Photos of Venezuela

Introduction

Background

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 military strongmen who promoted the oil industry and allowed for some social reforms. Although democratically elected governments largely held sway since 1959, the executive branch under Hugo CHAVEZ, president from 1999 to 2013, exercised increasingly authoritarian control over other branches of government.  This undemocratic trend continued in 2018 when Nicolas MADURO claimed the presidency for his second term in an election boycotted by most opposition parties and widely viewed as fraudulent.

The last democratically-elected institution is the 2015 National Assembly. In 2020, legislative elections were held for a new National Assembly, which the opposition boycotted, and which were widely condemned as fraudulent. The resulting assembly is viewed by most opposition parties and many international actors as illegitimate. In November 2021, most opposition parties broke a three-year election boycott to participate in mayoral and gubernatorial elections, despite flawed conditions. As a result, the opposition more than doubled its representation at the mayoral level and retained four of 23 governorships. The 2021 regional elections marked the first time since 2006 that the EU was allowed to send an electoral observation mission to Venezuela.

The MADURO regime places strong restrictions on freedoms of expression and the press. Since CHAVEZ, 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. Years of economic mismanagement left Venezuela ill-prepared to weather the global drop in oil prices in 2014, sparking an economic decline that has resulted in reduced government social spending, shortages of basic goods, and high inflation. Worsened living conditions have prompted over 7 million Venezuelans to migrate, mainly settling in nearby countries. Since 2017, the US has imposed financial and sectoral sanctions on the MADURO regime, and the regime's mismanagement and lack of investment in infrastructure has debilitated the country's oil sector. Caracas has more recently relaxed some economic controls to mitigate the impact of its sustained economic crisis, such as allowing increased currency and liberalizing import flexibility for private citizens and companies. Other concerns include human rights abuses, rampant violent crime, political manipulation of the judicial and electoral systems, and corruption.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana

Geographic coordinates

8 00 N, 66 00 W

Map references

South America

Area

total: 912,050 sq km

land: 882,050 sq km

water: 30,000 sq km

comparison ranking: total 34

Area - comparative

almost six times the size of Georgia; slightly more than twice the size of California

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 5,267 km

border countries (3): Brazil 2,137 km; Colombia 2,341 km; Guyana 789 km

Coastline

2,800 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 15 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Climate

tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands

Terrain

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

Elevation

highest point: Pico Bolivar 4,978 m

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

mean elevation: 450 m

Natural resources

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

Land use

agricultural land: 24.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 3.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 20.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 52.1% (2018 est.)

other: 23.4% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

10,550 sq km (2012)

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Lago de Maracaibo - 13,010 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Rio Negro (shared with Colombia [s] and Brazil [m]) - 2,250 km; Orinoco river source and mouth (shared with Colombia) - 2,101 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Amazon (6,145,186 sq km), Orinoco (953,675 sq km)

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

Natural hazards

subject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts

Geography - note

note 1: the country lies on major sea and air routes linking North and South America

note 2: Venezuela has some of the most unique geology in the world; tepuis are massive table-top mountains of the western Guiana Highlands that tend to be isolated and thus support unique endemic plant and animal species; their sheer cliffsides account for some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world including Angel Falls, the world's highest (979 m) that drops off Auyan Tepui

People and Society

Population

30,518,260 (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 50

Nationality

noun: Venezuelan(s)

adjective: Venezuelan

Ethnic groups

unspecified Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, Indigenous

Languages

Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects

major-language sample(s):
La Libreta Informativa del Mundo, la fuente indispensable de información básica. (Spanish)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Spanish audio sample:

Religions

Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%

Demographic profile

Social investment in Venezuela during the CHAVEZ administration reduced poverty from nearly 50% in 1999 to about 27% in 2011, increased school enrollment, substantially decreased infant and child mortality, and improved access to potable water and sanitation through social investment. "Missions" dedicated to education, nutrition, healthcare, and sanitation were funded through petroleum revenues. The sustainability of this progress remains questionable, however, as the continuation of these social programs depends on the prosperity of Venezuela's oil industry. In the long-term, education and health care spending may increase economic growth and reduce income inequality, but rising costs and the staffing of new health care jobs with foreigners are slowing development.

