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Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of
South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere at the northern tip of the continent. It can also be described as the souther ...
, consisting of a
continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in area to smal ...
al landmass and many islands and islets in the
Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lanmè Karayib; jam, Kiaribiyan Sii; nl, Caraïbische Zee; pap, Laman Karibe) is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico ...
. It has a territorial extension of , and its population was estimated at 29 million in 2022. The capital and largest urban agglomeration is the city of
Caracas Caracas (, ), officially Santiago de León de Caracas, abbreviated as CCS, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela, and the center of the Metropolitan Region of Caracas (or Greater Caracas). Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the ...
. The continental territory is bordered on the north by the
Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lanmè Karayib; jam, Kiaribiyan Sii; nl, Caraïbische Zee; pap, Laman Karibe) is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico ...
and the
Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximately 20% of Earth's surface and about 29% of its water surface area. It is known to separate the " Old World" of Africa ...
, on the west by
Colombia Colombia (, ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a country in South America with insular regions in North America—near Nicaragua's Caribbean coast—as well as in the Pacific Ocean. The Colombian mainland is bordered by the Cari ...
,
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...
on the south,
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago (, ), officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is the southernmost island country in the Caribbean. Consisting of the main islands Trinidad and Tobago, and numerous much List of islands of Trinidad and Tobago, small ...
to the north-east and on the east by
Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America. Guyana is an indigenous word which means "Land of Many Waters". The capital city is Georgetown Guyana, Georgetown. Guyana ...
. The Venezuelan government maintains a claim against Guyana to
Guayana Esequiba (), sometimes also called or Essequibo, is a disputed territory of west of the Essequibo River that is administered and controlled by Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern ...
. Venezuela is a federal
presidential republic A presidential system, or single executive system, is a form of government in which a head of government, typically with the title of President (government title), president, leads an Executive (government), executive branch that is separate from ...
consisting of 23 states, the Capital District and
federal dependencies The Federal Dependencies of Venezuela ( es, link=no, Dependencias Federales de Venezuela) encompass most of Venezuela's offshore islands in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Venezuela, excluding those islands that form the State of Nueva Espar ...
covering Venezuela's offshore islands. Venezuela is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America; the vast majority of Venezuelans live in the cities of the north and in the capital. The territory of Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522 amid resistance from indigenous peoples. In 1811, it became one of the first Spanish-American territories to declare independence from the Spanish and to form part, as a department, of the first federal Republic of Colombia (historiographically known as
Gran Colombia Gran Colombia (, "Great Colombia"), or Greater Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia (Spanish language, Spanish: ''República de Colombia''), was a state that encompassed much of northern South America and part of southern Central Ameri ...
). It separated as a full sovereign country in 1830. During the 19th century, Venezuela suffered political turmoil and autocracy, remaining dominated by regional military dictators until the mid-20th century. Since 1958, the country has had a series of democratic governments, as an exception where most of the region was ruled by military dictatorships, and the period was characterized by economic prosperity. Economic shocks in the
1980s File:1980s replacement montage02.PNG, 420px, From left, clockwise: The first Space Shuttle, ''Space Shuttle Columbia, Columbia'', lifts off in 1981; US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union, Soviet General Secretary of the Communist Party of t ...
and 1990s led to major political crises and widespread social unrest, including the deadly
Caracazo The ''Caracazo'' is the name given to the wave of protests, riots and looting. that started on 27 February 1989 in Guarenas, spreading to Caracas Caracas (, ), officially Santiago de León de Caracas, abbreviated as CCS, is the capital and ...
riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and the impeachment of a President for embezzlement of public funds charges in 1993. The collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 Venezuelan presidential election, the catalyst for the Bolivarian Revolution, which began with a 1999 Constituent Assembly, where a new
Constitution of Venezuela The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela (CRBV)) is the current and twenty-sixth constitution of Venezuela. It was drafted in mid-1999 by a constituent assembly that h ...
was imposed. The government's
populist Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasize the idea of "the people" and often Juxtaposition, juxtapose this group against "elite, the elite". It is frequently associated with anti-establishment and anti-political sentimen ...
social welfare Welfare, or commonly social welfare, is a type of government support intended to ensure that members of a society can meet basic human needs such as food and shelter. Social security may either be synonymous with welfare, or refer specifical ...
policies were bolstered by soaring oil prices, temporarily increasing social spending, and reducing
economic inequality There are wide varieties of economic inequality, most notably income inequality measured using the distribution of income (the amount of money people are paid) and wealth inequality measured using the distribution of wealth (the amount of we ...
and poverty in the early years of the regime. However, poverty began to increase in the 2010s. The 2013 Venezuelan presidential election was widely disputed leading to widespread protest, which triggered another nationwide
crisis A crisis (plural, : crises; adjectival form, : critical) is either any event or period that will (or might) lead to an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, or all of society. Crises are negative changes in the human ...
that continues to this day. Venezuela has experienced
democratic backsliding Democratic backsliding, also called autocratization, is the decline in the democratic characteristics of a political system, and is the opposite of democratization Democratization, or democratisation, is the transition to a more democratic Reg ...
, shifting into an authoritarian state. It ranks low in international measurements of
freedom of the press Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the fundamental principle that communication and expression through various media, including printed and electronic News media, media, especially publication, published materials, should be conside ...
and
civil liberties Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments commit not to abridge, either by constitution, legislation, or judicial interpretation, without due process. Though the scope of the term differs between countries, civil liberties may ...
and has high levels of perceived corruption. Venezuela is a
developing country A developing country is a sovereign state with a lesser developed industrial base and a lower Human Development Index (HDI) relative to other countries. However, this definition is not universally agreed upon. There is also no clear agre ...
and ranks 113th on the
Human Development Index The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy, Education Index, education (mean years of schooling completed and expected years of schooling upon entering the Educational system, education system), ...
. It has the world's largest known oil reserves and has been one of the world's leading exporters of oil. Previously, the country was an underdeveloped exporter of agricultural commodities such as coffee and cocoa, but oil quickly came to dominate exports and government revenues. The excesses and poor policies of the incumbent government led to the collapse of Venezuela's entire economy. The country struggles with record
hyperinflation In economics, hyperinflation is a very high and typically accelerating inflation. It quickly erodes the real versus nominal value (economics), real value of the local currency, as the prices of all goods increase. This causes people to minimiz ...
, shortages of basic goods, unemployment, poverty, disease, high child mortality,
malnutrition Malnutrition occurs when an organism gets too few or too many nutrients, resulting in health problems. Specifically, it is "a Deficiency (medicine), deficiency, excess, or imbalance of energy, protein and Vitamin deficiency, other nutrients" wh ...
, severe crime and corruption. These factors have precipitated the Venezuelan migrant crisis where more than three million people have fled the country. By 2017, Venezuela was declared to be in
default Default may refer to: Law * Default (law), the failure to do something required by law ** Default (finance), failure to satisfy the terms of a loan obligation or failure to pay back a loan ** Default judgment, a binding judgment in favor of eit ...
regarding debt payments by credit rating agencies. The crisis in Venezuela has contributed to a rapidly deteriorating human rights situation, including increased abuses such as torture, arbitrary imprisonment, extrajudicial killings and attacks on human rights advocates. Venezuela is a charter member of the UN,
Organization of American States The Organization of American States (OAS; es, Organización de los Estados Americanos, pt, Organização dos Estados Americanos, french: Organisation des États américains; ''OEA'') is an international organization that was founded on 30 April ...
(OAS),
Union of South American Nations The Union of South American Nations (USAN; es, links=no, Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR; pt, links=no, União de Nações Sul-Americanas, UNASUL; nl, links=no, Unie van Zuid-Amerikaanse Naties, UZAN; French: ''Union des nations s ...
(UNASUR),
ALBA ''Alba'' ( , ) is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland. It is also, in English language historiography, used to refer to the polity of Picts and Scottish people, Scots united in the ninth century as the Kingdom of Alba, until it developed i ...
,
Mercosur The Southern Common Market, commonly known by Spanish abbreviation Mercosur, and Portuguese Mercosul, is a South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relat ...
,
Latin American Integration Association The Latin American Integration Association / Asociación Latinoamericana de Integración / Associação Latino-Americana de Integração (LAIA / ALADI) is an international and regional scope organization. It was created on 12 August 1980 by the ...
(LAIA) and
Organization of Ibero-American States The Organization of Ibero-American States ( es, Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos, pt, Organização de Estados Iberoamericanos, ca, Organització d'Estats Iberoamericans; abbreviated as OEI), formally the Organization of Ibero-American ...
(OEI).


Etymology

According to the most popular and accepted version, in 1499, an expedition led by
Alonso de Ojeda Alonso de Ojeda (; c. 1466 – c. 1515) was a Spanish explorer, governor and conquistador. He travelled through modern-day Guyana, Venezuela, Trinidad Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands of Trinidad and T ...
visited the Venezuelan coast. The stilt houses in the area of
Lake Maracaibo Lake Maracaibo (Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other place ...
reminded the Italian navigator, Amerigo Vespucci, of the city of
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy and the capital of the Veneto Regions of Italy, region. It is built on a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400  ...
, Italy, so he named the region ''Veneziola'', or "Little Venice". The Spanish version of ''Veneziola'' is ''Venezuela''. Martín Fernández de Enciso, a member of the Vespucci and Ojeda crew, gave a different account. In his work ''Summa de geografía'', he states that the crew found
indigenous people Indigenous peoples are culturally distinct ethnic groups whose members are directly descended from the earliest known inhabitants of a particular geographic region and, to some extent, maintain the language and culture of those original people ...
who called themselves the ''Veneciuela.'' Thus, the name "Venezuela" may have evolved from the native word. Previously, the official name was ''Estado de Venezuela'' (1830–1856), ''República de Venezuela'' (1856–1864), ''Estados Unidos de Venezuela'' (1864–1953), and again ''República de Venezuela'' (1953–1999).


History


Pre-Columbian history

Evidence exists of human habitation in the area now known as Venezuela from about 15,000 years ago. Leaf-shaped tools from this period, together with chopping and plano-convex scraping implements, have been found exposed on the high riverine terraces of the Rio Pedregal in western Venezuela.
Late Pleistocene The Late Pleistocene is an unofficial Age (geology), age in the international geologic timescale in chronostratigraphy, also known as Upper Pleistocene from a Stratigraphy, stratigraphic perspective. It is intended to be the fourth division of ...
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 (also referred to as carbon dating or carbon-14 dating) is a method for determining the age of an object containing organic material by using the properties of radiocarbon, a radioactive isotope of carbon. The method was ...
, these date from 13,000 to 7,000 BC. It is not known how many people lived in Venezuela before the Spanish conquest; it has been estimated at around one million. In addition to indigenous peoples known today, the population included historical groups such as the Kalina (Caribs), Auaké, Caquetio, Mariche, and Timoto–Cuicas. The Timoto–Cuica culture was the most complex society in Pre-Columbian Venezuela, with pre-planned permanent villages, surrounded by irrigated, terraced fields. They also stored water in tanks. Their houses were made primarily of stone and wood with thatched roofs. They were peaceful, for the most part, and depended on growing crops. Regional crops included potatoes and
ulluco ''Ullucus'' is a genus Genus ( plural genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classification, viruses. In the hierarchy of biologica ...
s."Venezuela".
''Friends of the Pre-Columbian Art Museum''. (retrieved 9 July 2011)
They left behind works of art, particularly anthropomorphic ceramics, but no major monuments. They spun vegetable fibers to weave into textiles and mats for housing. They are credited with having invented the
arepa ''Arepa'' () is a type of food made of ground maize dough stuffed with a filling, eaten in the northern region of South America since pre-Columbian times, and notable primarily in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela, but also present in the cuis ...
, a staple in
Venezuelan cuisine Venezuelan cuisine is influenced by its EuropeanKohnstamm, Thomas; Kohn, Beth"Venezuela."Lonely Planet. Accessed October 2011. (Italy, Italian, Spain, Spanish, Portugal, Portuguese, and France, French), West African, and indigenous traditions. Ve ...
. After the conquest, the population dropped markedly, mainly through the spread of new infectious diseases from Europe. Two main north–south axes of pre-Columbian population were present, who cultivated maize in the west and
manioc ''Manihot esculenta'', common name, commonly called cassava (), manioc, or yuca (among numerous regional names), is a woody shrub of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, native to South America. Although a perennial plant, cassava is extensively ...
in the east. Large parts of the ''
llanos The Llanos (Spanish language, Spanish ''Los Llanos'', "The Plains"; ) 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 tropical and subtropic ...
'' were cultivated through a combination of
slash and burn Slash-and-burn agriculture is a farming method that involves the cutting and burning of plants in a forest or woodland to create a Field (agriculture), field called a swidden. The method begins by cutting down the trees and woody plants in an ar ...
and permanent settled agriculture.


Colonization

In 1498, during his third voyage to the Americas,
Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus * lij, Cristoffa C(or)ombo * es, link=no, Cristóbal Colón * pt, Cristóvão Colombo * ca, Cristòfor (or ) * la, Christophorus Columbus. (; born between 25 August and 31 October 1451, died 20 May 1506) was a ...
sailed near the
Orinoco Delta The Orinoco Delta is a vast river delta of the Orinoco River, located in eastern Venezuela. Location The Orinoco Delta is one of the eight natural regions of Venezuela. It covers the whole of Delta Amacuro State and a few square kilometers of M ...
and landed in the
Gulf of Paria The Gulf of Paria ( ; es, Golfo de Paria) is a shallow (180 m at its deepest) semi-enclosed inland sea located between the island of Trinidad (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) and the east coast of Venezuela. It separates the two countries ...
. Amazed by the great offshore current of freshwater which deflected his course eastward, Columbus expressed in a letter to Isabella and Ferdinand that he must have reached Heaven on Earth (terrestrial paradise): Spain's colonization of mainland Venezuela started in 1522, establishing its first permanent South American settlement in the city of Cumaná.


German colonization

In the 16th century, the king of Spain granted a concession in Venezuela to the
Welser Welser was a Germans, German banking and merchant family, originally a patrician (post-Roman Europe), patrician family based in Augsburg and Nuremberg, that rose to great prominence in international high finance in the 16th century as bankers t ...
family of German bankers and merchants. Klein-Venedig became the most extensive initiative in the German colonization of the Americas, from 1528 to 1546. The
Welser Welser was a Germans, German banking and merchant family, originally a patrician (post-Roman Europe), patrician family based in Augsburg and Nuremberg, that rose to great prominence in international high finance in the 16th century as bankers t ...
family of
Augsburg Augsburg (; bar , Augschburg , links=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swabian_German , label=Swabian German, , ) is a city in Swabia, Bavaria, Germany, around west of Bavarian capital Munich. It is a College town, university town and regional ...
and
Nuremberg Nuremberg ( ; german: link=no, Nürnberg ; in the local East Franconian dialect: ''Nämberch'' ) is the second-largest city of the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 (2019) inhabitants ...
were bankers to the Habsburgs and financiers of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, who was also King of Spain and had borrowed heavily from them to pay bribes for his
Imperial election The election of a Holy Roman Emperor was generally a two-stage process whereby, from at least the 13th century, the King of the Romans was elected by a small body of the greatest princes of the Empire, the prince-electors. This was then followed ...
. In 1528, Charles V granted the Welsers the right to explore, rule and colonize the territory, as well as to seek the mythical golden town of
El Dorado El Dorado (, ; Spanish language, Spanish for "the golden"), originally ''El Hombre Dorado'' ("The Golden Man") or ''El Rey Dorado'' ("The Golden King"), was the term used by the Spanish in the 16th century to describe a mythical tribal chief (' ...
. The first expedition was led by
Ambrosius Ehinger Ambrosius Ehinger, also (Ambrosio Alfínger in Spanish language, Spanish) Dalfinger, Thalfinger, (ca. 1500 in Elchingen, Thalfingen near Free Imperial City of Ulm, Ulm – 31 May 1533 near Chinácota in modern-day Colombia) was a German conqu ...
, who established Maracaibo in 1529. After the deaths of first Ehinger (1533), then
Nikolaus Federmann Nikolaus Federmann ( es, link=no, Nicolás Féderman, ) (c. 1505, Ulm – February 1542, Valladolid) was a German adventurer and conquistador in what is modern-day Venezuela and Colombia. He is a significant figure in the history of Klein-Venedi ...
, and Georg von Speyer (1540), Philipp von Hutten persisted in exploring of the interior. In absence of von Hutten from the capital of the province, the crown of Spain claimed the right to appoint a governor. On Hutten's return to the capital,
Santa Ana de Coro Coro, historically known as Neu-Augsburg, is the capital of Falcón State and the second oldest city of Venezuela (after Cumaná Cumaná () is the capital city of Venezuela's Sucre (state), Sucre State. It is located east of Caracas. Cumaná ...
, in 1546, the Spanish governor Juan de Carvajal had Hutten and Bartholomeus VI. Welser executed. Subsequently, Charles V revoked Welser's concession. The Welsers transported German miners to the colony, in addition to 4,000 African
slaves Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave—someone forbidden to quit one's service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as property. Slavery typically involves slaves being made to perf ...
as hard work to paintings
sugar cane Sugarcane or sugar cane is a species of (often hybrid) tall, Perennial plant, perennial grass (in the genus ''Saccharum'', tribe Andropogoneae) that is used for sugar Sugar industry, production. The plants are 2–6 m (6–20 ft) tall with ...
plantations. Many of the German colonists died from tropical diseases, to which they had no immunity, or through frequent wars with the indigenous inhabitants.


