Facts

Population:  31,708,848 For more visit Worldmeters

Language: Spanish

Area: 916,445 km²

Venezuela , officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a federal republic located on the northern coast of South America. It is bordered by Colombia on the west, Brazil on the south, Guyana on the east, and the islands of Trinidad and Tobago to the north-east. Venezuela’s territory covers around 916,445 km2 (353,841 sq mi) with an estimated population 31028337. Venezuela is considered a state with extremely high biodiversity (currently ranks 7th in the world’s list of nations with the most number of species),with habitats ranging from the Andes Mountains in the west to the Amazon Basin rain-forest in the south, via extensive llanos plains and Caribbean coast in the center and the Orinoco River Delta in the east. The territory currently known as Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522 amid resistance from indigenous peoples. In 1811, it became one of the first Spanish-American colonies to declare independence, which was not securely established until 1821, when Venezuela was a department of the federal republic of Gran Colombia. It gained full independence as a separate country in 1830. During the 19th century, Venezuela suffered political turmoil and autocracy, remaining dominated by regional caudillos (military strongmen) until the mid-20th century. Since 1958, the country has had a series of democratic governments. Economic shocks in the 1980s and 1990s led to several political crises, including the deadly Caracazo riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez for embezzlement of public funds in 1993. A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 election of former coup-involved career officer Hugo Chávez and the launch of the Bolivarian Revolution, beginning with a 1999 Constituent Assembly to write a new Constitution of Venezuela. This new constitution officially changed the name of the country to República Bolivariana de Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela). Venezuela is a federal presidential republic consisting of 23 states, the Capital District (covering Caracas), and federal dependencies(covering Venezuela’s offshore islands). Venezuela also claims all Guyanese territory west of the Essequibo River, a 159,500-square-kilometre (61,583 sq mi) tract dubbed Guayana Esequiba or the Zona en Reclamación (the “zone being reclaimed”).Venezuela is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America; the vast majority of Venezuelans live in the cities of the north, especially in the capital (Caracas) which is also the largest city in Venezuela. Since the discovery of oil in the early 20th century, Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves and has been one of the world’s leading exporters of oil. Previously an underdeveloped exporter of agricultural commodities such as coffee and cocoa, oil quickly came to dominate exports and government revenues. The 1980s oil glut led to an external debt crisis and a long-running economic crisis, in which inflation peaked at 100% in 1996 and poverty rates rose to 66% in 1995 as (by 1998) per capita GDP fell to the same level as 1963, down a third from its 1978 peak. The recovery of oil prices in the early 2000s gave Venezuela oil funds not seen since the 1980s. The Venezuelan government then initiated populist/revisionist policies that initially boosted the Venezuelan economy and increased social spending, significantly reducing economic inequality and poverty.Such populist policies were questioned since their initiation and the over dependence on oil funds led to overspending on social programs while strict government polices, which were initially supposed to prevent capital flight, created difficulties for Venezuela’s import-reliant businesses. Venezuela under Hugo Chávez suffered “one of the worst cases of Dutch Disease in the world” due to the Bolivarian government’s large dependence on oil sales. Poverty and inflation began to increase into the 2010s. Nicolás Maduro was elected in 2013 after the death of Chavez. Venezuela devalued its currency in February 2013 due to the rising shortages in the country, which included those of milk, flour, and other necessities. This led to an increase in malnutrition, especially among children. In 2014, Venezuela entered an economic recession. In 2015, Venezuela had the world’s highest inflation rate with the rate surpassing 100%, becoming the highest in the country’s history. Economic problems, as well as crime and corruption, were some of the main causes of the 2014–16 Venezuelan protests, which left more than 50 protesters killed. In a July 22, 2016 decree, President Maduro used his executive power to declare a state of economic emergency. The decree could force citizens to work in agricultural fields and farms for 60-day (or longer) periods to supply food to the country. Colombian border crossings have been temporarily opened to allow Venezuelans to purchase food and basic household and health items in Colombia in mid-2016. In September 2016, a study published in the Spanish-language Diario Las Américas indicated that 15% of Venezuelans are eating “food waste discarded by commercial establishments”. In October 2016, Fox News Latino reported that during a month-long riot at the Táchira Detention Center in Caracas, 40 inmates dismembered and consumed three fellow inmates. There have been close to 200 prison riots in Venezuela in 2016, with the cause being attributed to a worsening social situation, increasing poverty, and food shortages leading to over crowded prisons.