While CHAVEZ was in power, more than one million predominantly middle- and upper-class Venezuelans are estimated to have emigrated. The brain drain is attributed to a repressive political system, lack of economic opportunities, steep inflation, a high crime rate, and corruption. Thousands of oil engineers emigrated to Canada, Colombia, and the United States following CHAVEZ's firing of over 20,000 employees of the state-owned petroleum company during a 2002-03 oil strike. Additionally, thousands of Venezuelans of European descent have taken up residence in their ancestral homelands. Nevertheless, Venezuela has attracted hundreds of thousands of immigrants from South America and southern Europe because of its lenient migration policy and the availability of education and health care. Venezuela also has been a fairly accommodating host to Colombian refugees, numbering about 170,000 as of year-end 2016. However, since 2014, falling oil prices have driven a major economic crisis that has pushed Venezuelans from all walks of life to migrate or to seek asylum abroad to escape severe shortages of food, water, and medicine; soaring inflation; unemployment; and violence. As of September 2022, an estimated 7.1 million Venezuelans were refugees or migrants worldwide, with almost 80% taking refuge in Latin America and the Caribbean (notably Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, and Brazil, as well as the Dominican Republic, Aruba, and Curacao). Asylum applications increased significantly in the US and Brazil in 2016 and 2017. Several receiving countries are making efforts to increase immigration restrictions and to deport illegal Venezuelan migrants - Ecuador and Peru in August 2018 began requiring valid passports for entry, which are difficult to obtain for Venezuelans. Nevertheless, Venezuelans continue to migrate to avoid economic collapse at home.

Age structure

0-14 years: 25.13% (male 3,920,774/female 3,748,241)

15-64 years: 65.98% (male 10,029,127/female 10,105,332)

65 years and over: 8.9% (2023 est.) (male 1,239,205/female 1,475,581)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 57.5

youth dependency ratio: 44.4

elderly dependency ratio: 13.1

potential support ratio: 7.6 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 30.8 years (2023 est.)

male: 30.1 years

female: 31.5 years

comparison ranking: total 126

Population growth rate

2.4% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 26

Birth rate

17 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 94

Death rate

6.6 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 135

Net migration rate

13.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 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

Urbanization

urban population: 88.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.16% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

2.972 million CARACAS (capital), 2.368 million Maracaibo, 1.983 million Valencia, 1.254 million Barquisimeto, 1.243 million Maracay, 964,000 Ciudad Guayana (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female

total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

259 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 36

Infant mortality rate

total: 14.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 15.7 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 12.5 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 102

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.3 years (2023 est.)

male: 71.2 years

female: 77.5 years

comparison ranking: total population 141

Total fertility rate

2.2 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 87

Gross reproduction rate

1.07 (2023 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 94.2% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 5.8% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

3.8% of GDP (2020)

Physicians density

1.73 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

0.9 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 95.8% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 4.2% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A

vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

25.6% (2016)

comparison ranking: 49

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 2.51 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 1.54 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0.01 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.92 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0.03 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 123

Education expenditures

1.3% of GDP (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 194

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 97.5%

male: 97.4%

female: 97.7% (2021)

Environment

Environment - current issues

sewage pollution of Lago de Valencia; oil and urban pollution of Lago de Maracaibo; deforestation; soil degradation; urban and industrial pollution, especially along the Caribbean coast; threat to the rainforest ecosystem from irresponsible mining operations

Environment - international agreements

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protection, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 2006, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Climate

tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands

Land use

agricultural land: 24.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 3.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 20.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 52.1% (2018 est.)

other: 23.4% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 88.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.16% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Food insecurity

widespread lack of access: due to severe economic crisis - the national economy, highly dependent on oil production and exports, was forecast to contract in 2021 for the eighth consecutive year; with the persistent negative effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic that have compounded the already severe macro‑economic crisis, the access to food of the most vulnerable households is expected to deteriorate throughout 2021 and into 2022 due to widespread losses of income‑generating activities and soaring food prices (2022)

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 16.21 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 164.18 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 68.66 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 9,779,093 tons (2010 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Lago de Maracaibo - 13,010 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Rio Negro (shared with Colombia [s] and Brazil [m]) - 2,250 km; Orinoco river source and mouth (shared with Colombia) - 2,101 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Atlantic Ocean drainage: Amazon (6,145,186 sq km), Orinoco (953,675 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 5.12 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 790 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 16.71 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