Late 15th century to early 17th century

Native ''
cacique A ''cacique'' (Latin American ; ; feminine form: ''cacica'') was a tribal chieftain of the Taíno people, the indigenous inhabitants at European colonization of the Americas, European contact of the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, and the north ...
s'' (leaders) such as
Guaicaipuro Cacique Guaicaipuro was a legendary native (indigenous) Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, c ...
() and Tamanaco (died 1573) attempted to resist Spanish incursions, but the newcomers ultimately subdued them; Tamanaco was put to death by order of
Caracas Caracas (, ), officially Santiago de León de Caracas, abbreviated as CCS, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela, and the center of the Metropolitan Region of Caracas (or Greater Caracas). Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the ...
' founder, Diego de Losada. In the 16th century, during the Spanish colonization, indigenous peoples such as many of the Mariches, themselves descendants of the Kalina, were converted to
Roman Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...
. Some of the resisting tribes or leaders are commemorated in place names, including Caracas, Chacao and
Los Teques Los Teques ) is the capital of the state of Miranda (state), Miranda and the municipality of Guaicaipuro Municipality. It is located in the capital region of north-central Venezuela. More specifically, southwest of Caracas, 10° 21' 00" N latitud ...
. The early colonial settlements focused on the northern coast, but in the mid-18th century, the Spanish pushed farther inland along the
Orinoco River The Orinoco () is one of the longest rivers in South America at . Its drainage basin, sometimes known as the Orinoquia, covers , with 76.3 percent of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia. It is the List of rivers by discharge, fou ...
. Here, the Ye'kuana (then known as the Makiritare) organized serious resistance in 1775 and 1776. Spain's eastern Venezuelan settlements were incorporated into
New Andalusia Province New Andalusia Province or Province of Cumaná (1537–1864) was a province of the Spanish Empire, and later of Gran Colombia and Venezuela. It included the territory of present-day Venezuelan states Sucre, Venezuela, Sucre, Anzoátegui and Mon ...
. Administered by the Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo from the early 16th century, most of Venezuela became part of the
Viceroyalty of New Granada The Viceroyalty of New Granada ( es, Virreinato de Nueva Granada, links=no ) also called Viceroyalty of the New Kingdom of Granada or Viceroyalty of Santafé was the name given on 27 May 1717, to the jurisdiction of the Spanish Empire The S ...
in the early 18th century, and was then reorganized as an autonomous Captaincy General starting in 1777. 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 () is the capital city of the Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a c ...
whilst itself being located in a valley in a mountain range, providing defensive strength against
pirate Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable goods. Those who conduct acts of piracy are called pirates, v ...
s and a more fertile and healthy climate.


Independence and 19th century

After a series of unsuccessful uprisings, Venezuela, under the leadership of
Francisco de Miranda Sebastián Francisco de Miranda y Rodríguez de Espinoza (28 March 1750 – 14 July 1816), commonly known as Francisco de Miranda (), was a Venezuelan military leader and revolutionary. Although his own plans for the independence of the Spanis ...
, a Venezuelan marshal who had fought in the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution that occurred in British America between 1765 and 1791. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies formed independent states that defeated the British in the American Revolut ...
and the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, ...
, declared independence as the
First Republic of Venezuela The First Republic of Venezuela ( es, Primera República de Venezuela) was the first independent government of Venezuela, lasting from 5 July 1811, to 25 July 1812. The period of the First Republic began with the overthrow of the Spanish colonial ...
on 5 July 1811. This began the Venezuelan War of Independence. A devastating earthquake that struck Caracas in 1812, together with the rebellion of the Venezuelan '' llaneros'', helped bring down the republic.
Simón Bolívar Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios (24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830) was a Venezuelan people, Venezuelan military and political leader who led what are currently the countries of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, ...
, new leader of the independentist forces, launched his Admirable Campaign in 1813 from New Granada, retaking most of the territory and being proclaimed as ''El Libertador'' ("The Liberator"). A second Venezuelan republic was proclaimed on 7 August 1813, but lasted only a few months before being crushed at the hands of
royalist A royalist supports a particular monarch as head of state for a particular kingdom, or of a particular dynastic claim. In the abstract, this position is royalism. It is distinct from monarchism, which advocates a monarchical system of gov ...
caudillo José Tomás Boves and his personal army of ''llaneros''. The end of the French invasion of homeland Spain in 1814 allowed the preparation of a large expeditionary force to the American provinces under general Pablo Morillo, with the goal to regain the lost territory in Venezuela and New Granada. As the war reached a stalemate on 1817, Bolívar reestablished the Third Republic of Venezuela on the territory still controlled by the patriots, mainly in the Guayana and
Llanos The Llanos (Spanish language, Spanish ''Los Llanos'', "The Plains"; ) 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 tropical and subtropic ...
regions. This republic was short-lived as only two years later, during the
Congress of Angostura The Congress of Angostura was convened by Simón Bolívar and took place in Ciudad Bolívar, Angostura (today Ciudad Bolívar) during the wars of Independence of Colombia and Venezuela, culminating in the proclamation of the Republic of Colomb ...
of 1819, the union of Venezuela with New Granada was decreed to form the Republic of Colombia (historiographically Republic of Gran Colombia). The war continued for some years, until full victory and
sovereignty Sovereignty is the defining authority within individual consciousness, Social constructionism, social construct, or territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty i ...
was attained after Bolívar, aided by José Antonio Páez and Antonio José de Sucre, won the
Battle of Carabobo The Battle of Carabobo, on 24 June 1821, was fought between independence fighters, led by Venezuelan General Simón Bolívar Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios (24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830) was a Vene ...
on 24 June 1821. On 24 July 1823, José Prudencio Padilla and Rafael Urdaneta helped seal Venezuelan independence with their victory in the Battle of Lake Maracaibo. New Granada's congress gave Bolívar control of the Granadian army; leading it, he liberated several countries and founded the Republic of Colombia (
Gran Colombia Gran Colombia (, "Great Colombia"), or Greater Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia (Spanish language, Spanish: ''República de Colombia''), was a state that encompassed much of northern South America and part of southern Central Ameri ...
). Sucre, who won many battles for Bolívar, went on to liberate
Ecuador Ecuador ( ; ; Quechuan languages, Quechua: ''Ikwayur''; Shuar language, Shuar: ''Ecuador'' or ''Ekuatur''), officially the Republic of Ecuador ( es, República del Ecuador, which literally translates as "Republic of the Equator"; Quechuan ...
and later become the second president of
Bolivia , image_flag = Bandera de Bolivia (Estado).svg , flag_alt = Horizontal tricolor (red, yellow, and green from top to bottom) with the coat of arms of Bolivia in the center , flag_alt2 = 7 × 7 square p ...
. Venezuela remained part of Gran Colombia until 1830, when a rebellion led by Páez allowed the proclamation of a newly independent Venezuela, on 22 September; Páez became the first president of the new State of Venezuela. Between one-quarter and one-third of Venezuela's population was lost during these two decades of warfare (including perhaps one-half of the Venezuelans of European descent), which by 1830, was estimated at 800,000.Venezuela – The Century of Caudillismo
.
Library of Congress Country Studies The Country Studies are works published by the Federal Research Division of the United States Library of Congress, freely available for use by researchers. No copyright is claimed on them. Therefore, they have been dedicated to the public domain a ...
.
The colors of the Venezuelan flag are yellow, blue, and red: 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.
Slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave—someone forbidden to quit one's service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as property. Slavery typically involves slaves being made to perf ...
in Venezuela was abolished in 1854. Much of Venezuela's 19th-century history was characterized by political turmoil and dictatorial rule, including the Independence leader José Antonio Páez, who gained the presidency three times and served a total of 11 years between 1830 and 1863. This culminated in the
Federal War The Federal War ( es, Guerra Federal) — also known as the Great War or the Five Year War — was a civil war (1859–1863) in Venezuela between the Conservative Party (Venezuela), Conservative party and the Liberal Party (Venezuela), Liberal ...
(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, another ''caudillo'', served a total of 13 years between 1870 and 1887, with three other presidents interspersed. In 1895, a longstanding dispute with Great Britain about the territory of Guayana Esequiba, which Britain claimed as part of
British Guiana British Guiana was a British colony, part of the mainland British West Indies, which resides on the northern coast of South America. Since 1966 it has been known as the independent nation of Guyana. The first European to encounter Guiana was S ...
and Venezuela saw as Venezuelan territory, erupted into the Venezuela Crisis of 1895. The dispute became a diplomatic crisis when Venezuela's lobbyist, William L. Scruggs, sought to argue that British behavior over the issue violated the United States'
Monroe Doctrine The Monroe Doctrine was a foreign policy of the United States, United States foreign policy position that opposed European colonialism in the Western Hemisphere. It held that any intervention in the political affairs of the Americas by foreign ...
of 1823, and used his influence in Washington, D.C., to pursue the matter. Then, U.S. president
Grover Cleveland Stephen Grover Cleveland (March 18, 1837June 24, 1908) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States from 1885 to 1889 and from 1893 to 1897. Cleveland is the only president in American ...
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 U.S. on many 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. In 1899,
Cipriano Castro José Cipriano Castro Ruiz (12 October 1858 – 4 December 1924) was a high-ranking member of the Venezuelan military, politician and the president of Venezuela from 1899 to 1908. He was the first man from the Andes to rule the country, and was ...
, assisted by his friend Juan Vicente Gómez, 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, in which Britain, Germany and Italy imposed a naval blockade of several months before international arbitration at the new
Permanent Court of Arbitration The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is a non-UN intergovernmental organization located in The Hague, Netherlands. Unlike a judicial court in the traditional sense, the PCA provides services of arbitral tribunal to resolve disputes that arise ...
in
The Hague The Hague ( ; nl, Den Haag or ) is a list of cities in the Netherlands by province, city and municipalities of the Netherlands, municipality of the Netherlands, situated on the west coast facing the North Sea. The Hague is the country's ad ...
was agreed. In 1908, another dispute broke out with the Netherlands, which was resolved when Castro left for medical treatment in Germany and was promptly overthrown by Juan Vicente Gómez (1908–1935).


20th century

The discovery of massive
oil deposits A petroleum reservoir or oil and gas reservoir is a subsurface accumulation of hydrocarbons contained in Porosity, porous or fractured rock formations. Such reservoirs form when kerogen (ancient plant matter) is created in surrounding rock by the ...
in Lake Maracaibo during World War I proved to be pivotal for Venezuela and transformed the basis of its economy from a heavy dependence on agricultural exports. It prompted an economic boom that lasted into the 1980s; by 1935, Venezuela's per capita gross domestic product 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 centralize 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 (1935–1945) system largely continued under Eleazar López Contreras, but from 1941, under Isaías Medina Angarita, was relaxed. Angarita granted a range of reforms, including the legalization of all political parties. After
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, immigration from Southern Europe (mainly from Spain,
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and its territory largely coincides with the Italy (geographical region) ...
, Portugal, and 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 (1945–1948) under the mass membership party Democratic Action, initially under Rómulo Betancourt, until Rómulo Gallegos won the 1947 Venezuelan presidential election (generally believed to be the first free and fair elections in Venezuela). Gallegos governed until overthrown by a military junta led by the triumvirate , Marcos Pérez Jiménez, and Gallegos' Defense Minister, Carlos Delgado Chalbaud, in the 1948 Venezuelan ''coup d'état''. The most powerful man in the military ''junta'' (1948–1958) was Pérez Jiménez (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, it ignored the results and Pérez Jiménez was installed as president, where he remained until 1958. The military dictator Pérez Jiménez was forced out on 23 January 1958. In an effort to consolidate a young democracy, the three major political parties ( Acción Democrática (AD), COPEI and Unión Republicana Democrática (URD), with the notable exception of the
Communist Party of Venezuela The Communist Party of Venezuela ( es, Partido Comunista de Venezuela, PCV) is a communist party and the oldest continuously existing party in Venezuela. It was the main Left-wing politics, leftist political party in Venezuela from its foundati ...
), signed the Puntofijo Pact power-sharing agreement. The two first parties would dominate the political landscape for four decades. During the presidencies of Rómulo Betancourt (1959–1964, his second term) and Raúl Leoni (1964–1969) in the 1960s, substantial guerilla movements occurred, including the Armed Forces of National Liberation and the Revolutionary Left Movement, which had split from AD in 1960. Most of these movements laid down their arms under Rafael Caldera's first presidency (1969–1974); Caldera had won the 1968 election for COPEI, being the first time a party other than Democratic Action took the presidency through a democratic election. The new democratic order had its antagonists. Betancourt suffered an attack planned by the Dominican dictator
Rafael Trujillo Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina ( , ; 24 October 189130 May 1961), nicknamed ''El Jefe'' (, "The Chief" or "The Boss"), was a Dominican dictator who ruled the Dominican Republic from February 1930 until his assassination in May 1961. He ser ...
in 1960, and the leftists excluded from the Pact initiated an armed insurgency by organizing themselves in the Armed Forces of National Liberation, sponsored by the Communist Party and Fidel Castro. In 1962 they tried to destabilize the military corps, with failed revolts in Carúpano and Puerto Cabello. At the same time, Betancourt promoted a foreign policy, the Betancourt Doctrine, in which he only recognized elected governments by popular vote. The election in 1973 of Carlos Andrés Pérez coincided with an oil crisis, in which Venezuela's income exploded as oil prices soared; oil industries were 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 crippled the Venezuelan economy. As the government started to devalue the currency in February 1983 to face its financial obligations, Venezuelans' real standards 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. In the 1980s, the Presidential Commission for State Reform (COPRE) emerged as a mechanism of political innovation. Venezuela was preparing for the decentralization of its political system and the diversification of its economy, reducing the large size of the State. The COPRE operated as an innovation mechanism, also by incorporating issues into the political agenda that were generally excluded from public deliberation by the main actors of the Venezuelan democratic system. The most discussed topics were incorporated into the public agenda: decentralization, political participation, municipalization, judicial order reforms and the role of the State in a new economic strategy. The social reality of the country made the changes difficult to apply. Economic crises in the 1980s and 1990s led to a political crisis. Hundreds of people were killed by Venezuelan security forces and the military in the ''
Caracazo The ''Caracazo'' is the name given to the wave of protests, riots and looting. that started on 27 February 1989 in Guarenas, spreading to Caracas Caracas (, ), officially Santiago de León de Caracas, abbreviated as CCS, is the capital and ...
'' riots of 1989 during the presidency of Carlos Andrés Pérez (1989–1993, his second term) and after the implementation of economic austerity measures. Hugo Chávez, who in 1982 had promised to depose the bipartisanship governments, used the growing anger at economic austerity measures to justify a coup d'état attempt in February 1992; a second coup d'état attempt occurred in November. President Carlos Andrés Pérez (re-elected in 1988) was impeached under embezzlement charges in 1993, leading to the interim presidency of Ramón José Velásquez (1993–1994). Coup leader Chávez was pardoned in March 1994 by president Rafael Caldera (1994–1999, his second term), with a clean slate and his political rights reinstated, allowing Chávez to win and maintain the presidency continuously from 1999 until his death in 2013. Chávez won the elections of 1998, 2000, 2006 and 2012 and the presidential referendum of 2004. The only gaps in his presidency occurred during the two-day de facto government of Pedro Carmona Estanga in 2002 and when Diosdado Cabello Rondón acted as interim president for a few hours.


