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  • [Country flag of Venezuela]

    Venezuela

    [Country map of Venezuela]

    Geography

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

    Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 66 00 W

    Map references: South America

    Area:
    total: 912,050 sq km
    land: 882,050 sq km
    water: 30,000 sq km

    Area - comparative: slightly more than twice the size of California

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

    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

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

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

    Elevation extremes:
    lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
    highest point : Pico Bolivar (La Columna) 5,007 m

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

    Land use:
    arable land : 4%
    permanent crops: 1%
    permanent pastures : 20%
    forests and woodland: 34%
    other: 41% (1993 est.)

    Irrigated land: 1,900 sq km (1993 est.)

    Natural hazards: subject to floods, rockslides, mud slides; periodic droughts

    Environment - current issues: sewage pollution of Lago de Valencia; oil and urban pollution of Lago de Maracaibo; deforestation; soil degradation; urban and industrial pollution, especially along the Caribbean coast

    Environment - international agreements:
    party to : Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands
    signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Tropical Timber 94

    Geography - note: on major sea and air routes linking North and South America

    People

    Population: 22,396,407 (July 1997 est.)

    Age structure:
    0-14 years : 34% (male 3,964,886; female 3,720,984)
    15-64 years: 61% (male 6,877,890; female 6,838,799)
    65 years and over: 5% (male 456,182; female 537,666) (July 1997 est.)

    Population growth rate: 1.83% (1997 est.)

    Birth rate: 23.67 births/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Death rate: 5.03 deaths/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Net migration rate: -0.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1997 est.)

    Sex ratio:
    at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
    under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
    15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
    65 years and over : 0.85 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (1997 est.)

    Infant mortality rate: 28.5 deaths/1,000 live births (1997 est.)

    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population : 72.37 years
    male: 69.4 years
    female : 75.58 years (1997 est.)

    Total fertility rate: 2.78 children born/woman (1997 est.)

    Nationality:
    noun: Venezuelan(s)
    adjective: Venezuelan

    Ethnic groups: 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:
    definition : age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 91.1%
    male: 91.8%
    female: 90.3% (1995 est.)

    Government

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

    Data code: VE

    Government type: republic

    National capital: Caracas

    Administrative divisions: 22 states (estados, singular - estado),1 federal district* (distrito federal), and 1 federal dependency** (dependencia federal); Amazonas, Anzoategui, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Bolivar, Carabobo, Cojedes, Delta Amacuro, Dependencias Federales**, Distrito Federal*, Falcon, Guarico, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Tachira, Trujillo, 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: President Rafael CALDERA Rodriguez (since 2 February 1994); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    head of government: President Rafael CALDERA Rodriguez (since 2 February 1994); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
    cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
    elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 5 December 1993 (next to be held NA December 1998)
    election results : Rafael CALDERA Rodriguez elected president; percent of vote - Rafael CALDERA Rodriguez (National Convergence) 30.45%, Claudio FERMIN (AD) 23.59%, Oswaldo ALVAREZ PAZ (COPEI) 22.72%, Andres VELASQUEZ (Causa R) 21.94%, other 1.3%

    Legislative branch: bicameral Congress of the Republic or Congreso de la Republica consists of the Senate or Senado (53 seats, two from each state and the Federal District, and retired presidents; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (203 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
    elections: Senate - last held 5 December 1993 (next to be held NA December 1998); Chamber of Deputies - last held 5 December 1993 (next to be held NA December 1998)
    election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - AD 18, COPEI 15, Causa R 9, MAS 5, National Convergence 6; note - three former presidents (2 from AD, 1 from COPEI) hold lifetime Senate seats; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - AD 27.9%, COPEI 26.9%, MAS 12.4%, National Convergence 12.9%, Causa R 19.9%; seats by party - AD 55, COPEI 53, MAS 24, National Convergence 26, Causa R 40, other 5

    Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justicia), magistrates are elected by both chambers in joint session

    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), Lucas MATHEUS, secretary general

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

    International organization participation: AG, BCIE, Caricom (observer), CCC, CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G- 3, G-11, G-15, G-19, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, MINURSO, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPEC, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO

    Diplomatic representation in the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador Pedro Luis ECHEVERRIA
    chancery: 1099 30th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
    telephone : [1] (202) 342-2214
    FAX: [1] (202) 342-6820
    consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico)

    Diplomatic representation from the US:
    chief of mission : Ambassador John Francis MAISTO
    embassy: Calle F con Calle Suapure, Colinas de Valle Arriba, Caracas 1060
    mailing address: P. O. Box 62291, Caracas 1060-A; APO AA 34037
    telephone: [58] (2) 977-2011
    FAX: [58] (2) 977-0843

