Venezuela

VENEZUELA

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Venezuela Wikipedia



For other uses, see Venezuela (disambiguation).
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela[a]
  • República Bolivariana de Venezuela  (Spanish)
FlagCoat of arms
Anthem: Gloria al Bravo Pueblo


Glory to the Brave People


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Capital


and largest city
Caracas


10°30′N 66°58′W / 10.500°N 66.967°W / 10.500; -66.967
Official languageSpanish[b]
Ethnic groups (2011)
  • 50.6% Mestizo
  • 45.6% White
  • 2.9% Black
  • 1.2% Others
  • 0.7% Afrodescendant
DemonymVenezuelan
GovernmentFederal presidential constitutional, Socialist Bolivarian republic
 - PresidentNicolás Maduro (PSUV)
 - Vice PresidentJorge Arreaza (PSUV)
 - President of the National AssemblyDiosdado Cabello (PSUV)
LegislatureNational Assembly
Independence
 - from Spain5 July 1811 
 - from Gran Colombia13 January 1830 
 - Recognized30 March 1845 
 - Current constitution20 December 1999 
Area
 - Total916,445 km2 (33rd)


353,841 sq mi
 - Water (%)0.32[d]
Population
 - 2011 census28,946,101 (44th)
 - Density30.2/km2 (181st)


77/sq mi
GDP (PPP)2013 estimate
 - Total$408.805 billion
 - Per capita$13,634
GDP (nominal)2013 estimate
 - Total$382.424 billion
 - Per capita$11,527
Gini (2010)39


medium
HDI (2013)Increase 0.748


high · 71st
CurrencyBolívar fuerte[e] (VEF)
Time zoneVET (UTC–4½)
Drives on theright
Calling code+58
ISO 3166 codeVE
Internet TLD.ve
a.^ The "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" has been the full official title since the adoption of the new Constitution of 1999, when the state was renamed in honor of Simón Bolívar.
b.^ The Constitution also recognizes all indigenous languages spoken in the country.
c.^ Some important subgroups include those of Spanish, Italian, Amerindian, African, Portuguese, Arab and German descent.
d.^ Area totals include only Venezuelan-administered territory.
e.^ On 1 January 2008, a new bolivar was introduced, the bolívar fuerte (ISO 4217 code VEF) worth 1,000 VEB.
Venezuela (Listeni/ˌvɛnəˈzweɪlə/ VEN-ə-ZWAYL-ə, Spanish pronunciation: [be.neˈswe.la]), officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Spanish: República Bolivariana de Venezuela [reˈpu.βlika βoliβaˈɾjana ðe βeneˈswela]), is a country on the northern coast of South America. Venezuela's territory covers around 916,445 square kilometres (353,841 sq mi) with an estimated population of approximately 29,100,000. Venezuela is considered a state with extremely high biodiversity, with habitats ranging from the Andes mountains in the west to the Amazon Basin rainforest in the south, via extensive llanos plains and Caribbean coast in the center and the Orinoco River Delta in the east.

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 dictatorship, 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 career officer Hugo Chávez and the launch of the Bolivarian Revolution, beginning with a 1999 Constituent Assembly to write a new Constitution 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 kilometres (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 been one of the world's leading exporters of oil and has the largest oil reserves. 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 recovery of oil prices after 2001 boosted the Venezuelan economy and facilitated social spending which significantly reduced inequality and poverty, although the fallout of the 2008 global financial crisis saw a renewed economic downturn. In February 2013, Venezuela devalued its currency due to the rising shortages in the country. Shortages of items included toilet paper, milk, flour and other necessities. As of November 2013, Venezuela's inflation has increased to 54%. This was one of the main causes of the 2014 Venezuelan protests.

Contents

              Etymology




              A palafito, a village or dwelling erected on bodies of water.
              In 1499, an expedition led by Alonso de Ojeda visited the Venezuelan coast. The stilt houses in the area of Lake Maracaibo reminded the navigator, Amerigo Vespucci (America is named after the Latinized version of his name), of the city of Venice, so he named the region "Veneziola". The name acquired its current spelling as a result of Spanish influence, where the suffix -uela is used as a diminutive term (e.g., plaza / plazuela, cazo / cazuela); thus, the term's original sense would have been that of a "little Venice". The German term for the area, "Klein-Venedig", also means little Venice (literally "small Venice").

