Geographic and Governmental Profile of Venezuela

Venezuela was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Ecuador and New Granada, which became Colombia). 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. Hugo CHAVEZ, president since 1999, seeks to implement his "21st Century Socialism," which purports to alleviate social ills while at the same time attacking capitalist globalization and existing democratic institutions. Current concerns include: a weakening of democratic institutions, political polarization, a politicized military, drug-related violence along the Colombian border, overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.
Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana
Geographic coordinates
8 00 N, 66 00 W
Continent / Subcontinent
South America
912,050 sq km
882,050 sq km
30,000 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly more than twice the size of California
Land boundaries
4,993 km
border countries:
Brazil 2,200 km, Colombia 2,050 km, Guyana 743 km
2,800 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea:
12 nm
contiguous zone:
15 nm
exclusive economic zone:
200 nm
continental shelf:
200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands
Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point:
Pico Bolivar 5,007 m
Natural resources
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds
Land use
arable land:
permanent crops:
96.27% (2005)
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Irrigated land
5,800 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
1,233.2 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
8.37 cu km/yr (6%/7%/47%)
per capita:
313 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
subject to floods, 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
Environment - international agreements
party to:
Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed but not ratified::
none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
on major sea and air routes linking North and South America; Angel Falls in the Guiana Highlands is the world's highest waterfall
Country name
conventional long form:
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
conventional short form:
local long form:
Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela
local short form:
Government type
federal republic
geographic coordinates:
10 29 N, 66 52 W
time difference:
UTC-4.5 (half an hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions
23 states (estados, singular - estado), 1 capital district* (distrito capital), and 1 federal dependency** (dependencia federal); Amazonas, Anzoategui, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Bolivar, Carabobo, Cojedes, Delta Amacuro, Dependencias Federales (Federal Dependencies)**, Distrito Capital (Capital District)*, Falcon, Guarico, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Tachira, Trujillo, Vargas, Yaracuy, Zulia
the federal dependency consists of 11 federally controlled island groups with a total of 72 individual islands
5 July 1811 (from Spain)
30 December 1999; amended 15 February 2009
Legal system
civil law system based on the Spanish civil code
International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; state party to the ICCT
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 2 February 1999); Executive Vice President Elias Jose JAUA Milano (since 26 January 2010); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government:
President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 2 February 1999); Executive Vice President Elias Jose JAUA Milano (since 26 January 2010)
Council of Ministers appointed by the president
president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for unlimited reelection); election last held on 3 December 2006 (next election expected to be held in 7 October 2012 pending official convocation by the country's electoral body)
in 1999, a National Constituent Assembly drafted a new constitution that increased the presidential term to six years; an election was subsequently held on 30 July 2000 under the terms of this constitution; in 2009, a national referendum approved the elimination of term limits on all elected officials, including the presidency
election results:
Hugo CHAVEZ Frias reelected president; percent of vote - Hugo CHAVEZ Frias 62.9%, Manuel ROSALES 36.9%, other 0.2%
Legislative branch
unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (165 seats; members elected by popular vote on a proportional basis to serve five-year terms; three seats reserved for the indigenous peoples of Venezuela)
last held on 26 September 2010 (next to be held in 2015)
election results:
percent of vote by party - pro-government 48.9%, opposition coalition 47.9%, other 3.2%; seats by party - pro-government 98, opposition 65, other 2
Judicial branch
Supreme Tribunal of Justice or Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (32 magistrates are elected by the National Assembly for a single 12-year term)
Political parties and leaders
A New Time or UNT [Omar BARBOZA]; Brave People's Alliance or ABP [Antonio LEDEZMA]; Christian Democrats or COPEI [Luis Ignacio PLANAS]; Communist Party of Venezuela or PCV [Oscar FIGUERA]; Democratic Action or AD [Henry RAMOS ALLUP]; Fatherland for All or PPT [Simon CALZADILLA]; For Social Democracy or PODEMOS [Ismael GARCIA]; Justice First [Julio BORGES]; Movement Toward Socialism or MAS [Nicolas SOSA]; Popular Will or VP [Leopoldo LOPEZ]; The Democratic Unity Table or MUD [Ramon Guillermo AVELEDO]; The Radical Cause [Daniel SANTOLO]; United Socialist Party of Venezuela or PSUV [Hugo CHAVEZ]; Venezuela Project or PV [Henrique SALAS ROMER]
Political pressure groups and leaders
Bolivarian and Socialist Workers' Union (a ruling party labor union); Confederacion Venezolana de Industriales or Coindustria (a conservative business group); Consejos Comunales (pro-Chavez local cooperatives); FEDECAMARAS (a conservative business group); Union of Oil Workers of Venezuela or FUTPV; Venezuelan Confederation of Workers or CTV (opposition-oriented labor organization); various civil society groups and human rights organizations
International organization participation
Caricom (observer), CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, LAS (observer), Mercosur (associate), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, Petrocaribe, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Angelo RIVERO Santos
1099 30th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
[1] (202) 342-2214
[1] (202) 342-6820
consulate(s) general:
Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami (administratively closed), New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico)
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission:
Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires James M. DERHAM
Calle F con Calle Suapure, Urbanizacion Colinas de Valle Arriba, Caracas 1080
mailing address:
P. O. Box 62291, Caracas 1060-A; APO AA 34037
[58] (212) 975-6411, 907-8400 (after hours)
[58] (212) 907-8199
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 eight white five-pointed stars centered in the blue band; the flag retains the three equal horizontal bands and three main colors of the banner of Gran Colombia, the South American republic that broke up in 1830; yellow is interpreted as standing for the riches of the land, blue for the courage of its people, and red for the blood shed in attaining independence; the seven stars on the original flag represented the seven provinces in Venezuela that united in the war of independence; in 2006, President Hugo CHAVEZ ordered an eighth star added to the star arc - a decision that sparked much controversy - to conform with the flag proclaimed by Simon Bolivar in 1827 and to represent the province of Guayana
National symbol(s)
troupial (bird)
National anthem
"Gloria al bravo pueblo" (Glory to the Brave Nation)
adopted 1881; the lyrics were written in 1810, the music some years later; both SALIAS and LANDAETA were executed in 1814 during Venezuela's struggle for independence
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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