of a piece of land followed by several years of wood harvesting or farming, until the soil loses fertility...

, development, and other human activities have posed a major threat to Venezuela's wildlife; between 1990 and 2000, 0.40% of forest cover was cleared annually. In response, federal protections for critical habitat were implemented; for example, 20% to 33% of forested land is protected. The country has a biosphere reserve
Biosphere reserve
The Man and the Biosphere Programme of UNESCO was established in 1971 to promote interdisciplinary approaches to management, research and education in ecosystem conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.-Development:...

 that is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves
World Network of Biosphere Reserves
The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves covers internationally-designated protected areas, known as biosphere reserves, that are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between man and nature The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves covers internationally-designated protected...

; five wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention
Ramsar Convention
The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, i.e., to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural,...

. In 2003, 70% of the nation's land was under conservation management in over 200 protected areas, including 43 national parks. Venezuela's 43 national parks include Canaima National Park
Canaima National Park
Canaima National Park is a 30,000 km² park in south-eastern Venezuela that borders Brazil and Guyana. It is located in Bolívar State, and roughly occupies the same area as the Gran Sabana region....

, Morrocoy National Park
Morrocoy National Park
Morrocoy National Park is located in the northwest of Venezuela, between the towns of Tucacas and Chichiriviche, at the south east part of Falcón. Its continental and sea areas include mountains, shoreline, mangrove swamps, coral reefs and little islands called “Cayos”. It has a surface area of...

 and Mochima National Park
Mochima National Park
Mochima National Park is located in the States of Anzoátegui and Sucre , on the northeastern coast of Venezuela. The park covers 94,935 hectares and is made up of an exclusively marine area in its western sector , a coastal marine area that includes the Gulf of Santa Fé and Mochima Bay, and a...

.

Subdivisions




Venezuela is divided into 23 states (estados), a capital district
Venezuelan Capital District
The Capital District of Venezuela is a federal district corresponding to the capital Caracas. It has an area of 433 km² and there is only one administrative division , Libertador, which contains about half City of Caracas. It is the seat of the federal government and the head of the public...

 (distrito capital) corresponding to the city of Caracas, and the Federal Dependencies
Federal Dependencies of Venezuela
The Federal Dependencies of Venezuela encompass all of Venezuela's off shore islands in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Venezuela...

 (Dependencias Federales, a special territory). Venezuela is further subdivided into 335 municipalities
Municipality
A municipality is essentially an urban administrative division having corporate status and usually powers of self-government. It can also be used to mean the governing body of a municipality. A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district...

 (municipios); these are subdivided into over one thousand parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

es (parroquias). The states are grouped into nine administrative regions (regiones administrativas), which were established in 1969 by presidential decree; in addition, Venezuela has historically claimed and continues to claim all Guyanese territory west of the Essequibo River; this 159500 square kilometres (61,583 sq mi) tract was dubbed Guayana Esequiba
Guayana Esequiba
Guayana Esequiba is a territory administered by Guyana but claimed by Venezuela. It includes the territory between the Cuyuni River to the west and the Essequibo River to the east...

or the Zona en Reclamación (the "zone to be reclaimed").

The country can be further divided into ten geographical areas, some corresponding to climatic and biogeographical regions. In the north are the Venezuelan Andes and the Coro region
Coro region
The Coro region is the hilly and semi-mountainous area in northwest Venezuela, north of the Mérida Andes and east of the Maracaibo Basin, extending north to the Caribbean coast. It consists mostly of east-west running ridges, with the exception of the Sierra de Siruma which run north-south...

, a mountainous tract in the northwest, holds several sierra
Sierra
Sierra can refer to:- Mountains and mountain ranges :* Sierra mountains * Sierra de Juárez, mountain range in Baja California, Mexico...

s and valleys. East of it are lowlands abutting Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo is a large brackish bay in Venezuela at . It is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela by Tablazo Strait at the northern end, and fed by numerous rivers, the largest being the Catatumbo. It is commonly considered a lake rather than a bay or lagoon, and at 13,210 km² it would be the...

 and the Gulf of Venezuela
Gulf of Venezuela
The Gulf of Venezuela is a gulf of the Caribbean Sea bounded by the Venezuelan states of Zulia and Falcón and by Guajira Department, Colombia...

. The Central Range
Cordillera de la Costa Central
The Cordillera de la Costa Central is a range of mountains in Venezuela, which run east to west along the country's northern coast. It is also known as the Central Range.In the east they follow the border between the states of Vargas and Miranda...

 runs parallel to the coast and includes the hills surrounding Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

; the Eastern Range, separated from the Central Range by the Gulf of Cariaco, covers all of Sucre
Sucre (state)
Sucre State is one of the 23 states of Venezuela. The state capital is Cumaná. Sucre State covers a total surface area of 11,800 km² and, in 2007, had an estimated population of 916,600.-Municipalities and municipal seats:...

 and northern Monagas
Monagas
Monagas State is one of the 23 states of Venezuela.Monagas State covers a total surface area of 28,900 km² and, in June 30, 2010, had an estimated population of 908,626....

. The Insular Region
Insular Region (Venezuela)
The Insular Region is one of the ten traditional geographical regions of Venezuela; it comprises all of the nation's islands, and is formed by Nueva Esparta and the Federal Dependencies....

 includes all of Venezuela's island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 possessions: Nueva Esparta
Nueva Esparta
Nueva Esparta State is one of the 23 states of Venezuela. It comprises Margarita Island, Coche, and the largely uninhabited Cubagua.The state is the smallest one in area, and is located off the northeast Caribbean coast of Venezuela. It is the only insular state of Venuezuela...

 and the various Federal Dependencies. The Orinoco Delta, which forms a triangle covering Delta Amacuro
Delta Amacuro
Delta Amacuro State is one of the 23 states of Venezuela, and is the location of the Orinoco Delta. The Paria Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean are found to the north, Bolívar State is found to the south, the Atlantic Ocean and Guyana are found to the east, and Monagas State is found to the west...

, projects northeast into the Atlantic Ocean.

Economy



Venezuela has a mixed economy
Mixed economy
Mixed economy is an economic system in which both the state and private sector direct the economy, reflecting characteristics of both market economies and planned economies. Most mixed economies can be described as market economies with strong regulatory oversight, in addition to having a variety...

 dominated by the petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 sector, which accounts for roughly a third of GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

, around 80% of exports and more than half of government revenues. It suffers high levels of corruption
Corruption in Venezuela
Corruption in Venezuela, as with its surrounding countries, is high by world standards. In the case of Venezuela, the discovery of oil in the early twentieth century had worsened political corruption, and by the late 1970s, the description of oil as "the Devil's excrement" had become a common...

. Per capita GDP for 2009 was US$13,000, ranking it 85th in the world. About 30% of the population of the country live on less than US $2 per day. Venezuela has the least expensive petrol in the world because the consumer price of petrol is so heavily subsidised.

More than 60 percent of Venezuela's international reserves is in Gold or it is 8 times more than the average for the region and most of the Venezuelan gold held abroad is located in London. But in November 25, 2011 the first of 11 billion dollars gold bullion repatriation arrived in Caracas. Chavez said the repatriation of gold as a "sovereign" step that will help protect the foreign reserves of Venezuela before the turmoil in the U.S. and Europe.

Manufacturing contributed 17% of GDP in 2006. Venezuela manufactures and exports heavy industry items such as steel
Steel
Steel is an alloy that consists mostly of iron and has a carbon content between 0.2% and 2.1% by weight, depending on the grade. Carbon is the most common alloying material for iron, but various other alloying elements are used, such as manganese, chromium, vanadium, and tungsten...