              Nonetheless, although the Vespucci story remains the most popular and accepted version of the origin of the country's name, a different reason for the name comes up in the account of Martín Fernández de Enciso, a member of the Vespucci and Ojeda crew. In his work Summa de geografía, he states that they found an indigenous population who called themselves the "Veneciuela", which suggests that the name "Venezuela" may have evolved from the native word.

              History

              Main article: History of Venezuela
              There is evidence of human habitation in the area now known as Venezuela from approximately 15,000 years ago; leaf-shaped tools from this period, together with chopping and plano-convex scraping implements, have been found exposed on the high riverine terraces of the Rio Pedregal in western Venezuela. Late Pleistocene hunting artifacts, including spear tips, have been found at a similar series of sites in northwestern Venezuela known as "El Jobo"; according to radiocarbon dating, these date from 13,000 to 7,000 BC.

              It is not known how many people lived in Venezuela before the Spanish Conquest; it may have been approximately one million, and in addition to today's indigenous peoples the population included groups such as the Kalina (Caribs), Auaké, Caquetio, Mariche, and Timoto-cuicas. The number was reduced after the Conquest, mainly through the spread of new diseases from Europe. There were two main north-south axes of pre-Columbian population; producing maize in the west and manioc in the east. Large parts of the llanos plains were cultivated through a combination of slash and burn and permanent settled agriculture.

              Colonization

              Main articles: Spanish colonization of the Americas and Colonial Venezuela



              The Welser Armada exploring Venezuela



              Simón Bolívar, liberator of not only Venezuela, but also Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru.
              In 1498, during his third voyage to the Americas, Christopher Columbus sailed near the Orinoco Delta and then landed in the Gulf of Paria. Amazed by the great offshore current of freshwater which deflected his course eastward, Columbus expressed in his moving letter to Isabella and Ferdinand that he must have reached heaven on Earth (terrestrial paradise):


              Great signs are these of the Terrestrial Paradise, for the site conforms to the opinion of the holy and wise theologians whom I have mentioned. And likewise, the [other] signs conform very well, for I have never read or heard of such a large quantity of fresh water being inside and in such close proximity to salt water; the very mild temperateness also corroborates this; and if the water of which I speak does not proceed from Paradise then it is an even greater marvel, because I do not believe such a large and deep river has ever been known to exist in this world.


              His certainty of having attained Paradise made him name this region Land of Grace, a phrase that has become the country's nickname.

              Spain's colonization of mainland Venezuela started in 1522, establishing its first permanent South American settlement in the present-day[update] city of Cumaná. In the 16th century Venezuela was contracted as a concession by the King of Spain to the German Welser banking family (Klein-Venedig, 1528–1546). Native caciques (leaders) such as Guaicaipuro (c. 1530–1568) and Tamanaco (died 1573) attempted to resist Spanish incursions, but the newcomers ultimately subdued them; Tamanaco was put to death by order of Caracas' founder Diego de Losada.

              In the 16th century, during the Spanish colonization, indigenous peoples, such as many of the Mariches, themselves descendants of the Kalina, converted to Roman Catholicism. Some of the resisting tribes or leaders are commemorated in place names, including Caracas, Chacao, and Los Teques. The early colonial settlements focused on the northern coast, but in the mid-18th century the Spanish pushed farther inland along the Orinoco River. Here the Ye'kuana (then known as the Makiritare) organized serious resistance in 1775 and 1776.

              Spain's eastern Venezuelan settlements were incorporated into New Andalusia Province. Administered by the Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo from the early 16th century, most of Venezuela became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in the early 18th century, and was then reorganized as an autonomous Captaincy General starting in 1776. The town of Caracas, founded in the central coastal region in 1567, was well-placed to become a key location, being near the coastal port of La Guaira whilst itself being located in a valley in a mountain range, providing defensive strength against pirates and a more fertile and healthy climate.

