Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

Population: 28,868,486

GDP: 209 200 000 000.00 $



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 from 1999 to 2013, sought to implement his "21st Century Socialism," which purported to alleviate social ills while at the same time attacking capitalist globalization and existing democratic institutions.



His hand-picked successor, President Nicolas Maduro, continues Chavez's socialist programs. Current concerns include: a weakening of democratic institutions, political polarization, a politicized military, rampant violent crime, overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, foreign exchange controls that discourage private-sector investment, high inflation, a decline in the quality of fundamental human rights, and widespread scarcity of consumer goods. Venezuela assumed a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for the 2015-16 term.



Population: 29,275,460 (July 2015 est.)

Nationality: noun: Venezuelan(s), adjective: Venezuelan

Ethnic groups: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people

Languages: Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects

Religions: nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%



GDP: $ 209 200 000 000.00 (2014).

Military Organization


Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, FANB): Bolivarian Army (Ejercito Bolivariano, EB), Bolivarian Navy (Armada Bolivariana, AB; includes Naval Infantry, Coast Guard, Naval Aviation), Bolivarian Military Aviation (Aviacion Militar Bolivariana, AMB; includes Air National Guard), Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivaria, GNB).

Conflicts and Disputes


Claims all of the area west of the Essequibo River in Guyana, preventing any discussion of a maritime boundary; Guyana has expressed its intention to join Barbados in asserting claims before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that Trinidad and Tobago's maritime boundary with Venezuela extends into their waters; dispute with Colombia over maritime boundary and Venezuelan administered Los Monjes islands near the Gulf of Venezuela; Colombian organized illegal narcotics and paramilitary activities penetrate Venezuela's shared border region; US, France, and the Netherlands recognize Venezuela's granting full effect to Aves Island, thereby claiming a Venezuelan Economic Exclusion Zone/continental shelf extending over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea; Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines protest Venezuela's full effect claim.


Refugees (country of origin): 204,604 (Colombia) (2014).


Venezuela is small-scale illicit producer of opium and coca for the processing of opiates and coca derivatives; however, large quantities of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana transit the country from Colombia bound for US and Europe; significant narcotics-related money-laundering activity, especially along the border with Colombia and on Margarita Island; active eradication program primarily targeting opium; increasing signs of drug-related activities by Colombian insurgents on border.

Geographical Information and Map


Capital: Caracas


Location: Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana. On major sea and air routes linking North and South America; Angel Falls in the Guiana Highlands is the world's highest waterfall.


Geographic coordinates:

8 00 N, 66 00 W.



total: 912,050 sq km

land: 882,050 sq km

water: 30,000 sq km.


Land boundaries:

total: 5,267 km

border countries: Brazil 2,137 km, Colombia 2,341 km, Guyana 789 km.


Coastline: 2,800 km.


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