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Asunto:NoticiasdelCeHu 1242/03 - Geography of Venezuela
Fecha:Miercoles, 3 de Diciembre, 2003  13:48:24 (-0300)
Autor:humboldt <humboldt>

NCeHu 1242/03

Geography of Venezuela  

Venezuela was one of 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: an embattled president who is losing his once solid support among
Venezuelans, a divided military, 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.  
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 references:   
South America  
total: 912,050 sq km 
land: 882,050 sq km 
water: 30,000 sq km  
Area - comparative:   
slightly more than twice the size of California  
Land boundaries:   
total: 4,993 km 
border countries: Brazil 2,200 km, Colombia 2,050 km, Guyana 743 km  
2,800 km  
Maritime claims:   
contiguous zone: 15 NM 
territorial sea: 12 NM 
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation 
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM  
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 (La Columna) 5,007 m  
Natural resources:   
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower,
Land use:   
arable land: 2.99% 
permanent crops: 0.96% 
other: 96.05% (1998 est.)  
Irrigated land:   
540 sq km (1998 est.)  
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, Desertification,
Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban,
Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94,
signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping  
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  

24,654,694 (July 2003 est.)  
Age structure:   
0-14 years: 31% (male 3,944,749; female 3,700,799) 
15-64 years: 64.1% (male 7,931,194; female 7,864,697) 
65 years and over: 4.9% (male 552,291; female 660,964) (2003 est.)  
Median age:   
total: 24.8 years 
male: 24.3 years 
female: 25.4 years (2002)  
Population growth rate:   
1.48% (2003 est.)  
Birth rate:    
19.78 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)  
Death rate:    
4.9 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)  
Net migration rate:   
-0.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)  
Sex ratio:   
at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female 
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female 
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female 
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female 
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2003 est.)  
Infant mortality rate:    
total: 23.79 deaths/1,000 live births 
female: 20.28 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.) 
male: 27.05 deaths/1,000 live births  
Life expectancy at birth:    
total population: 73.81 years 
male: 70.78 years 
female: 77.07 years (2003 est.)  
Total fertility rate:    
2.36 children born/woman (2003 est.)  
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:    
0.5% - note: no country specific models provided (2001 est.)  
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:    
62,000 (1999 est.)  
HIV/AIDS - deaths:    
2,000 (2001 est.)  
noun: Venezuelan(s) 
adjective: Venezuelan  
Ethnic groups:   
Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people  
nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%  
Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects  
definition: age 15 and over can read and write 
total population: 93.4% 
male: 93.8% 
female: 93.1% (2003 est.)  

