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Quick Facts
Governmentfederal republic
Currencybolivar (VEB)
Areatotal: 912,050 sq km
land: 882,050 sq km
water: 30,000 sq km
Population24,287,670 (July 2002 est.)
LanguageSpanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects
Religionnominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%

Venezuela is a country in Northern South America. With a Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean northern coast, it has Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south. Venezuela lies on the major sea and air routes linking North and South America.

The Angel Falls in the Guiana Highlands is the world's highest waterfall.


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


  • Caracas - the capital.
  • Merida - Outdoor capital of South America.
Ports and harbors 
Amuay, Bajo Grande, El Tablazo, La Guaira, La Salina, Maracaibo, Matanzas, Palua, Puerto Cabello, Puerto la Cruz, Puerto Ordaz, Puerto Sucre, Punta Cardon

Other destinations



Tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands


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

highest point 
Pico Bolivar (La Columna) 4,981 m


Venezuela was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Colombia and Ecuador). For most of the first half of the 20th century, Venezuela was ruled by generally benevolent military strongmen, who promoted the oil industry and allowed for some social reforms. Democratically-elected governments have held sway since 1959.

Get in

By plane

By train

By car

By bus

By boat

Get around

Travellers in Venezuela are obliged to carry id. Along most roads there are military checkpoints checking your passport, so while travelling by car or bus keep you passport handy. Sometimes bags are checked on drugs. Keep a close eye on you gear though, because the Guardia Nacional sometimes plants drugs to catch a bribe or steal valuables.


Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects







Stay safe

Stay healthy



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Geographic coordinates 
8 00 N, 66 00 W
total: 912,050 sq km
land: 882,050 sq km
water: 30,000 sq km
Area - comparative 
slightly more than twice the size of California
2,800 km
Maritime claims 
contiguous zone: 15 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
Natural resources 
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds
Land use 
arable land: 2.99%
permanent crops: 0.96%
other: 96.05% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land 
540 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards 
subject to floods, earthquakes, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues 
sewage pollution of Lago de Valencia; oil and urban pollution of Lago de Maracaibo; deforestation; soil degradation; urban and industrial pollution, especially along the Caribbean coast; threat to the rainforest ecosystem from irresponsible mining operations


24,287,670 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure 
0-14 years: 31.6% (male 3,955,132; female 3,710,159)
15-64 years: 63.6% (male 7,756,362; female 7,695,738)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 533,559; female 636,720) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate 
1.52% (2002 est.)
Birth rate 
20.22 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate 
4.91 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate 
-0.11 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio 
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate 
24.58 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth 
total population: 73.56 years
female: 76.81 years (2002 est.)
male: 70.53 years
Total fertility rate 
2.41 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 
0.49% (1999 est.)
noun: Venezuelan(s)
adjective: Venezuelan
Ethnic groups 
Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people
nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 91.1%
male: 91.8%
female: 90.3% (1995 est.)


Country name 
conventional long form: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
conventional short form: Venezuela
local short form: Venezuela
local long form: Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela
Government type 
federal republic
5 July 1811 (from Spain)
National holiday 
Independence Day, 5 July (1811)
30 December 1999
Legal system 
based on organic laws as of July 1999; open, adversarial court system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Flag description 
three equal horizontal bands of yellow (top), blue, and red with the coat of arms on the hoist side of the yellow band and an arc of seven white five-pointed stars centered in the blue band


Economy - overview 
The petroleum sector dominates the economy, accounting for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings, and more than half of government operating revenues. Venezuelan officials estimate that GDP grew by 2.7% in 2001. A strong rebound in international oil prices fueled the recovery from the steep recession in 1999. Nevertheless, a weak nonoil sector and capital flight - and a temporary fall in oil prices - undercut the recovery. In early 2002, President Chávez changed the exchange rate regime from a crawling peg to a free floating exchange rate, causing the bolivar to depreciate significantly.
Population below poverty line 
67% (1997 est.)
Labor force 
9.9 million (1999) (1999)
Labor force - by occupation 
services 64%, industry 23%, agriculture 13% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate 
14.1% (2001 est.)
petroleum, iron ore mining, construction materials, food processing, textiles, steel, aluminum, motor vehicle assembly
Electricity - production 
80.754 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source 
fossil fuel: 23%
hydro: 77%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption 
75.101 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products 
corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish
Exports - commodities 
petroleum, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures
Imports - commodities 
raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials
bolivar (VEB)
Currency code 
Exchange rates 
bolivares per US dollar - 2,147.30 (June 2005), 761.225 (January 2002), 723.666 (2001), 679.960 (2000), 605.717 (1999), 547.556 (1998), 488.635 (1997)
Fiscal year 
calendar year


Telephones - main lines in use 
2.6 million (however, 3,500,000 have been installed) (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular 
2 million (1998)
Telephone system 
general assessment: modern and expanding
domestic: domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations; recent substantial improvement in telephone service in rural areas; substantial increase in digitalization of exchanges and trunk lines; installation of a national interurban fiber-optic network capable of digital multimedia services
international: 3 submarine coaxial cables; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 PanAmSat; participating with Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia in the construction of an international fiber-optic network
Radio broadcast stations 
AM 201, FM NA (20 in Caracas), shortwave 11 (1998)
10.75 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations 
66 (plus 45 repeaters) (1997)
4.1 million (1997)
Internet country code 
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
16 (2000)
Internet users 
1.3 million (2002)


total: 682 km
standard gauge: 682 km 1.435-m gauge
note: 248 km of the existing system are privately owned; passenger services are nonexistent; however, a National Railways Plan, intended to provide a significant railway system, has been initiated (2001)
total: 96,155 km
paved: 32,308 km
unpaved: 63,847 km (1997 est.)
7,100 km
note: Rio Orinoco and Lago de Maracaibo accept oceangoing vessels
crude oil 6,370 km; petroleum products 480 km; natural gas 4,010 km
372 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways 
total: 127
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 61
under 914 m: 18 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 32
Airports - with unpaved runways 
total: 246
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 97
under 914 m: 139 (2002)
1 (2002)

External Links