, aluminium
Aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

 and cement
Cement
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

, with production concentrated around Ciudad Guayana
Ciudad Guayana
Ciudad Guayana is a city in Bolívar State, Venezuela. It lies south of the Orinoco, where the river is joined by the Caroní River. The city, officially founded in 1961, is actually composed of the old town of San Félix at the east and the new town of Puerto Ordaz at the west, which lie either...

, near the Guri Dam
Guri Dam
The Guri Dam is a concrete gravity and embankment dam in Bolívar State, Venezuela on the Caroni River. Its official name is Central Hidroeléctrica Simón Bolívar...

, one of the largest in the world and the provider of about three quarters of Venezuela's electricity. Other notable manufacturing includes electronics
Electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

 and automobiles, as well as beverages, and foodstuffs. Agriculture in Venezuela
Agriculture in Venezuela
Agriculture in Venezuela has a much smaller share of the economy than in any other Latin American country. From the discovery of oil in Venezuela in the early twentieth century to the 1940s, the importance of agriculture declined rapidly, and with the beginning of large-scale industrial development...

 accounts for approximately 3% of GDP, 10% of the labor force, and at least one-fourth of Venezuela's land area. Venezuela exports rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

, corn
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

, fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

, tropical fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

, coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

, beef
Beef
Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle. Beef can be harvested from cows, bulls, heifers or steers. It is one of the principal meats used in the cuisine of the Middle East , Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Europe and the United States, and is also important in...

, and pork
Pork
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

. The country is not self-sufficient in most areas of agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

; Venezuela imports about two-thirds of its food needs.

Since the discovery of oil in the early 20th century, Venezuela has been one of the world's leading exporters of oil, and it is a founder member of OPEC
OPEC
OPEC is an intergovernmental organization of twelve developing countries made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. OPEC has maintained its headquarters in Vienna since 1965, and hosts regular meetings...

. Previously an underdeveloped exporter of agricultural commodities such as coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

 and cocoa, oil quickly came to dominate exports and government revenues. The 1980s oil glut
1980s oil glut
The 1980s oil glut was a serious surplus of crude oil caused by falling demand following the 1970s Energy Crisis. The world price of oil, which had peaked in 1980 at over US$35 per barrel , fell in 1986 from $27 to below $10...

 led to an external debt crisis
Latin American debt crisis
The Latin American debt crisis was a financial crisis that occurred in the early 1980s , often known as the "lost decade", when Latin American countries reached a point where their foreign debt exceeded their earning power and they were not able to repay it.-Origins:In the 1960s and 1970s many...

 and a long-running economic crisis, which saw inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 peak at 100% in 1996 and poverty rates rise to 66% in 1995 as (by 1998) per capita
Per capita
Per capita is a Latin prepositional phrase: per and capita . The phrase thus means "by heads" or "for each head", i.e. per individual or per person...

 GDP fell to the same level as 1963, down a third from its 1978 peak. The 1990s also saw Venezuela experience a major banking crisis in 1994
Venezuelan banking crisis of 1994
The 1994 banking crisis occurred in Venezuela when a number of the banks of Venezuela had to be taken over by the government. The first to fail, in January 1994, was Banco Latino, the country's second-largest bank. Later, two banks accounting for 18% of total deposits also failed...

. The recovery of oil prices
Price of petroleum
The price of petroleum as quoted in news generally refers to the spot price per barrel of either WTI/light crude as traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange for delivery at Cushing, Oklahoma, or of Brent as traded on the Intercontinental Exchange for delivery at Sullom Voe.The price...

 after 2001 boosted the Venezuelan economy and facilitated social spending, although the fallout of the 2008 global financial crisis saw a renewed economic downturn.

Petroleum and other resources



Venezuela has some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world, and consistently ranks among the top ten crude oil producers in the world. Compared to the preceding year another 40.4 percent in crude oil reserves were proven in 2010, allowing Venezuela to surpass Saudi Arabia as the country with the largest reserves of this type. The country's main petroleum deposits are located around and beneath Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo
Lake Maracaibo is a large brackish bay in Venezuela at . It is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela by Tablazo Strait at the northern end, and fed by numerous rivers, the largest being the Catatumbo. It is commonly considered a lake rather than a bay or lagoon, and at 13,210 km² it would be the...

, the Gulf of Venezuela
Gulf of Venezuela
The Gulf of Venezuela is a gulf of the Caribbean Sea bounded by the Venezuelan states of Zulia and Falcón and by Guajira Department, Colombia...

 (both in Zulia), and in the Orinoco River basin (eastern Venezuela), where the country's largest reserve is located. Besides the largest conventional oil
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 reserves and the second-largest natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 reserves in the Western Hemisphere, Venezuela has non-conventional oil deposits (extra-heavy crude oil
Heavy crude oil
Heavy crude oil or extra heavy crude oil is any type of crude oil which does not flow easily. It is referred to as "heavy" because its density or specific gravity is higher than that of light crude oil. Heavy crude oil has been defined as any liquid petroleum with an API gravity less than 20°.Extra...

, bitumen and tar sands
Tar sands
Bituminous sands, colloquially known as oil sands or tar sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The sands contain naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, water, and a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen...

) approximately equal to the world's reserves of conventional oil. The electricity sector in Venezuela
Electricity sector in Venezuela
The electricity sector in Venezuela is one of the few in the world to rely primarily on hydroelectricity, which accounted for 71% in 2004.-Electricity production:...

 is one of the few to rely primarily on hydropower
Hydropower
Hydropower, hydraulic power, hydrokinetic power or water power is power that is derived from the force or energy of falling water, which may be harnessed for useful purposes. Since ancient times, hydropower has been used for irrigation and the operation of various mechanical devices, such as...

, and includes the Guri Dam
Guri Dam
The Guri Dam is a concrete gravity and embankment dam in Bolívar State, Venezuela on the Caroni River. Its official name is Central Hidroeléctrica Simón Bolívar...

, one of the largest in the world.

In the first half of the 20th century, US oil companies were heavily involved in Venezuela, initially on the basis of purchasing concessions. In 1943 a new government introduced a 50/50 split in profits between the government and the oil industry. In 1960, with a newly installed democratic government, Hydrocarbons Minister Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso led the creation of OPEC
OPEC
OPEC is an intergovernmental organization of twelve developing countries made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. OPEC has maintained its headquarters in Vienna since 1965, and hosts regular meetings...

, the consortium of oil-producing countries aiming to support the price of oil. In 1973 Venezuela voted to nationalize its oil industry outright, effective 1 January 1976, with Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) taking over and presiding over a number of holding companies; in subsequent years, Venezuela built a vast refining and marketing system in the U.S. and Europe. In the 1990s PDVSA became more independent from the government and presided over an apertura (opening) in which it invited in foreign investment. Under Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

 a 2001 law placed limits on foreign investment.

The state oil company PDVSA played a key role in the December 2002 – February 2003 national strike
Venezuelan general strike of 2002–2003
The Venezuelan general strike of 2002–2003, also known as the oil strike or oil lockout, was an attempt by the Venezuelan opposition to President Hugo Chávez to force a new presidential election. It took place from December 2002 to February 2003, although within this period the effectiveness of the...

 which sought President Chávez' resignation. Managers and skilled highly paid technicians of PDVSA shut down the plants and left their posts, and by some reports sabotaged equipment, and petroleum production and refining by PDVSA almost ceased. Activities eventually were slowly restarted by returning and substitute oil workers. As a result of the strike, around 40% of the company's workforce (around 18,000 workers) were dismissed for "dereliction of duty" during the strike.