Bolivarian government: 1999–present

The Bolivarian Revolution refers to a
left-wing populism Left-wing populism, also called social populism, is a political ideology that combines left-wing politics with populist rhetoric and themes. Its rhetoric often consists of anti-elitism, opposition to the Establishment, and speaking for the "comm ...
social movement A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social or political one. This may be to carry out a social change, or to resist or undo one. It is a type of group action and ...
and political process in Venezuela led by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who founded the Fifth Republic Movement in 1997 and the
United Socialist Party of Venezuela The United Socialist Party of Venezuela ( es, Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV) is a Left-wing politics, left-wing to Far-left politics, far-left Socialism, socialist political party which has been the ruling party of Venezuela since ...
in 2007. The "Bolivarian Revolution" is named after
Simón Bolívar Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios (24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830) was a Venezuelan people, Venezuelan military and political leader who led what are currently the countries of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, ...
, an early 19th-century Venezuelan and Latin American revolutionary leader, prominent in the
Spanish American wars of independence The Spanish American wars of independence (25 September 1808 – 29 September 1833; es, Guerras de independencia hispanoamericanas) were numerous wars in Spanish America with the aim of political independence from Spanish rule during the early ...
in achieving the independence of most of northern South America from Spanish rule. According to Chávez and other supporters, the "Bolivarian Revolution" seeks to build a mass movement to implement Bolivarianism
popular democracy : ''Not to be mistaken with People's Democracy (Ireland), Irish or People's Republic, Marxist-Leninist People's Democracy. For the Italian party see Popular Democracy (United Left). For the Ecuatorian party see Christian Democratic Union (Ecuador)' ...
, economic independence, equitable distribution of revenues, and an end to political corruption—in Venezuela. They interpret Bolívar's ideas from a
populist Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasize the idea of "the people" and often Juxtaposition, juxtapose this group against "elite, the elite". It is frequently associated with anti-establishment and anti-political sentimen ...
perspective, using
socialist Socialism is a left-wing Economic ideology, economic philosophy and Political movement, movement encompassing a range of economic systems characterized by the dominance of social ownership of the means of production as opposed to Private prop ...
rhetoric.


Hugo Chávez: 1999–2013

A collapse in confidence in the existing parties led to Chávez being elected president in 1998 and the subsequent launch of a "Bolivarian Revolution", beginning with a 1999
constituent assembly A constituent assembly (also known as a constitutional convention, constitutional congress, or constitutional assembly) is a body assembled for the purpose of drafting or revising a constitution. Members of a constituent assembly may be elected b ...
to write a new Constitution of Venezuela. Chávez also initiated Bolivarian missions, programs aimed at helping the poor. In April 2002, Chávez was briefly ousted from power in the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt following popular demonstrations by his opponents, but Chavez returned to power after two days as a result of demonstrations by poor Chávez supporters in Caracas and actions by the military. Chávez also remained in power after an all-out national strike that lasted from December 2002 to February 2003, including a strike/lockout in the state oil company
PDVSA Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA, ) (English: Petroleum of Venezuela) is the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company. It has activities in exploration, production, refining and exporting oil as well as exploration and production ...
.
Capital flight Capital flight, in economics, occurs when assets or money rapidly flow out of a country, due to an event of economic consequence or as the result of a political event such as regime change or economic globalization. Such events could be an increas ...
before and during the strike led to the reimposition of currency controls (which had been abolished in 1989), managed by the CADIVI agency. In the subsequent decade, the government was forced into several currency devaluations."Venezuela The homecoming"
Economist.com (23 February 2013). Retrieved on 20 April 2013.
Farzad, Roben. (15 February 2013
"Venezuela's Double-Edged Devaluation"
Businessweek.com. Retrieved on 20 April 2013.
These devaluations have done little to improve the situation of the Venezuelan people who rely on imported products or locally produced products that depend on imported inputs while dollar-denominated oil sales account for the vast majority of Venezuela's exports. According to Sebastian Boyd writing at
Bloomberg News Bloomberg News (originally Bloomberg Business News) is an international news agency A news agency is an organization that gathers news reports and sells them to subscribing news organizations, such as newspapers, magazines and All-news rad ...
, the profits of the oil industry have been lost to "social engineering" and corruption, instead of investments needed to maintain oil production. Chávez survived several further political tests, including an August 2004 recall referendum. He was elected for another term in December 2006 and re-elected for a third term in October 2012. However, he was never sworn in for his third period, due to medical complications. Chávez died on 5 March 2013 after a nearly two-year fight with cancer. The presidential election that took place on Sunday, 14 April 2013, was the first since Chávez took office in 1999 in which his name did not appear on the ballot.


Nicolás Maduro


= 2013–2018

= Poverty and inflation began to increase into the 2010s.Charlie Devereux & Raymond Colitt. 7 March 2013.
Nicolás Maduro Nicolás Maduro Moros (; born 23 November 1962) is a Venezuelan politician and president of Venezuela since 2013 Venezuelan presidential election, 2013, with his Venezuelan presidential crisis, presidency under dispute since 2019. Beginning ...
was elected in 2013 after the death of Chavez. Chavez picked Maduro as his successor and appointed him vice president in 2013. Maduro was elected president in a shortened election in 2013 following Chavez's death. Nicolás Maduro has been the
president of Venezuela The president of Venezuela ( es, Presidente de Venezuela), officially known as the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, Presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is the head of state and head of government in Ven ...
since 14 April 2013, when he won the second presidential election after Chávez's death, with 50.61% of the votes against the opposition's candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, who had 49.12% of the votes. The
Democratic Unity Roundtable The Democratic Unity Roundtable ( es, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, MUD) was a Big tent, catch-all Electoral alliance, electoral coalition of Venezuelan political parties formed in January 2008 to unify the opposition to President Hugo Cháv ...
contested his election as fraud and as a violation of the constitution. An audit of 56% of the vote showed no discrepancies, and the Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled that under Venezuela's Constitution, Nicolás Maduro was the legitimate president and was invested as such by the Venezuelan
National Assembly In politics, a national assembly is either a unicameral legislature, the lower house of a bicameral legislature, or both houses of a bicameral legislature together. In the English language it generally means "an assembly composed of the repre ...
(Asamblea Nacional). Opposition leaders and some international media consider the government of Maduro to be a dictatorship. Since February 2014, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have protested over high levels of criminal violence, corruption, hyperinflation, and chronic scarcity of basic goods due to policies of the federal government. Demonstrations and riots have resulted in over 40 fatalities in the unrest between Chavistas and opposition protesters and opposition leaders, including Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma were arrested. Human rights groups condemned the arrest of Leopoldo López. In the 2015 Venezuelan parliamentary election, the opposition gained a majority. Venezuela devalued its currency in February 2013 due to rising shortages in the country, which included those of milk, flour, and other necessities. This led to an increase in malnutrition, especially among children. Venezuela's economy had become strongly dependent on the exportation of oil, with crude accounting for 86% of exports, and a high price per barrel to support social programs. Beginning in 2014 the
price of oil The price of oil, or the oil price, generally refers to the spot price of a Oil barrel, barrel () of benchmark crude oil—a reference price for buyers and sellers of crude oil such as West Texas Intermediate (WTI), Brent Crude, Dubai Crud ...
plummeted from over $100/bbl to $40/bbl a year and a half later. This placed pressure on the Venezuelan economy, which was no longer able to afford vast social programs. To counter the decrease in oil prices, the Venezuelan Government began taking more money from
PDVSA Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA, ) (English: Petroleum of Venezuela) is the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company. It has activities in exploration, production, refining and exporting oil as well as exploration and production ...
, the state oil company, to meet budgets, resulting in a lack of reinvestment in fields and employees. Venezuela's oil production decreased from its height of nearly per day. In 2014, Venezuela entered an
economic recession In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction when there is a general decline in economic activity. Recessions generally occur when there is a widespread drop in spending (an adverse demand shock). This may be triggered by various ...
. In 2015, Venezuela had the world's highest inflation rate with the rate surpassing 100%, which was the highest in the country's history. In 2017,
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician, media personality, and businessman who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Trump graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pe ...
's administration imposed more
economic sanctions Economic sanctions are Commerce, commercial and Finance, financial penalties applied by one or more countries against a targeted Self-governance, self-governing state, group, or individual. Economic sanctions are not necessarily imposed because ...
against Venezuela's state-owned oil company
PDVSA Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA, ) (English: Petroleum of Venezuela) is the Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company. It has activities in exploration, production, refining and exporting oil as well as exploration and production ...
and Venezuelan officials. Economic problems, as well as crime and corruption, were some of the main causes of the 2014–present Venezuelan protests. Since 2014, roughly 5.6 million people have fled Venezuela. In January 2016, President Maduro decreed an "economic emergency", revealing the extent of the crisis and expanding his powers. In July 2016, Colombian border crossings were temporarily opened to allow Venezuelans to purchase food and basic household and health items in Colombia. In September 2016, a study published in the Spanish-language '' Diario Las Américas'' indicated that 15% of Venezuelans are eating "
food waste Food loss and waste is food that is not eaten. The causes of food waste or loss are numerous and occur throughout the food system, during food production, production, food processing, processing, Food distribution, distribution, Grocery store ...
discarded by commercial establishments". Close to 200 riots had occurred in Venezuelan prisons by October 2016, according to Una Ventana a la Libertad, an advocacy group for better prison conditions. The father of an inmate at Táchira Detention Center in Caracas alleged that his son was cannibalized by other inmates during a month-long riot, a claim corroborated by an anonymous police source but denied by the Minister of Correctional Affairs. In 2017, Venezuela experienced a constitutional crisis in the country. In March 2017, opposition leaders branded President Maduro a dictator after the Maduro-aligned Supreme Tribunal, which had been overturning most
National Assembly In politics, a national assembly is either a unicameral legislature, the lower house of a bicameral legislature, or both houses of a bicameral legislature together. In the English language it generally means "an assembly composed of the repre ...
decisions since the opposition took control of the body, took over the functions of the assembly, pushing a lengthy political standoff to new heights. The Supreme Court backed down and reversed its decision on 1 April 2017. A month later, President Maduro announced the
2017 Venezuelan Constituent Assembly election Constituent Assembly elections were held in Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a ...
and on 30 August 2017, the
2017 Constituent National Assembly The Constituent National Assembly ( es, Asamblea Nacional Constituyente; ANC) was a constituent assembly elected in 2017 to draft a new Constitution of Venezuela, constitution for Venezuela. Its members were elected 2017 Venezuelan Constituent As ...
was elected into office and quickly stripped the National Assembly of its powers. In December 2017, President Maduro declared that leading opposition parties would be barred from taking part in the following year's presidential vote after they boycotted mayoral polls.


= Since 2018

= Maduro won the 2018 election with 67.8% of the vote. The result was challenged by countries including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, France and the United States who deemed it fraudulent and moved to recognize Juan Guaidó as president. Other countries including Cuba, China, Russia, Turkey, and Iran continued to recognize Maduro as president, although China, facing financial pressure over its position, reportedly began hedging its position by decreasing loans given, cancelling joint ventures, and signaling willingness to work with all parties. A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman denied the reports, describing them as "false information". In January 2019 the Permanent Council of the
Organization of American States The Organization of American States (OAS; es, Organización de los Estados Americanos, pt, Organização dos Estados Americanos, french: Organisation des États américains; ''OEA'') is an international organization that was founded on 30 April ...
(OAS) approved a resolution "to not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro's new term as of the 10th of January of 2019". In August 2019, United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order to impose a total economic embargo against Venezuela. In March 2020, the Trump administration indicted Maduro and several Venezuelan officials, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Tribunal, on charges of drug trafficking, narcoterrorism, and corruption. In June 2020, a report by the US organisation Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights documented
enforced disappearance An enforced disappearance (or forced disappearance) is the secret abduction or imprisonment of a person by a State (polity), state or political organization, or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or po ...
s in Venezuela that occurred in the years 2018 and 2019. During the period, 724 enforced disappearances of political detainees were reported. The report stated that Venezuelan security forces subjected victims, who had been disappeared, to illegal interrogation processes accompanied by torture and cruel or inhuman treatment. The report stated that the Venezuelan government strategically used enforced disappearances to silence political opponents and other critical voices it deemed a threat.


Geography

Venezuela is located in the north of South America; geologically, its mainland rests on the
South American Plate The South American Plate is a major tectonic plate which includes the continent of South America as well as a sizable region of the Atlantic Ocean seabed extending eastward to the African Plate, with which it forms the southern part of the Mid-A ...
. It has a total area of and a land area of , making Venezuela the 33rd largest country in the world. The territory it controls lies between latitudes and 16°N and longitudes 59° and 74°W. Shaped roughly like a triangle, the country has a coastline in the north, which includes numerous islands in the Caribbean and the northeast borders the northern Atlantic Ocean. Most observers describe Venezuela in terms of four fairly well defined
topographical Topography is the study of the forms and features of land surfaces. The topography of an area may refer to the land forms and features themselves, or a description or depiction in maps. Topography is a field of geoscience and planetary scien ...
regions: the Maracaibo lowlands 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 mountain range. Pico Bolívar, the nation's highest point at , lies in this region. To the south, the dissected Guiana Highlands contain the northern fringes of the Amazon Basin and
Angel Falls Angel Falls ( es, Salto Ángel; Pemon language: ''Kerepakupai Merú'' meaning "waterfall of the deepest place", or ''Parakupá Vená'', meaning "the fall from the highest point") is a waterfall A waterfall is a point in a river or strea ...
, the world's highest waterfall, as well as ''
tepui A tepui , or tepuy (), is a Table (landform), table-top mountain or mesa found in South America, especially in Venezuela and western Guyana. The word tepui means "house of the gods" in the native tongue of the Pemon, the Indigenous peoples of th ...
s'', large table-like mountains. The country's center is characterized by the ''llanos'', which are extensive plains that stretch from the Colombian border in the far west to the Orinoco River delta in the east. The Orinoco, with its rich alluvial soils, binds the largest and most important river system of the country; it originates in one of the largest watersheds in Latin America. The Caroní and the
Apure Apure State ( es, Estado Apure, ) is one of the 23 States of Venezuela, states of Venezuela. Its territory formed part of the provinces of Mérida (state), Mérida, Maracaibo, and Barinas (state), Barinas, in accordance with successive territ ...
are other major rivers. Venezuela borders Colombia to the west,
Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America. Guyana is an indigenous word which means "Land of Many Waters". The capital city is Georgetown Guyana, Georgetown. Guyana ...
to the east, and Brazil to the south. Caribbean islands such as
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago (, ), officially the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is the southernmost island country in the Caribbean. Consisting of the main islands Trinidad and Tobago, and numerous much List of islands of Trinidad and Tobago, small ...
,
Grenada Grenada ( ; Grenadian Creole French: ) is an island country in the West Indies The West Indies is a Subregion#North America, subregion of North America, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea t ...
,
Curaçao Curaçao ( ; ; pap, Kòrsou, ), officially the Country of Curaçao ( nl, Land Curaçao; pap, Pais Kòrsou), is a Lesser Antilles The Lesser Antilles ( es, link=no, Antillas Menores; french: link=no, Petites Antilles; pap, Antias Menor ...
,
Aruba Aruba ( , , ), officially the Country of Aruba ( nl, Land Aruba; pap, Pais Aruba) is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands , national_anthem = ) , image_map = Kingdom of the Netherlands (orthographic projection).svg , ...
, and the
Leeward Antilles The Leeward Antilles ( nl, Benedenwindse Eilanden) are a chain of islands in the Caribbean – specifically, the southerly islands of the Lesser Antilles (and, in turn, the Antilles and the West Indies) along the southeastern fringe of the C ...
lie near the Venezuelan coast. Venezuela has territorial disputes with Guyana, formerly United Kingdom, largely concerning the Essequibo area and with Colombia concerning the Gulf of Venezuela. In 1895, after years of diplomatic attempts to solve the border dispute, the dispute over the Essequibo River border flared up. It was submitted to a "neutral" commission (composed of British, American, and Russian representatives and without a direct Venezuelan representative), which in 1899 decided mostly against Venezuela's claim.


Climate

Venezuela is entirely located in the tropics over the Equator to around 12° N. Its climate varies from humid low-elevation plains, where average annual temperatures range as high as , to glaciers and highlands (the '' páramos'') with an average yearly temperature of . Annual rainfall varies from in the semiarid portions of the northwest to over in the Orinoco Delta of the far east and the Amazonian Jungle in the south. The precipitation level is lower in the period from August through April. These periods are referred to as hot-humid and cold-dry seasons. Another characteristic of the climate is this variation throughout the country by the existence of a mountain range called "Cordillera de la Costa" which crosses the country from east to west. The majority of the population lives in these mountains. 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 is a type of natural region or biome that does not contain trees because it is at high elevation, with an associated alpine climate, harsh climate. As the latitude of a location approaches the poles, the threshold elevation for alp ...
) climates, amongst others. In the tropical zone—below —temperatures are hot, with yearly averages ranging between . The temperate zone ranges between with averages from ; many of Venezuela's cities, including the capital, lie in this region. Colder conditions with temperatures from are found in the cool zone between , especially in the Venezuelan Andes, where pastureland and permanent snowfield with yearly averages below cover land above in the ''páramos''. The highest temperature recorded was in Machiques, and the lowest temperature recorded was , it has been reported from an uninhabited high altitude at Páramo de Piedras Blancas ( Mérida state), even though no official reports exist, lower temperatures in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Mérida are known.


