World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide

Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of South America

Venezuela Travelling Guide
Venezuela Travelling Guide

General background: Venezuela was one of the 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, over dependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.

Area comparative: Slightly more than twice the size of California.

Climate: Tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands.

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

Population: 24,287,670 (July 2002 est.)

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

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

Language: Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects

Government type: Federal republic

Capital: Caracas

Legal system: Based on organic laws as of July 1999; open, adversarial court system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction.

Economic overview: The petroleum sector dominates the economy, accounting for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings, and more than half of government operating revenues. Venezuelan officials estimate that GDP grew by 2.7% in 2001. A strong rebound in international oil prices fuelled the recovery from the steep recession in 1999. Nevertheless, a weak no oil sector and capital flight - and a temporary fall in oil prices - undercut the recovery. In early 2002, President CHAVEZ changed the exchange rate regime from a crawling peg to a free-floating exchange rate, causing the bolivar to depreciate significantly.

Communication/Telephone system: Modern and expanding

Places of interest:
Venezuela is a country of striking natural beauty and dramatic contrasts. White-sand beaches fringed with coconut palms lining the Caribbean coast. South America's largest lake, Lake Maracaibo, and third-longest river, the Orinoco, are also here, and the country boasts the world's highest waterfall, Angel Falls. It is also home to a wide variety of exotic plants and animals, including the jaguar, ocelot, tapir, armadillo, anteater, and the longest snake in the world, the anaconda.

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