Transport


Venezuela is connected to the world primarily via air (Venezuela's airports include the Simón Bolívar International Airport
Simón Bolívar International Airport (Venezuela)
Simón Bolívar International Airport of Maiquetia is an international airport located in Maiquetía, Venezuela, about 13 miles from downtown Caracas....

 near Caracas and La Chinita International Airport
La Chinita International Airport
-Accidents and incidents:*On 1 November 1971, Vickers Viscount YV-C-AMZ of Linea Aeropostal Venezolana crashed shortly after take-off. All four people on board were killed....

 near Maracaibo
Maracaibo
Maracaibo is a city and municipality located in northwestern Venezuela off the western coast of the Lake Maracaibo. It is the second-largest city in the country after the national capital Caracas and the capital of Zulia state...

) and sea (with major sea ports at La Guaira
La Guaira
La Guaira is the capital city of the Venezuelan state of Vargas and the country's chief port. It was founded in 1577 as an outlet for Caracas, to the southeast. The town and the port were badly damaged during the December 1999 floods and mudslides that affected much of the region...

, Maracaibo and Puerto Cabello
Puerto Cabello
Puerto Cabello is a city on the north coast of Venezuela. It is located in Carabobo State about 75 km west of Caracas. As of 2001, the city has a population of around 154,000 people. The city is the home to the largest port in the country and is thus a vital cog in the country's vast oil...

). In the south and east the Amazon rainforest region has limited cross-border transport; in the west, there is a mountainous border of over 1375 miles (2,212.8 km) shared with Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

. The Orinoco
Orinoco
The Orinoco is one of the longest rivers in South America at . Its drainage basin, sometimes called the Orinoquia, covers , with 76.3% of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia...

 River is navigable by oceangoing vessels up to 400 km inland, and connects the major industrial city of Ciudad Guayana
Ciudad Guayana
Ciudad Guayana is a city in Bolívar State, Venezuela. It lies south of the Orinoco, where the river is joined by the Caroní River. The city, officially founded in 1961, is actually composed of the old town of San Félix at the east and the new town of Puerto Ordaz at the west, which lie either...

 to the Atlantic Ocean.

Venezuela has a limited national railway system, which has no active rail connections to other countries; the government of Hugo Chávez has invested substantially in expanding it.
Several major cities have metro systems; the Caracas Metro
Caracas Metro
The Caracas Metro is a mass rapid transit system serving Caracas, Venezuela. It is constructed and operated by Compañía Anónima Metro de Caracas, a government-owned company that was founded in 1977 by José González-Lander who headed the project for more than thirty years since the early planning...

 has been operating since 1983. The Maracaibo Metro
Maracaibo Metro
The Maracaibo Metro, also known as Metro del Sol Amado, is a six-station metro system in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Service between La Vanega and El Varillal opened to the public on November 25, 2006, with all stations on the line opened on June 9, 2009.The metro encompasses the suburbs of Maracaibo...

 and Valencia Metro
Valencia Metro (Venezuela)
The Valencia Metro is the public mass transit system of Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela and its suburbs Naguanagua Municipality and San Diego Municipality....

 were opened more recently.
Venezuela has a road network of around 100,000 km (placing it around 47th in the world); around a third of roads are paved.

Demographics


Population in Venezuela
Year Million
1971 11.1
1990 19.8
2009 28.4
Source: OECD/World Bank


Venezuelans have a rich combination of heritages. From the colonial period were mixed Amerindians, Spanish and African, and today the majority of Venezuelans have mixed ancestry, i.e. people who have an Amerindians ancestor, black and white. Since 1990 there is no record of the ethnography of the Venezuelan population, but according to statistics from the continues with a constant immigration which has increased the white and black population, leaving the mixed in slow growth. These statistics expose approximate results: 50% mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

, or white
White Latin American
White Latin Americans are the people of Latin America who are white in the racial classification systems used in individual Latin American countries. Persons who are classified as White in one Latin American country may be classified differently in another country...

, mostly descendants of the Europeans and Arabs by 29%, 10% African
Afro Venezuelans
Afro-Venezuelan are descendants of Africans in Venezuela. They are estimated to be at 5 million and tend to cluster in Barlovento in Miranda State, although they can be found all over the country. Afro-Venezuelans are hard to identify due to strong racial admixture in the population...

 descent, and indigenous people
Indigenous peoples in Venezuela
Indigenous peoples in Venezuela form about 1.5% of the total population, although many Venezuelans share some indigenous ancestry. Indigenous peoples are concentrated in the southern Amazon rainforest state of Amazonas, where they make up nearly 50% of the population, and in the Andes of the...

 with only 1% of the total population. During the colonial period and until after the Second World War, much of European immigrants to Venezuela came from the Canary Islands, and its cultural impact was significant in influencing the development of Castilian in the country, its cuisine and customs.

With the start of oil exploitation in the early twentieth century, established companies and citizens from much of the United States. Later, during the war, he joined the Venezuelan society a new wave of immigrants from Italy and Spain, and new immigrants from Portugal, the Middle East, Germany, Croatia, the Netherlands, China, among others, are encouraged both by the immigration
Immigration to Venezuela
Immigration to Venezuela has been significant. After the Spanish colonization of the Americas brought some Europeans and some African slaves, immigration to Venezuela was significant particularly in the period after World War II, with large numbers of immigrants from Europe, particularly southern...

 and colonization program established by the Government. Between 1900 and 1958 more than one million Europeans immigrated to Venezuela creating great communities, highlighting the Italo-Venezuelans
Italo-Venezuelans
Italian-Venezuelans are the Venezuelan citizens of Italian descent. The word may refer to someone born in Venezuela of Italian descent or to someone who has emigrated to Venezuela from Italy...

, Iberian-Venezuelans and Portuguese-Venezuelans
Portuguese Venezuelan
Portuguese Venezuelans are Portuguese-born citizens with Venezuelan citizenship or Venezuelan-born citizens of Portuguese ancestry or citizenship. Mostly located in Caracas, Valencia and Maracaibo, the Portuguese community of Venezuela are among the largest ethnic groups in the country...

. Venezuela is the third country in the world to have the largest community of Spanish after Argentina and France, the third country to have the largest community of Portuguese after Brazil and the U.S. and the third country to have the largest colony of Italians in Latin America after Argentina and Uruguay. Immigration in Venezuela also came from many Latin American countries primarily in Colombia during the oil boom of the 1970s. These continuous waves of immigration increased the country's complex racial mosaic. The Venezuelan population born in other countries accounted for 4.4% of the national total. Today, the increased immigration from Colombia, Spain, Portugal and Italy among other countries such as Trinidad and Tobago.
Two of the main Amerindian
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 tribes located in the country are the Wayuu
Wayuu
Wayuu is an Amerindian ethnic group of the La Guajira Peninsula in northern Colombia and northwest Venezuela. They are part of the Maipurean language family.- Geography :...

, located in the west, in Zulia State, and the Timotocuicas, also in the west, in Mérida State, in the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

.
Other important groups include Afro-Venezuelans, though their numbers are unclear due to poor census data.

Asians make up a small percentage of the population. About 1% of Venezuelans are indigenous. These groups were joined by sponsored migrants from throughout Europe and neighboring parts of South America by the mid-20th century economic boom.

According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Venezuela hosted a population of refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

 and asylum seekers from Colombia numbering 252,200 in 2007. 10,600 new asylum seekers entered Venezuela in 2007. Between 500,000 and one million illegal immigrants are estimated to be living in the Venezuela.

