[Country map of Venezuela]



Location: Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana

Map references: South America

total area: 912,050 sq km
land area: 882,050 sq km
comparative area: slightly more than twice the size of California

Land boundaries: total 4,993 km, Brazil 2,200 km, Colombia 2,050 km, Guyana 743 km

Coastline: 2,800 km

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

International disputes: claims all of Guyana west of the Essequibo River; maritime boundary dispute with Colombia in the Gulf of Venezuela

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands

Terrain: Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds

Land use:
arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 1%
meadows and pastures: 20%
forest and woodland: 39%
other: 37%

Irrigated land: 2,640 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: sewage pollution of Lago de Valencia; oil and urban pollution of Lago de Maracaibo; deforestation; soil degradation; urban and industrial pollution, especially along the Caribbean coast
natural hazards: subject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts
international agreements: party to - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling; signed, but not ratified - Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping

Note: on major sea and air routes linking North and South America


Population: 21,004,773 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 35% (female 3,650,705; male 3,795,032)
15-64 years: 60% (female 6,350,466; male 6,313,887)
65 years and over: 5% (female 486,020; male 408,663) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.1% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 25.11 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 4.57 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.46 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 26.5 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 73.31 years
male: 70.48 years
female: 76.29 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.97 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Venezuelan(s)
adjective: Venezuelan

Ethnic divisions: mestizo 67%, white 21%, black 10%, Amerindian 2%

Religions: nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%

Languages: Spanish (official), native dialects spoken by about 200,000 Amerindians in the remote interior

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1990)
total population: 90%
male: 91%
female: 89%

Labor force: 7.6 million
by occupation: services 63%, industry 25%, agriculture 12% (1993)


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

Digraph: VE

Type: republic

Capital: Caracas

Administrative divisions: 21 states (estados, singular - estado), 1 territory* (territorio), 1 federal district** (distrito federal), and 1 federal dependency*** (dependencia federal); Amazonas*, Anzoategui, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Bolivar, Carabobo, Cojedes, Delta Amacuro, Dependencias Federales***, Distrito Federal**, Falcon, Guarico, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Tachira, Trujillo, Yaracuy, Zulia
note: the federal dependency consists of 11 federally controlled island groups with a total of 72 individual islands

Independence: 5 July 1811 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 5 July (1811)

Constitution: 23 January 1961

Legal system: based on Napoleonic code; judicial review of legislative acts in Cassation Court only; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state and head of government: President Rafael CALDERA Rodriguez (since 2 February 1994); election last held 5 December 1993 (next to be held NA December 1998); results - Rafael CALDERA (National Convergence) 30.45%, Claudio FERMIN (AD) 23.59%, Oswaldo ALVAREZ PAZ (COPEI) 22.72%, Andres VELASQUEZ (Causa R) 21.94%, other 1.3%
cabinet: Council of Ministers; appointed by the president

Legislative branch: bicameral Congress of the Republic (Congreso de la Republica)
Senate (Senado): elections last held 5 December 1993 (next to be held NA December 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (53 total) AD 18, COPEI 15, Causa R 9, MAS 5, National Convergence 6; note - 3 former presidents (2 from AD, 1 from COPEI) hold lifetime senate seats
Chamber of Deputies (Camara de Diputados): elections last held 5 December 1993 (next to be held NA December 1998); results - AD 27.9%, COPEI 26.9%, MAS 12.4%, National Convergence 12.9%, Causa R 19.9%; seats - (203 total) AD 55, COPEI 53, MAS 24, National Convergence 26, Causa R 40, other 5

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justicia) Roberto YEPES, President

Political parties and leaders: National Convergence (Convergencia), Jose Miguel UZCATEGUI, president, Juan Jose CALDERA, national coordinator; Social Christian Party (COPEI), Luis HERRERA Campins, president, and Donald RAMIREZ, secretary general; Democratic Action (AD), Pedro PARIS Montesinos, president, and Luis ALFARO Ucero, secretary general; Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), Gustavo MARQUEZ, president, and Enrique OCHOA Antich, secretary general; Radical Cause (La Causa R), Pablo MEDINA, secretary general

Other political or pressure groups: FEDECAMARAS, a conservative business group; Venezuelan Confederation of Workers (CTV, labor organization dominated by the Democratic Action); VECINOS groups


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Pedro Luis ECHEVERRIA
chancery: 1099 30th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 342-2214
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico)

