The World Factbook (1990)/Venezuela

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World Factbook (1990) Venezuela.jpg

See regional map IV


Total area: 912,050 km²; land area: 882,050 km²

Comparative area: slightly more than twice the size of California

Land boundaries: 4,993 km total; Brazil 2,200 km, Colombia 2,050 km, Guyana 743 km

Coastline: 2,800 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 15 nm
Continental shelf: 200 meters or to depth of exploitation
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: claims Essequibo area of Guyana; maritime boundary disputes with Colombia in the Gulf of Venezuela and with Trinidad and Tobago in the Gulf of Paria

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands

Terrain: Andes mountains and Maracaibo lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guyana highlands in southeast

Natural resources: crude oil, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds

Land use: 3% arable land; 1% permanent crops; 20% meadows and pastures; 39% forest and woodland; 37% other; includes NEGL% irrigated

Environment: subject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts; increasing industrial pollution in Caracas and Maracaibo

Note: on major sea and air routes linking North and South America


Population: 19,698,104 (July 1990), growth rate 2.5% (1990)

Birth rate: 28 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 4 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 1 migrant/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 27 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 71 years male, 77 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 3.4 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Venezuelan(s); adjective—Venezuelan

Ethnic divisions: 67% mestizo, 21% white, 10% black, 2% Indian

Religion: 96% nominally Roman Catholic, 2% Protestant

Language: Spanish (official); Indian dialects spoken by about 200,000 Amerindians in the remote interior

Literacy: 85.6%

Labor force: 5,800,000; 56% services, 28% industry, 16% agriculture (1985)

Organized labor: 32% of labor force


Long-form name: Republic of Venezuela

Type: republic

Capital: Caracas

Administrative divisions: 20 states (estados, singular—estado), 2 territories* (territorios, singular—territorio), 1 federal district** (distrito federal), and 1 federal dependence*** (dependencia federal); Amazonas*, Anzoátegui, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Bolívar, Carabobo, Cojedes, Delta Amacuro*, Dependencias Federales***, Distrito Federal**, Falcón, Guárico, Lara, Mérida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Táchira, Trujillo, Yaracuy, Zulia; note—the federal dependence consists of 11 federally controlled island groups with a total of 72 individual islands

Independence: 5 July 1811 (from Spain)

Constitution: 23 January 1961

Legal system: based on Napoleonic code; judicial review of legislative acts in Cassation Court only; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Independence Day, 5 July (1811)

Executive branch: president, Council of Ministers (cabinet)

Legislative branch: bicameral National Congress (Congreso Nacional) consists of an upper chamber or Senate (Senado) and a lower chamber or Chamber of Deputies (Cámara de Diputados)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court of Justice (Corte Suprema de Justica)

Leaders: Chief of State and Head of Government—President Carlos Andrés PÉREZ (since 2 February 1989)

Political parties and leaders: Social Christian Party (COPEI), Eduardo Fernández, secretary general; Democratic Action (AD), Gonzalo Barrios, president, and Humberto Celli, secretary general; Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), Teodoro Petkoff, president, and Freddy Muñoz, secretary general

Suffrage: universal and compulsory at age 18, though poorly enforced

Elections: President—last held 4 December 1988 (next to be held December 1993); results—Carlos Andrés Pérez (AD) 53%, Eduardo Fernández (COPEI) 40%, others 7%;

Senate—last held 4 December 1988 (next to be held December 1993); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(49 total) AD 23, COPEI 22, others 4;

Chamber of Deputies—last held 4 December 1988 (next to be held December 1993); results—AD 43.7%, COPEI 31.4%, MAS 10.3%, others 14.6%; seats—(201 total) AD 97, COPEI 67, MAS 18, others 19

Communists: 10,000 members (est.)