Currency: Venezuelan bolívar

Cuisine

The Venezuelan cuisine, one of the most varied in the region, reflects the climatic contrasts and cultures coexisting in Venezuela. Among them are hallaca, pabellón criollo, arepas, pisca andina, tarkarí de chivo, jalea de mango, and fried camiguanas.

 

Culture

The culture of Venezuela is a melting pot, which includes mainly three different families: The indigenous, African, and Spanish. The first two cultures were in turn differentiated according to the tribes. Acculturation and assimilation, typical of a cultural syncretism, caused an arrival at the current Venezuelan culture, similar in many respects to the rest of Latin America, although the natural environment means that there are important differences. The indigenous influence is limited to a few words of vocabulary and gastronomy and many place names. The African influence in the same way, in addition to musical instruments like the drum. The Spanish influence was predominant (due to the colonization process and the socioeconomic structure it created) and in particular came from the regions of Andalusia and Extremadura, the places of origin of most settlers in the Caribbean during the colonial era. An example of this includes buildings, music, the Catholic religion, and language. Spanish influences are evident in bullfights and certain features of gastronomy. Venezuela was also enriched by other streams of Indian and European origin in the 19th century, especially from France. In the latest stage in the major cities and regions oil of U.S. origin and manifestations of the new immigration of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, increasing the already complex cultural mosaic. For example, from United States comes the influence of taste for baseball, US-style fast food, and current architectural constructions.

 

Economy

The Central Bank of Venezuela is responsible for developing monetary policy for the Venezuelan bolívar which is used as currency. The currency is primarily printed on paper and distributed throughout the country. The President of the Central Bank of Venezuela is presently Eudomar Tovar, who also serves as the country’s representative in the International Monetary Fund. According to the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, Venezuela has the weakest property rights in the world, scoring only 5.0 on a scale of 100; expropriation without compensation is not uncommon. Venezuela has a Market-based mixed economy dominated by the petroleum sector, which accounts for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of exports, and more than half of government revenues. Per capita GDP for 2009 was US$13,000, ranking 85th in the world. Venezuela has the least expensive petrol in the world because the consumer price of petrol is heavily subsidized. More than 60% of Venezuela’s international reserves is in gold, eight times more than the average for the region. Most of Venezuela’s gold held abroad is located in London. On 25 November 2011, the first of US$11 billion of repatriated gold bullion arrived in Caracas; Chávez called the repatriation of gold a “sovereign” step that will help protect the country’s foreign reserves from the turmoil in the U.S. and Europe. However government policies quickly spent down this returned gold and in 2013 the government was forced to add the dollar reserves of state owned companies to those of the national bank in order to reassure the international bond market. Manufacturing contributed 17% of GDP in 2006. Venezuela manufactures and exports heavy industry products such as steel, aluminium and cement, with production concentrated around Ciudad Guayana, near the Guri Dam, one of the largest in the world and the provider of about three-quarters of Venezuela’s electricity. Other notable manufacturing includes electronics and automobiles, as well as beverages, and foodstuffs. Agriculture in Venezuela accounts for approximately 3% of GDP, 10% of the labor force, and at least a quarter of Venezuela’s land area. Venezuela exports rice, corn, fish, tropical fruit, coffee, beef, and pork. The country is not self-sufficient in most areas of agriculture. In 2012, total food consumption was over 26 million metric tonnes, a 94.8% increase from 2003. Since the discovery of oil in the early 20th century, Venezuela has been one of the world’s leading exporters of oil, and it is a founding member of OPEC. Previously an underdeveloped exporter of agricultural commodities such as coffee and cocoa, oil quickly came to dominate exports and government revenues. The 1980s oil glut led to an external debt crisis and a long-running economic crisis, which saw inflation peak at 100% in 1996 and poverty rates rise to 66% in 1995 as (by 1998) per capita GDP fell to the same level as 1963, down a third from its 1978 peak. The 1990s also saw Venezuela experience a major banking crisis in 1994.

 

Ethnic groups

The people of Venezuela come from a variety of ancestries. It is estimated that the majority of the population is of mestizo, or mixed, ethnic ancestry. Nevertheless, in the 2011 census, which Venezuelans were asked to identify themselves according to their customs and ancestry, the term mestizo was excluded from the answers. The majority claimed to be mestizo or white — 51.6% and 43.6%, respectively. Practically half of the population claimed to be moreno, a term used throughout Ibero-America that in this case means “dark-skinned” or “brown-skinned”, as opposed to having a lighter skin (this term connotes skin color or tone, rather than facial features or descent).