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

    Economy

    Economy - overview: The petroleum sector dominates the economy, accounting for roughly 25% of GDP, 70% of export earnings, and 50% of central government revenues. It is likely to become even more important as the state petroleum company plans to double its production over the next ten years. The non-petroleum sectors have been contracting, however, with GDP shrinking by 1.6% during 1996. Realizing the failure of interventionist policies, the CALDERA administration embarked on a comprehensive reform program and successfully negotiated a $1.4 billion stand-by agreement with the IMF. The state eliminated price and exchange controls, reduced the long-standing subsidy on gasoline, and revitalized its stalled privatization program. Foreign investors reacted positively and the Caracas stock exchange ended 1996 as the world's best performing stock market. The influx of foreign investment and a windfall of oil revenues resulting from higher-than-expected international oil prices raised Venezuela's reserves to over $15 billion. As a result, Venezuela used only the first tranche of the IMF credit - $400 million. The currency depreciated sharply following the exchange liberalization, and caused an inflationary burst that led to a 103% yearly rate of inflation, the highest in Venezuelan history. The bolivar has since strengthened and inflation fell near the end of the year. The macroeconomic adjustments should take hold in 1997, and the economy is expected to grow by 4% or more. Increased salary demands by public and private sector workers, however, threaten a renewal of inflationary pressures.

    GDP: purchasing power parity - $197 billion (1996 est.)

    GDP - real growth rate: -1.6% (1996)

    GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $9,000 (1996 est.)

    GDP - composition by sector:
    agriculture: 5%
    industry: 41%
    services: 54% (1993)

    Inflation rate - consumer price index: 103% (1996)

    Labor force:
    total: 8.8 million
    by occupation : services 64%, industry 23%, agriculture 13% (1993)

    Unemployment rate: 13% (1996 est.)

    Budget:
    revenues: $11.99 billion
    expenditures : $11.48 billion, including capital expenditures of $2.3 billion (1996 est.)

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

    Industrial production growth rate: 0.5% (1995 est.)

    Electricity - capacity: 18.966 million kW (1995)

    Electricity - production: 74.886 billion kWh (1995)

    Electricity - consumption per capita: 2,887 kWh (1995 est.)

    Agriculture - products: corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish

    Exports:
    total value : $22.8 billion (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
    commodities: petroleum 72%, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures
    partners: US and Puerto Rico 55%, Japan, Netherlands, Italy

    Imports:
    total value : $10.2 billion (f.o.b., 1996 est.)
    commodities: raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials
    partners: US 40%, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Canada

    Debt - external: $26.5 billion (1996)

    Economic aid:
    recipient: ODA, $46 million (1993)

    Currency: 1 bolivar (Bs) = 100 centimos

    Exchange rates: bolivares (Bs) per US$1 - 476.840 (January 1997), 417.333 (1996), 176.843 (1995), 148.503 (1994), 90.826 (1993), 68.376 (1992)

    Fiscal year: calendar year

    Communications

    Telephones: 1.44 million (1987 est.)

    Telephone system: modern and expanding
    domestic: domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations
    international: 3 submarine coaxial cables; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

    Radio broadcast stations: AM 181, FM 0, shortwave 26

    Radios: 9.04 million (1992 est.)

    Television broadcast stations: 59

    Televisions: 3.3 million (1992 est.)

    Transportation

    Railways:
    total : 584 km (336 km single track; 248 km privately owned)
    standard gauge: 584 km 1.435-m gauge

    Highways:
    total: 82,700 km
    paved: 32,501 km
    unpaved: 50,199 km (1995 est.)

    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 and harbors: 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: 28 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 525,123 GRT/933,016 DWT
    ships by type: bulk 4, cargo 7, combination bulk 1, container 1, liquefied gas tanker 2, oil tanker 9, passenger-cargo 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 2, short-sea passenger 1 (1996 est.)

    Airports: 360 (1996 est.)

    Airports - with paved runways:
    total : 261
    over 3,047 m: 5
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 35
    914 to 1,523 m: 58
    under 914 m: 153 (1996 est.)

    Airports - with unpaved runways:
    total: 99
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
    914 to 1,523 m: 92 (1996 est.)

    Military

    Military 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 Cooperacion or Guardia Nacional)

    Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age

    Military manpower - availability:
    males age 15-49 : 5,997,099 (1997 est.)

    Military manpower - fit for military service:
    males: 4,333,497 (1997 est.)

    Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
    males: 238,650 (1997 est.)

    Military expenditures - dollar figure: $902 million (1996)

    Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 1.4% (1996)

    Transnational Issues

    Disputes - international: claims all of Guyana west of the Essequibo River; maritime boundary dispute with Colombia in the Gulf of Venezuela

    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; active aerial eradication program primarily targeting opium