The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a country in northern South America. It borders the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to the north, Guyana to the east, Brazil to the south, and Colombia to the west. Off the Venezuelan coast are also found the Caribbean states of Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles and Trinidad and Tobago.
|National motto: None|
- % water
|Ranked 32nd |
- Total (2002)
July 5, 1811
|Time zone||UTC -4|
|National anthem||Gloria al bravo pueblo|
Venezuela was the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in South America in 1522, and the territory eventually became part of the viceroyalty of New Granada. After several unsuccessful uprisings, the country achieved independence from Spain in 1821 under the leadership of its most famous son, Simon Bolivar. Venezuela, along with what are now Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador, was part of the Republic of Greater Colombia[?] (Gran Colombia) until 1830, when Venezuela separated and became a sovereign republic.
Much of Venezuela's 19th and early 20th century history was characterised by periods of political instability, dictatorial rule, and revolutionary turbulence. Following the military's withdrawal from direct involvement in national politics in 1958, Venezuela has enjoyed an unbroken tradition of civilian democratic rule. In recent years however, the presidency of Hugo Chavez saw a failed coup d'état in 2002 and continued popular opposition to his government.
The Venezuelan president is elected by a plurality vote with direct and universal suffrage and functions as both head of state and head of government. The term of office is 6 years, and a president may be re-elected to a single consecutive term. 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 unicameral Venezuelan parliament is the National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional. Its 165 deputies, of which three are reserved for indigenous peoples, serve 5-year terms and may be re-elected for a maximum of two additional terms. They are elected by popular vote through a combination of party lists and single member constituencies. The highest judiciary body is the Supreme Tribunal of Justice or Tribuna Suprema de Justicia, whose magistrates are elected by parliament for a single 12-year term.
Venezuela is subdivided into 23 states (estados), one federal district (distrito federal) and one federal dependency (dependencia federal), marked by a *:
Venezuela is home to a wide variety of landscapes, such as the northeasternmost extensions of the Andes mountains in the northwest and along the northern Caribbean coast, of which the highest point is the Pico Bolivar[?] at 5,007 m. Also found in the northwest are the lowlands around Lake Maracaibo[?] and the Gulf of Venezuela[?]. The centre of the country is characterised by extensive plains known as the llanos that stretch from the Colombian border to the river delta of the Orinoco east. To the south are found the dissected Guiana Highlands[?], home to Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall.
The local climate is tropical and generally hot and humid, though more moderate in the highlands. The capital, Caracas is also the country's largest city. Other major cities include Maracaibo, Barquisimeto[?], Valencia[?], Maracay[?], and Ciudad Guayana[?].
The Venezuelan economy shifted after the First World War from a primarily agricultural orientation to an economy centered on petroleum production and export, which continues to dominate, 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 relatively weak non-oil sector and capital flight - and a temporary fall in oil prices - undercut the recovery. In early 2002, the government changed the exchange rate regime from a crawling peg to a free floating exchange rate, causing the bolivar[?] to depreciate significantly.
The Venezuelan people comprise a rich combination of heritages. The historically present Amerindians, Spanish colonists and Africans were joined by Italians, Portuguese, Arabs, Germans, and others from neighbouring countries in South America during waves of immigration in the 20th century. About 85% of the population live in urban areas in the northern portion of the country. While almost half of Venezuela's land area lies south of the Orinoco river, this region contains only 5% of the population.
The national and official language is Spanish, but numerous indigenous dialects also exist, as do dialects introduced by immigrants. Nominally 96% of the population is Roman Catholic; other denominations, primarily Protestant, make up the remainder.
|Date||English Name||Local Name||Remarks|
|January 1||New Year||Año Nuevo|
|May 1||Labour Day||Día del Trabajador|
|June 24||Carabobo's Battle||Batalla de Carabobo|
|July 5||Independence Day||Día de la Independencia|
|July 24||Simón Bolívar's Birthday||Natalicio del Libertador Simón Bolívar|
|October 12||Día de la Raza|