 

Environment

Venezuela is one of the 10 most biodiverse countries on the planet, yet it is one of the leaders of deforestation due to economic and political factors. Each year, roughly 287,600 hectares of forest are permanently destroyed and other areas are degraded by mining, oil extraction, and logging. Between 1990 and 2005, Venezuela officially lost 8.3% of its forest cover, which is about 4.3 million ha. In response, federal protections for critical habitat were implemented; for example, 20% to 33% of forested land is protected. The country’s biosphere reserve is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; five wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention. In 2003, 70% of the nation’s land was under conservation management in over 200 protected areas, including 43 national parks.[109] Venezuela’s 43 national parks include Canaima National Park, Morrocoy National Park, and Mochima National Park. In the far south is a reserve for the country’s Yanomami tribes. Covering 32,000 square miles (82,880 square kilometres), the area is off-limits to farmers, miners, and all non-Yanomami settlers.

 

Foreign relations

Throughout most of the 20th century, Venezuela maintained friendly relations with most Latin American and Western nations. Relations between Venezuela and the United States government worsened in 2002, after the 2002 Venezuelan coup d’état attempt during which the U.S. government recognized the short-lived interim presidency of Pedro Carmona. In 2015, Venezuela was declared a national security threat by U.S. President Barack Obama. Correspondingly, ties to various Latin American and Middle Eastern countries not allied to the U.S. have strengthened. For example, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki declared in 2015 that Venezuela was his country’s “most important ally”. Venezuela seeks alternative hemispheric integration via such proposals as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas trade proposal and the newly launched pan-Latin American television network teleSUR. Venezuela is one of the six nations in the world—along with Russia, Nicaragua, Nauru, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu—to have recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Venezuela was a proponent of OAS’s decision to adopt its Anti-Corruption Convention, and is actively working in the Mercosur trade bloc to push increased trade and energy integration. Globally, it seeks a “multi-polar” world based on strengthened ties among undeveloped countries.

 

Government

Following the fall of Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958, Venezuelan politics were dominated by the Third Way Christian democratic COPEI and the center-left social democratic Democratic Action (AD) parties; this two-party system was formalized by the puntofijismo arrangement. Economic crises in the 1980s and 1990s led to a political crisis which resulted in hundreds dead in the Caracazo riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez for corruption in 1993. A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 election of Hugo Chávez, who had led the first of the 1992 coup attempts, and the launch of a “Bolivarian Revolution”, beginning with a 1999 Constituent Assembly to write a new Constitution of Venezuela. The opposition’s attempts to unseat Chávez included the 2002 Venezuelan coup d’état attempt, the Venezuelan general strike of 2002–2003, and the Venezuelan recall referendum, 2004, all of which failed. Chávez was re-elected in December 2006, but suffered a significant defeat in 2007 with the narrow rejection of the Venezuelan constitutional referendum, 2007, which had offered two packages of constitutional reforms aimed at deepening the Bolivarian Revolution. Two major blocs of political parties are in Venezuela: the incumbent leftist bloc United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), its major allies Fatherland for All (PPT) and the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), and the opposition bloc grouped into the electoral coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática. This includes A New Era (UNT) together with allied parties Project Venezuela, Justice First, Movement for Socialism (MAS) and others. Hugo Chávez, the central figure of the Venezuelan political landscape since his election to the Presidency in 1998 as a political outsider, died in office in early 2013, and was succeeded by Nicolás Maduro (initially as interim President, before narrowly winning the Venezuelan presidential election, 2013). The Venezuelan president is elected by a vote, with direct and universal suffrage, and is both head of state and head of government. The term of office is six years, and (as of 15 February 2009) a president may be re-elected an unlimited number of times. 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.

 

Health

Venezuela has a national universal health care system. The current government has created a program to expand access to health care known as Misión Barrio Adentro,although its efficiency and work conditions have been criticized. It has reported that many of the clinics were closed and as of December 2014, it was estimated that 80% of Barrio Adentro establishments were abandoned in Venezuela. Infant mortality in Venezuela was 19 deaths per 1,000 births for 2014, lower than the South American average (by comparison, the U.S. figure was 6 deaths per 1,000 births in 2013). Child malnutrition (defined as stunting or wasting in children under age five) was 17%; Delta Amacuro and Amazonas had the nation’s highest rates. According to the United Nations, 32% of Venezuelans lacked adequate sanitation, primarily those living in rural areas. Diseases ranging from typhoid, yellow fever, cholera, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis D were present in the country. Obesity was prevalent in approximately 30% of the adult population in Venezuela. Venezuela had a total of 150 plants for sewage treatment. However, 13% of the population lacked access to drinking water, but this number had been dropping. During the economic crisis observed under President Maduro’s presidency, medical professionals were forced to perform outdated treatments on patients.