1.33 trillion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

conventional short form: Venezuela

local long form: República Bolivariana de Venezuela

local short form: Venezuela

former: State of Venezuela, Republic of Venezuela, United States of Venezuela

etymology: native stilt-houses built on Lake Maracaibo reminded early explorers Alonso de OJEDA and Amerigo VESPUCCI in 1499 of buildings in Venice and so they named the region "Venezuola," which in Italian means "Little Venice"

Government type

federal presidential republic

Capital

name: Caracas

geographic coordinates: 10 29 N, 66 52 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: named for the native Caracas tribe that originally settled in the city's valley site near the Caribbean coast

Administrative divisions

23 states (estados, singular - estado), 1 capital district* (distrito capital), and 1 federal dependency** (dependencia federal); Amazonas, Anzoategui, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Bolivar, Carabobo, Cojedes, Delta Amacuro, Dependencias Federales (Federal Dependencies)**, Distrito Capital (Capital District)*, Falcon, Guarico, La Guaira, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Tachira, Trujillo, Yaracuy, Zulia

note: the federal dependency consists of 11 federally controlled island groups with a total of 72 individual islands

Independence

5 July 1811 (from Spain)

National holiday

Independence Day, 5 July (1811)

Constitution

history: many previous; latest adopted 15 December 1999, effective 30 December 1999

amendments: proposed through agreement by at least 39% of the National Assembly membership, by the president of the republic in session with the cabinet of ministers, or by petition of at least 15% of registered voters; passage requires simple majority vote by the Assembly and simple majority approval in a referendum; amended 2009; note - in 2016, President MADURO issued a decree to hold an election to form a constituent assembly to change the constitution; the election in July 2017 approved the formation of a 545-member constituent assembly and elected its delegates, empowering them to change the constitution and dismiss government institutions and officials

Legal system

civil law system based on the Spanish civil code

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: yes

citizenship by descent only: yes

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years; reduced to five years in the case of applicants from Spain, Portugal, Italy, or a Latin American or Caribbean country

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Notification Statement: the United States does not recognize Nicolas MADURO Moros as president of Venezuela

President Nicolas MADURO Moros (since 19 April 2013); Executive Vice President Delcy RODRIGUEZ Gomez (since 14 June 2018); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Nicolas MADURO Moros (since 19 April 2013); Executive Vice President Delcy RODRIGUEZ Gomez (since 14 June 2018)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 6-year term (no term limits); election last held on 20 May 2018 (next to be held in the second half of 2024)

election results:
2018: Nicolas MADURO Moros reelected president; percent of vote - Nicolas MADURO Moros (PSUV) 67.9%, Henri FALCON (AP) 20.9%, Javier BERTUCCI 10.8%; note - the election was reportedly marred by serious shortcomings and electoral fraud

2013: Nicolas MADURO Moros elected president; percent of vote - Nicolas MADURO Moros (PSUV) 50.6%, Henrique CAPRILES Radonski (PJ) 49.1%, other 0.3%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (277 seats; 3 seats reserved for indigenous peoples of Venezuela; members serve 5-year terms); note - in 2020, the National Electoral Council increased the number of seats in the National Assembly from 167 to 277 for the 6 December 2020 election

elections: last held on 6 December 2020 (next to be held in December 2025)

election results: percent of vote by party - GPP (pro-government) 69.3%, Democratic Alliance (opposition coalition) 17.7%, other 13%; seats by party - GPP 253, Democratic Alliance 18, indigenous peoples 3, other 3; composition - NA

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Tribunal of Justice (consists of 32 judges organized into constitutional, political-administrative, electoral, civil appeals, criminal appeals, and social divisions)

judge selection and term of office: judges proposed by the Committee of Judicial Postulation (an independent body of organizations dealing with legal issues and of the organs of citizen power) and appointed by the National Assembly; judges serve nonrenewable 12-year terms; note - in July 2017, the National Assembly named 33 judges to the court to replace a series of judges, it argued, had been illegally appointed in late 2015 by the outgoing, socialist-party-led Assembly; the Government of President MADURO and the Socialist Party-appointed judges refused to recognize these appointments, however, and many of the new judges have since been imprisoned or forced into exile

subordinate courts: Superior or Appeals Courts (Tribunales Superiores); District Tribunals (Tribunales de Distrito); Courts of First Instance (Tribunales de Primera Instancia); Parish Courts (Tribunales de Parroquia); Justices of the Peace (Justicia de Paz) Network