Urbanization



Venezuela is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

; the vast majority of Venezuelans live in the cities of the north, especially in the capital Caracas
Caracas
Caracas , officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English . It is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range...

 which is also the largest city. About 93% of the population live in urban areas in northern Venezuela; 73% live less than 100 kilometres (62 mi) from the coastline. Though almost half of Venezuela's land area lies south of the Orinoco, only 5% of Venezuelans live there. The largest and most important city south of the Orinoco is Ciudad Guayana
Ciudad Guayana
Ciudad Guayana is a city in Bolívar State, Venezuela. It lies south of the Orinoco, where the river is joined by the Caroní River. The city, officially founded in 1961, is actually composed of the old town of San Félix at the east and the new town of Puerto Ordaz at the west, which lie either...

, which is the sixth most populous conurbation
Conurbation
A conurbation is a region comprising a number of cities, large towns, and other urban areas that, through population growth and physical expansion, have merged to form one continuous urban and industrially developed area...

. Other major cities include Maracaibo
Maracaibo
Maracaibo is a city and municipality located in northwestern Venezuela off the western coast of the Lake Maracaibo. It is the second-largest city in the country after the national capital Caracas and the capital of Zulia state...

, Valencia, Maracay
Maracay
Maracay is a city in north-central Venezuela, near the Caribbean coast, and is the capital and most important city of the state of Aragua. Most of it falls under the jurisdiction of the Girardot Municipality. The population as per the 2001 census was 750,000...

, Barquisimeto
Barquisimeto
Barquisimeto is the capital city of the State of Lara located in west central Venezuela, halfway between Caracas and Maracaibo on the Turbio River.-Overview:...

, Mérida
Mérida, Mérida
Santiago de los Caballeros de Mérida, Venezuela, is the capital of the municipality of Libertador and the state of Mérida, and is one of the principal cities of the Venezuelan Andes...

, San Cristóbal
San Cristóbal, Táchira
San Cristóbal is the capital city of the Venezuelan state of Táchira. It is located in a mountainous region of Western Venezuela. The city is situated 818 m/2,625 ft above sea level in the northern Andes overlooking the Torbes River, 56 km/35 mi from the Colombian border. San...

 and Barcelona-Puerto La Cruz
Puerto la Cruz
Puerto la Cruz is a port city located in Anzoátegui State, in Venezuela. It is the seat of the Juan Antonio Sotillo Municipality. The city has road connections to the state capital, Barcelona, to Lecheria and to Guanta, and has the potential to become the largest and most important metropolitan...

.

Languages


Although the country is mostly monolingual Castilian, many languages ​​are spoken in Venezuela. In addition to Castilian, the Constitution recognizes more than thirty indigenous languages, Wayuu, Warao, pemón and many others for the official use of the Amerindian peoples, mostly with few speakers, less than 1% of the total population. Immigrants, in addition to Spanish, they speak their own languages. Arabic is spoken by Lebanese and Syrian colonies on Isla de Margarita, Maracaibo, Punto Fijo, Puerto la Cruz, El Tigre, Maracay and Caracas. Portuguese is spoken, as well as the Portuguese community in Santa Elena de Uairén for much of the population due to its proximity to Brazil. The German community speaks their native language, while the Colonia Tovar speaks mostly Alemannic dialect of German called coloniero. English is the most widely used foreign language and demand, and is spoken by many professionals, academics and part of the upper and middle classes as a result of oil exploration by foreign companies, in addition to its acceptance as a lingua franca. Culturally, English is common in southern towns like El Callao, for the Anglophone West Indian influence evident in folk songs and calypso Venezuelan and French with English voices. Italian instruction is guaranteed by the presence of a constant number of schools and private institutions, because the Italian government considered mandatory language teaching at school level. Other languages ​​spoken by large communities from drawing in the country are Chinese and Galicia, among others.

Religion



According to government estimates, 92% of the population is at least nominally Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, and the remaining 8% are Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, or a member of another religion. The Venezuelan Evangelical Council estimates that Evangelical
Evangelicalism
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement which began in Great Britain in the 1730s and gained popularity in the United States during the series of Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th century.Its key commitments are:...

 Protestants constitute 10% of the population.

Education



In 2008, 95.2% of the adult population was literate. Net primary school enrollment rate was at 91 % in 2005. Net secondary enrollment rate was at 63 % in 2005. Venezuela has a number of universities, of which the most prestigious is the Central University of Venezuela
Central University of Venezuela
The Central University of Venezuela is a premier public University of Venezuela located in Caracas...

 (UCV), founded in Caracas in 1721, and Simón Bolívar University (USB), founded in Miranda State in 1967.

Health




Venezuela has a national universal health care system that is free of charge. The current government has created a program to expand access to health care known as Misión Barrio Adentro
Mission Barrio Adentro
Mission Barrio Adentro is a Bolivarian national social welfare program established under current Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. The program seeks to provide comprehensive publicly-funded health care, dental care, and sports training to poor and marginalized communities in Venezuela...

.

Infant mortality
Infant mortality
Infant mortality is defined as the number of infant deaths per 1000 live births. Traditionally, the most common cause worldwide was dehydration from diarrhea. However, the spreading information about Oral Re-hydration Solution to mothers around the world has decreased the rate of children dying...

 in Venezuela stood at 16 deaths per 1,000 births in 2004, lower than the South American average (by comparison, the U.S. stands at 5 deaths per 1,000 births in 2006). Child malnutrition
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

 (defined as stunting or wasting in children under age five) stands at 17%; Delta Amacuro and Amazonas have the nation's highest rates. According to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, 32% of Venezuelans lack adequate sanitation, primarily those living in rural areas. Diseases ranging from typhoid, yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

, cholera
Cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

, hepatitis A
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus , an RNA virus, usually spread the fecal-oral route; transmitted person-to-person by ingestion of contaminated food or water or through direct contact with an infectious person...

, hepatitis B, and hepatitis D
Hepatitis D
Hepatitis D, also referred to as hepatitis D virus and classified as Hepatitis delta virus, is a disease caused by a small circular enveloped RNA virus. It is one of five known hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D, and E. HDV is considered to be a subviral satellite because it can propagate only in the...

 are present in the country.

Venezuela has a total of 150 plants for sewage treatment
Water supply and sanitation in Venezuela
Water supply and sanitation in Venezuela has been extended to an increasing number of people during the 2000s, although many poor remain without access to piped water. Service quality for those with access is mixed, with water often being supplied only on an intermittent basis and most wastewater...

. However still 13% of the population lack access to drinking water but this number has been dropping.

Crime


Corruption in Venezuela
Corruption in Venezuela
Corruption in Venezuela, as with its surrounding countries, is high by world standards. In the case of Venezuela, the discovery of oil in the early twentieth century had worsened political corruption, and by the late 1970s, the description of oil as "the Devil's excrement" had become a common...

 is high by world standards, and has been for much of the 20th century. The discovery of oil had worsened political corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

, and by the late 1970s, Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo
Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo
Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso , was a prominent Venezuelan diplomat, politician and lawyer primarily responsible for the inception and creation of OPEC.-Early career:...

's description of oil as "the Devil's excrement" had become a common expression in Venezuela. Venezuela has been ranked one of the most corrupt countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index
Corruption Perceptions Index
Since 1995, Transparency International publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index annually ranking countries "by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys." The CPI generally defines corruption as "the misuse of public power for private...

 since the survey started in 1995. The 2010 ranking placed Venezuela at number 164, out of 178 ranked countries.