              Independence

              Main article: Venezuelan War of Independence



              The signing of Venezuela's independence, by Martín Tovar y Tovar.



              The Battle of Carabobo, during the Venezuelan War of Independence.
              After a series of unsuccessful uprisings, Venezuela—under the leadership of Francisco de Miranda, a Venezuelan-American marshal who had fought in the American Revolution and the French Revolution—declared independence on 5 July 1811. This began the Venezuelan War of Independence. However, a devastating earthquake that struck Caracas in 1812, together with the rebellion of the Venezuelan llaneros, helped bring down the first Venezuelan republic. A second Venezuelan republic, proclaimed on 7 August 1813, lasted several months before being crushed as well.

              Sovereignty was only attained after Simón Bolívar, aided by José Antonio Páez and Antonio José de Sucre, won the Battle of Carabobo on 24 June 1821. José Prudencio Padilla and Rafael Urdaneta's victory in the Battle of Lake Maracaibo on 24 July 1823, helped seal Venezuelan independence. New Granada's congress gave Bolívar control of the Granadian army; leading it, he liberated several countries and founded Gran Colombia.

              Sucre, who won many battles for Bolívar, went on to liberate Ecuador and later become the second president of Bolivia. Venezuela remained part of Gran Colombia until 1830, when a rebellion led by Páez allowed the proclamation of a newly independent Venezuela; Páez became the first president of the new republic. Between one-quarter and one-third of Venezuela's population was lost during these two decades of warfare (including perhaps one-half of the white population), which by 1830 was estimated at about 800,000.



              José Gregorio Monagas abolished slavery in 1854.
              The colors of the Venezuelan flag are yellow, blue and red, in that order: the yellow stands for land wealth, the blue for the sea that separates Venezuela from Spain, and the red for the blood shed by the heroes of independence.



              José Antonio Páez.
              Slavery in Venezuela was abolished in 1854. Much of Venezuela's 19th century history was characterized by political turmoil and dictatorial rule, including the Independence leader José Antonio Páez, who gained the presidency three times and served a total of eleven years between 1830 and 1863. This culminated in the Federal War (1859–1863), a civil war in which hundreds of thousands died, in a country with a population of not much more than a million people. In the latter half of the century Antonio Guzmán Blanco, another caudillo, served a total of thirteen years between 1870 and 1887, with three other presidents interspersed.

              In 1895, a longstanding dispute with Great Britain about the territory of Guayana Esequiba, which Britain claimed as part of British Guiana and Venezuela saw as Venezuelan territory, erupted into the Venezuela Crisis of 1895. The dispute became a diplomatic crisis when Venezuela's lobbyist William L. Scruggs sought to argue that British behavior over the issue violated the United States' Monroe Doctrine of 1823, and used his influence in Washington, D.C. to pursue the matter. Then US President Grover Cleveland adopted a broad interpretation of the Doctrine that did not just simply forbid new European colonies but declared an American interest in any matter within the hemisphere. Britain ultimately accepted arbitration, but in negotiations over its terms was able to persuade the US on much of the details. A tribunal convened in Paris in 1898 to decide the issue, and in 1899 awarded the bulk of the disputed territory to British Guiana.
              Gómez, 1928.jpg
              Juan Vicente Gómez ruled Venezuela for 27 years (1908–1935).
              In 1899, Cipriano Castro, assisted by his friend Juan Vicente Gómez, seized power in Caracas, marching an army from his base in the Andean state of Táchira. Castro defaulted on Venezuela's considerable foreign debts, and declined to pay compensation to foreigners caught up in Venezuela's civil wars. This led to the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903, in which Britain, Germany and Italy imposed a naval blockade of several months, before international arbitration at the new Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague was agreed. In 1908 another dispute broke out with the Netherlands, which was resolved when Castro left for medical treatment in Germany and was promptly overthrown by Juan Vicente Gómez.