Biodiversity and conservation

Venezuela lies within the
Neotropical realm The Neotropical realm is one of the eight biogeographic realms constituting Earth's land surface. Physically, it includes the tropical terrestrial ecoregions of the Americas and the entire South America South America is a continent ...
; large portions of the country were originally covered by moist broadleaf forests. One of 17 megadiverse countries, Venezuela's
habitat In ecology, the term habitat summarises the array of resources, physical and biotic factors that are present in an area, such as to support the survival and reproduction of a particular species. A species habitat can be seen as the physical ...
s range from the Andes Mountains in the west to the Amazon Basin rainforest in the south, via extensive ''llanos'' plains and Caribbean coast in the center and the Orinoco River Delta in the east. They include xeric scrublands in the extreme northwest and coastal
mangrove A mangrove is a shrub or tree that grows in coastal saline water, saline or brackish water. The term is also used for tropical coastal vegetation consisting of such species. Mangroves are taxonomically diverse, as a result of convergent evoluti ...
forests in the northeast. Its
cloud forest A cloud forest, also called a water forest, primas forest, or tropical montane cloud forest (TMCF), is a generally tropical or subtropical, evergreen, Montane forest, montane, Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, moist forest cha ...
s and lowland
rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree Canopy (biology), canopy, moisture-dependent vegetation, the presence of epiphytes and lianas and the absence of wildfire. Rainforest can be classified as tropical rainforest or tem ...
s are particularly rich.
Animals Animals are multicellular, eukaryotic organisms in the biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals consume organic material, breathe oxygen, are able to move, can reproduce sexually, and go through an ontogenetic stage i ...
of Venezuela are diverse and include
manatee Manatees (family (biology), family Trichechidae, genus ''Trichechus'') are large, fully aquatic, mostly herbivory, herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows. There are three accepted living species of Trichechidae, representing thr ...
s,
three-toed sloth The three-toed or three-fingered sloths are arboreal Arboreal locomotion is the Animal locomotion, locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some animals may scale trees on ...
,
two-toed sloth ''Choloepus'' is a genus of xenarthran mammals of Central and South America within the monotypic family (biology), family Choloepodidae, consisting of two-toed sloths, sometimes also called two-fingered sloths. The two species of ''Choloepus'' ( ...
,
Amazon river dolphin The Amazon river dolphin (''Inia geoffrensis''), also known as the boto, bufeo or pink river dolphin, is a species of toothed whale classified in the family Iniidae. Three subspecies are currently recognized: ''I. g. geoffrensis'' (Amazon river ...
s, and Orinoco Crocodiles, which have been reported to reach up to in length. Venezuela hosts a total of 1,417 bird species, 48 of which are endemic. Important birds include
ibis The ibises () (collective plural ibis; classical plurals ibides and ibes) are a group of long-legged wading birds in the family Threskiornithidae, that inhabit wetlands, forests and plains. "Ibis" derives from the Latin and Ancient Greek word f ...
es,
osprey The osprey (''Pandion haliaetus''), , also called sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk, is a Diurnality, diurnal, piscivore, fish-eating bird of prey with a cosmopolitan range. It is a large raptor reaching more than in length and across the ...
s,
kingfisher Kingfishers are a family (biology), family, the Alcedinidae, of small to medium-sized, brightly colored birds in the order Coraciiformes. They have a cosmopolitan distribution, with most species found in the tropical regions of Africa, A ...
s, and the yellow-orange Venezuelan troupial, the national bird. Notable
mammal Mammals () are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class Mammalia (), characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in females produce milk for feeding (nursing) their young, a neocortex (a region of the brain), fu ...
s include the
giant anteater The giant anteater (''Myrmecophaga tridactyla'') is an Insectivore, insectivorous mammal native to Central America, Central and South America. It is one of four living species of anteaters, of which it is the largest member. The only extant memb ...
,
jaguar The jaguar (''Panthera onca'') is a large felidae, cat species and the only extant taxon, living member of the genus ''Panthera'' native to the Americas. With a body length of up to and a weight of up to , it is the largest cat species in t ...
, and the
capybara The capybaraAlso called capivara (in Brazil), capiguara (in Bolivia), chigüire, chigüiro, or fercho (in Colombia and Venezuela), carpincho (in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) and ronsoco (in Peru). or greater capybara (''Hydrochoerus hydro ...
, the world's largest
rodent Rodents (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around ...
. More than half of Venezuelan avian and mammalian species are found in the Amazonian forests 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 3,900 species of fungi recorded from Venezuela, but is far from complete, and the true total number of fungal species already known from Venezuela is likely 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
orchids Orchids are plants that belong to the Family (biology), family Orchidaceae (), a diverse and widespread group of flowering plants with blooms that are often colourful and fragrant. Along with the Asteraceae, they are one of the two largest fam ...
are found in the country's cloud forest and lowland rainforest ecosystems. These include the ''flor de mayo'' orchid ('' Cattleya mossiae''), the national flower. Venezuela's national tree is the araguaney, whose characteristic lushness after the rainy season led novelist Rómulo Gallegos to name it "'' primavera de oro de los araguaneyes''" (the golden spring of the araguaneyes). The tops of the tepuis are also home to several carnivorous plants including the marsh pitcher plant,
Heliamphora The genus ''Heliamphora'' ( or ; Greek language, Greek: ''helos'' "marsh" and ''amphoreus'' "amphora") contains 23 species of pitcher plants endemism, endemic to South America.McPherson, S., A. Wistuba, A. Fleischmann & J. Nerz 2011. ''Sarracenia ...
, and the insectivorous bromeliad, Brocchinia reducta. Venezuela is among the top 20 countries in terms of
endemism Endemism is the state of a species being found in a single defined geographic location, such as an island, state, nation, country or other defined zone; organisms that are Indigenous (ecology), indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if the ...
. Among its animals, 23% of reptilian and 50% of
amphibian Amphibians are tetrapod, four-limbed and ectothermic vertebrates of the Class (biology), class Amphibia. All living amphibians belong to the group Lissamphibia. They inhabit a wide variety of habitats, with most species living within terres ...
species, including the Trinidad poison frog, are endemic. Although the 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. Venezuela is one of the 10 most biodiverse countries on the planet, yet it is one of the leaders of deforestation due to economic and political factors. Each year, roughly 287,600 hectares of forest are permanently destroyed and other areas are degraded by mining, oil extraction, and logging. Between 1990 and 2005, Venezuela officially lost 8.3% of its forest cover, which is about 4.3 million ha. In response, federal protections for critical habitat were implemented; for example, 20% to 33% of forested land is protected. Venezuela had a 2019 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 8.78/10, ranking it 19th globally out of 172 countries. The country's
biosphere reserve A nature reserve (also known as a wildlife refuge, wildlife sanctuary, biosphere reserve or bioreserve, natural or nature preserve, or nature conservation area) is a protected area of importance for flora, fauna, or features of geological or o ...
is part of the
World Network of Biosphere Reserves The UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) covers internationally designated protected areas, known as nature reserve, biosphere reserves, which are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature (e.g. encourage ...
; five
wetlands A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded or saturated by water, either permanently (for years or decades) or seasonally (for weeks or months). Flooding results in oxygen-free (Anoxic waters, anoxic) processes prevailing, especially in t ...
are registered under the
Ramsar Convention The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of Ramsar site, Ramsar sites (wetlands). It is also known as the Convention on W ...
. 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,
Morrocoy National Park Morrocoy National Park is located in the easternmost coast of Falcón state and northwestern of Golfo Triste, in the west central Venezuelan coast, near the towns of Boca de Aroa, Tucacas, Sanare, Chichiriviche, Flamenco and Tocuyo de la Costa, a ...
, and Mochima National Park. In the far south is a reserve for the country's Yanomami tribes. Covering , the area is off-limits to farmers, miners, and all non-Yanomami settlers. Venezuela was one of the few countries that did not enter an INDC at
COP21 The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21 or CMP 11 was held in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated popu ...
. Many terrestrial ecosystems are considered
endangered An endangered species is a species that is very likely to become extinct in the near future, either worldwide or in a particular political jurisdiction. Endangered species may be at risk due to factors such as habitat loss, poaching and invas ...
, specially the
dry forest Dry or dryness most often refers to: * Lack of rainfall, which may refer to **Arid A region is arid when it severely lacks available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and morphogenesis, development of plant and ani ...
in the northern regions of the country and the
coral reef A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of Colony (biology), colonies of coral polyp (zoology), polyps held together by calcium carbonate. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, wh ...
s in the
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ) ( es, El Caribe; french: la Caraïbe; ht, Karayib; nl, De Caraïben) is a region of the Americas that consists of the Caribbean Sea, its islands (some surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and some bordering both the Caribbean ...
coast. There are some 105 protected areas in Venezuela, which cover around 26% of the country's continental, marine and insular surface.


Hydrography

The country is made up of three river basins: the
Caribbean Sea The Caribbean Sea ( es, Mar Caribe; french: Mer des Caraïbes; ht, Lanmè Karayib; jam, Kiaribiyan Sii; nl, Caraïbische Zee; pap, Laman Karibe) is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico ...
, the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Valencia, which forms an endorheic basin. On the Atlantic side it drains most of Venezuela's river waters. The largest basin in this area is the extensive Orinoco basin whose surface area, close to one million km2, is greater than that of the whole of Venezuela, although it has a presence of 65% in the country. The size of this basin - similar to that of the Danube - makes it the third largest in South America, and it gives rise to a flow of some 33,000 m³/s, making the Orinoco the third largest in the world, and also one of the most valuable from the point of view of renewable natural resources. The Rio or Brazo Casiquiare is unique in the world, as it is a natural derivation of the
Orinoco The Orinoco () is one of the longest rivers in South America at . Its drainage basin, sometimes known as the Orinoquia, covers , with 76.3 percent of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia. It is the List of rivers by discharge, fou ...
that, after some 500 km in length, connects it to the Negro River, which in turn is a tributary of the
Amazon Amazon most often refers to: * Amazons, a tribe of female warriors in Greek mythology * Amazon rainforest, a rainforest covering most of the Amazon basin * Amazon River, in South America * Amazon (company), an American multinational technology co ...
. The Orinoco receives directly or indirectly rivers such as the Ventuari, the Caura, the Caroní, the Meta, the Arauca, the Apure and many others. Other Venezuelan rivers that empty into the Atlantic are the waters of the San Juan and Cuyuní basins. Finally, there is the Amazon River, which receives the Guainía, the Negro and others. Other basins are the
Gulf of Paria The Gulf of Paria ( ; es, Golfo de Paria) is a shallow (180 m at its deepest) semi-enclosed inland sea located between the island of Trinidad (Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) and the east coast of Venezuela. It separates the two countries ...
and the Esequibo River. The second most important watershed is the Caribbean Sea. The rivers of this region are usually short and of scarce and irregular flow, with some exceptions such as the Catatumbo, which originates in
Colombia Colombia (, ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a country in South America with insular regions in North America—near Nicaragua's Caribbean coast—as well as in the Pacific Ocean. The Colombian mainland is bordered by the Cari ...
and drains into the Maracaibo Lake basin. Among the rivers that reach the Maracaibo lake basin are the Chama, the Escalante, the Catatumbo, and the contributions of the smaller basins of the Tocuyo, Yaracuy, Neverí and Manzanares rivers. A minimum drains to the Lake Valencia basin. Of the total extension of the rivers, a total of 5400 km are navigable. Other rivers worth mentioning are the Apure, Arauca, Caura, Meta, Barima, Portuguesa, Ventuari and Zulia, among others. The country's main lakes are Lake Maracaibo -the largest in South America- open to the sea through the natural channel, but with fresh water, and Lake Valencia with its endorheic system. Other noteworthy bodies of water are the Guri reservoir, the Altagracia lagoon, the Camatagua reservoir and the Mucubají lagoon in the Andes. Navigation in Lake Maracaibo through the natural channel is useful for the mobilization of oil resources.


Relief

The Venezuelan natural
landscape A landscape is the visible features of an area of Terrestrial ecoregion, land, its landforms, and how they integrate with Nature, natural or man-made features, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal.''New Oxford American Dictionar ...
is the product of the interaction of
tectonic plates Plate tectonics (from the la, label=Late Latin, tectonicus, from the grc, τεκτονικός, lit=pertaining to building) is the generally accepted scientific theory that considers the Earth's lithosphere to comprise a number of large te ...
that since the
Paleozoic The Paleozoic (or Palaeozoic) Era is the earliest of three era (geology), geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. The name ''Paleozoic'' ( ;) was coined by the British geologist Adam Sedgwick in 1838 by combining the Ancient Greek, Greek words ' ...
have contributed to its current appearance. On the formed structures, seven physical-natural units have been modeled, differentiated in their relief and in their
natural resources Natural resources are resources that are drawn from nature and used with few modifications. This includes the sources of valued characteristics such as commercial and industrial use, aesthetic value, scientific interest and cultural value. O ...
. The relief of Venezuela has the following characteristics:
coastline The coast, also known as the coastline or seashore, is defined as the area where land meets the ocean, or as a line that forms the boundary between the land and the coastline. The Earth has around of coastline. Coasts are important zones in n ...
with several peninsulas and
islands An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, skerries, cays or keys. An isla ...
, adenas of the Andes mountain range (north and northwest), Lake Maracaibo (between the chains, on the coast);
Orinoco river The Orinoco () is one of the longest rivers in South America at . Its drainage basin, sometimes known as the Orinoquia, covers , with 76.3 percent of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia. It is the List of rivers by discharge, fou ...
delta, region of
peneplain file:Peneplain.jpg, 390px, Sketch of a hypothetical peneplain formation after an orogeny. In geomorphology and geology, a peneplain is a Terrain#Low-relief, low-relief plain formed by protracted erosion. This is the definition in the broadest of t ...
s and plateaus (tepui, east of the Orinoco) that together form the Guyanas massif (plateaus, southeast of the country). The oldest rock formations in South America are found in the complex basement of the Guyanas highlands and in the crystalline line of the Maritime and Cordillera massifs in Venezuela. The Venezuelan part of the Guyanas
Altiplano The Altiplano (Spanish for "high plain"), Collao (Quechuan languages, Quechua and Aymara language, Aymara: Qullaw, meaning "place of the Qulla people, Qulla") or Andean Plateau, in west-central South America, is the most extensive high plateau on ...
consists of a large granite block of
gneiss Gneiss ( ) is a common and widely distributed type of metamorphic rock. It is formed by high-temperature and high-pressure metamorphic processes acting on formations composed of igneous rock, igneous or sedimentary rocks. Gneiss forms at higher t ...
and other crystalline
Archean The Archean Eon ( , also spelled Archaean or Archæan) is the second of four geologic eons of Earth's history, representing the time from . The Archean was preceded by the Hadean Eon and followed by the Proterozoic. The Earth Ear ...
rocks, with underlying layers of sandstone and shale clay. The core of
granite Granite () is a coarse-grained (phanerite, phaneritic) intrusive rock, intrusive igneous rock composed mostly of quartz, alkali feldspar, and plagioclase. It forms from magma with a high content of silica and alkali metal oxides that slowly cool ...
and
cordillera A cordillera is an extensive chain and/or network system of mountain ranges, such as those in the west coast of the Americas. The term is loanword, borrowed from Spanish language, Spanish, where the word comes from , a diminutive of ('rope'). T ...
is, to a large extent, flanked by sedimentary layers from the
Cretaceous The Cretaceous ( ) is a geological period that lasted from about 145 to 66 mya (unit), million years ago (Mya). It is the third and final period of the Mesozoic Era (geology), Era, as well as the longest. At around 79 million years, it is the long ...
, folded in an
anticline In structural geology, an anticline is a type of Fold (geology), fold that is an arch-like shape and has its oldest Bed (geology), beds at its core, whereas a syncline is the inverse of an anticline. A typical anticline is convex curve, co ...
structure. Between these orographic systems there are plains covered with tertiary and quaternary layers of gravel, sands and clayey
marl Marl is an earthy material rich in carbonate minerals, Clay minerals, clays, and silt. When Lithification, hardened into rock, this becomes marlstone. It is formed in marine or freshwater environments, often through the activities of algae. M ...
s. The depression contains lagoons and lakes, among which is that of Maracaibo, and presents, on the surface,
alluvial Alluvium (from Latin ''alluvius'', from ''alluere'' 'to wash against') is loose clay, silt, sand, or gravel that has been deposited by running water in a stream bed, on a floodplain, in an alluvial fan or beach, or in similar settings. Alluv ...
deposits from the
Quaternary The Quaternary ( ) is the current and most recent of the three period (geology), periods of the Cenozoic era (geology), Era in the geologic time scale of the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS). It follows the Neogene Period and spa ...
, on layers of the Cretaceous and Tertiary particularly important; because of them oil infiltrations emerge. *The coasts They present a landscape with intermountain depressions (separated by mountains), mountainous areas, a massif and an island group. * Lara-Falcón- Yaracuy System The reliefs of mountain ranges contrast with those of the
peninsula A peninsula (; ) is a landform that extends from a mainland and is surrounded by water on most, but not all of its borders. A peninsula is also sometimes defined as a piece of land bordered by water on three of its sides. Peninsulas exist on all ...
, coastal plains and intermountain depressions. *Lake Maracaibo Basin The basin of the lake and the plains of the Gulf of Venezuela make up two plains: the northern one, drier, and the southern one, humid and with swamps. *The Andes The corpulent volumes of mountain ranges and
mountain ranges A mountain range or hill range is a series of mountains or hills arranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignment that have arise ...
predominate, as well as intramontane valleys (located within the mountains). *The plains They form extensive sedimentary basins, with a predominantly flat relief, except the eastern
Llanos The Llanos (Spanish language, Spanish ''Los Llanos'', "The Plains"; ) 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 tropical and subtropic ...
, which show plateaus, and the Unare depression, formed by the erosion of the mesa. *
Guiana Shield The Guiana Shield (french: Plateau des Guyanes, Bouclier guyanais; nl, Hoogland van Guyana, Guianaschild; pt, Planalto das Guianas, Escudo das Guianas; es, Escudo guayanés) is one of the three cratons of the South American Plate. It is a 1 ...
It exhibits a varied relief, shaped by different rocks, orogenic events and erosion over millions of years. That is why here there are peneplains, mountain ranges, foothills and the characteristic
tepuis A tepui , or tepuy (), is a Table (landform), table-top mountain or mesa found in South America, especially in Venezuela and western Guyana. The word tepui means "house of the gods" in the native tongue of the Pemon, the Indigenous peoples of th ...
. *Orinoco Delta With few contrasts, it builds a complex system of lands and waters, with varied sedimentary contributions and innumerable channels and islands.


