South America: Venezuela

About Venezuela

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 that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.

Vital Statistics
Capitol City: Caracas
Population: 23,916,810 (July 2001 est.)
Percent below poverty: 67% (1997 est.)
Language: Spanish (official), numer
Date of independence: 5 July 1811 (from Spain)
Form of government: federal republic
Title of Leader: president
Natural Resources: coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower
Environmental 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 operati
Agricultural Products: corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish
Imports: raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials
Exports: petroleum, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures
Trading Partners: IMPORTS US 53%, Japan, Colombia, Italy, Germany, France, Brazil, Canada (1999)
EXPORTS: US and Puerto Rico 57%, Colombia, Brazil, Japan, Germany, Netherlands, Italy (1999)


Venezuela Headlines


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