Venezuela is a significant route for drug trafficking
Illegal drug trade in Venezuela
Illegal drug trade in Venezuela refers to the practice of illegal drug trade in Venezuela. Historically Venezuela has been a path to the United States for illegal drugs originating in Colombia, through Central America and Mexico and Caribbean countries such as Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, with Colombian cocaine and other drugs transiting Venezuela towards the United States and Europe. Venezuela ranks fourth in the world for cocaine seizures, behind Colombia, the United States, and Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

.

In 2009, the homicide rate was approximately 57 per 100,000, one of the world’s highest, having trebled in the previous decade (according to The Economist). The capital Caracas has the second greatest homicide rate of any large city in the world, with 92 homicides per 100,000 residents. There have been 118,541 homicides in Venezuela between 1999 and 2010. In 2008, polls indicated that crime was the number one concern of voters. The government recently created a security force the Bolivarian National Police, which has lowered crime rates in the areas in which it is so far deployed and a new Experimental Security University
Experimental Security University
The Experimental Security University is a state university in Venezuela founded in 2009. It specialises in providing training for Venezuelan police and security forces, in particular the new Policía Nacional Bolivariana...

.

Government


Executive


The Venezuelan president is elected by a vote, with direct and universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

, and is both head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and head of government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

. The term of office is six years, and (as of 15 February 2009) a president may be re-elected an unlimited number of times. The president appoints the vice-president and decides the size and composition of the Cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

 and makes appointments to it with the involvement of the legislature. The president can ask the legislature to reconsider portions of laws he finds objectionable, but a simple parliamentary majority can override these objections.

The President may ask the National Assembly to pass an enabling act granting the ability to rule by decree
Rule by decree
Rule by decree is a style of governance allowing quick, unchallenged creation of law by a single person or group, and is used primarily by dictators and absolute monarchs, although philosophers such as Giorgio Agamben have argued that it has been generalized since World War I in all modern states,...

 in specified policy areas; this requires a two-thirds majority in the Assembly. Since 1959 six Presidents have been granted such powers.

Legislative


The unicameral Venezuelan parliament
Parliament
A parliament is a legislature, especially in those countries whose system of government is based on the Westminster system modeled after that of the United Kingdom. The name is derived from the French , the action of parler : a parlement is a discussion. The term came to mean a meeting at which...

 is the Asamblea Nacional
National Assembly of Venezuela
The National Assembly is the legislative branch of the Venezuelan government. It is a unicameral body made up of a variable number of members, who are elected by "universal, direct, personal, and secret" vote partly by direct election in state-based voting districts, and partly on a state-based...

 ("National Assembly"). The number of members is variable, each state and the Capital district elect three representatives plus the result of dividing the state population by 1.1% of the total population of the country. Three seats are reserved for representatives of Venezuela's indigenous peoples. For the 2010–2015 period the number of seats is 165. All deputies serve five-year terms.

The voting age in Venezuela is 18 and older. Voting is not compulsory
Compulsory voting
Compulsory voting is a system in which electors are obliged to vote in elections or attend a polling place on voting day. If an eligible voter does not attend a polling place, he or she may be subject to punitive measures such as fines, community service, or perhaps imprisonment if fines are unpaid...

.

Judicial


The legal system of Venezuela
Law of Venezuela
The legal system of Venezuela belongs to the Continental Law tradition. Venezuela was the first country in the world to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, doing so in 1863.-Public law:...

 belongs to the Continental Law
Civil law (legal system)
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law and whose primary feature is that laws are codified into collections, as compared to common law systems that gives great precedential weight to common law on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different...

 tradition. The highest judicial
Judiciary
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes...

 body is the Supreme Tribunal of Justice
Supreme Tribunal of Justice (Venezuela)
The Supreme Tribunal of Justice is the highest court of law in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and is the head of the judicial branch.The Supreme Tribunal may meet either in specialized chambers or in plenary session...

 or Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, whose magistrates are elected by parliament for a single twelve-year term. The National Electoral Council
National Electoral Council (Venezuela)
The National Electoral Council is one of the five independent branches of government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. It is the institution that oversees and guarantees the transparency of all elections and referendums in Venezuela at the local, regional, and national levels...

 (Consejo Nacional Electoral, or CNE) is in charge of electoral processes; it is formed by five main directors elected by the National Assembly. Supreme Court president Luisa Estela Morales said in December 2009 that Venezuela had moved away from "a rigid division of powers" toward a system characterized by "intense coordination" between the branches of government. Morales clarified that each power must be independent adding that "one thing is separation of powers and another one is division".

Foreign relations


Throughout most of the 20th century, Venezuela maintained friendly relations with most Latin American and Western nations. Relations between Venezuela and the United States government worsened in 2002, after the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt during which the U.S. government recognized the short-lived interim presidency of Pedro Carmona
Pedro Carmona
Pedro Francisco Carmona Estanga is a former Venezuelan trade organization leader who was briefly declared President of Venezuela during an abortive 2002 military coup against Hugo Chávez. He occupied the office of President from April 12 to April 13...

. Correspondingly, ties to various Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

n and Middle Eastern countries not allied to the U.S. have strengthened.

Venezuela seeks alternative hemispheric
Western Hemisphere
The Western Hemisphere or western hemisphere is mainly used as a geographical term for the half of the Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian and east of the Antimeridian , the other half being called the Eastern Hemisphere.In this sense, the western hemisphere consists of the western portions...

 integration via such proposals as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas
Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America is an international cooperation organization based on the idea of social, political, and economic integration between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean...

 trade proposal and the newly launched pan-Latin American television network
Television network
A television network is a telecommunications network for distribution of television program content, whereby a central operation provides programming to many television stations or pay TV providers. Until the mid-1980s, television programming in most countries of the world was dominated by a small...

 teleSUR
TeleSUR
La Nueva Televisora del Sur is a pan-Latin American terrestrial and satellite television network headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela. TeleSUR was launched with the objective of providing information to promote the integration of Latin America....

. Venezuela is one of the four nations in the world—along with Russia, Nicaragua and Nauru—to have recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
International recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia
Abkhazia and South Ossetia are two breakaway republics in the Caucasus with disputed status over whether they are a part of Georgia or sovereign states. The Republic of Abkhazia and the Republic of South Ossetia were recognised following the 2008 South Ossetia War between Russia and Georgia, by six...

. Venezuela was a proponent of OAS
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

's decision to adopt its Anti-Corruption Convention, and is actively working in the Mercosur
Mercosur
Mercosur or Mercosul is an economic and political agreement among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Founded in 1991 by the Treaty of Asunción, which was later amended and updated by the 1994 Treaty of Ouro Preto. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people,...

 trade bloc to push increased trade and energy integration. Globally, it seeks a "multi-polar
Polarity in international relations
Polarity in international relations is any of the various ways in which power is distributed within the international system. It describes the nature of the international system at any given period of time. One generally distinguishes four types of systems: Unipolarity, Bipolarity, Tripolarity, and...

" world based on strengthened ties among Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 countries.

Military


The National Armed Forces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Fuerza Armada Nacional, FAN) are the overall unified military forces of Venezuela. It includes over 320,150 men and women, under Article 328 of the Constitution, in 5 components of Ground, Sea and Air. The components of the National Armed Forces are: the Venezuelan Army, the Venezuelan Navy, the Venezuelan Air Force, the Venezuelan National Guard
Venezuelan National Guard
The Venezuelan National Guard , also called the Armed Forces of Cooperation , is one of the four components of the National Armed Forces of Venezuela. The National Guard can serve as gendarmerie, perform civil defense roles, or serve as a reserve light infantry force...

, and the Venezuelan National Militia
Venezuelan National Militia
The Venezuelan National Militia is a component of the Military of Venezuela-History:It is the most ancient defense force of the nation, the first source that can be found is in the indigenous resistance groups during the 16th, 17th and 18th century, they fought...