Valleys

The valleys are undoubtedly the most important type of
landscape A landscape is the visible features of an area of Terrestrial ecoregion, land, its landforms, and how they integrate with Nature, natural or man-made features, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal.''New Oxford American Dictionar ...
in the Venezuelan territory, not because of their spatial extension, but because they are the environment where most of the country's population and economic activities are concentrated. On the other hand, there are valleys throughout almost all the national space, except in the great sedimentary basins of the Llanos and the depression of the
Maracaibo Lake Lake Maracaibo (Spanish language, Spanish: Lago de Maracaibo; Anu: Coquivacoa) is a lagoon in northwestern Venezuela, the largest lake in South America and one of the oldest on Earth, formed 36 million years ago in the Andes Mountains. The fault i ...
, except also in the Amazonian peneplains. By their modeling, the valleys of the Venezuelan territory belong mainly to two types: valleys of
fluvial In geography and geology, fluvial processes are associated with rivers and streams and the Deposition (geology), deposits and landforms created by them. When the stream or rivers are associated with glaciers, ice sheets, or ice caps, the term glac ...
type and valleys of
glacial A glacial period (alternatively glacial or glaciation) is an interval of time (thousands of years) within an ice age that is marked by colder temperatures and glacier advances. Interglacials, on the other hand, are periods of warmer climate betwe ...
type. Much more frequent, the former largely dominate the latter, which are restricted to the highest parts of the Andes. Moreover, most glacial valleys are relics of a past geologic epoch, which culminated some 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. They are frequently retouched today by fluvial events. Consequently, any attempt to categorize the Venezuelan valleys, based exclusively on the characteristics of their modeling, would be quite elementary. The deep and narrow Andean valleys are very different from the wide depressions of Aragua and Carabobo, in the Cordillera de la Costa, or from the valleys nestled in the Mesas de
Monagas ) , anthem = ''Monagas State Anthem, Himno del Estado Monagas'' , image_map = Monagas in Venezuela.svg , map_alt = , map_caption = Location within Venezuela , pushpin_map ...
. These examples indicate that the configuration of the local relief is decisive in identifying regional types of valleys. Likewise, due to their warm climate, the Guayana valleys are distinguished from the temperate or cold Andean valleys by their humid environment. Both are, in turn, different from the semi-arid depressions of the states of Lara and Falcón. The Andean valleys, essentially agricultural, precociously populated but nowadays in loss of speed, do not confront the same problems of space occupation as the strongly urbanized and industrialized valleys of the central section of the Cordillera de la Costa. On the other hand, the unpopulated and practically untouched Guiana valleys are another category this area is called the Lost World (''Mundo Perdido''). The Andean valleys are undoubtedly the most impressive of the Venezuelan territory because of the energy of the encasing reliefs, whose summits often dominate the valley bottoms by 3,000 to 3,500
meters The metre (British English, British spelling) or meter (American English, American spelling; American and British English spelling differences#-re, -er, see spelling differences) (from the French unit , from the Greek language, Greek noun , "m ...
of relative
altitude Altitude or height (also sometimes known as depth) is a distance measurement, usually in the vertical or "up" direction, between a reference datum and a point or object. The exact definition and reference datum varies according to the context ...
. They are also the most picturesque in terms of their style of habitat, forms of land use,
handicraft A handicraft, sometimes more precisely expressed as artisanal handicraft or handmade, is any of a wide variety of types of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by one’s hand or by using only simple, non-automated re ...
production and all the traditions linked to these activities. these activities


Deserts

Venezuela has a great diversity of landscapes and climates, including arid and dry areas. The main
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to denudation. About one ...
in the country is in the state of Falcon near the city of Coro. It is now a protected park, the Médanos de Coro National Park. The park is the largest of its kind in Venezuela, covering 91 square kilometres. The landscape is dotted with cacti and other xerophytic plants that can survive in humidity-free conditions near the desert. Desert wildlife includes mostly lizards,
iguanas ''Iguana'' (, ) is a genus Genus ( plural genera ) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV classification, viruses. In the hierarchy of biol ...
and other reptiles. Although less frequent, the desert is home to some foxes, giant anteaters and rabbits. There are also some native bird populations, such as the sparrowhawk, tropical mockingbird, scaly dove and crested quail. Other desert areas in the country include part of the Guajira Desert in the Guajira Municipality in the north of Zulia State and facing the Gulf of Venezuela, the Médanos de Capanaparo in the Santos Luzardo National Park in
Apure State Apure State ( es, Estado Apure, ) is one of the 23 States of Venezuela, states of Venezuela. Its territory formed part of the provinces of Mérida (state), Mérida, Maracaibo, and Barinas (state), Barinas, in accordance with successive territ ...
, the Medanos de la Isla de Zapara in Zulia State, the so-called Hundición de Yay in the Andrés Eloy Blanco Municipality of Lara State, and the Urumaco Formation also in Falcón State.


Government and politics

Following the fall of Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958, Venezuelan politics were dominated by the
Third Way The Third Way is a centrist political position that attempts to reconcile right-wing and left-wing politics by advocating a varying synthesis of centre-right economic policies with centre-left social policies. The Third Way was born from a ...
Christian democratic Christian democracy (sometimes named Centrist democracy) is a political ideology that emerged in 19th-century Europe under the influence of Catholic social teaching and neo-Calvinism. It was conceived as a combination of modern democrati ...
COPEI and the center-left
social democratic Social democracy is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations among individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. ...
Democratic Action (AD) parties; this
two-party system A two-party system is a Politics, political party system in which two major party, major political parties consistently dominate the political landscape. At any point in time, one of the two parties typically holds a majority in the legislature ...
was formalized by the '' puntofijismo'' arrangement. Economic crises in the 1980s and 1990s led to a political crisis which resulted in hundreds dead in the Caracazo riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez for corruption in 1993. A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 election of Hugo Chávez, who had led the first of the 1992 coup attempts, and the launch of a "Bolivarian Revolution", beginning with a 1999 Constituent Assembly to write a new Constitution of Venezuela. The opposition's attempts to unseat Chávez included the 2002 Venezuelan ''coup d'état'' attempt, the Venezuelan general strike of 2002–2003, and the Venezuelan recall referendum, 2004, all of which failed. Chávez was re-elected in December 2006 but suffered a significant defeat in 2007 with the narrow rejection of the 2007 Venezuelan constitutional referendum, which had offered two packages of constitutional reforms aimed at deepening the Bolivarian Revolution. Two major blocs of
political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific political ideology ...
are in Venezuela: the incumbent leftist bloc United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), its major allies Fatherland for All (PPT) and the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), and the opposition bloc grouped into the electoral coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática. This includes
A New Era A New Era ( es, Un Nuevo Tiempo, UNT) is a centre-left politics, centre-left political party in Venezuela. It received 11% of the vote in the 2008 Venezuelan regional elections, 2008 regional elections. The party arose in Zulia State, Venezuel ...
(UNT) together with allied parties Project Venezuela, Justice First, Movement for Socialism (MAS) and others. Hugo Chávez, the central figure of the Venezuelan political landscape since his election to the presidency in 1998 as a political outsider, died in office in early 2013, and was succeeded by Nicolás Maduro (initially as interim president, before narrowly winning the 2013 Venezuelan presidential election). The Venezuelan president is elected by a vote, with direct and
universal suffrage Universal suffrage (also called universal franchise, general suffrage, and common suffrage of the common man) gives the right to vote to all adult citizens, regardless of wealth, income, gender, social status, race, ethnicity, or political sta ...
, and is both
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 "
he head of state He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun), an English pronoun * He (kana), the romanization of the Japanese kana へ * He (letter) He is the fifth Letter (alphabet), letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician alphabet, Phoenic ...
being an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international p ...
and
head of government The head of government is the highest or the second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a self-governing colony, autonomous region, or other government who often presid ...
. 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 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 An enabling act is a piece of legislation Legislation is the process or result of enrolling, enacting, or promulgating laws by a legislature A legislature is an deliberative assembly, assembly with the authority to make laws for a Po ...
granting the ability to
rule by decree Rule by decree is a style of governance allowing quick, unchallenged promulgation of law by a single person or group. It allows the ruler to make or change laws without legislative approval. While intended to allow rapid responses to a crisis, rule ...
in specified policy areas; this requires a two-thirds majority in the Assembly. Since 1959, six Venezuelan presidents have been granted such powers. The
unicameral Unicameralism (from ''uni''- "one" + Latin ''camera'' "chamber") is a type of legislature, which consists of one house or assembly, that legislates and votes as one. Unicameral legislatures exist when there is no widely perceived need for multic ...
Venezuelan parliament is the ''Asamblea Nacional'' ("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 2011–2016 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. The legal system of Venezuela belongs to the
Continental Law Civil law is a List of national legal systems, legal system originating in mainland Europe and adopted in much of the world. The civil law system is intellectualized within the framework of Roman law, and with core principles Codification (law), c ...
tradition. The highest
judicial The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of courts that adjudication, adjudicates legal disputes/disagreements and interprets, defends, and app ...
body is the Supreme Tribunal of Justice or ''Tribunal Supremo de Justicia'', whose magistrates are elected by parliament for a single two-year term. The National Electoral Council (''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".


Suspension of constitutional rights

The 2015 parliamentary elections were held on 6 December 2015 to elect the 164
deputies A legislator (also known as a deputy or lawmaker) is a person who writes and passes law Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ...
and three indigenous representatives of the National Assembly. In 2014, a series of protest and demonstrations began in Venezuela, attributed to inflation, violence and shortages in Venezuela. The government has accused the protest of being motivated by
fascists Fascism is a far-right, Authoritarianism, authoritarian, ultranationalism, ultra-nationalist political Political ideology, ideology and Political movement, movement,: "extreme militaristic nationalism, contempt for electoral democracy and pol ...
, opposition leaders, capitalism and foreign influence, despite being largely peaceful. President Maduro acknowledged PSUV defeat, but attributed the opposition's victory to an intensification of an economic war. Despite this, Maduro said "I will stop by hook or by crook the opposition coming to power, whatever the costs, in any way". In the following months, Maduro fulfilled his promise of preventing the democratically and constitutionally elected National Assembly from legislating. The first steps taken by PSUV and government were the substitution of the entire
Supreme court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of ju ...
a day after the Parliamentary Elections contrary to the Constitution of Venezuela, acclaimed as a fraud by the majority of the Venezuelan and international press. The ''Financial Times'' described the function of the Supreme Court in Venezuela as "rubber stamping executive whims and vetoing legislation". The PSUV government used this violation to suspend several elected opponents, ignoring again the Constitution of Venezuela. Maduro said that "the Amnesty law (approved by the Parliament) will not be executed" and asked the Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional before the law was known. On 16 January 2016, Maduro approved an unconstitutional economic emergency decree, relegating to his own figure the legislative and executive powers, while also holding judiciary power through the fraudulent designation of judges the day after the election on 6 December 2015. From these events, Maduro effectively controls all three branches of government. On 14 May 2016, constitutional guarantees were in fact suspended when Maduro decreed the extension of the economic emergency decree for another 60 days and declared a State of Emergency, which is a clear violation of the
Constitution of Venezuela The Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, Constitución de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela (CRBV)) is the current and twenty-sixth constitution of Venezuela. It was drafted in mid-1999 by a constituent assembly that h ...
in the Article 338th: "The approval of the extension of States of emergency corresponds to the National Assembly." Thus, constitutional rights in Venezuela are considered suspended in fact by many publications and public figures. On 14 May 2016, the
Organization of American States The Organization of American States (OAS; es, Organización de los Estados Americanos, pt, Organização dos Estados Americanos, french: Organisation des États américains; ''OEA'') is an international organization that was founded on 30 April ...
was considering the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter sanctions for non-compliance to its own constitution. In March 2017, the Venezuelan Supreme Court took over law making powers from the National Assembly but reversed its decision the following day.


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. In 2015, Venezuela was declared a national security threat by U.S. president
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Obama was the first Af ...
. Correspondingly, ties to various Latin American and Middle Eastern countries not allied to the U.S. have strengthened. For example, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki declared in 2015 that Venezuela was his country's "most important ally". Venezuela seeks alternative hemispheric integration via such proposals as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas trade proposal and the newly launched Latin American television network teleSUR. Venezuela is one of five nations in the world—along with Russia, Nicaragua, Nauru, and Syria—to have recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Venezuela was a proponent of OAS's decision to adopt its Anti-Corruption Convention and is actively working in the
Mercosur The Southern Common Market, commonly known by Spanish abbreviation Mercosur, and Portuguese Mercosul, is a South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relat ...
trade bloc to push increased trade and energy integration. Globally, it seeks a " multi-polar" world based on strengthened ties among undeveloped countries. On 26 April 2017, Venezuela announced its intention to withdraw from the OAS. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez said that President
Nicolás Maduro Nicolás Maduro Moros (; born 23 November 1962) is a Venezuelan politician and president of Venezuela since 2013 Venezuelan presidential election, 2013, with his Venezuelan presidential crisis, presidency under dispute since 2019. Beginning ...
plans to publicly renounce Venezuela's membership on 27 April 2017. It will take two years for the country to formally leave. During this period, the country does not plan on participating in the OAS. Venezuela is involved in a long-standing disagreement about the control of the
Guayana Esequiba (), sometimes also called or Essequibo, is a disputed territory of west of the Essequibo River that is administered and controlled by Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern ...
area. Venezuela may suffer a deterioration of its power in international affairs if the global transition to renewable energy is completed. It is ranked 151 out of 156 countries in the index of Geopolitical Gains and Losses after energy transition (GeGaLo).


Military

The Bolivarian National Armed Forces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, FANB) 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 Bolivarian National Armed Forces are: the Venezuelan Army, the
Venezuelan Navy The Bolivarian Navy of Venezuela ( es, Armada Bolivariana de Venezuela), commonly known as the Venezuelan Navy, is the navy, naval branch of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela. The Venezuelan Navy serves the purpose of defending th ...
, the Venezuelan Air Force, the
Venezuelan National Guard The Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela ( es, Guardia Nacional Bolivariana de Venezuela - GNB), is one of the four components of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela, National Armed Forces of Venezuela. The national guard can serve ...
, and the Venezuelan National Militia. , 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 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 male citizens of Venezuela have a constitutional duty to register for the military service at the age of 18, which is the
age of majority The age of majority is the threshold of legal adulthood as recognized or declared in law. It is the moment when minor (law), minors cease to be considered such and assume legal control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thus terminatin ...
in Venezuela.


