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, although the re-election of current disputed President Nicolas MADURO in an election boycotted by most opposition parties was widely viewed as fraudulent. Under Hugo CHAVEZ, president from 1999 to 2013, and his hand-picked successor, MADURO, the executive branch has exercised increasingly authoritarian control over other branches of government. National Assembly President Juan GUAIDO is currently recognized by more than 50 countries - including the United States - as the interim president while MADURO retains control of all other institutions within the country and has the support of security forces. Venezuela is currently authoritarian with only one democratic institution - the National Assembly - and strong restrictions on freedoms of expression and the press. The ruling party's economic policies expanded the state's role in the economy through expropriations of major enterprises, strict currency exchange and price controls that discourage private sector investment and production, and overdependence on the petroleum industry for revenues, among others. However, Caracas in 2019 relaxed some economic controls to mitigate some impacts of the economic crisis driven by a drop in oil production. Current concerns include human rights abuses, rampant violent crime, high inflation, and widespread shortages of basic consumer goods, medicine, and medical supplies.



8.0° N, 66. 0° W
Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana


912,050 sq km
882,050 sq km
30,000 sq km

land boundaries

5,267 km


2,800 km


tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands


Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast


450 m
lowest point
Caribbean Sea
0 m
highest point
Pico Bolivar
4,978 m

natural resources

  • petroleum
  • natural gas
  • iron ore
  • gold
  • bauxite
  • other minerals
  • hydropower
  • diamonds

land use

arable land
3.1 %
permanent crops
0.8 %
permanent pasture
20.6 %
52.1 %
23.4 %

population distribution

most of the population is concentrated in the northern and western highlands along an eastern spur at the northern end of the Andes, an area that includes the capital of Caracas



  • 28,644,603
  • 50
    global rank


  • Venezuelan(s)
  • Venezuelan

ethnic groups

  • unspecified Spanish
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Arab
  • German
  • African
  • indigenous people


  • Spanish
  • numerous indigenous dialects


nominally Roman Catholic
96 %
2 %
2 %

birth rate

  • 17.9
    per 1,000 population
  • 92
    global rank

death rate

  • 7.5
    per 1,000 population
  • 106
    global rank

urban population

88.3 %

major urban areas

  • Caracas
    pop. 2,939,000
  • Maracaibo
    pop. 2,258,000
  • Valencia
    pop. 1,910,000
  • Barquisimeto
    pop. 1,214,000
  • Maracay
    pop. 1,203,000

life expectancy

  • 71
    total population
  • 163
    global rank

adult obesity rate

  • 25.6%
    percent of adults
  • 50
    global rank


country name


  • Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
    long form
  • Venezuela
    short form


  • Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela
    long form
  • Venezuela
    short form

government type

federal presidential republic


10.29 N, 66.52 W


national holidays

  • Independence Day
    5 July

legal system

civil law system based on the Spanish civil code

age of suffrage


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, then 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 historic province of Guayana

national colors

  • yellow
  • blue
  • red

national anthem

"Gloria al bravo pueblo" (Glory to the Brave People)



Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for almost all export earnings and nearly half of the government’s revenue, despite a continued decline in oil production in 2017. In the absence of official statistics, foreign experts estimate that GDP contracted 12% in 2017, inflation exceeded 2000%, people faced widespread shortages of consumer goods and medicine, and the central bank's international reserves dwindled. In late 2017, Venezuela also entered selective default on some of its sovereign and state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., (PDVSA) bonds. Domestic production and industry continues to severely underperform and the Venezuelan Government continues to rely on imports to meet its basic food and consumer goods needs. Falling oil prices since 2014 have aggravated Venezuela’s economic crisis. Insufficient access to dollars, price controls, and rigid labor regulations have led some US and multinational firms to reduce or shut down their Venezuelan operations. Market uncertainty and PDVSA’s poor cash flow have slowed investment in the petroleum sector, resulting in a decline in oil production. Under President Nicolas MADURO, the Venezuelan Government’s response to the economic crisis has been to increase state control over the economy and blame the private sector for shortages. MADURO has given authority for the production and distribution of basic goods to the military and to local socialist party member committees. The Venezuelan Government has maintained strict currency controls since 2003. The government has been unable to sustain its mechanisms for distributing dollars to the private sector, in part because it needed to withhold some foreign exchange reserves to make its foreign bond payments. As a result of price and currency controls, local industries have struggled to purchase production inputs necessary to maintain their operations or sell goods at a profit on the local market. Expansionary monetary policies and currency controls have created opportunities for arbitrage and corruption and fueled a rapid increase in black market activity.


381,600,000,000 USD

agriculture products

  • corn
  • sorghum
  • sugarcane
  • rice
  • bananas
  • vegetables
  • coffee
  • beef
  • pork
  • milk
  • eggs
  • fish

poverty level



  • 92,800,000,000
    revenue (USD)
  • 189,700,000,000
    expenditures (USD)



    fixed lines

  • 5,547,291
    total subscriptions
  • 27
    global rank

    mobile cellular

  • 20,731,169
    total subscriptions
  • 56
    global rank

broadcast media

government supervises a mixture of state-run and private broadcast media; 13 public service networks, 61 privately owned TV networks, a privately owned news channel with limited national coverage, and a government-backed Pan-American channel; state-run radio network includes roughly 65 news stations and another 30 stations targeted at specific audiences; state-sponsored community broadcasters include 235 radio stations and 44 TV stations; the number of private broadcast radio stations has been declining, but many still remain in operation


country code


  • 21,354,499
  • 72
    % of population
  • 36
    global rank


electricity access



air transport

    national system

  • 17
    registered air carriers
  • 6,456,853
    annual passenger traffic


  • 444
  • 127


447 km
total length


96,189 km
total length


7,100 km
total length



expenditures here