Political parties and leaders

A New Era (Un Nuevo Tiempo) or UNT [Omar Enrique BARBOZA Gutierrez]
Brave People's Alliance or ABP [Antonio LEDEZMA]
Cambiemos Movimiento Ciudadano or CMC [Timoteo ZAMBRANO]
Christian Democrats or COPEI [Juan Carlos ALVARADO Prato, Roberto ENRIQUEZ]
Citizens Encounter or EC [Delsa SOLORZANO]
Clear Accounts or CC [Enzo SCARANO]
Coalition of parties loyal to Nicolas MADURO - Great Patriotic Pole or GPP [Nicolas MADURO]
Coalition of opposition parties - Democratic Alliance (Alianza Democratica) (includes AD, EL CAMBIO, COPEI, CMC, and AP)
Come Venezuela (Vente Venezuela) or VV [Maria Corina MACHADO]
Communist Party of Venezuela or PCV [Oscar FIGUERA]
Consenso en la Zona or Conenzo [Enzo SCARANO and Leon JURADO]
Convergencia [Juan Jose CALDERA]
Democratic Action or AD [Jose Bernabe GUTIERREZ Parra]
Fatherland for All (Patria para Todos) or PPT [Ilenia MEDINA]
Fuerza Vecinal or FV [leaders include mayors Gustavo DUQUE, Darwin GONZALEZ, Elias SAYEGH, Manuel FERREIRA, Josy FERNANDEZ, and Morel David RODRIGUEZ]; note - national spokesman David UZCATEGUI
Hope for Change (Esperanza por el Cambio) or EL CAMBIO [Javier Alejandro BERTUCCI Carrero]
Justice First (Primero Justicia) or PJ [Tomas GUANIPA]
LAPIZ [Antonio Domingo ECARRI Angola]
Movement to Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo) or MAS [Segundo MELENDEZ]
Popular Will (Voluntad Popular) or VP [Leopoldo LOPEZ]
Progressive Advance (Avanzada Progresista) or AP [Henri FALCON]
The Radical Cause or La Causa R [Andres VELAZQUEZ]
United Socialist Party of Venezuela or PSUV [Nicolas MADURO]
Venezuela First (Primero Venezuela) or PV [Luis PARRA]
Venezuelan Progressive Movement or MPV [Simon CALZADILLA]
Venezuela Project or PV [Carlos BERRIZBEITIA]

International organization participation

Caricom (observer), CD, CDB, CELAC, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA, LAS (observer), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, Petrocaribe, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNHRC, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); note - the embassy, which had been run by the Venezuelan political opposition, announced on 5 January 2023, that it had ended all embassy functions

chancery: 1099 30th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007; note - closed since 5 January 2023

telephone: [1] (202) 342-2214; note - closed since 5 January 2023

FAX: [1] (202) 342-6820; note - closed since 5 January 2023

email address and website:
despacho.embveus@mppre.gob.ve

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); as of 19 May 2023, Francisco L. PALMIERI serves as the chief of mission of the Venezuelan Affairs Unit, located at the United States Embassy, Bogota, Colombia

embassy: Venezuela Affairs Unit, Carrera 45 N. 24B-27, Bogota

previously - F St. and Suapure St.; Urb. Colinas de Valle Arriba; Caracas 1080

mailing address: 3140 Caracas Place, Washington DC  20521-3140

telephone: 1-888-407-4747

 


email address and website:
ACSBogota@state.gov

https://ve.usembassy.gov/

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 symbol(s)

troupial (bird); national colors: yellow, blue, red

National anthem

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

lyrics/music: Vicente SALIAS/Juan Jose LANDAETA

note: adopted 1881; lyrics written in 1810, the music some years later; both SALIAS and LANDAETA were executed in 1814 during Venezuela's struggle for independence

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 3 (2 cultural, 1 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Coro and its Port (c); Canaima National Park (n); Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas (c)

Economy

Economic overview

South American economy; ongoing hyperinflation since mid-2010s; chaotic economy due to political corruption, infrastructure cuts, and human rights abuses; in debt default; oil exporter; hydropower consumer; rising Chinese relations

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$269.068 billion (2018 est.)
$381.6 billion (2017 est.)
$334.751 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 61

Real GDP growth rate

-19.67% (2018 est.)
-14% (2017 est.)
-15.76% (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 223

Real GDP per capita

$7,704 (2018 est.)
$12,500 (2017 est.)
$9,417 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 158

GDP (official exchange rate)

$210.1 billion (2017 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

146,101.7% (2019 est.)
45,518.1% (2018 est.)
416.8% (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 227

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: RD (2017)

Moody's rating: WR (2019)

Standard & Poors rating: SD (2017)

note: The year refers to the year in which the current credit rating was first obtained.