Law and crime

In Venezuela, a person is murdered every 21 minutes. Violent crimes have been so prevalent in Venezuela that the government no longer produces the crime data. In 2013, the homicide rate was approximately 79 per 100,000, one of the world's highest, having quadrupled in the past 15 years with over 200,000 people murdered. By 2015, it had risen to 90 per 100,000. The country's body count of the previous decade mimics that of the
Iraq War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Iraq War , partof = the Iraq conflict (2003–present), Iraq conflict and the War on terror , image = Iraq War montage.png , image_size = 300px , caption ...
and in some instances had more civilian deaths even though the country is at
peacetime Peace is a concept of societal friendship and harmony in the absence of hostility and violence. In a social sense, peace is commonly used to mean a lack of conflict (such as war) and freedom from fear of violence between individuals or groups. ...
. The capital Caracas has one of the greatest homicide rates of any large city in the world, with 122 homicides per 100,000 residents. In 2008, polls indicated that crime was the number one concern of voters. Attempts at fighting crime such as Operation Liberation of the People were implemented to crack down on gang-controlled areas but, of reported criminal acts, less than 2% are prosecuted. In 2017, the ''Financial Times'' noted that some of the arms procured by the government over the previous two decades had been diverted to paramilitary civilian groups and criminal syndicates. Venezuela is especially dangerous for foreign travelers and investors who are visiting. The
United States Department of State The United States Department of State (DOS), or State Department, is an executive department of the U.S. federal government responsible for the country's foreign policy and relations. Equivalent to the ministry of foreign affairs of other ...
and the
Government of Canada The government of Canada (french: gouvernement du Canada) is the body responsible for the federation, federal administration of Canada. A constitutional monarchy, the Crown is the Corporation sole#The Crown, corporation sole, assuming distinct ro ...
have warned foreign visitors that they may be subjected to robbery, kidnapping for a ransom or sale to terrorist organizations and murder, and that their own diplomatic travelers are required to travel in armored vehicles. The United Kingdom's
Foreign and Commonwealth Office The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) is a Departments of the Government of the United Kingdom, department of the Government of the United Kingdom. Equivalent to other countries' Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ministries of fore ...
has advised against all travel to Venezuela. Visitors have been murdered during robberies and criminals do not discriminate among their victims. Former Miss Venezuela 2004 winner Mónica Spear and her ex-husband were murdered and their 5-year-old daughter was shot while vacationing in Venezuela, and an elderly German tourist was murdered only a few weeks later. There are approximately 33 prisons holding about 50,000 inmates. They include; El Rodeo outside of Caracas, Yare Prison in the northern state of Miranda, and several others. Venezuela's prison system is heavily overcrowded; its facilities have capacity for only 14,000 prisoners.


Human rights

Human rights organizations such as
Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in New York City, that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. The group pressures governments, policy makers, companies, and individual human ri ...
and
Amnesty International Amnesty International (also referred to as Amnesty or AI) is an international non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. The organization says it has more than ten million members and s ...
have increasingly criticized Venezuela's human rights record, with the former organization noting in 2017 that the Chavez and subsequently the Maduro government have increasingly concentrated power in the executive branch, eroded constitutional human rights protections and allowed the government to persecute and repress its critics and opposition. Other persistent concerns as noted by the report included poor prison conditions, the continuous harassment of independent media and human rights defenders by the government. In 2006, the
Economist Intelligence Unit The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is the research and analysis division of the Economist Group, providing forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis, such as monthly country reports, five-year country economic forecasts, ...
rated Venezuela a "hybrid regime" and the third least democratic regime in Latin America on the
Democracy Index The ''Democracy Index'' is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research division of the Economist Group, a UK-based private company which publishes the weekly newspaper ''The Economist''. Akin to a Human Development I ...
. The Democracy index downgraded Venezuela to an authoritarian regime in 2017, citing continued increasingly dictatorial behaviors by the Maduro government.


Corruption

Corruption in Venezuela is high by world standards and was so for much of the 20th century. The discovery of oil worsened political corruption, and by the late 1970s, Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso'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 The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is an index which ranks countries "by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys." The CPI generally defines corruption as an "abuse of entru ...
since the survey started in 1995. The 2010 ranking placed Venezuela at number 164, out of 178 ranked countries in government transparency. By 2016, the rank had increased to 166 out of 178. Similarly, the World Justice Project ranked Venezuela 99th out of 99 countries surveyed in its 2014 Rule of Law Index. This corruption is shown with Venezuela's significant involvement in
drug trafficking A drug is any chemical substance that causes a change in an organism's physiology or psychology when consumed. Drugs are typically distinguished from food and substances that provide nutritional support. Consumption of drugs can be via insuffla ...
, with Colombian cocaine and other drugs transiting Venezuela towards the United States and Europe. In the period 2003 - 2008 Venezuelan authorities seized the fifth-largest total quantity of cocaine in the world, behind Colombia, the United States, Spain and
Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República de Panamá), is a List of transcontinental countries#North America and South America, transcontinental country spanning the Central America, southern ...
. In 2006, the government's agency for combating illegal drug trade in Venezuela, '' ONA'', was incorporated into the office of the vice-president of the country. However, many major government and military officials have been known for their involvement with drug trafficking; especially with the October 2013 incident of men from the Venezuelan National Guard placing 1.3 tons of
cocaine Cocaine (from , from , ultimately from Quechuan languages, Quechua: ''kúka'') is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant mainly recreational drug use, used recreationally for its euphoria, euphoric effects. It is primarily obtained from t ...
on a Paris flight knowing they would not face charges.


Administrative divisions

Venezuela is divided into 23 states (''estados''), a capital district (''distrito capital'') corresponding to the city of Caracas, and the Federal Dependencies (''Dependencias Federales'', a special territory). Venezuela is further subdivided into 335 municipalities (''municipios''); these are subdivided into over one thousand parishes (''parroquias''). The states are grouped into nine administrative regions (''regiones administrativas''), which were established in 1969 by presidential decree. 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, a mountainous tract in the northwest, holds several sierras and valleys. East of it are lowlands abutting
Lake Maracaibo Lake Maracaibo (Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other place ...
and the Gulf of Venezuela. The Central Range runs parallel to the coast and includes the hills surrounding
Caracas Caracas (, ), officially Santiago de León de Caracas, abbreviated as CCS, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela, and the center of the Metropolitan Region of Caracas (or Greater Caracas). Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the ...
; the Eastern Range, separated from the Central Range by the Gulf of Cariaco, covers all of
Sucre Sucre () is the Capital city, capital of Bolivia, the capital of the Chuquisaca Department and the List of cities in Bolivia, 6th most populated city in Bolivia. Located in the south-central part of the country, Sucre lies at an elevation of . T ...
and northern
Monagas ) , anthem = ''Monagas State Anthem, Himno del Estado Monagas'' , image_map = Monagas in Venezuela.svg , map_alt = , map_caption = Location within Venezuela , pushpin_map ...
. The Insular Region includes all of Venezuela's island possessions:
Nueva Esparta The Nueva Esparta State (in Spanish: ''Estado Nueva Esparta'', ), is one of the 23 states of Venezuela, states of Venezuela. It comprises Margarita Island, Coche, Venezuela, Coche, and the largely uninhabited Cubagua. The state has the smalles ...
and the various
Federal Dependencies The Federal Dependencies of Venezuela ( es, link=no, Dependencias Federales de Venezuela) encompass most of Venezuela's offshore islands in the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Venezuela, excluding those islands that form the State of Nueva Espar ...
. The Orinoco Delta, which forms a triangle covering
Delta Amacuro Delta Amacuro State ( es, Estado Delta Amacuro, ) 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 (Venezuela), Bolívar State is found t ...
, projects northeast into the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally, the country maintains a historical claim on the territory it calls Guyana Esequiba, which is equivalent to about 160,000 square kilometers and corresponds to all the territory administered by Guyana west of the Esequibo River. In 1966 the British and Venezuelan governments signed the Geneva Agreement to resolve the conflict peacefully. In addition to this agreement, the Port of Spain Protocol of 1970 set a deadline to try to resolve the issue, without success to date.


Largest cities


Economy

Venezuela has a market-based
mixed economy A mixed economy is variously defined as an economic system blending elements of a market economy with elements of a planned economy, Market (economics), markets with state interventionism, or private enterprise with public enterprise. Common to ...
dominated by the petroleum sector, which accounts for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of exports, and more than half of government revenues. Per capita GDP for 2016 was estimated to be US$15,100, ranking 109th in the world. Venezuela has the least expensive petrol in the world because the consumer price of petrol is heavily subsidized. The private sector controls two-thirds of Venezuela's economy. A part of the Venezuelan economy depends on
remittances A remittance is a non-commercial transfer of money by a foreign worker, a member of a diaspora community, or a citizen with familial ties abroad, for household income in their home country or homeland. Money sent home by migrants competes ...
. The Central Bank of Venezuela is responsible for developing
monetary policy Monetary policy is the policy adopted by the monetary authority of a nation to control either the interest rate payable for federal funds, very short-term borrowing (borrowing by banks from each other to meet their short-term needs) or the money s ...
for the Venezuelan bolívar which is used as currency. The president of the Central Bank of Venezuela serves as the country's representative in the
International Monetary Fund The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a major financial agency of the United Nations, and an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C., consisting of 190 countries. Its stated mission is "working to foster globa ...
. The U.S.-based conservative think tank
The Heritage Foundation The Heritage Foundation (abbreviated to Heritage) is an American conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C. that is primarily geared toward public policy Public policy is an institutionalized proposal or a decided set of elements l ...
, cited in ''
The Wall Street Journal ''The Wall Street Journal'' is an American business-focused, international daily newspaper based in New York City, with international editions also available in Chinese and Japanese. The ''Journal'', along with its The Wall Street Journal Asia, ...
'', claims Venezuela has the weakest property rights in the world, scoring only 5.0 on a scale of 100; expropriation without compensation is not uncommon. As of 2011, more than 60% of Venezuela's international reserves was in gold, eight times more than the average for the region. Most of Venezuela's gold held abroad was located in London. On 25 November 2011, the first of US$11 billion of repatriated gold bullion arrived in Caracas; Chávez called the repatriation of gold a "sovereign" step that will help protect the country's foreign reserves from the turmoil in the U.S. and Europe. However government policies quickly spent down this returned gold and in 2013 the government was forced to add the dollar reserves of state owned companies to those of the national bank to reassure the international bond market. Manufacturing contributed 17% of GDP in 2006. Venezuela manufactures and exports heavy industry products such as steel, aluminium and cement, with production concentrated around
Ciudad Guayana Ciudad Guayana () (in English Guayana City) is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science En ...
, near the
Guri Dam The Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Plant, also Guri Dam ( es, Central Hidroeléctrica Simón Bolívar or ''Represa de Guri''), previously known as the Raúl Leoni Hydroelectric Plant, is a concrete gravity and embankment dam An embankment dam i ...
, one of the largest in the world and the provider of about three-quarters of Venezuela's electricity. Other notable manufacturing includes
electronics The field of electronics is a branch of physics and electrical engineering that deals with the emission, behaviour and effects of electrons using Electronic component, electronic devices. Electronics uses Passivity (engineering), active devices ...
and
automobiles A car or automobile is a motor vehicle with Wheel, wheels. Most definitions of ''cars'' say that they run primarily on roads, Car seat, seat one to eight people, have four wheels, and mainly transport private transport#Personal transport, pe ...
, as well as beverages, and
foodstuff Food is any substance consumed by an organism for Nutrient, nutritional support. Food is usually of plant, animal, or Fungus, fungal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, protein (nutrient), proteins, vitamins ...
s. Agriculture in Venezuela accounts for approximately 3% of GDP, 10% of the labor force, and at least a quarter of Venezuela's land area. The country is not self-sufficient in most areas of agriculture. In 2012, total food consumption was over 26 million metric tonnes, a 94.8% increase from 2003. 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 founding member of
OPEC The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC, ) is a cartel of countries. Founded on 14 September 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela), it has, since 1965, been headquart ...
. Previously an underdeveloped exporter of agricultural commodities such as coffee and cocoa, oil quickly came to dominate exports and government revenues. The 1980s oil glut led to an external debt crisis and a long-running economic crisis, which saw inflation peak at 100% in 1996 and poverty rates rise to 66% in 1995 as (by 1998) per capita 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. The recovery of oil prices after 2001 boosted the Venezuelan economy and facilitated social spending. With social programs such as the Bolivarian Missions, Venezuela initially made progress in social development in the 2000s, particularly in areas such as health, education, and poverty. Many of the social policies pursued by Chávez and his administration were jump-started by the
Millennium Development Goals The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were eight international development goals for the year 2015 that had been established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Mill ...
, eight goals that Venezuela and 188 other nations agreed to in September 2000. The sustainability of the Bolivarian Missions has been questioned due to the Bolivarian state's overspending on public works and because the Chávez government did not save funds for future economic hardships like other OPEC nations; with economic issues and poverty rising as a result of their policies in the 2010s. In 2003 the government of Hugo Chávez implemented currency controls after capital flight led to a devaluation of the currency. This led to the development of a parallel market of dollars in the subsequent years. The fallout of the
2008 global financial crisis 8 (eight) is the natural number following 7 and preceding 9. In mathematics 8 is: * a composite number, its proper divisors being , , and . It is twice 4 or four times 2. * a power of two, being 2 (two cubed), and is the first number of the ...
saw a renewed economic downturn. Despite controversial data shared by the Venezuelan government showing that the country had halved malnutrition following one of the UN's Millennium Development Goals, shortages of staple goods began to occur in Venezuela and malnutrition began to increase. In early 2013, Venezuela devalued its currency due to growing shortages in the country. The shortages included, and still include, necessities such as toilet paper, milk, and flour. Fears rose so high due to the toilet paper shortage that the government occupied a toilet paper factory, and continued further plans to nationalize other industrial aspects like food distribution. Venezuela's bond ratings have also decreased multiple times in 2013 due to decisions by the president Nicolás Maduro. One of his decisions was to force stores and their warehouses to sell all of their products, which led to even more shortages in the future. In 2016, consumer prices in Venezuela increased 800% and the economy declined by 18.6%, entering an
economic depression An economic depression is a period of carried long-term economical downturn that is result of lowered economic activity in one major or more national economies. Economic depression maybe related to one specific country were there is some economic ...
. Venezuela's outlook was deemed negative by most bond-rating services in 2017. For 2018 an inflation rate of 1,000,000 percent was projected, putting Venezuela in a similar situation to that in Germany in 1923 or Zimbabwe in the late 2000s.


Tourism

Tourism has been developed considerably in recent decades, particularly because of its favorable geographical position, the variety of landscapes, the richness of plant and
wildlife Wildlife refers to domestication, undomesticated animal species (biology), species, but has come to include all organisms that grow or live wilderness, wild in an area without being species, introduced by humans. Wildlife was also synonymous ...
, the artistic expressions and the privileged tropical climate of the country, which affords each region (especially the beaches) throughout the year.
Margarita Island Margarita Island (, ) is the largest island in the States of Venezuela, Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta, situated off the northeastern coast of the country, in the Caribbean Sea. The capital city of Nueva Esparta, La Asunción, is located on t ...
is one of the top tourist destinations for enjoyment and relaxation. It is an island with a modern infrastructure, bordered by beautiful beaches suitable for extreme sports, and features castles, fortresses and churches of great cultural value. Los Roques Archipelago is made up of a set of islands and keys that constitute one of the main tourist attractions in the country. With exotic crystalline beaches, Morrocoy is a national park, formed by small keys very close to the mainland, which have grown rapidly as one of the greatest tourist attractions in the Venezuelan Caribbean. Canaima National Park extends over 30,000 km2 to the border with Guyana and Brazil, due to its size it is considered the sixth largest national park in the world. About 65% of the park is occupied by rock plateaus called tepuis. These constitute a unique biological environment, also presenting great geological interest. Its steep cliffs and waterfalls (including Angel Falls, which is the highest waterfall in the world, at 1,002 m) form spectacular landscapes. The state of Mérida, for the beauty of its Andean landscapes and its pleasant climate, is one of the main tourist centers of Venezuela. It has an extensive network of hotels not only in its capital city, but also throughout the state. Starting from the same city of Mérida, is the longest and highest cable car in the world, which reaches the Pico Espejo of 4,765 m. It is also necessary to recommend to travel through magnificent roads, the southern moors, where you can find good hotels and restaurants.