.

As of 2008, a further 600,000 soldiers were incorporated into a new branch, known as the Armed Reserve. The President of Venezuela is the commander-in-chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the national armed forces. The main roles of the armed forces are to defend the sovereign national territory of Venezuela, airspace, and islands, fight against drug trafficking, to search and rescue and, in the case of a natural disaster, civil protection. All men that are citizens of Venezuela have a constitutional duty to register for the military at the age of 18, which is the age of majority
Age of majority
The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized in law. It is the chronological moment when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of...

 in Venezuela.

Politics


Following the fall of Marcos Pérez Jiménez
Marcos Pérez Jiménez
Marcos Evangelista Pérez Jiménez was a soldier and Presidents of Venezuela from 1952 to 1958.-Career:Marcos Evangelista Pérez Jiménez was born in Michelena, Táchira State. His father, Juan Pérez Bustamante, was a farmer; his mother, Adela Jiménez, a schoolteacher...

 in 1958, Venezuelan politics was dominated by the third-way
Third way (centrism)
The Third Way refers to various political positions which try to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of right-wing economic and left-wing social policies. Third Way approaches are commonly viewed from within the first- and second-way perspectives as...

 Christian democratic
Christian Democracy
Christian democracy is a political ideology that seeks to apply Christian principles to public policy. It emerged in nineteenth-century Europe under the influence of conservatism and Catholic social teaching...

 COPEI
COPEI
Copei – Social Christian Party of Venezuela is a third way political party in Venezuela. The name stands for Comité de Organización Política Electoral Independiente...

 and the center-left social democratic
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 Democratic Action
Democratic Action
Democratic Action is a centrist Venezuelan political party established in 1941. The party and its antecedents played an important role in the early years of Venezuelan democracy, and led the government during Venezuela's first democratic period...

 (AD) parties; this two-party system
Two-party system
A two-party system is a system where two major political parties dominate voting in nearly all elections at every level of government and, as a result, all or nearly all elected offices are members of one of the two major parties...

 was formalized by the puntofijismo arrangement. Economic crisis in the 1980s and 1990s led to a political crisis which saw hundreds dead in the Caracazo
Caracazo
The Caracazo or sacudón is the name given to the wave of protests, riots and looting and ensuing massacre that occurred on 27 February 1989 in the Venezuelan capital Caracas and surrounding towns. The riots — the worst in Venezuelan history — resulted in a death toll of anywhere between...

 riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez
Carlos Andrés Pérez Rodríguez , also known as CAP and often referred to as El Gocho , was a Venezuelan politician, President of Venezuela from 1974 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1993. His first presidency was known as the Saudi Venezuela due to its economic and social prosperity thanks to...

 for corruption in 1993. A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 election
Venezuelan presidential election, 1998
In the Venezuelan presidential election of 1998, Hugo Chávez was elected to his first term as President of Venezuela with the largest percentage of the popular vote in four decades...

 of former coup leader Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías is the 56th and current President of Venezuela, having held that position since 1999. He was formerly the leader of the Fifth Republic Movement political party from its foundation in 1997 until 2007, when he became the leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela...

, and the launch of a "Bolivarian Revolution
Bolivarian Revolution
The “Bolivarian Revolution” refers to a leftist social movement and political process in Venezuela led by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, the founder of the Fifth Republic Movement...

", beginning with a 1999 Constituent Assembly
1999 Constituent Assembly of Venezuela
The 1999 Constituent Assembly of Venezuela was a constitutional convention held in Venezuela in 1999 to draft a new Constitution of Venezuela. The Assembly was endorsed by a referendum in April 1999 which enabled Constituent Assembly elections in July 1999...

 to write a new Constitution of Venezuela
Constitution of Venezuela
||The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the current and twenty-sixth constitution of Venezuela. It was drafted in mid-1999 by a constitutional assembly that had been created by popular referendum. Adopted in December 1999, it replaced the 1961 Constitution - the longest...

.

The opposition's attempts to unseat Chávez included the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt, the Venezuelan general strike of 2002–2003
Venezuelan general strike of 2002–2003
The Venezuelan general strike of 2002–2003, also known as the oil strike or oil lockout, was an attempt by the Venezuelan opposition to President Hugo Chávez to force a new presidential election. It took place from December 2002 to February 2003, although within this period the effectiveness of the...

, and the Venezuelan recall referendum, 2004, all of which failed. Chávez was re-elected in December 2006
Venezuelan presidential election, 2006
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela held presidential elections on 3 December 2006, to choose a president for the six-year term to begin on 10 January 2007...

, but suffered a significant defeat in 2007 with the narrow rejection of the Venezuelan constitutional referendum, 2007
Venezuelan constitutional referendum, 2007
A constitutional referendum was held in Venezuela on 2 December 2007 to amend 69 articles of the 1999 Constitution. Reform was needed, according to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, to implement his socialist agenda; detractors said he was using the reforms to become a dictator.The referendum was...

, which had offered two packages of constitutional reforms aimed at deepening the Bolivarian Revolution.

There are currently two major blocs of political parties in Venezuela: the incumbent leftist bloc United Socialist Party of Venezuela
United Socialist Party of Venezuela
The United Socialist Party of Venezuela is the name of a democratic socialist political party in Venezuela which resulted from the fusion of some of the political and social forces that support the Bolivarian Revolution led by incumbent President Hugo Chávez...

 (PSUV), its major allies Fatherland for All (PPT) and the Communist Party of Venezuela
Communist Party of Venezuela
The Communist Party of Venezuela is a Marxist-Leninist political party, and the oldest continuously existing party in Venezuela...

 (PCV), and the opposition bloc grouped into the electoral coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática
Mesa de la Unidad Democrática
The Mesa de la Unidad Democrática is an electoral coalition of Venezuelan political parties formed in January 2008 to unify the opposition to President Hugo Chávez' United Socialist Party of Venezuela in the Venezuelan parliamentary election, 2010...

. This includes A New Era
A New Era
A New Era is a centrist political party of Venezuela arising from the Third Way tradition. It is the largest party in Venezuela's fractured opposition, earning 11% of the vote in the 2008 gubernatorial elections...

 (UNT) together with allied parties Project Venezuela
Project Venezuela
Project Venezuela is a political party in Venezuela.At the legislative elections, 30 July 2000, the party won 7 out of 165 seats in the National Assembly of Venezuela. The legislative elections of 2006 were boycotted by the party...

, Justice First
Justice First
Justice First Movement is a centrist political party in Venezuela.-History:Primero Justicia was created in 1992 as a Civil Association by a group of university students who were concerned about what they saw as a deterioration of judicial power in the country and joined their efforts to...

, Movement for Socialism
Movement for Socialism (Venezuela)
Movement for Socialism is a center-left political party in Venezuela.-History:The Movement for Socialism is a social-democratic political party in Venezuela. MAS was founded in 1971 by a faction of the Communist Party of Venezuela, with a view to emphasising a socialist message...

 and others.

Culture



The culture of Venezuela is a melting pot which includes mainly to three different families,the indigenous, African and Spanish. The first two cultures were in turn differentiated according to the tribes. Acculturation and assimilation, typical of a cultural syncretism, conditioned to arrive at the current Venezuelan culture, similar in many respects to the rest of Latin America, although the natural environment means that there are important differences. The indigenous influence is limited to a few words of vocabulary and gastronomy. The African influence in the same way, in addition to musical instruments like the drum. The Spanish influence was more important and in particular came from the regions of Andalusia and Extremadura, places of origin most settlers in the Caribbean during the colonial era. As an example of this can include buildings, part of the music, the Catholic religion and language. Spanish influences are evident bullfights and certain features of gastronomy. Venezuela also enriched by other streams of Indian and European origin in the nineteenth century, especially from France. In the latest stage in the major cities and regions stormed oil of U.S. origin and manifestations of the new immigration of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, increasing the already complex cultural mosaic. For example, from United States comes the influence of taste for baseball and current architectural constructions.