              The discovery of massive oil deposits in Lake Maracaibo during World War I would prove pivotal for Venezuela, and soon transformed the basis of its economy, from a heavy dependence on agricultural exports. It prompted an economic boom that would last into the 1980s; by 1935, Venezuela's per capita gross domestic product was Latin America's highest. Gómez benefited handsomely from this, as corruption thrived, but at the same time, the new source of income helped him centralize the Venezuelan state and develop its authority.

              He remained the most powerful man in Venezuela until his death in 1935, although at times he ceded the Presidency to others. The gomecista dictatorship system largely continued under Eleazar López Contreras, but from 1941, under Isaías Medina Angarita, was relaxed, with the latter granting a range of reforms, including the legalization of all political parties. After World War II the globalization and heavy immigration from Southern Europe (mainly from Spain, Italy, Portugal and France) and poorer Latin American countries markedly diversified Venezuelan society.

              In 1945, a civilian-military coup overthrew Medina Angarita and ushered in a three-year period of democratic rule under the mass membership Democratic Action, initially under Rómulo Betancourt, until Rómulo Gallegos won the Venezuelan presidential election, 1947 (generally believed to be the first free and fair elections in Venezuela). Gallegos governed until overthrown by a military junta led by Marcos Pérez Jiménez and Gallegos' Defense Minister Carlos Delgado Chalbaud in the 1948 Venezuelan coup d'état.

              Pérez Jiménez was the most powerful man in the junta (though Chalbaud was its titular President), and was suspected of being behind the death in office of Chalbaud, who died in a bungled kidnapping in 1950. When the junta unexpectedly lost the election it held in 1952, it ignored the results and Pérez Jiménez was installed as President, where he remained until 1958.



              Rómulo Betancourt (President 1945-1948/1959-1964), one of the major democracy activists of Venezuela.
              The military dictator Pérez Jiménez was forced out on 23 January 1958. In an effort to consolidate the young democracy, the major political parties (with the notable exception of the Communist Party of Venezuela) signed the Punto Fijo Pact. Democratic Action and COPEI would dominate the political landscape for four decades.

              The 1960s saw substantial guerilla movements, including the Armed Forces of National Liberation and the Revolutionary Left Movement, which had split from Democratic Action in 1960. Most of these movements lay down their arms under Rafael Caldera's presidency (1969–74); Caldera had won the 1968 election for COPEI, being the first time a party other than Democratic Action took the presidency through a democratic election.

              The election of Carlos Andrés Pérez in 1973 coincided with the 1973 oil crisis, which saw Venezuela's income explode as oil prices soared, while oil industries were nationalized in 1976. This led to massive increases in public spending, but also increases in external debts, which continued into the 1980s when the collapse of oil prices during the 1980s crippled the Venezuelan economy. As the government started to devalue the currency in February 1983 in order to face its financial obligations, Venezuelans' real standard of living fell dramatically. A number of failed economic policies and increasing corruption in government led to rising poverty and crime, worsening social indicators, and increased political instability.

              Economic crisis in the 1980s and 1990s led to a political crisis which saw hundreds dead in the Caracazo riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez (re-elected in 1988) for corruption in 1993. Coup leader Hugo Chávez was pardoned in March 1994 by president Rafael Caldera, with a clean slate and his political rights reinstated.

              Bolivarian Revolution

              Main articles: Bolivarian Revolution and Presidency of Hugo Chávez



              Hugo Chávez, President from 1999 until his death in 2013.
              A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw Chávez elected President in 1998, and the subsequent launch of a "Bolivarian Revolution", beginning with a 1999 Constituent Assembly to write a new Constitution of Venezuela.

              In April 2002, Chávez was briefly ousted from power in the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt following popular demonstrations by his opposers, but he was returned to power after two days as a result of popular demonstrations by his supporters and actions by the military.



              Nicolas Maduro, current President of Venezuela who took office after the death of Hugo Chávez in 2013.
              Chávez also remained in power after an all-out national strike that lasted more than two months from December 2002 to February 2003, including a strike/lockout in the state oil company PDVSA. The strike produced severe economic dislocation, with the country's GDP falling 27% during the first four months of 2003, and costing the oil industry $13.3bn. Capital flight before and during the strike led to the reimposition of currency controls (which had been abolished in 1989), managed by the CADIVI agency. In the subsequent decade the government was forced into several currency devaluations. These devaluations have done little to improve the situation of the Venezuelan people who rely on imported products or locally produced products that depend on imported inputs while dollar denominated oil sales account for the vast majority of Venezuela's exports.