 

International relations and relationships

Trinidad and Tobago

To the people of Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela has been a neighbor initially because of the geographical location of the two countries, however over time the geographical and human resources of both countries have allowed for changes in the relationship. Also both countries have had a longstanding diplomatic relationship whereby an embassy was established as far back as 1987 if not earlier. One of the articles of The Double Taxation Relief (Venezuela)Order 1999 – (Legal Notice #348 of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) allowed for the protection for the fiscal privileges of diplomatic agents or consular officers.  The Double Taxation Relief (Venezuela)Order 1999 was issued in the English and Spanish languages with each version being equally authentic. Attached to the Convention was a Protocol, both of which (Convention and Protocol) were done on 31st day of July 1996, and both of which were signed by Ralph Maraj for the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and by Angel Burelli Rivas for the Government of the Republic of Venezuela. The Protocol included the following details “M Look Loy Acting Secretary to Cabinet on 30th day of December 1997”. The purpose of the Protocol was for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion and Avoidance with respect to taxes in income and for the Encouragement of International Trade and Investment and included four (4) clauses which “shall be an integral part of the Convention.” The Venezuelan embassy which is located on Victoria Avenue in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, is in close proximity to the offices of BP, REPSOL and some of the other O&G companies which operate in Trinidad and Tobago. The modest building and teams have served as a reminder of who the people of Venezuela are to the visitors to the country of Trinidad and Tobago. Information on the country of Venezuela was sought by many a student and school teacher who needed to boost their knowledge of the culture and the language of Spain and Venezuela in preparation for examinations at the Ordinary Level of GCE and currently CXC.

 

Language

Although the country is mostly monolingual Spanish, many languages are spoken in Venezuela. In addition to Spanish, the Constitution recognizes more than thirty indigenous languages, including Wayuu, Warao, Pemón, and many others for the official use of the indigenous peoples, mostly with few speakers – less than 1% of the total population. Immigrants, in addition to Spanish, speak their own languages. Arabic is spoken by Lebanese and Syrian colonies on Isla de Margarita, Maracaibo, Punto Fijo, Puerto la Cruz, El Tigre, Maracay, and Caracas. Portuguese is spoken not only by the Portuguese community in Santa Elena de Uairén but also by much of the population due to its proximity to Brazil. The German community speaks their native language, while the people of Colonia Tovar people speaks mostly an Alemannic dialect of German called coloniero. English is the most widely used foreign language in demand and is spoken by many professionals, academics, and members of the upper and middle classes as a result of oil exploration by foreign companies, in addition to its acceptance as a lingua franca. Culturally, English is common in southern towns like El Callao, for the English-speaking native influence evident in folk songs and calypso Venezuelan and French with English voices. Italian instruction is guaranteed by the presence of a constant number of schools and private institutions because the Italian government considered mandatory language teaching at school level. Other languages spoken by large communities in the country are Chinese and Galician, among others.

 

Law and crime

Venezuela was the most murderous place on Earth in 2015. In Venezuela, a person is murdered every 21 minutes.

Venezuela that the government no longer produces the crime data. In 2013, the homicide rate was approximately 79 per 100,000, one of the world’s highest, having quadrupled in the past 15 years with over 200,000 people murdered. By 2015 it had risen to 90 per 100,000. The country’s body count of the previous decade mimics that of the Iraq War and in some instances had more civilian deaths even though the country is at peacetime. The capital Caracas has one of the greatest homicide rates of any large city in the world, with 122 homicides per 100,000 residents.  In 2008, polls indicated that crime was the number one concern of voters. Attempts at fighting crime such as Operation Liberation of the People have been done to crack down on gang-controlled areas. Venezuela is especially dangerous toward foreign travelers and investors who are visiting. The United States State Department and the Government of Canada have warned foreign visitors that they may be subjected to robbery, kidnapping for a ransom or sale to terrorist organization and murder, and that their own diplomatic travelers are required to travel in armored vehicles. The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all travel to Venezuela. Visitors have been murdered during robberies and criminals do not discriminate among their victims. Recently, former Miss Venezuela 2004 winner Monica Spear and her husband were murdered with her 5-year-old daughter being shot while visiting, and an elderly German tourist was murdered only a few weeks later. There are approximately 33 prisons holding about 50,000 inmates.  They include; El Rodeo outside of Caracas, Yare Prison in the northern state of Miranda, and several others. Venezuela’s prison system is heavily overcrowded; its facilities have capacity for only 14,000 prisoners.