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 4.7% (2017 est.)

industry: 40.4% (2017 est.)

services: 54.9% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 156; industry 29; agriculture 129

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 68.5% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 19.6% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 13.9% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 1.7% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 7% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -10.7% (2017 est.)

Agricultural products

sugar cane, maize, milk, rice, plantains, bananas, pineapples, potatoes, beef, poultry

Industries

agricultural products, livestock, raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, iron and steel products, crude oil and petroleum products

Industrial production growth rate

-2% (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 173

Labor force

10.245 million (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 53

Unemployment rate

6.41% (2021 est.)
6.63% (2020 est.)
5.1% (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 106

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 14.9% (2021 est.)

male: 13.4% NA

female: 19.3% NA

comparison ranking: total 118

Average household expenditures

on food: 19.1% of household expenditures (2018 est.)

on alcohol and tobacco: 3.8% of household expenditures (2018 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.7%

highest 10%: 32.7% (2006)

Budget

revenues: $30 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: $76 million (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-46.1% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 220

Public debt

38.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
31.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: data cover central government debt, as well as the debt of state-owned oil company PDVSA; the data include treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include some debt issued by subnational entities, as well as intragovernmental debt; intragovernmental debt consists of treasury borrowings from surpluses in the social funds, such as for retirement, medical care, and unemployment; some debt instruments for the social funds are sold at public auctions

comparison ranking: 140

Taxes and other revenues

44.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 8

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$3.87 billion (2016 est.)
-$3.87 billion (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 179

Exports

$83.401 billion (2018 est.)
$93.485 billion (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 50

Exports - partners

India 34%, China 28%, United States 12%, Spain 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

crude petroleum, refined petroleum, industrial alcohols, gold, iron (2019)

Imports

$18.432 billion (2018 est.)
$18.376 billion (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 93

Imports - partners

China 28%, United States 22%, Brazil 8%, Spain 6%, Mexico 6%  (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, rice, corn, tires, soybean meal, wheat (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$9.794 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$11 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 79

Debt - external

$100.3 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$109.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 56

Exchange rates

bolivars (VEB) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
9.975 (2017 est.)
9.257 (2016 est.)
6.284 (2015 est.)
6.284 (2014 est.)
6.048 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

population without electricity: (2020) less than 1 million

electrification - total population: 99.9% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 100% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 99.8% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 32.956 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 78,082,020,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 870 million kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 26.452 billion kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 34; transmission/distribution losses 198; imports 157; exports 66; consumption 38

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 30.5% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 69.4% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 396,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 33,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 685,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 1,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 731 million metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 604,800 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 470,600 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 1,002,700 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 303.806 billion barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

926,300 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 20

Refined petroleum products - exports

325,800 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 27

Refined petroleum products - imports

20,640 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 117

Natural gas

production: 22,694,584,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

consumption: 22,694,584,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 5,673,894,000,000 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

103.708 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 108,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 57.378 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 46.222 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 41

Energy consumption per capita

85.829 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 67

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 3,146,844 (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 11 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 37

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 17 million (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 60 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 65

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Venezuela’s fixed-line teledensity was relatively high for the region before the steady growth in the number of lines came to an end in 2015; since then, the number of lines has plummeted, and by late 2021 teledensity had fallen to about 17.3%; the cause is largely linked to the country’s ongoing economic troubles, which have compelled many people to terminate fixed-line telecom services and others still to flee the country; these pressures have also distorted sector revenue and have placed into disarray operators’ investment plans aimed at improving networks and expanding the reach and capabilities of new technologies and services; the fixed broadband penetration rate is lower than the regional average, while data speeds are also relatively low; there is no effective competition in the provision of DSL, and as a result the state-owned incumbent CANTV has had little incentive to improve services from its meager revenue streams; mobile penetration in Venezuela is also below the regional average; the number of mobile subscribers fell by an estimated 2.4% in 2020, year-on-year, as subscribers terminated services in a bid to reduce discretionary spending, this decline is expected to continue into 2022, with subscriber growth not returning until 2023 (2021)

domestic: fixed-line is 11 per 100 and mobile-cellular telephone subscribership is 60 per 100 persons (2021)

international: country code - 58; landing points for the Venezuela Festoon, ARCOS, PAN-AM, SAC, GlobeNet, ALBA-1 and Americas II submarine cable system providing connectivity to the Caribbean, Central and South America, and US; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 PanAmSat (2020)