              Chávez survived several further political tests, including an August 2004 recall referendum. He was elected for another term in December 2006 and re-elected for a third term in October 2012. However, he was never sworn in for his third period, due to medical complications. Chávez died on 5 March 2013 after a nearly two-year fight with cancer. The presidential election that took place on Sunday, 14 April 2013, was the first since Chávez took office in 1999 in which his name did not appear on the ballot.

              Nicolás Maduro has been the President of Venezuela since 14 April 2013, after winning the second presidential election after Chávez's death, with 50.61% of the votes against the opposition's candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski who had 49.12% of the votes. The Democratic Unity Roundtable contested his appointment as a violation of the constitution. However, the Supreme Court of Venezuela (TSJ) ruled that under Venezuela's Constitution, Nicolás Maduro is the legitimate President and was invested as such by the Venezuelan Congress (Asamblea Nacional).

              Beginning in February 2014, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have protested over high levels of criminal violence, inflation, and chronic scarcity of basic goods due to policies of the federal government. Demonstrations and riots have left over 40 fatalities in the unrest between both Chavistas and opposition protesters, and has led to the arrest of opposition leaders such as Leopoldo López.

              Geography




              Topographic map of Venezuela.
              Main article: Geography of Venezuela
              Venezuela is located in the north of South America; geologically its mainland rests on the South American Plate. It has a total area of 916,445 square kilometres (353,841 sq mi) and a land area of 882,050 square kilometres (340,560 sq mi), making it the 33rd largest country. The territory it controls lies between latitudes 0° and 13°N, and longitudes 59° and 74°W.

              Shaped roughly like a triangle, the country has a 2,800 km (1,700 mi) coastline in the north, which includes numerous islands in the Caribbean, and in the northeast borders the northern Atlantic Ocean. Most observers describe Venezuela in terms of four fairly well defined topographical regions: the Maracaibo lowlands in the northwest, the northern mountains extending in a broad east-west arc from the Colombian border along the northern Caribbean coast, the wide plains in central Venezuela, and the Guiana Highlands in the southeast.



              Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world
              The northern mountains are the extreme northeastern extensions of South America's Andes mountain range reach. Pico Bolívar, the nation's highest point at 4,979 m (16,335 ft), lies in this region. To the south, the dissected Guiana Highlands contains the northern fringes of the Amazon Basin and Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall as well as tepuis, large table-like mountains. The country's center is characterized by the llanos, which are extensive plains that stretch from the Colombian border in the far west to the Orinoco River delta in the east. The Orinoco, with its rich alluvial soils, binds the largest and most important river system of the country; it originates in one of the largest watersheds in Latin America. The Caroní and the Apure are other major rivers.

              Venezuela borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south. Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Curaçao, Aruba and the Leeward Antilles lie near the Venezuelan coast. Venezuela has territorial disputes with Guyana (formerly United Kingdom), largely concerning the Essequibo area, and with Colombia concerning the Gulf of Venezuela. In 1895, after years of diplomatic attempts to solve the border dispute, from Venezuela, the dispute over the Essequibo River border flared up, it was submitted to a "neutral" commission (composed of British, American and Russian representatives and without a direct Venezuelan representative), which in 1899 decided mostly against Venezuela's claim.

              Venezuela's most significant natural resources are petroleum and natural gas, iron ore, gold and other minerals. It also has large areas of arable land and water.

              Climate

              Main article: Climate of Venezuela



              Los Roques archipelago



              Sierra Nevada de Mérida
              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 between 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. Other charasteristic 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, amongst others. In the tropical zone—below 800 meters or 2,625 feet—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 meters (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 meters (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, there is knowledge of lower temperatures in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Mérida.