Art


Venezuelan art
Art of Venezuela
Venezuelan art has a long and eventful history. Venezuela's museums and galleries are well on the way to forming a new discourse in which the public can experience and interact. Capturing a the Venezuelan public view and interact with the installations and collections within a museum setting,...

 was initially dominated by religious motifs, but began emphasizing historical and heroic representations in the late 19th century, a move led by Martín Tovar y Tovar
Martín Tovar y Tovar
Martín Tovar y Tovar was one of the most important and high-profile Venezuelan painters of the 19th century. Tovar y Tovar's most famous work is his famous and well-known depiction of the Battle of Carabobo...

. Modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 took over in the 20th century. Notable Venezuelan artists
Venezuelan Artists
19th Century Venezuelan Artists: *Martín Tovar y Tovar *Eloy Palacios , artist, sculptor and painter*Arturo Michelena *Cristóbal Rojas *Emilio Bogio...

 include Arturo Michelena
Arturo Michelena
Arturo Michelena was a Venezuelan painter born in Valencia, Carabobo State. He began to paint at a young age under his father's tutelage. Traveled to Paris where he studied in the famous Académie Julian...

, Cristóbal Rojas
Cristóbal Rojas
Cristóbal Rojas was one of the most important and high-profile Venezuelan painters of the 19th century...

, Armando Reverón
Armando Reverón
Armando Julio Reverón was a modernist painter of the late 19th and early 20th century in Venezuela. Most of his work was inspired by the coast, landscape and people of Macuto, located in the central coast of Venezuela, and was characterized by his view and expression of the bright luminosity of...

, Manuel Cabré
Manuel Cabré
Manuel Cabré was a noted Spanish-Venezuelan landscape painter who is remembered as "the painter of El Ávila" .-Biography:...

; the kinetic art
Kinetic art
Kinetic art is art that contains moving parts or depends on motion for its effect. The moving parts are generally powered by wind, a motor or the observer. Kinetic art encompasses a wide variety of overlapping techniques and styles.-Kinetic sculpture:...

ists Jesús-Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Díez
Carlos Cruz-Díez
Carlos Cruz-Diez is a Venezuelan kinetic and op artist. He lives in Paris. He has spent his professional career working and teaching between both Paris and Caracas. His work is represented in museums and public art sites internationally...

; and contemporary artist Yucef Merhi
Yucef Merhi
Yucef Merhi is a Venezuelan artist, poet and computer programmer, based in New York.-Life and work:Yucef Merhi was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He studied at Universidad Central de Venezuela and New School University.. His artistic practice began in the mid 80s...

.

Literature


Venezuelan literature
Venezuelan literature
Venezuelan literature can be traced to pre-Hispanic times with the myths and oral literature that formed the cosmogonic view of the world that indigenous people had. Some of these stories are still known in Venezuela. Like many Latin American countries, the Spanish conquerors have had the greatest...

 originated soon after the Spanish conquest of the mostly pre-literate indigenous societies; it was dominated by Spanish influences. Following the rise of political literature during the Venezuelan War of Independence
Venezuelan War of Independence
-The First Republic:Criollos resented the mercantilist policies of Spain. Trade was only allowed in Pacific ports which was a terrible burden for Argentina, Paraguay and the Caribbean colonies. This is significant as Cuba and Puerto Rico were forced to allow free trade in 1763 by Britain and...

, Venezuelan Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

, notably expounded by Juan Vicente González, emerged as the first important genre in the region. Although mainly focused on narrative
Narrative
A narrative is a constructive format that describes a sequence of non-fictional or fictional events. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, "to recount", and is related to the adjective gnarus, "knowing" or "skilled"...

 writing, Venezuelan literature was advanced by poets such as Andrés Eloy Blanco
Andrés Eloy Blanco
Andrés Eloy Blanco Meaño was an important Venezuelan poet, politician, member of the Generación del 28, and one of the founders of Acción Democrática ....

 and Fermín Toro
Fermín Toro
Fermín Toro y Blanco was a politician, diplomat and author. His remains were located at the Panteón Nacional on 23 April 1876...

.

Major writers and novelists include Rómulo Gallegos
Rómulo Gallegos
Rómulo Ángel del Monte Carmelo Gallegos Freire was a Venezuelan novelist and politician. For a period of some nine months during 1948, he was the first cleanly elected president in his country's history....

, Teresa de la Parra
Teresa de la Parra
-Life:She was born Ana Teresa Parra Sanojo in Paris, the daughter of Rafael Parra Hernáiz, Venezuelan Ambassador in Berlin, and Isabel Sanojo de Parra.As a member of a wealthy family, Ana Teresa spent part of her childhood at her father's hacienda, Tazón...

, Arturo Uslar Pietri
Arturo Uslar Pietri
Arturo Uslar Pietri , was a Venezuelan intellectual, lawyer, journalist, writer, television producer and politician.- Life :...

, Adriano González León
Adriano González León
Adriano González León was a Venezuelan writer who is known in his country for the novel País Portátil , widely regarded as the premier Venezuelan novel of the latter half of the 20th century, and for his many years of hosting a television program dedicated to promoting literary appreciation among...

, Miguel Otero Silva
Miguel Otero Silva
Miguel Otero Silva , was a Venezuelan writer, journalist, humorist and politician. Remaining a figure of great reference in Venezuelan literature, his literary and journalistic works were strictly related to the social and political history of Venezuela.-Life:Born in Barcelona, Anzoátegui State,...

, and Mariano Picón Salas
Mariano Picón Salas
Mariano Federico Picón Salas, an influential Venezuelan diplomatic, cultural critic and writer of the 20th century, was born in Mérida on January 26, 1901 and died in Caracas on January 1, 1965. Among his books, his collection of essays on history, literary criticism and cultural history are...

. The great poet and humanist Andrés Bello
Andrés Bello
Andrés de Jesús María y José Bello López was a Venezuelan humanist, poet, lawmaker, philosopher, educator and philologist, whose political and literary works constitute an important part of Spanish American culture...

 was also an educator and intellectual. Others, such as Laureano Vallenilla Lanz
Laureano Vallenilla Lanz
Laureano Vallenilla Lanz was a Venezuelan intellectual and sociologist. Vallenilla Lanz held a number of positions under the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gómez and is well-known as an apologist for his regime...

 and José Gil Fortoul
José Gil Fortoul
José Gil Fortoul was a writer, historian, politician and member of Venezuelan positivism, appointed as Provisional President in 1913...

, contributed to Venezuelan Positivism
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

.

Music



Indigenous musical styles of Venezuela
Music of Venezuela
The music of Venezuela is an expression of the Venezuelan culture, which contains diverse Music genres, traditional and moderns according with the features of each geographic region; although it is frequent to find different musical styles in the same region...

 are exemplified by the groups Un Solo Pueblo and Serenata Guayanesa
Serenata Guayanesa
Serenata Guayanesa is a vocal and instrumental quartet that plays typical Venezuelan folk music. It is one of the two best known groups playing this music .-Origins of the group:...

. The national musical instrument is the cuatro
Cuatro (instrument)
The cuatro is any of several Latin American instruments of the guitar or lute family. The cuatro is smaller than a guitar. Cuatro means four in Spanish, although current instruments may have more than four strings....