Broadcast media

Venezuela has a mixture of state-run and private broadcast media that are subject to high levels of regime control, including the shuttering of opposition-leaning media outlets; 13 public service networks, 61 privately owned TV networks, a privately owned news channel with limited national coverage, and a regime-backed Pan-American channel; 3 regime-run radio networks officially control roughly 65 news stations and another 30 stations targeted at specific audiences; regime-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 (2021)

Internet users

total: 22,734,162 (2022 est.)

percent of population: 78.7% (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total 38

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 2,561,556 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 52

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 12 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 75

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 2,137,771 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1.55 million (2018) mt-km

Airports

502 (2024)

comparison ranking: 17

Heliports

88 (2024)

Pipelines

981 km extra heavy crude, 5941 km gas, 7,588 km oil, 1,778 km refined products (2013)

Railways

total: 447 km (2014)

standard gauge: 447 km (2014) 1.435-m gauge (41.4 km electrified)

comparison ranking: total 114

Roadways

total: 96,189 km (2014)

comparison ranking: total 51

Waterways

7,100 km (2011) (Orinoco River (400 km) and Lake de Maracaibo navigable by oceangoing vessels)

comparison ranking: 22

Merchant marine

total: 272 (2023)

by type: bulk carrier 3, container ship 1, general cargo 26, oil tanker 17, other 225

comparison ranking: total 60

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): La Guaira, Maracaibo, Puerto Cabello, Punta Cardon

oil terminal(s): Jose terminal

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, FANB): Bolivarian Army (Ejercito Bolivariano, EB), Bolivarian Navy (Armada Bolivariana, AB; includes marines, Coast Guard), Bolivarian Military Aviation (Aviacion Militar Bolivariana, AMB; includes a joint-service Aerospace Defense Command (Comando de Defensa Aeroespacial Integral, CODAI), Bolivarian Militia (Milicia Bolivariana), Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivaria, GNB)

Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace: Bolivarian National Police (Policía Nacional Bolivariana, PNB) (2024)

note 1: the Bolivarian Militia was added as a "special component" to the FANB in 2020; it is comprised of armed civilians who receive periodic training in exchange for a small stipend

note 2: the National Guard, established in 1937 and made a component of the FANB in 2007, is responsible for maintaining public order, guarding the exterior of key government installations and prisons, conducting counter-narcotics operations, monitoring borders, and providing law enforcement in remote areas; it reports to both the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace

note 3: the PNB is a federal force created by Hugo CHAVEZ in 2008 as a “preventative police force,” separate from state and local ones; the PNB largely focuses on policing Caracas’ Libertador municipality, patrolling Caracas-area highways, railways, and metro system, and protecting diplomatic missions; the PNB includes the Special Action Forces (Fuerzas de Acciones Especiales, FAES), a paramilitary unit created by President MADURO to bolster internal security after the 2017 anti-government protests; it has been accused of multiple human rights abuses    

Military expenditures

5.2% of GDP (2019 est.)
4.4% of GDP (2018 est.)
2.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
2.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
1.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 7

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 125-150,000 active military personnel, including about 25-30,000 National Guard; approximately 200-225,000 Bolivarian Militia; approximately 45,000 National Police (2023)

note: in December 2022, President Nicolas MADURO announced that the National Police would be increased to 100,000 in 2024

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the FANB inventory is mainly of Chinese and Russian origin with a smaller mix of mostly older equipment from Western countries, including the US; in recent years, suppliers have included China, the Netherlands, and Spain (2023)

note: the US prohibited the sale or transfer of military arms or technology to Venezuela in 2006

Military service age and obligation

18-30 (25 for women) for voluntary service; the minimum service obligation is 24-30 months; all citizens of military service age (18-50) are obligated to register for military service and subject to military training, although “forcible recruitment” is forbidden (2023)