Other political or pressure groups: FEDECAMARAS, a conservative business group; Venezuelan Confederation of Workers, the Democratic Action-dominated labor organization

Member of: Andean Pact, AIOEC, FAO, G-77, Group of Eight, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICO, IDB—Inter-American Development Bank, IFAD, IFC, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, INTELSAT, INTERPOL, IPU, IRC, ITU, IWC—International Wheat Council, LAIA, NAM, OAS, OPEC, PAHO, SELA, WFTU, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WHO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation: Ambassador Simón Alberto CONSALVI Bottaro; Chancery at 2445 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008; telephone (202) 797-3800; there are Venezuelan Consulates General in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico); US—Ambassador-designate Eric JAVITS; Embassy at Avenida Francisco de Miranda and Avenida Principal de la Floresta, Caracas (mailing address is P. O. Box 62291, Caracas 1060-A, or APO Miami 34037); telephone [58](2) 284-6111 or 7111; there is a US Consulate in Maracaibo

Flag: 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


Overview: Petroleum is the cornerstone of the economy and accounted for 17% of GDP, 52% of central government revenues, and 81% of export earnings in 1988. President Pérez introduced an economic readjustment program when he assumed office in February 1989. Lower tariffs and price supports, a free market exchange rate, and market-linked interest rates have thrown the economy into confusion, causing about an 8% decline in GDP.

GDP: $52.0 billion, per capita $2,700; real growth rate -8.1% (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 80.7% (1989)

Unemployment rate: 7.0% (1988)

Budget: revenues $8.4 billion; expenditures $8.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $5.9 billion (1989)

Exports: $10.4 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—petroleum 81%, bauxite and aluminum, iron ore, agricultural products, basic manufactures; partners—US 50.3%, FRG 5.3%, Japan 4.1% (1988)

Imports: $10.9 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—foodstuffs, chemicals, manufactures, machinery and transport equipment; partners—US 44%, FRG 8.5%, Japan 6%, Italy 5%, Brazil 4.4% (1987)

External debt: $33.6 billion (1988)

Industrial production: growth rate 3.7%, excluding oil (1988)

Electricity: 19,110,000 kW capacity; 54,516 million kWh produced, 2,830 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: petroleum, iron-ore mining, construction materials, food processing, textiles, steel, aluminum, motor vehicle assembly

Agriculture: accounts for 6% of GDP and 15% of labor force; products—corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee, beef, pork, milk, eggs, fish; not self-sufficient in food other than meat

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of cannabis and coca for the international drug trade on a small scale; however, large quantities of cocaine and marijuana do transit the country

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-86), $488 million; Communist countries (1970-88), $10 million

Currency: bolívar (plural—bolívares); 1 bolívar (Bs) = 100 céntimes

Exchange rates: bolívares (Bs) per US$1—43.42 (January 1990), 34.6815 (1989), 14.5000 (fixed rate 1987-88), 8.0833 (1986), 7.5000 (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 542 km total; 363 km 1.435-meter standard gauge all single track, government owned; 179 km 1.435-meter gauge, privately owned

Highways: 77,785 km total; 22,780 km paved, 24,720 km gravel, 14,450 km earth roads, and 15,835 km unimproved earth

Inland waterways: 7,100 km; Río Orinoco and Lago de Maracaibo accept oceangoing vessels

Pipelines: 6,370 km crude oil; 480 km refined products; 4,010 km natural gas

Ports: Amuay Bay, Bajo Grande, El Tablazo, La Guaira, Puerto Cabello, Puerto Ordaz

Merchant marine: 70 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 997,458 GRT/1,615,155 DWT; includes 1 short-sea passenger, 1 passenger cargo, 28 cargo, 2 container, 3 roll-on/roll-off cargo, 17 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 2 chemical tanker, 2 liquefied gas, 11 bulk, 1 vehicle carrier, 1 combination bulk, 1 combination ore/oil

Civil air: 58 major transport aircraft

Airports: 306 total, 278 usable; 134 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 12 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 92 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: modern and expanding; 1,440,000 telephones; stations—181 AM, no FM, 59 TV, 26 shortwave; 3 submarine coaxial cables; satellite earth stations—1 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT and 3 domestic

Defense Forces

Branches: Ground Forces (Army), Naval Forces (Navy, Marines, Coast Guard), Air Forces, Armed Forces of Cooperation (National Guard)

Military manpower: males 15-49, 5,073,913; 3,680,176 fit for military service; 211,269 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 1.1% of GDP, or $570 million (1990 est.)