US diplomatic representation:
chief of mission: Ambassador Jeffrey DAVIDOW
embassy: Avenida Francisco de Miranda and Avenida Principal de la Floresta, Caracas
mailing address: P. O. Box 62291, Caracas 1060-A; APO AA 34037
telephone: [58] (2) 285-2222, 3111
FAX: [58] (2) 285-0366

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), blue, and red with the coat of arms on the hoist side of the yellow band and an arc of seven white five-pointed stars centered in the blue band


Overview: Despite efforts to broaden the base of the economy, petroleum continues to play a dominant role. In 1994, as GDP declined 3.3%, the oil sector - which accounts for 24% of the total - enjoyed a 6% expansion, provided 45% of the budget revenues, and generated 70% of the export earnings. President CALDERA, who assumed office in February 1994, has used an interventionist, reactive approach to managing the economy, instituting price and foreign exchange controls in mid-year to slow inflation and stop the loss of foreign exchange reserves. The government claims it will remove these controls once inflationary pressures abate, but the $8 billion bailout of the banking sector in 1994 has made it difficult for the government to make good on its promise. Economic controls, coupled with political uncertainty driven by recurrent coup rumors, continue to deter foreign and domestic investment; private forecasters see the recession persisting for a third year in 1995.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $178.3 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: -3.3% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $8,670 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 71% (1994 est.)

Unemployment rate: 9% (1994 est.)

revenues: $10.3 billion
expenditures: $14.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $103 million (1994 est.)

Exports: $15.2 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
commodities: petroleum 72%, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures
partners: US and Puerto Rico 55%, Japan, Netherlands, Italy

Imports: $7.6 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
commodities: raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials
partners: US 40%, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Canada

External debt: $40.1 billion (1994)

Industrial production: growth rate -1.4% (1993 est.); accounts for 41% of GDP

capacity: 18,740,000 kW
production: 72 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 3,311 kWh (1993)

Industries: petroleum, iron-ore mining, construction materials, food processing, textiles, steel, aluminum, motor vehicle assembly

Agriculture: accounts for 6% of GDP; products - corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee, beef, pork, milk, eggs, fish; not self-sufficient in food other than meat

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis, opium, and coca leaf for the international drug trade on a small scale; however, large quantities of cocaine and heroin transit the country from Colombia; important money-laundering hub

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-86), $488 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $10 million

Currency: 1 bolivar (Bs) = 100 centimos

Exchange rates: bolivares (Bs) per US$1 - 169.570 (January 1995), 148.503 (1994), 90.826 (1993), 68.38 (1992), 56.82 (1991), 46.90 (1990)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 542 km (363 km single track; 179 km privately owned)
standard gauge: 542 km 1.435-m gauge

total: 81,000 km
paved: 31,200 km
unpaved: gravel 24,800 km; earth and unimproved earth 25,000 km

Inland waterways: 7,100 km; Rio Orinoco and Lago de Maracaibo accept oceangoing vessels

Pipelines: crude oil 6,370 km; petroleum products 480 km; natural gas 4,010 km

Ports: Amuay, Bajo Grande, El Tablazo, La Guaira, La Salina, Maracaibo, Matanzas, Palua, Puerto Cabello, Puerto la Cruz, Puerto Ordaz, Puerto Sucre, Punta Cardon

Merchant marine:
total: 39 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 686,811 GRT/1,110,829 DWT
ships by type: bulk 4, cargo 11, combination bulk 1, liquefied gas tanker 2, oil tanker 15, passenger-cargo 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 4, short-sea passenger 1

total: 431
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 4
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 34
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 65
with paved runways under 914 m: 191
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 12
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 114


Telephone system: 1,440,000 telephones; modern and expanding
local: NA
intercity: 3 domestic satellite earth stations
international: 3 submarine coaxial cables; 1 INTELSAT (Atlantic Ocean) earth station

broadcast stations: AM 181, FM 0, shortwave 26
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 59
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: National Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales or FAN) includes Ground Forces or Army (Fuerzas Terrestres or Ejercito), Naval Forces (Fuerzas Navales or Armada), Air Force (Fuerzas Aereas or Aviacion), Armed Forces of Cooperation or National Guard (Fuerzas Armadas de Cooperation or Guardia Nacional)

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 5,491,524; males fit for military service 3,981,190; males reach military age (18) annually 227,292 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - $1.95 billion, 4% of GDP (1991)