 

Military

The Bolivarian National Armed Forces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, FANB) are the overall unified military forces of Venezuela. It includes over 320,150 men and women, under Article 328 of the Constitution, in 5 components of Ground, Sea and Air. The components of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces are: the Venezuelan Army, the Venezuelan Navy, the Venezuelan Air Force, the Venezuelan National Guard, and the Venezuelan National Militia. As of 2008, a further 600,000 soldiers were incorporated into a new branch, known as the Armed Reserve. The President of Venezuela is the commander-in-chief of the national armed forces. The main roles of the armed forces are to defend the sovereign national territory of Venezuela, airspace, and islands, fight against drug trafficking, to search and rescue and, in the case of a natural disaster, civil protection. All male citizens of Venezuela have a constitutional duty to register for the military service at the age of 18, which is the age of majority in Venezuela.

 

Religion

According to a 2011 poll (GIS XXI), 88 percent of the population is Christian, primarily Roman Catholic (71%), and the remaining 17 percent Protestant, primarily Evangelicals (in Latin America Protestants are usually called Evangelicos). The Venezuelans without religion are 8% (atheist 2% and agnostic or indifferent 6%), almost 3% of the population follow other religion (1% of them are of santeria). There are small but influential Muslim, Buddhist, and Jewish communities. The Muslim community of more than 100,000 is concentrated among persons of Lebanese and Syrian descent living in Nueva Esparta State, Punto Fijo and the Caracas area. Buddhism in Venezuela is practiced by over 52,000 people. The Buddhist community is made up mainly of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans. There are Buddhist centers in Caracas, Maracay, Mérida, Puerto Ordáz, San Felipe, and Valencia. The Jewish community numbers approximately 13,000 and is mainly concentrated in Caracas.

 

Sports

The origins of baseball in Venezuela is unclear, although it is known that the sport was being played in the nation by the late 19th century. In the early 20th century, North American immigrants who came to Venezuela to work in the nation’s oil industry helped to popularize the sport in Venezuela. During the 1930s, baseball’s popularity continued to rise in the country, leading to the foundation of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League in 1945, and the sport would soon become the nation’s most popular. The immense popularity of baseball in the country makes Venezuela a rarity among its South American neighbors—association football is the dominant sport in the continent. However, football, as well as basketball, are among the more popular sports played in Venezuela. Venezuela hosted the 2012 Basketball World Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the 2013 FIBA Basketball Americas Championship, which took place in Poliedro de Caracas. Although not as popular in Venezuela as the rest of South America, football, spearheaded by the Venezuela national football team is gaining popularity as well. The sport is also noted for having an increased focus during the World Cup. According to the CONMEBOL alphabetical rotation policy established in 2011, Venezuela is scheduled to host the Copa América every 40 years. Venezuela is also home to Formula 1 driver, Pastor Maldonado.  At the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, he claimed his first pole and victory and became the first and only Venezuelan to have done so in the history of Formula 1. Maldonado has increased the reception of Formula 1 in Venezuela, helping to popularize the sport in the nation. In the 2012 Summer Olympics, Venezuelan Rubén Limardo won a gold medal in fencing.

 

States and regions of Venezuela

Venezuela is divided into 23 states (estados), a capital district (distrito capital) corresponding to the city of Caracas, and the Federal Dependencies (Dependencias Federales, a special territory). Venezuela is further subdivided into 335 municipalities (municipios); these are subdivided into over one thousand parishes (parroquias). The states are grouped into nine administrative regions (regiones administrativas), which were established in 1969 by presidential decree.Main articles: States of Venezuela and Regions of Venezuela. The country can be further divided into ten geographical areas, some corresponding to climatic and biogeographical regions. In the north are the Venezuelan Andes and the Coro region, a mountainous tract in the northwest, holds several sierras and valleys. East of it are lowlands abutting Lake Maracaibo and the Gulf of Venezuela. The Central Range runs parallel to the coast and includes the hills surrounding Caracas; the Eastern Range, separated from the Central Range by the Gulf of Cariaco, covers all of Sucre and northern Monagas. The Insular Region includes all of Venezuela’s island possessions: Nueva Esparta and the various Federal Dependencies. The Orinoco Delta, which forms a triangle covering Delta Amacuro, projects northeast into the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Tourism