Shortages

Shortages in Venezuela have been prevalent following the enactment of price controls and other policies during the economic policy of the Hugo Chávez government. Under the economic policy of the Nicolás Maduro government, greater shortages occurred due to the Venezuelan government's policy of withholding United States dollars from importers with price controls. Shortages occur in regulated products, such as milk, various types of meat, coffee, rice, oil, flour, butter, and other goods including basic necessities like toilet paper, personal hygiene products, and even medicine. As a result of the shortages, Venezuelans must search for food, wait in lines for hours and sometimes settle without having certain products. Maduro's government has blamed the shortages on "bourgeois criminals" hoarding goods. A drought, combined with a lack of planning and maintenance, has caused a hydroelectricity shortage. To deal with lack of power supply, in April 2016 the Maduro government announced rolling blackouts and reduced the government
workweek The weekdays and weekend are the complementary parts of the week devoted to labour and rest, respectively. The legal weekdays (British English British English (BrE, en-GB, or BE) is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, " English as used ...
to only Monday and Tuesday. A multi-university study found that, in 2016 alone, about 75% of Venezuelans lost weight due to hunger, with the average losing about 8.6 kg (19 lbs) due to the lack of food. By late-2016 and into 2017, Venezuelans had to search for food on a daily basis, occasionally resorting to eating wild fruit or garbage, wait in lines for hours and sometimes settle without having certain products. By early 2017, priests began telling Venezuelans to label their garbage so needy individuals could feed on their refuse. In March 2017, Venezuela, with the largest oil reserves in the world, began having shortages of gasoline in some regions with reports that fuel imports had begun.


Petroleum and other resources

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves, and the eighth largest natural gas reserves in the world. Compared to the preceding year another 40.4% 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, the Gulf of Venezuela (both in
Zulia Zulia State ( es, Estado Zulia, ; Wayuu: ''Mma’ipakat Suuria'') is one of the 23 states of Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on ...
), and in the Orinoco River basin ( eastern Venezuela), where the country's largest reserve is located. Besides the largest conventional oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere, Venezuela has non-conventional oil deposits ( extra-heavy crude oil,
bitumen Asphalt, also known as bitumen (, ), is a sticky, black, highly viscosity, viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a Pitch (resin), pitch. Before the ...
and
tar sands Oil sands, tar sands, crude bitumen, or bituminous sands, are a type of unconventional oil, unconventional petroleum deposit. Oil sands are either loose sands or partially consolidated sandstone containing a naturally occurring mixture of s ...
) approximately equal to the world's reserves of conventional oil. The electricity sector in Venezuela is one of the few to rely primarily on
hydropower Hydropower (from el, ὕδωρ, "water"), also known as water power, is the use of falling or fast-running water to Electricity generation, produce electricity or to power machines. This is achieved by energy transformation, converting the Pot ...
, and includes the Guri Dam, one of the largest in the world. In the first half of the 20th century, U.S. oil companies were heavily involved in Venezuela, initially interested only in 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, 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 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 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 in Maiquetía, near Caracas and La Chinita International Airport near Maracaibo) and sea (with major sea ports at La Guaira, Maracaibo and
Puerto Cabello Puerto Cabello () is a city on the north coast of Venezuela. It is located in Carabobo State, about 210 km west of Caracas. As of 2011, the city had a population of around 182,400. The city is home to the largest and busiest port in the coun ...
). In the south and east the Amazon rainforest region has limited cross-border transport; in the west, there is a mountainous border of over shared with Colombia. The
Orinoco The Orinoco () is one of the longest rivers in South America at . Its drainage basin, sometimes known as the Orinoquia, covers , with 76.3 percent of it in Venezuela and the remainder in Colombia. It is the List of rivers by discharge, fou ...
River is navigable by oceangoing vessels up to inland, and connects the major industrial city of Ciudad Guayana 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 tried to invest in expanding it, but Venezuela's rail project is on hold due to Venezuela not being able to pay the $7.5 billion and owing
China Railway China State Railway Group Company, Ltd., doing business as China Railway (CR), is the national passenger and freight railroad corporation of the China, People's Republic of China. China Railway operates passenger and freight transport throug ...
nearly $500 million. Several major cities have metro systems; the Caracas Metro has been operating since 1983. The
Maracaibo Metro The Maracaibo Metro, also known as ''Metro del Sol Amado'', is a six-station light rail system in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Service between La Vanega and El Varillal (skipping Urdaneta) opened to the public on 25 November 2006, with the last station ...
and Valencia Metro were opened more recently. Venezuela has a road network of nearly in length, placing the country around 45th in the world; around a third of roads are paved.


Demographics

Venezuela is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America; the vast majority of Venezuelans live in the cities of the north, especially in the capital Caracas, which is also the largest city. About 93% of the population lives in urban areas in northern Venezuela; 73% live less than 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 () (in English Guayana City) is a city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science En ...
, which is the sixth most populous
conurbation A conurbation is a region comprising a number of metropolises, cities, large towns, and other urban areas which through population growth and physical expansion, have merged to form one continuous urban or industrially developed area. In most cas ...
. Other major cities include Barquisimeto,
Valencia Valencia ( va, València) is the capital of the Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Valencian Community, Valencia and the Municipalities of Spain, third-most populated municipality in Spain, with 791,413 inhabitants. It is ...
,
Maracay ) , image_skyline = , image_caption =Top:Maracay Municipal Garden and Las Delicias area, Second: Sindoni Tower, Los Tamarindo residential area and overview to Maracay, Third:Maestranza Cesar Giron Bullring Stadium, Girardot Square and Maraca ...
, Maracaibo, Barcelona-Puerto La Cruz, Mérida and San Cristóbal. According to a 2014 study by sociologists of the Central University of Venezuela, over 1.5 million Venezuelans, or about 4% to 6% of the country's population, have left Venezuela since 1999 following the Bolivarian Revolution.


Ethnicity

The people of Venezuela come from a variety of ancestries. It is estimated that the majority of the population is of
pardo ''Pardos'' (feminine ''pardas'') is a term used in the former Portuguese colonization of the Americas, Portuguese and Spanish America, Spanish colonies in the Americas to refer to the multiracial, triracial descendants of White Latin Americans, ...
, or mixed, ethnic ancestry. Nevertheless, in the 2011 census, which Venezuelans were asked to identify themselves according to their customs and ancestry, the term ''pardo'' was excluded from the answers. The majority claimed to be moreno or
white White is the lightest color Color (American English) or colour (British English) is the visual perception, visual perceptual Physical property, property deriving from the spectrum of light interacting with the photoreceptor cells of th ...
—51.6% and 43.6%, respectively. Practically half of the population claimed to be '' moreno'', a term used throughout Ibero-America that in this case means "dark-skinned" or "brown-skinned", as opposed to having a lighter skin (this term connotes skin color or tone, rather than
facial feature The face is the front of an animal's head that features the eyes Eyes are organs of the visual system. They provide living organisms with vision, the ability to receive and process visual detail, as well as enabling several photo respon ...
s or descent). Ethnic minorities in Venezuela consist of groups that descend mainly from African or indigenous peoples; 2.8% identified themselves as "black" and 0.7% as ''afrodescendiente'' (Afro-descendant), 2.6% claimed to belong to indigenous peoples, and 1.2% answered "other races". Among indigenous people, 58% were Wayúu, 7% Warao, 5% Kariña, 4% Pemón, 3% Piaroa, 3% Jivi, 3% Añu, 3% Cumanágoto, 2% Yukpa, 2% Chaima and 1% Yanomami; the remaining 9% consisted of other indigenous nations. According to an autosomal DNA genetic study conducted in 2008 by the University of Brasília (UNB), the composition of Venezuela's population is 60.60% of European contribution, 23% of indigenous contribution, and 16.30% of African contribution. During the colonial period and until after the Second World War, many of the European immigrants to Venezuela came from the
Canary Islands The Canary Islands (; es, Canarias, ), also known informally as the Canaries, are a Spanish autonomous community and archipelago An archipelago ( ), sometimes called an island group or island chain, is a chain, cluster, or collecti ...
and
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = ''Plus ultra'' (Latin)(English: "Further Beyond") , national_anthem = (English: "Royal March") , i ...
with a relevant amount of Galicians and Asturians. These immigrants from
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = ''Plus ultra'' (Latin)(English: "Further Beyond") , national_anthem = (English: "Royal March") , i ...
had a significant cultural impact on the cuisine and customs of Venezuela. These influences on Venezuela have led to the nation being called the 8th island of the Canaries. With the start of oil exploitation in the early 20th century, companies from the United States began establishing operations in Venezuela, bringing with them U.S. citizens. Later, during and after the war, new waves of immigrants from other parts of Europe, the Middle East, and China began; many were encouraged by government-established immigration programs and lenient immigration policies. During the 20th century, Venezuela, along with the rest of Latin America, received millions of immigrants from Europe. This was especially true post-World War II, as a consequence of war-ridden Europe. During the 1970s, while experiencing an oil-export boom, Venezuela received millions of immigrants from Ecuador, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. Due to the belief that this immigration influx depressed wages, some Venezuelans opposed European immigration. The Venezuelan government, however, were actively recruiting immigrants from Eastern Europe to fill a need for engineers. Millions of Colombians, as well as Middle Eastern and Haitian populations would continue immigrating to Venezuela into the early 21st century. According to the ''World Refugee Survey 2008'', published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Venezuela hosted a population of
refugee A refugee, conventionally speaking, is a forced displacement, displaced person who has crossed national borders and who cannot or is unwilling to return home due to well-founded fear of persecution.
and asylum seekers from Colombia numbering 252,200 in 2007, and 10,600 new asylum seekers entered Venezuela in 2007. Between 500,000 and one million
illegal immigrant Illegal immigration is the migration of people into a country in violation of the immigration laws of that country or the continued residence without the legal right to live in that country. Illegal immigration tends to be financially upwar ...
s are estimated to be living in the country. The total indigenous population of the country is estimated at 500 thousand people (2.8% of the total), distributed among 40 indigenous peoples. There are three uncontacted tribes living in Venezuela. The Constitution recognizes the multi-ethnic, pluri-cultural, and multilingual character of the country and includes a chapter devoted to indigenous peoples' rights, which opened up spaces for their political inclusion at national and local level in 1999. Most indigenous peoples are concentrated in eight states along Venezuela's borders with Brazil, Guyana, and Colombia, and the majority groups are the
Wayuu The Wayuu (also Wayu, Wayúu, Guajiro, Wahiro) are an Amerindian ethnic group of the Guajira Peninsula in northernmost part of Colombia and northwest Venezuela. The Wayuu language is part of the Maipuran (Arawak) language family. Geography Th ...
in the west, the Warao in the east, the Yanomami installed in the south, and the Pemon which are mostly in the southeast of Venezuela.


Languages

Although most residents are monolingual Spanish speakers, many languages are spoken in Venezuela. In addition to Spanish, the Constitution recognizes more than thirty indigenous languages, including
Wayuu The Wayuu (also Wayu, Wayúu, Guajiro, Wahiro) are an Amerindian ethnic group of the Guajira Peninsula in northernmost part of Colombia and northwest Venezuela. The Wayuu language is part of the Maipuran (Arawak) language family. Geography Th ...
, Warao, Pemón, and many others for the official use of the indigenous peoples, mostly with few speakers – less than 1% of the total population. Wayuu is the most spoken indigenous language, with 170,000 speakers. Immigrants, in addition to Spanish, speak their own languages. Chinese (400,000), Portuguese (254,000), and Italian (200,000) are the most-spoken languages in Venezuela after the official language of Spanish. Arabic is spoken by Lebanese and Syrian colonies on Isla de Margarita, Maracaibo, Punto Fijo, Puerto la Cruz, El Tigre,
Maracay ) , image_skyline = , image_caption =Top:Maracay Municipal Garden and Las Delicias area, Second: Sindoni Tower, Los Tamarindo residential area and overview to Maracay, Third:Maestranza Cesar Giron Bullring Stadium, Girardot Square and Maraca ...
, and Caracas. Portuguese is spoken not only by the Portuguese community in Santa Elena de Uairén but also by much of the population due to its proximity to Brazil. The German community speaks their native language, while the people of Colonia Tovar speak mostly an Alemannic dialect of German called ''alemán coloniero''. English is the most widely used foreign language in demand and is spoken by many professionals, academics, and members of the upper and middle classes as a result of the oil exploration by foreign companies, in addition to its acceptance as a
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a Natural language, language systematically used to make communication possib ...
. Culturally, English is common in southern towns like El Callao, and the native English-speaking influence is evident in folk and calypso songs from the region. English was brought to Venezuela by Trinidadian and other
British West Indies The British West Indies (BWI) were colonized British territories in the West Indies: Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, ...
immigrants. A variety of
Antillean Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole languages, French-based creole that is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles. Its grammar and vocabulary include elements of Carib language, Carib, En ...
is spoken by a small community in El Callao and Paria. Italian language teaching is guaranteed by the presence of a consistent number of private Venezuelan schools and institutions, where Italian language courses and Italian literature are active. Other languages spoken by large communities in the country are Basque and Galician, among others.


Religion

According to a 2011 poll (GIS XXI), 88% of the population is Christian, primarily
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan c ...
(71%), and the remaining 17%
Protestant Protestantism is a branch of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Na ...
, primarily
Evangelicals Evangelicalism (), also called evangelical Christianity or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide Interdenominationalism, interdenominational movement within Protestantism, Protestant Christianity that affirms the centrality of being "bor ...
(in Latin America Protestants are usually called ''"evangélicos"''). 8% of Venezuelans are irreligious (
atheist Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of Deity, deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that ther ...
2% and agnostic and 6% indifferent). Almost 3% of the population follow another religion (1% of these people practice Santería). There are small but influential
Muslim Muslims ( ar, المسلمون, , ) are people who adhere to Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the ...
,
Druze The Druze (; ar, دَرْزِيٌّ, ' or ', , ') are an Arabic-speaking Western esotericism, esoteric ethnoreligious group from Western Asia who adhere to the Druze faith, an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheistic, Syncretic religio ...
,.
Buddhist Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religion or philosophical tradition based on teachings attributed to the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha, was a ...
, and Jewish communities. The Muslim community of more than 100,000 is concentrated among persons of Lebanese and
Syrian Syrians ( ar, سُورِيُّون, ''Sūriyyīn'') are an Eastern Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the East, eastern approximate One half, half, or third, of the Mediterranean Sea, often defined as the countries a ...
descent living in
Nueva Esparta The Nueva Esparta State (in Spanish: ''Estado Nueva Esparta'', ), is one of the 23 states of Venezuela, states of Venezuela. It comprises Margarita Island, Coche, Venezuela, Coche, and the largely uninhabited Cubagua. The state has the smalles ...
state, Punto Fijo and the
Caracas Caracas (, ), officially Santiago de León de Caracas, abbreviated as CCS, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela, and the center of the Metropolitan Region of Caracas (or Greater Caracas). Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the ...
area. Venezuela is home of the largest Druze communities outside the Middle East, the
Druze The Druze (; ar, دَرْزِيٌّ, ' or ', , ') are an Arabic-speaking Western esotericism, esoteric ethnoreligious group from Western Asia who adhere to the Druze faith, an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheistic, Syncretic religio ...
community are estimated around 60,000, and concentrated among persons of Lebanese and
Syrian Syrians ( ar, سُورِيُّون, ''Sūriyyīn'') are an Eastern Mediterranean Eastern Mediterranean is a loose definition of the East, eastern approximate One half, half, or third, of the Mediterranean Sea, often defined as the countries a ...
descent (a
former A former is an object, such as a template, Gauge block, gauge or cutting Die (manufacturing), die, which is used to form something such as a boat's Hull (watercraft), hull. Typically, a former gives shape to a structure that may have complex curv ...
vice president A vice president, also director in British English, is an Corporate officer, officer in government or business who is below the President (corporate title), president (chief executive officer) in rank. It can also refer to executive vice presid ...
is Druze, showing the small group's influence). Buddhism in Venezuela is practiced by over 52,000 people. The Buddhist community is made up mainly of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean people. There are Buddhist centers in Caracas, Maracay, Mérida, Puerto Ordáz, San Felipe, and Valencia. The Jewish community has shrunk in recent years due to rising economic pressures and antisemitism in Venezuela,Annual Report 2004: Venezuela.
Stephen Roth Institute The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism is a research institute at Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv University (TAU) ( he, אוּנִיבֶרְסִיטַת תֵּל אָבִיב, ''Universitat Tel Aviv'') i ...
. Accessed 11 August 2006.
with the population declining from 22,000 in 1999 to less than 7,000 in 2015.