. Typical musical styles and pieces mainly emerged in and around the llanos region, including Alma Llanera
Alma Llanera
Alma Llanera is a popular Joropo song composed by Pedro Elías Gutiérrez and with lyrics of Rafael Bolívar Coronado. It was part of a zarzuela whose premiere was on September 19, 1914 at the Teatro Municipal de Caracas....

(by Pedro Elías Gutiérrez
Pedro Elías Gutiérrez
Pedro Elías Gutiérrez was a Venezuelan musician who is mainly remembered by the joropo song Alma Llanera, whose music he composed.-Life and valoration:...

 and Rafael Bolívar Coronado
Rafael Bolivar Coronado
Rafael Bolívar Coronado was born in Villa de Cura, , Venezuela, on 6 June 1884. He is the author of the lyrics of the popular joropo song "Alma Llanera"...

), Florentino y el Diablo (by Alberto Arvelo Torrealba
Alberto Arvelo Torrealba
Alberto Arvelo Torrealba , was a Venezuelan lawyer, educator and folklorical poet. Author of .Torrealba was born in Barinas. But in his youth, he moved to Caracas where he studied high school, and attended the Central University of Venezuela...

), Concierto en la Llanura by Juan Vicente Torrealba
Juan Vicente Torrealba
Juan Vicente Torrealba Pérez in Caracas, Venezuela, is a Venezuelan harpist and composer of popular music.Although born on the outskirts of Caracas, the family moved while he was very young to a ranch in Camaguán, Guárico. The poverty of the family and the region were such that he worked as a...

, and Caballo Viejo
Caballo Viejo
"Caballo Viejo" is a Venezuelan folk song created by Simón Díaz, which appears on the 1980 album Caballo Viejo. It has become one of the most important folk songs in Venezuela and is already regarded as a classic....

(by Simón Díaz
Simón Díaz
Simón Narciso Díaz Márquez is a singer and Grammy Award winning composer of Venezuelan music.- Career :Díaz has endeavored to recover the folklore and musical traditions of the llanos, the Venezuelan plains...

).

The Zulian gaita is also a popular style, generally performed during Christmas. The national dance is the joropo
Joropo
The Joropo is a musical style resembling the waltz, and an accompanying dance, having African and European influences originated in Venezuela and performed in Colombia and Venezuela. It's a fundamental genre belonging to its typical music or música criolla...

. Teresa Carreño
Teresa Carreño
María Teresa Carreño García de Sena was a Venezuelan pianist, singer, composer, and conductor.Born into a musical family, she was at first taught by her father, then by Mathias, Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Anton Rubinstein and her talent was recognized at an early age...

 was a world-famous 19th century piano virtuosa. In the last years, Classical Music has had great performances. The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, under the baton of its principal conductor Gustavo Dudamel
Gustavo Dudamel
Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez is a Venezuelan conductor and violinist. He is currently the principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Gothenburg, Sweden, and music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Los Angeles, California...

, has hosted a number of excellent presentations in many European concert halls, notably at the 2007 London Proms
The Proms
The Proms, more formally known as The BBC Proms, or The Henry Wood Promenade Concerts presented by the BBC, is an eight-week summer season of daily orchestral classical music concerts and other events held annually, predominantly in the Royal Albert Hall in London...

, and has received several honors. The orchestra is the pinnacle of El Sistema
El Sistema
El Sistema is a publicly financed voluntary sector music education program in Venezuela, originally called Social Action for Music. Its official name is Fundación del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de las Orquestas Juveniles e Infantiles de Venezuela, , and sometimes translated to English as...

, a publicly financed voluntary sector music education program now being emulated in other countries.

Sport



Baseball
Baseball in Venezuela
Baseball in Venezuela originates with the early twentieth century cultural influence of United States oil companies, and is the country's leading sport. The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League is a winter league that was established in 1945, with Leones del Caracas the leading team; another...

 is Venezuela's most popular sport, with the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League
Venezuelan Professional Baseball League
The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League or Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional is the highest level baseball league in Venezuela.-Brief history:Baseball exploded in Venezuela in 1941, following the world championship in Havana....

 existing since 1945. In recent years football
Football (soccer)
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball...

, spearheaded by the Venezuela national football team
Venezuela national football team
The Venezuela national football team is the national football team of Venezuela and is controlled by the Federación Venezolana de Fútbol. It is nicknamed La Vinotinto , because of the traditional burgundy color of their shirts....

, is gaining popularity.

Other


Venezuela is well-known for its successes in beauty pageants. Miss Venezuela
Miss Venezuela
The Miss Venezuela contest is the national beauty pageant of Venezuela and has been held since 1952. It is responsible for selecting the country's representatives to the Miss Universe, Miss World, Miss Earth and Miss International pageants .Under the direction of Osmel Sousa, Venezuela has...

 is a big event in the country, and Venezuela has received 6 Miss World
Miss World
The Miss World pageant is the oldest surviving major international beauty pageant. It was created in the United Kingdom by Eric Morley in 1951...

, 6 Miss Universe
Miss Universe
Miss Universe is an annual international beauty contest that is run by the Miss Universe Organization. The pageant is the most publicized beauty contest in the world with 600 million viewers....

, 6 Miss International
Miss International
Miss International is an annual international beauty pageant held since 1960.The current Miss International is Fernanda Cornejo, from Ecuador...

 and 1 Miss Earth
Miss Earth
Miss Earth is an annual international beauty pageant promoting environmental awareness. Miss Earth is also one of the most publicized beauty contests in the world....

 titles.

Carlos Raúl Villanueva
Carlos Raúl Villanueva
Carlos Raúl Villanueva was the most prominent Venezuelan architect of the 20th century and one of the great Modernists. He played a major role in the development and modernization of Caracas, Maracay and other cities across the country...

 was the most important Venezuelan architect of the modern era; he designed the Central University of Venezuela
Central University of Venezuela
The Central University of Venezuela is a premier public University of Venezuela located in Caracas...

, (a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

) and its Aula Magna. Other notable architectural works include the Capitolio, the Baralt Theatre
Baralt Theatre
El Teatro Baralt is an important Venezuelan cultural institution dating from the first half of the 19th century, and headquartered in downtown Maracaibo, at the north-western corner of Plaza Bolivar, at the intersection of the streets Urdaneta and Venezuela...

, the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex
Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex
The Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex , also known as Teresa Carreño Theater , is the most important theatre of Caracas and Venezuela, where performances include symphonic and popular concerts, opera, ballet and plays...

, and the General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge
General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge
The General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge is located at the outlet of Lake Maracaibo, in western Venezuela. The bridge connects Maracaibo with much of the rest of the country...

.

See also


  • International rankings of Venezuela
    International rankings of Venezuela
    These are the international rankings of Venezuela.-Economy:*World Bank List of countries by GDP ranked 28th biggest economy in the world-Health:*List of countries by life expectancy ranked 74th longest life expectancy in the world...


  • List of Venezuelans
  • South America Life Quality Rankings
  • South America Life Quality Rankings - Economy and Finance
  • South America Life Quality Rankings - Law and Justice


External links


  • E-Government (in Spanish)
  • Chief of State and Cabinet Members
  • Venezuela at UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • Venezuela at Encyclopædia Britannica
    Encyclopædia Britannica
    The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

  • Venezuela from the Library of Congress Country Studies
    Library of Congress Country Studies
    The Country Studies are works published by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress , freely available for use by researchers. No copyright is claimed on them; therefore, they have been dedicated to the public domain and can be copied freely. Note that not all the pictures used...

    (1990)