Venezuela 1997Venezuela

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Venezuela - Introduction 1997
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Background: 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. Current concerns include: drug-related conflicts along the Colombian border increasing internal drug consumption overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations and irresponsible mining operations which are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.

Venezuela - Geography 1997
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Location: Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana

Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 66 00 W

Map referenceSouth America

Total: 912,050 km²
Land: 882,050 km²
Water: 30,000 km²
Comparative: slightly more than twice the size of California

Land boundaries
Total: 4,993 km
Border countries: (3) Brazil 2,200 km; , Colombia 2,050 km; , Guyana 743 km

Coastline: 2,800 km

Maritime claims
Contiguous zone: 15 nm
Continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

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

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

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

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

Land use
Arable land: 4%
Permanent crops: 1%
Permanent pastures: 20%
Forests and woodland: 34%
Other: 41% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 1,900 km² (1993 est.)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

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

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

Venezuela - People 1997
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Population: 22,396,407 (July 1997 est.)
Growth rate: 1.83% (1997 est.)

Noun: Venezuelan(s)
Adjective: Venezuelan

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

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

Religions: nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%

Demographic profile
Age structure

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

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate: 1.83% (1997 est.)

Birth rate: 23.67 births/1000 population (1997 est.)

Death rate: 5.03 deaths/1000 population (1997 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.32 migrant(s)/1000 population (1997 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

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

Air pollutants

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

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate: 28.5 deaths/1000 live births (1997 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 72.37 years
Male: 69.4 years
Female: 75.58 years (1997 est.)

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

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 91.1%
Male: 91.8%
Female: 90.3% (1995 est.)

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Venezuela - Government 1997
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Country name
Conventional long form: Republic of Venezuela
Conventional short form: Venezuela
Local long form: Republica de Venezuela
Local short form: Venezuela

Government type: republic

Capital: Caracas

Administrative divisions: 22 states (estados, singular - estado),1 federal district* (distrito federal), and 1 federal dependency** (dependencia federal); Amazonas, Anzoategui, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Bolivar, Carabobo, Cojedes, Delta Amacuro, Dependencias Federales**, Distrito Federal*, Falcon, Guarico, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Tachira, Trujillo, Yaracuy, Zulia
Note: the federal dependency consists of 11 federally controlled island groups with a total of 72 individual islands

Dependent areas

Independence: 5 July 1811 (from Spain)

National holiday: Independence Day, 5 July (1811)

Constitution: 23 January 1961

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

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: President Rafael CALDERA Rodriguez (since 2 February 1994); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Head of government: President Rafael CALDERA Rodriguez (since 2 February 1994); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
Elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 5 December 1993 (next to be held NA December 1998)
Election results: Rafael CALDERA Rodriguez elected president; percent of vote - Rafael CALDERA Rodriguez (National Convergence) 30.45%, Claudio FERMIN (AD) 23.59%, Oswaldo ALVAREZ PAZ (COPEI) 22.72%, Andres VELASQUEZ (Causa R) 21.94%, other 1.3%

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

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

Political parties and leaders

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

Diplomatic representation
In the us chief of mission: Ambassador Pedro Luis ECHEVERRIA
In the us chancery: 1099 30th Street NW, Washington, DC 20,007
In the us telephone: [1] (202) 342-2,214
In the us FAX: [1] (202) 342-6,820
In the us consulates general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico)
From the us chief of mission: Ambassador John Francis MAISTO
From the us embassy: Calle F con Calle Suapure, Colinas de Valle Arriba, Caracas 1060
From the us mailing address: P. O. Box 62,291, Caracas 1060-A; APO AA 34,037
From the us telephone: [58] (2) 977-2011
From the us FAX: [58] (2) 977-0843

Flag descriptionflag of Venezuela: 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

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

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

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate: -1.6% (1996)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin
Agriculture: 5%
Industry: 41%
Services: 54% (1993)

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

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

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

Labor force
Total: 8.8 million
By occupation services: 64%
By occupation industry: 23%
By occupation agriculture: 13% (1993)
Labor force

Unemployment rate: 13% (1996 est.)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

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

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

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

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

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external: $26.5 billion (1996)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

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

Venezuela - Energy 1997
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 74.886 billion kWh (1995)

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

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Venezuela - Communication 1997
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

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

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Venezuela - Military 1997
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $902 million (1996)
Percent of gdp: 1.4% (1996)

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Venezuela - Transportation 1997
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 360 (1996 est.)
With paved runways total: 261
With paved runways over 3047 m: 5
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 10
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 35
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 58
With paved runways under 914 m: 153 (1996 est.)
With unpaved runways total: 99
With unpaved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 7
With unpaved runways 914 to 1523 m: 92 (1996 est.)

Airports with paved runways
Total: 261
Over 3047 m: 5
2438 to 3047 m: 10
15-24 to 2437 m: 35
914 to 1523 m: 58
Under 914 m: 153 (1996 est.)

Airports with unpaved runways
Total: 99
15-24 to 2437 m: 7
914 to 1523 m: 92 (1996 est.)


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

Total: 584 km (336 km single track; 248 km privately owned)
Standard gauge: 584 km 1.435-m gauge


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

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

Ports and terminals

Venezuela - Transnational issues 1997
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Disputes international: claims all of Guyana west of the Essequibo River; maritime boundary dispute with Colombia in the Gulf of Venezuela

Refugees and internally displaced persons

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

Volotea Air

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