              Biodiversity

              Main articles: Fauna of Venezuela, Flora of Venezuela, National symbols of Venezuela and List of birds of Venezuela



              The Orinoco River Delta
              Venezuela lies within the Neotropic ecozone; large portions of the country were originally covered by moist broadleaf forests. One of seventeen megadiverse countries, Venezuela's habitats range from the Andes mountains in the west to the Amazon Basin rainforest in the south, via extensive llanos plains and Caribbean coast in the center and the Orinoco River Delta in the east. They include xeric scrublands in the extreme northwest and coastal mangrove forests in the northeast. Its cloud forests and lowland rainforests are particularly rich.

              Animals of Venezuela are diverse and include manatees, Three-toed sloth, Two-toed sloth, Amazon river dolphins, and Orinoco crocodiles, which have been reported to reach up to 6.6 m (22 ft) in length. Venezuela hosts a total of 1,417 bird species, 48 of which are endemic. Important birds include ibises, ospreys, kingfishers, and the yellow-orange Venezuelan Troupial, the national bird. Notable mammals include the Giant Anteater, jaguar, and the capybara, the world's largest rodent. More than half of Venezuelan avian and mammalian species are found in the Amazonian forests south of the Orinoco.

              For the fungi, an account was provided by R.W.G. Dennis which has been digitized and the records made available on-line as part of the Cybertruffle Robigalia database. That database includes nearly 3,900 species of fungi recorded from Venezuela, but is far from complete, and it is likely that the true total number of fungal species already known from Venezuela is higher. The true total number of fungal species occurring in Venezuela, including species not yet recorded, is likely to be far higher, given the generally accepted estimate that only about 7% of all fungi worldwide have so far been discovered.



              The araguaney (Tabebuia chrysantha), Venezuela's national tree.
              Among plants of Venezuela, over 25,000 species of orchids are found in the country's cloud forest and lowland rainforest ecosystems. These include the flor de mayo orchid (Cattleya mossiae), the national flower. Venezuela's national tree is the araguaney, whose characteristic lushness after the rainy season led novelist Rómulo Gallegos to name it "[l]a primavera de oro de los araguaneyes" (the golden spring of the araguaneyes).

              Venezuela is among the top twenty countries in terms of endemism. Among its animals, 23% of reptilian and 50% of amphibian species are endemic. Although the amount of available information is still very small, a first effort has been made to estimate the number of fungal species endemic to Venezuela: 1334 species of fungi have been tentatively identified as possible endemics of the country. Some 38% of the over 21,000 plant species known from Venezuela are unique to the country.

              Environment

              Venezuela is one of the ten 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 is 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 approximately 4 313 000 hectares. In response, federal protections for critical habitat were implemented; for example, 20% to 33% of forested land is protected. The country has a biosphere reserve that 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. 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 (almost 83,000 square kilometers), the area is off-limits to farmers, miners, and all non-Yanomami settlers.
              See also: Environmental issues in Venezuela

              Government and politics

              Main articles: Government of Venezuela and Politics of Venezuela
              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 saw 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.

              There are currently two major blocs of political parties 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).



              National Assembly of Venezuela building
              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.

              The president may ask the National Assembly to pass an enabling act granting the ability to rule by decree in specified policy areas; this requires a two-thirds majority in the Assembly. Since 1959 six Venezuelan presidents have been granted such powers.

              The unicameral Venezuelan parliament is the Asamblea Nacional ("National Assembly"). The number of members is variable – each state and the Capital district elect three representatives plus the result of dividing the state population by 1.1% of the total population of the country. Three seats are reserved for representatives of Venezuela's indigenous peoples. For the 2011–2016 period the number of seats is 165. All deputies serve five-year terms.

              The voting age in Venezuela is 18 and older. Voting is not compulsory.

              The legal system of Venezuela belongs to the Continental Law tradition. The highest judicial body is the Supreme Tribunal of Justice or Tribunal Supremo de Justicia, whose magistrates are elected by parliament for a single twelve-year term. The National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral, or CNE) is in charge of electoral processes; it is formed by five main directors elected by the National Assembly. Supreme Court president Luisa Estela Morales said in December 2009 that Venezuela had moved away from "a rigid division of powers" toward a system characterized by "intense coordination" between the branches of government. Morales clarified that each power must be independent adding that "one thing is separation of powers and another one is division".