Has been developed considerably in recent decades, particularly because of its favorable geographical position, the variety of landscapes, the richness of plant and wildlife, the artistic expressions and the privileged tropical climate of the country, which affords each region (especially the beaches) throughout the year. Margarita Island is one of the top tourist destinations for enjoyment and relaxation. It is an island with a modern infrastructure, bordered by beautiful beaches suitable for extreme sports, and features castles, fortresses and churches of great cultural value.

Los Roques and Morrocoy

The archipelago of Los Roques is formed by a group of islands and cays that make up one of the main tourist attractions of the country. With exotic pristine beaches. Morrocoy is a park, consisting of very small nearby islands to the mainland, which have grown rapidly as one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Caribbean.

Canaima

Canaima National Park is spread over 30,000 square kilometers to the border with Guayana Esequiba reclamation area now Guyana and Brazil, for its size is considered the world’s sixth largest national park. About 65% of the park is occupied by rock plateaus called tepuis. These are a unique biological environment, also presenting a great geological interest. Its steep cliffs and waterfalls (including Angel Falls, which is the highest waterfall of the world, 1,002 m) are spectacular sceneries.

 

Transport

 Venezuela is connected to the world primarily via air (Venezuela’s airports include the Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía, near Caracas and La Chinita International Airport near Maracaibo) and sea (with major sea ports at La Guaira, Maracaibo and Puerto Cabello). In the south and east the Amazon rainforest region has limited cross-border transport; in the west, there is a mountainous border of over 2,213 kilometres (1,375 mi) shared with Colombia. The Orinoco River is navigable by oceangoing vessels up to 400 kilometres (250 mi) inland, and connects the major industrial city of Ciudad Guayana to the Atlantic Ocean. Venezuela has a limited national railway system, which has no active rail connections to other countries. The government of Hugo Chávez tried to invest in expanding it, but Venezuela’s rail project is on hold due to Venezuela not being able to pay the $7.5 billion and owing China Railway nearly $500 million. Several major cities have metro systems; the Caracas Metro has been operating since 1983. The Maracaibo Metro and Valencia Metro were opened more recently. Venezuela has a road network of nearly 100,000 kilometres (62,000 mi) in length, placing the country around 45th in the world; around a third of roads are paved.

 

Weather

Venezuela is entirely located in the tropics over the Equator to around 12° N. Its climate varies from humid low-elevation plains, where average annual temperatures range as high as 35 °C (95.0 °F), to glaciers and highlands (the páramos) with an average yearly temperature of 8 °C (46.4 °F). Annual rainfall varies from 430 mm (16.9 in) in the semiarid portions of the northwest to over 1,000 mm (39.4 in) in the Orinoco Delta of the far east and the Amazonian Jungle in the south. The precipitation level is lower in the period from November to April and later in the year from August to October. These periods are referred to as hot-humid and cold-dry seasons. Another characteristic of the climate is this variation throughout the country by the existence of a mountain range called “Cordillera de la Costa” which crosses the country from east to west. The majority of the population lives in these mountains. The country falls into four horizontal temperature zones based primarily on elevation, having tropical, dry, temperate with dry winters, and polar (alpine tundra) climates, among’st others. In the tropical zone—below 800 m (2,625 ft)—temperatures are hot, with yearly averages ranging between 26 and 28 °C (78.8 and 82.4 °F). The temperate zone ranges between 800 and 2,000 m (2,625 and 6,562 ft) with averages from 12 to 25 °C (53.6 to 77.0 °F); many of Venezuela’s cities, including the capital, lie in this region. Colder conditions with temperatures from 9 to 11 °C (48.2 to 51.8 °F) are found in the cool zone between 2,000 and 3,000 m (6,562 and 9,843 ft), especially in the Venezuelan Andes, where pastureland and permanent snowfield with yearly averages below 8 °C (46 °F) cover land above 3,000 meters (9,843 ft) in the páramos. The highest temperature recorded was 42 °C (108 °F) in Machiques, and the lowest temperature recorded was −11 °C (12 °F), it has been reported from an uninhabited high altitude at Páramo de Piedras Blancas (Mérida state), even though no official reports exist, lower temperatures in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Mérida are known.

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