Country name:   
conventional long form: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela 
conventional short form: Venezuela 
local short form: Venezuela 
local long form: Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela  
Government type:   
federal republic  
Administrative divisions:   
23 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, Vargas, Yaracuy, Zulia 
note: the federal dependency consists of 11 federally controlled island groups
with a total of 72 individual islands  
5 July 1811 (from Spain)  
National holiday:   
Independence Day, 5 July (1811)  
30 December 1999  
Legal system:   
based on organic laws as of July 1999; open, adversarial court system; has not
accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction  
18 years of age; universal  
Executive branch:   
chief of state: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 3 February 1999); Vice
President Jose Vicente RANGEL (since 28 April 2002); note - the president is both
the chief of state and head of government 
head of government: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 3 February 1999); Vice
President Jose Vicente RANGEL (since 28 April 2002); note - the president is both
the chief of state and head of government 
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president 
election results: Hugo CHAVEZ Frias reelected president; percent of vote - 60% 
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last
held 30 July 2000 (next to be held NA 2006)  
Legislative branch:   
unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (165 seats; members elected by
popular vote to serve five-year terms; three seats reserved for the indigenous
peoples of Venezuela) 
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party -
pro-government 108 (MVR 92, MAS 6, indigenous 3, other 7), opposition 57 (AD 33,
COPEI 6, Justice First 5, other 13) 
elections: last held 30 July 2000 (next to be held NA 2005)  
Judicial branch:   
Supreme Tribunal of Justice or Tribuna Suprema de Justicia (magistrates are
elected by the National Assembly for a single 12-year term)  
Political parties and leaders:   
Democratic Action or AD [Claudio FERMIN]; Fifth Republic Movement or MVR [Garcia
PONCE]; Homeland for All or PPT [Jose ALBORNIZ]; Justice First [Julio BORGES];
Movement Toward Socialism or MAS [Hector MUJICA]; National Convergence or
Convergencia [Juan Jose CALDERA]; Radical Cause or La Causa R [Antonio HERRERA];
Social Christian Party or COPEI [Oswaldo ALVAREZ Paz]; Venezuela Project or PV
[Henrique SALAS Romer]  
Political pressure groups and leaders:   
FEDECAMARAS, a conservative business group; VECINOS groups; Venezuelan
Confederation of Workers or CTV (labor organization dominated by the Democratic
International organization participation:   
CAN, Caricom (observer), CDB, ECLAC, FAO, G-3, G-15, G-19, G-24, G-77, IADB,
Diplomatic representation in the US:   
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Luis HERERRA Marcano 
chancery: 1099 30th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007 
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York,
San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico) 
FAX: [1] (202) 342-6820 
telephone: [1] (202) 342-2214  
Diplomatic representation from the US:   
chief of mission: Ambassador Charles S. SHAPIRO 
embassy: Calle F con Calle Suapure, Urbanizacion Colinas de Valle Arriba,
Caracas 1080 
mailing address: P. O. Box 62291, Caracas 1060-A; APO AA 34037 
telephone: [58] (212) 975-9234, 975-6411 
FAX: [58] (212) 975-8991  
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 seven white five-pointed
stars centered in the blue band  

Economy - overview:   
Venezuela continues to be highly dependent on the petroleum sector, which
accounts for roughly one-third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings, and more
than half of government operating revenues. Despite higher oil prices at the end
of 2002 and into 2003, domestic political instability, culminating in a two-month
national oil strike from December 2002 to February 2003, temporarily halted
economic activity. The economy is likely to remain in a recession in 2003, after
sinking an estimated 8.9 percent in 2002.  
purchasing power parity - $132.8 billion (2002 est.)  
GDP - real growth rate:    
-8.9% (2002 est.)  
GDP - per capita:    
purchasing power parity - $5,500 (2002 est.)  
GDP - composition by sector:   
agriculture: 5% 
industry: 50% 
services: 45% (2001)  
Population below poverty line:   
47% (1998 est.)  
Household income or consumption by percentage share:   
lowest 10%: 0.8% 
highest 10%: 36.5% (1998)  
Distribution of family income - Gini index:   
49.5 (1998)  
Inflation rate (consumer prices):    
31.2% (2002)  
Labor force:    
9.9 million (1999)  
Labor force - by occupation:   
services 64%, industry 23%, agriculture 13% (1997 est.)  
Unemployment rate:    
17% (2002 est.)  
revenues: $21.5 billion 
expenditures: $27 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2000 est.)  
petroleum, iron ore mining, construction materials, food processing, textiles,
steel, aluminum, motor vehicle assembly  
Industrial production growth rate:    
-5.4% (2002 est.)  
Electricity - production:    
87.6 billion kWh (2001)  
Electricity - production by source:   
fossil fuel: 31.7% 
hydro: 68.3% 
other: 0% (2001) 
nuclear: 0%  
Electricity - consumption:    
81.47 billion kWh (2001)  
Electricity - exports:   
0 kWh (2001)  
Electricity - imports:   
0 kWh (2001)  
Oil - production:    
3.08 million bbl/day (2001 est.)  
Oil - consumption:    
505,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)  
Oil - exports:    
NA (2001)  
Oil - imports:    
NA (2001)  
Oil - proved reserves:    
63.95 billion bbl (January 2002 est.)  
Natural gas - proved reserves:    
4.202 trillion cu m (January 2002 est.)  
Agriculture - products:   
corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee; beef, pork, milk,
eggs; fish  
$28.6 billion f.o.b. (2001)  
Exports - commodities:   
petroleum, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic
Exports - partners:   
US 60%, Brazil 5.5%, Colombia 3.5%, Italy 3.5%, Spain 3.4% (2000)  
$18.8 billion f.o.b. (2001)  
Imports - commodities:   
raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction
Imports - partners:   
US 35.8%, Colombia 6.8%, Brazil 4.5%, Germany 3.9%, Italy 3.9% (2000)  
Debt - external:    
$38.2 billion (2000)  
Economic aid - recipient:   
$74 million (2000)  
bolivar (VEB)  
Currency code:   
Exchange rates:   
bolivares per US dollar - 1,160.44 (2002), 723.666 (2001), 679.96 (2000),
605.717 (1999), 547.556 (1998)  
Fiscal year:   
calendar year  