Health

Venezuela has a national
universal health care Universal health care (also called universal health coverage, universal coverage, or universal care) is a health care system in which all residents of a particular country or region are assured access to health care. It is generally organized ar ...
system. The current government has created a program to expand access to health care known as Misión Barrio Adentro, although its efficiency and work conditions have been criticized. It has been reported that many Misión Barrio Adentro clinics have been closed, and (as of December 2014) it is estimated that 80% of Barrio Adentro establishments in Venezuela are abandoned.
Infant mortality Infant mortality is the death of young children under the age of 1. This death toll is measured by the infant mortality rate (IMR), which is the probability of deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births. The under-five morta ...
in Venezuela was 19 deaths per 1,000 births for 2014 which was lower than the South American average (To compare: The U.S. figure was 6 deaths per 1,000 births in 2013 and the Canadian figure was 4.5 deaths per 1,000 live births). Child
malnutrition Malnutrition occurs when an organism gets too few or too many nutrients, resulting in health problems. Specifically, it is "a Deficiency (medicine), deficiency, excess, or imbalance of energy, protein and Vitamin deficiency, other nutrients" wh ...
(defined as stunting or wasting in children under the age of five) was 17%.
Delta Amacuro Delta Amacuro State ( es, Estado Delta Amacuro, ) 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 (Venezuela), Bolívar State is found t ...
and Amazonas had the nation's highest rates. According to the United Nations, 32% of Venezuelans lacked adequate sanitation, primarily those living in rural areas. Diseases ranging from
diphtheria Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacteria, bacterium ''Corynebacterium diphtheriae''. Most infections are asymptomatic or have a mild Course (medicine), clinical course, but in some outbreaks more than 10% of those diagnosed with the di ...
, plague,
malaria Malaria is a Mosquito-borne disease, mosquito-borne infectious disease that affects humans and other animals. Malaria causes Signs and symptoms, symptoms that typically include fever, fatigue (medical), tiredness, vomiting, and headaches. In se ...
,
typhoid Typhoid fever, also known as typhoid, is a disease caused by ''Salmonella'' serotype Typhi bacteria. Symptoms vary from mild to severe, and usually begin six to 30 days after exposure. Often there is a gradual onset of a high fever over several d ...
fever,
yellow fever Yellow fever is a Virus, viral disease of typically acute (medicine), short duration. In most cases, symptoms include fever, chills, Anorexia (symptom), loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pains – particularly in the back – and headaches. Sympt ...
,
cholera Cholera is an infection of the small intestine by some strain (biology), strains of the Bacteria, bacterium ''Vibrio cholerae''. Symptoms may range from none, to mild, to severe. The classic symptom is large amounts of watery diarrhea that last ...
,
hepatitis A Hepatitis A is an infectious disease of the liver caused by ''Hepatovirus A'' (HAV); it is a type of viral hepatitis. Many cases have few or no symptoms, especially in the young. The time between infection and symptoms, in those who develop them ...
,
hepatitis B Hepatitis B is an infectious disease caused by the ''Hepatitis B virus'' (HBV) that affects the liver; it is a type of viral hepatitis. It can cause both acute and chronic infection. Many people have no symptoms during an initial infection. For ...
, and
hepatitis D Hepatitis D is a type of viral hepatitis caused by the hepatitis delta virus (HDV). HDV is one of five known hepatitis viruses: hepatitis A, A, hepatitis B, B, hepatitis C, C, D, and hepatitis E, E. HDV is considered to be a Satellite (biology), s ...
were present in the country.Venezuela
Guardian. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2006.
Obesity Obesity is a medical condition, sometimes considered a disease, in which excess Adipose tissue, body fat has accumulated to such an extent that it may negatively affect health. People are classified as obese when their body mass index (BMI) ...
was prevalent in approximately 30% of the adult population in Venezuela. Venezuela had a total of 150
sewage treatment plants Sewage treatment (or domestic wastewater treatment, municipal wastewater treatment) is a type of wastewater treatment which aims to remove pollutant, contaminants from sewage to produce an effluent that is suitable for discharge to the surrou ...
; however, 13% of the population lacked access to drinking water, but this number had been dropping. During the economic crisis observed under President Maduro's presidency, medical professionals were forced to perform outdated treatments on patients.


Education

The literacy rate of the adult population was already at 91.1% by 1998. In 2008, 95.2% of the adult population was literate. The net primary school enrollment rate was at 91% and the net secondary school enrollment rate was at 63% in 2005. Venezuela has a number of universities, of which the most prestigious are the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) founded in
Caracas Caracas (, ), officially Santiago de León de Caracas, abbreviated as CCS, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela, and the center of the Metropolitan Region of Caracas (or Greater Caracas). Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the ...
in 1721, the University of Zulia (LUZ) founded in 1891, the University of the Andes (ULA) founded in Mérida State in 1810, the Simón Bolívar University (USB) founded in Miranda State in 1967, and the
University of the East The University of the East ( fil, Pamantasan ng Silangan), also known as UE, is a leading private university located in Manila, Philippines. Founded in 1946, business tycoon Lucio Tan acquired the university in 1990. UE was once labeled as the ...
(UDO) founded in Sucre State in 1958. Currently, many Venezuelan graduates seek a future abroad because of the country's troubled economy and heavy crime rate. In a study titled "Venezolana Community Abroad: A New Method of Exile" by Thomas Páez, Mercedes Vivas, and Juan Rafael Pulido of the Central University of Venezuela, over 1.35 million Venezuelan college graduates have left the country since the beginning of the Bolivarian Revolution. It is believed that nearly 12% of Venezuelans live abroad, with Ireland becoming a popular destination for students. According to Claudio Bifano, president of the Venezuelan Academy of Physical, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, more than half of all medical graduates had left Venezuela in 2013. By 2018, over half of all Venezuelan children had dropped out of school, with 58% of students quitting nationwide while areas near bordering countries saw more than 80% of their students leave. Nationwide, about 93% of schools do not meet the minimum requirements to operate and 77% do not have utilities such as food, water or electricity.


Culture

The culture of Venezuela is a melting pot made up of three main groups: The Indigenous Venezuelans, the Africans, and the Spanish. The first two cultures were in turn differentiated according to their tribes. Acculturation and assimilation, typical of a cultural syncretism, led to the Venezuelan culture of the present day, which is similar in many ways to the culture of the rest of Latin America, but still has its own unique characteristics. The indigenous and African influence is limited to a few words, food names, and place names. However, the Africans also brought in many musical influences, especially introduction of the drum. The Spanish influence predominantes due to the colonization process and the socioeconomic structure it created, and in particular came from the regions of
Andalusia Andalusia (, ; es, Andalucía ) is the southernmost Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community in Peninsular Spain. It is the most populous and the second-largest autonomous community in the country. It is officially recognised as a ...
and
Extremadura Extremadura (; ext, Estremaúra; pt, Estremadura; Fala language, Fala: ''Extremaúra'') is an autonomous communities in Spain, autonomous community of Spain. Its capital city is Mérida, Spain, Mérida, and its largest city is Badajoz. Loc ...
(the places of origin of most of the settlers in the Caribbean during the colonial era). Spanish influences can be seen in the country's architecture, music, religion, and language. Spanish influences can also be seen in the bullfights that take place in Venezuela, and in certain gastronomical features. Venezuela was also enriched by immigration streams of Indian and European origin in the 19th century, especially from France. Most recently, immigration from the United States, Spain, Italy, and Portugal has further enriched the already complex cultural mosaic (especially in large oil-producing cities).


Architecture

Carlos Raúl Villanueva was the most important Venezuelan architect of the modern era; he designed the Central University of Venezuela, (a
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNES ...
) and its Aula Magna. Other notable architectural works include the Capitolio, the Baralt Theatre, the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex, and the
General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge The General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge is located at the Tablazo Strait outlet of Lake Maracaibo, in western Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a ...
.


Art

Venezuelan art was initially dominated by religious motifs. However, in the late 19th century, artists began emphasizing historical and heroic representations of the country's struggle for independence. This move was led by Martín Tovar y Tovar.
Modernism Modernism is both a philosophy, philosophical and arts movement that arose from broad transformations in Western world, Western society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The movement reflected a desire for the creation of new fo ...
took over in the 20th century. Notable Venezuelan artists include Arturo Michelena, Cristóbal Rojas, Armando Reverón, Manuel Cabré; the kinetic artists Jesús Soto,
Gego Gertrud Louise Goldschmidt (1 August 1912 – 17 September 1994), known as Gego, was a modern Venezuelan visual artist. Gego is perhaps best known for her geometric and kinetic sculptures made in the 1960s and 1970s, which she described as "dra ...
and
Carlos Cruz-Diez Carlos Cruz-Diez (17 August 1923 – 27 July 2019) was a Venezuelan artist said by some scholars to have been "one of the greatest artistic innovators of the 20th century." Exhibitions * ''Physichromies de Cruz-Diez: Oeuvres de 1954 à 1965' ...
; and contemporary artists such as Marisol and Yucef Merhi.


Literature

Venezuelan literature originated soon after the Spanish conquest of the mostly pre-literate indigenous societies. It was originally dominated by Spanish influences. Following the rise of political literature during the Venezuelan War of Independence, Venezuelan
Romanticism Romanticism (also known as the Romantic movement or Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate ...
, notably expounded by Juan Vicente González, emerged as the first important genre in the region. Although mainly focused on narrative writing, Venezuelan literature was advanced by poets such as Andrés Eloy Blanco and Fermín Toro. Major writers and novelists include Rómulo Gallegos, Teresa de la Parra, Arturo Uslar Pietri, Adriano González León, Miguel Otero Silva, and Mariano Picón Salas. The great poet and humanist Andrés Bello was also an educator and intellectual (He was also a childhood tutor and mentor of
Simón Bolívar Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios (24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830) was a Venezuelan people, Venezuelan military and political leader who led what are currently the countries of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, ...
). Others, such as Laureano Vallenilla Lanz and José Gil Fortoul, contributed to Venezuelan
Positivism Positivism is an empiricist In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are of ...
.


Music

The indigenous musical styles of Venezuela are exemplified by groups like Un Sólo Pueblo and Serenata Guayanesa. The national musical instrument is the cuatro. Traditional musical styles and songs mainly emerged in and around the ''llanos'' region, including, "Alma llanera" (by Pedro Elías Gutiérrez and Rafael Bolívar Coronado), "Florentino y el diablo" (by Alberto Arvelo Torrealba), "Concierto en la llanura" by Juan Vicente Torrealba, and "Caballo viejo" (by Simón Díaz). The Zulian gaita is also a very popular genre, generally performed during Christmas. The national dance is the joropo. Venezuela has always been a melting pot of cultures and this can be seen in the richness and variety of its musical styles and dances:
calipso CALIPSO is a joint NASA The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA ) is an independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the US federal government responsible for the civil List of government spa ...
, bambuco, fulía, cantos de pilado de maíz, cantos de lavanderas, sebucán, and maremare. Teresa Carreño was a world-famous 19th century piano virtuoso. Recently, great classical music performances have come out of Venezuela. The Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, under the leadership of its principal conductor
Gustavo Dudamel Gustavo Adolfo Dudamel Ramírez (born 26 January 1981) is a Venezuelan conducting, conductor and violinist who is the music director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Paris Opera. Early life Duda ...
and José Antonio Abreu, has hosted a number of excellent concerts in many European concert halls, most notably at the 2007 London Proms, and has received several honors. The orchestra is the pinnacle of
El Sistema El Sistema (which translates to The System) is a publicly financed, voluntary sector The voluntary sector, independent sector, or civic sector is the realm of social activity undertaken by organizations that are non-governmental nonprofit o ...
, a publicly financed, voluntary music education program now being emulated in other countries. In the early 21st century, a movement known as "Movida Acústica Urbana" featured musicians trying to save some national traditions, creating their own original songs but using traditional instruments. Some groups following this movement are Tambor Urbano, Los Sinverguenzas, C4Trío, and Orozco Jam. Afro-Venezuelan musical traditions are most intimately related to the festivals of the "black folk saints" San Juan and St. Benedict the Moor. Specific songs are related to the different stages of their festivals and processions, when the saints start their yearly "''paseo"'' – stroll – through the community to dance with their people.


Sport

The origins of baseball in Venezuela are unclear, although it is known that the sport was being played in the country by the late 19th century. In the early 20th century, North American immigrants who came to Venezuela to work in the nation's oil industry helped to popularize the sport in Venezuela. During the 1930s, baseball's popularity continued to rise in the country, leading to the foundation of the
Venezuelan Professional Baseball League The Venezuelan Professional Baseball League or Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional (LVBP) is the professional baseball league in Venezuela. The league's champion takes part in the Caribbean Series each year. History Early years Baseball exp ...
(LVBP) in 1945, and the sport would soon become the nation's most popular. The immense popularity of baseball in the country makes Venezuela a rarity among its South American neighbors—association football is the dominant sport in the continent. However, football, as well as
basketball Basketball is a team sport in which two teams, most commonly of five players each, opposing one another on a rectangular court, compete with the primary objective of shooting a basketball (approximately in diameter) through the defender' ...
, are among the more popular sports played in Venezuela. Venezuela hosted the 2012 Basketball World Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the 2013 FIBA Basketball Americas Championship, which took place in the
Poliedro de Caracas The Poliedro de Caracas ("Caracas Polyhedron Arena") is an indoor arena, indoor sports arena, located on the grounds adjacent to Hipodromo La Rinconada, in Caracas, Venezuela. It was designed by architect Thomas C. Howard of Synergetics, Inc., in ...
. Although not as popular in Venezuela as the rest of South America, football, spearheaded by the
Venezuela national football team The Venezuela national football team ( es, Selección de fútbol de Venezuela) represents Venezuela in men's FIFA, international association football, football and is controlled by the Venezuelan Football Federation (FVF), the governing body fo ...
is gaining popularity as well. The sport is also noted for having an increased focus during the World Cup. According to the
CONMEBOL The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL, , or CSF; es, Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol; pt, Confederação Sul-Americana de Futebol) is the continental governing body of football in South America (apart from Guyana, Suri ...
alphabetical rotation policy established in 2011, Venezuela is scheduled to host the Copa América every 40 years. Venezuela is also home to former
Formula 1 Formula One (also known as Formula 1 or F1) is the highest class of international racing for open-wheel car, open-wheel single-seater Formula racing, formula racing cars sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA). The ...
driver,
Pastor Maldonado Pastor Rafael Maldonado Motta (; born 9 March 1985) is a Venezuelans, Venezuelan professional auto racing, racing driver, who competed in Formula One for the Williams Grand Prix Engineering, Williams (2011–2013) and Lotus F1, Lotus (2014–201 ...
. At the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, he claimed his first pole and victory, and became the first and only Venezuelan to have done so in Formula 1 history. Maldonado has increased the reception of Formula 1 in Venezuela, helping to popularize the sport in the country. In the
2012 Summer Olympics The 2012 Summer Olympics (officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad and also known as London 2012) was an international multi-sport event held from 27 July to 12 August 2012 in London, England, United Kingdom. The first event, the ...
, Venezuelan Rubén Limardo won a gold medal in
fencing Fencing is a group of three related combat sports. The three disciplines in modern fencing are the Foil (fencing), foil, the épée, and the Sabre (fencing), sabre (also ''saber''); winning points are made through the weapon's contact with an ...
. In the Winter Sports, Cesar Baena had represented the country since 2008 in Nordic Skiing, making history in the continent when been the first South American skier ever compete in a FIS Cross Country Ski World Cup on Düsseldorf 2009.


Cuisine


See also

* Index of Venezuela-related articles * Outline of Venezuela * Crime in Venezuela * Operation Gideon (2020)


References


Bibliography

Articles * Books * * * Carroll, Rory. ''Comandante: Hugo Chávez's Venezuela'' (Penguin Books, 2014). * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Schincariol, Vitor Eduardo. ''Society and Economy in Venezuela: An Overview of the Bolivarian Period (1998-2018).'' (2020). * * Straka, Tomás, Guillermo Guzmán Mirabal, and Alejandro E. Cáceres. ''Historical Dictionary of Venezuela'' (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). * * * * Wilpert, Gregory. ''Changing Venezuela by taking power: the history and policies of the Chavez government'' (2007
online
* * * * * Talks and interviews *


External links


Official Government Website



Venezuela
''
The World Factbook ''The World Factbook'', also known as the ''CIA World Factbook'', is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official print version is availab ...
''.
Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA ), known informally as the Agency and historically as the Company, is a civilian intelligence agency, foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, officially tasked with gat ...
.
Venezuela
at ''UCB Libraries GovPubs'' *

from the Library of Congress Country Studies (1990)
Venezuela profile
from the
BBC News BBC News is an operational Division (business), business division of the BBC, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs in the UK and around the world. The department is t ...
*
Maps on Venezuela – Cartographic features

Key Development Forecasts for Venezuela
from
International Futures International Futures (IFs) is a global integrated assessment model designed to help with thinking strategically and systematically about key global systems (economic, demographic, education, health, environment, technology, domestic governance, ...

Venezuela and Tourism
from immigrationtovenezuela.com.ve * {{Authority control Countries in South America Federal constitutional republics Former Spanish colonies G15 nations Member states of OPEC Member states of the United Nations Member states of the Union of South American Nations Spanish-speaking countries and territories States and territories established in 1811 Transcontinental countries