              Foreign relations

              Main article: Foreign relations of Venezuela



              Chávez meets with Hillary Clinton during the Inauguration of Dilma Rousseff on 1 January 2011, Brasília
              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. Correspondingly, ties to various Latin American and Middle Eastern countries not allied to the U.S. have strengthened.

              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.

              Military

              See also: National Armed Forces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
              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.

              Law and crime

              Main articles: Law of Venezuela, Crime in Venezuela and Corruption in Venezuela
              Corruption in Venezuela is high by world standards, and was so for much of the 20th century. The discovery of oil had worsened political corruption, and by the late 1970s, Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso's description of oil as "the Devil's excrement" had become a common expression in Venezuela. Venezuela has been ranked one of the most corrupt countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index since the survey started in 1995. The 2010 ranking placed Venezuela at number 164, out of 178 ranked countries. Similarly, the World Justice Project ranked Venezuela 99th out of 99 countries surveyed in its 2014 Rule of Law Index.

              This corruption is shown with Venezuela's significant involvement in drug trafficking, with Colombian cocaine and other drugs transiting Venezuela towards the United States and Europe. Venezuela ranks fourth in the world for cocaine seizures, behind Colombia, the United States, and Panama. In 2006 the government's agency for combating the Illegal drug trade in Venezuela, ONA, was incorporated into the office of the Vice-President of the country. However, many major government and military officials have been known for their involvement with drug trafficking; especially with the October 2013 incident of men from the Venezuelan National Guard placing 1.3 tons of cocaine on a Paris flight knowing they will not face charges.

              Venezuela is among the most violent places on Earth. In Venezuela, a person is murdered every 21 minutes. Violent crimes have been so prevalent in 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. 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.

              Venezuela is especially dangerous toward foreign travelers and investors who are visiting. This is due to the nation's class struggle and poor economy that is devoid of needed foreign currency. The United States State Department and Government of Canada has warned foreign visitors that they may be subjected to robbery, kidnapping for a ransom or sale to terrorist organizations 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 against 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.

              States and regions of Venezuela

              Bolívar
              Amazonas
              Apure
              Zulia
              Táchira
              Barinas
              Mérida
              Trujillo
              Lara
              Portuguesa
              Guárico
              Cojedes
              Yaracuy
              Falcón
              Carabobo
              Aragua
              Miranda
              D. C.
              Vargas
              Anzoátegui
              Sucre
              Nueva Esparta
              Monagas
              Delta Amacuro
              Federal Dependencies
              Isla Aves
              Los


              Monjes
              Zone being


              Reclaimed
              Trinidad and Tobago
              Guyana
              Suriname
              Colombia
              Brazil
              Guadeloupe
              Dominica
              Martinique
              Saint Lucia
              Saint Vincent


              and the Granadines
              Grenada
              Barbados
              Aruba
              Curaçao
              Bonaire
              ABCI
              Caribbean Sea
              Atlantic Ocean
              StateCapitalStateCapital
               AmazonasPuerto Ayacucho MéridaMérida
               AnzoáteguiBarcelona MirandaLos Teques
               ApureSan Fernando de Apure MonagasMaturín
               AraguaMaracay Nueva EspartaLa Asunción
               BarinasBarinas PortuguesaGuanare
               BolívarCiudad Bolívar SucreCumaná
               CaraboboValencia TáchiraSan Cristóbal
               CojedesSan Carlos TrujilloTrujillo
               Delta AmacuroTucupita YaracuySan Felipe
               CaracasCaracas ZuliaMaracaibo
               FalcónCoro VargasLa Guaira
               GuáricoSan Juan de los Morros Federal Dependencies1El Gran Roque
               LaraBarquisimeto
              1 The Federal Dependencies are not states. They are just special divisions of the territory.
              Main articles: States of Venezuela 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.

              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 Cent
              Source: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venezuela )
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