Telephones - main lines in use:    
2.6 million (however, 3,500,000 have been installed) (1998)  
Telephones - mobile cellular:    
2 million (1998)  
Telephone system:   
general assessment: modern and expanding 
domestic: domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations; recent substantial
improvement in telephone service in rural areas; substantial increase in
digitalization of exchanges and trunk lines; installation of a national
interurban fiber-optic network capable of digital multimedia services 
international: 3 submarine coaxial cables; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat
(Atlantic Ocean) and 1 PanAmSat; participating with Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and
Bolivia in the construction of an international fiber-optic network  
Radio broadcast stations:   
AM 201, FM NA (20 in Caracas), shortwave 11 (1998)  
Television broadcast stations:   
66 (plus 45 repeaters) (1997)  
Internet country code:   
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):   
16 (2000)  
Internet users:    
1.3 million (2002)  

total: 682 km 
standard gauge: 682 km 1.435-m gauge (2002)  
total: 96,155 km 
paved: 32,308 km 
unpaved: 63,847 km (1997 est.)  
7,100 km 
note: Rio Orinoco and Lago de Maracaibo accept oceangoing vessels  
crude oil 6,370 km; petroleum products 480 km; natural gas 4,010 km  
Ports and harbors:   
Amuay, Bajo Grande, El Tablazo, La Guaira, La Salina, Maracaibo, Matanzas,
Palua, Puerto Cabello, Puerto la Cruz, Puerto Ordaz, Puerto Sucre, Punta Cardon 

Merchant marine:   
total: 47 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 714,073 GRT/1,256,667 DWT 
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of
convenience: Denmark 1, Greece 1, Italy 1, UK 1, US 2 (2002 est.) 
ships by type: bulk 6, cargo 8, chemical tanker 1, container 1, liquefied gas 4,
passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 15, roll on/roll off 10, short-sea passenger
373 (2002)  
Airports - with paved runways:   
total: 127 
over 3,047 m: 5 
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11 
914 to 1,523 m: 61 
under 914 m: 18 (2002) 
1,524 to 2,437 m: 32  
Airports - with unpaved runways:   
total: 246 
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10 
914 to 1,523 m: 97 
under 914 m: 139 (2002)  
1 (2002)  

Military branches:   
National Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales or FAN) includes Ground Forces
or Army (Fuerzas Terrestres or Ejercito), Naval Forces (Fuerzas Navales or Armada
- including marines and Coast Guard), Air Force (Fuerzas Aereas or Aviacion),
Armed Forces of Cooperation or National Guard (Fuerzas Armadas de Cooperacion or
Guardia Nacional)  
Military manpower - military age:   
18 years of age (2003 est.)  
Military manpower - availability:   
males age 15-49: 6,767,862 (2003 est.)  
Military manpower - fit for military service:   
males age 15-49: 4,870,751 (2003 est.)  
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:   
males: 249,319 (2003 est.)  
Military expenditures - dollar figure:    
$934 million (FY99)  
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:    
0.9% (FY99)  

   Transnational Issues    
Disputes - international:   
claims all of Guyana west of the Essequibo River; maritime boundary dispute with
Colombia in the Gulf of Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea; US, France and the
Netherlands recognize Venezuela's claim to give full effect to Aves Island, which
creates a Venezuelan EEZ/continental shelf extending over a large portion of the
Caribbean Sea; Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent
and the Grenadines protest the claim and other states' recognition of it  
Illicit drugs:   
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

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