Military - note

the armed forces (FANB) are responsible for ensuring Venezuela’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity but also have a domestic role, including assisting with maintaining internal order and law enforcement, contributing to national socio-economic development, and providing disaster/humanitarian assistance; the military conducts security operations in large parts of the country and has been deployed against illegal armed groups operating in the Colombian border region and other areas of the country to combat organized crime gangs involved in narcotics trafficking and illegal mining

the military has a large role in the country’s economy and political sectors; between 2013 and 2017, Venezuela established at least a dozen military-led firms in economic areas, such as agriculture, banking, construction, insurance, the media, mining, oil, and tourism; military officers reportedly lead as many as 60 state-owned companies; as of 2023, 14 of 32 government ministries were controlled by the military, including the ministries of agriculture, food, petroleum, and water

the FANB is deployed throughout the country in one maritime and seven geographical regional commands known as Integral Strategic Defense Regions (Regiones Estrategicas de Defensa Integral or REDI) that are mandated to provide for the defense, security, social, and economic needs of their respective areas of responsibility; the REDIs are further broken down into zones and state commands; the Army has six divisional headquarters and approximately 21 combat brigades spread amongst the seven geographical REDIs; the brigades are a mix of armored, artillery, infantry, military police, motorized cavalry, and special operations forces; some infantry brigades are mechanized or are specialized for airborne, jungle, mountain, or security operations; the Army also has an aviation brigade; the Navy is a coastal defense force and includes commands for operations, aviation, and the coast guard; the operational readiness of the Navy’s ship inventory has been affected by Venezuela’s economic problems; its principal operational warships include two frigates and approximately four ocean-going patrol ships; it also has two attack submarines although they are not assessed to be operational; the Navy has a marine infantry force that includes several amphibious or riverine brigades and a special operations brigade; the Air Force has less than 50 US- and Russian-made fighters and multirole fighter aircraft; the National Guard is organized into nine regional commands which control battalion and regimental size units; the Bolivarian Militia is reportedly divided into a reserve service, a territorial guard component comprised of local battalions and detachments, and a coastal guard force

members of the terrorist organizations National Liberation Army (ELN) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia dissidents (FARC-People's Army and Segundo Marquetalia - see Appendix T) operate in Venezuela, mostly in the states of Amazonas, Apure, Bolivar, Guarico, Tachira, and Zulia; the ELN is assessed to be present in 12 of Venezuela’s 23 states; the groups are particularly active in Apure state; the Venezuelan military has been deployed to the border region to patrol border crossings and has clashed with both the ELN and the FARC dissident groups (2023)

Space

Space agency/agencies

Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities (Agencia Bolivariana para Actividades Espaciales, ABAE; formed 2007); ABAE was originally known as the Venezuelan Space Center (CEV; created 2005); the ABAE is under the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (2023)

Space program overview

has a small program primarily focused on the acquisition of satellites and developing the country’s space engineering and sciences capabilities; operates satellites and maintains two satellite ground control stations; has received technical assistance from China (2023)

note: further details about the key activities, programs, and milestones of the country’s space program, as well as government spending estimates on the space sector, appear in Appendix S

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Terrorist group(s): National Liberation Army (ELN); Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP); Segundo Marquetalia

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Venezuela-Brazil: none identified

Venezuela-Colombia: dispute with Colombia over maritime boundary and Venezuelan administered Los Monjes Islands near the Gulf of Venezuela; Colombian-organized illegal narcotics and paramilitary activities penetrate Venezuela's shared border region; the border between the two countries was closed from March 2020 to October 2021 due to COVID, but goods and people fleeing poverty and violence continued to be smuggled from Venezuela into Colombia, and illegal narcotics and armed men flowed into Venezuela from Colombia; since the FARC disarmed in 2016, some former members have formed armed dissident groups that operate along the border

Venezuela-Guyana: claims all of the area west of the Essequibo River in Guyana, preventing any discussion of a maritime boundary; in 2018, Guyana initiated proceedings against Venezuela with the International Court of Justice (ICJ); Venezuela requested a direct dialogue to settle the dispute; the ICJ ruled that it had jurisdiction to hear the case in December 2020; in December 2023, the Venezuelan Government held a referendum on the disputed Essequibo region and announced measures to exert administrative control over the area 

Venezuela-various:  Venezuela claims Aves Island and thereby an economic exclusion Zone/continental shelf extending over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea; Venezuela’s claim to Aves Island is disputed by Dominica and several other countries because the island has rich guano deposits useful in producing fertilizer and gunpowder, as well as large fish stocks and natural gas reserves; contraband smuggling (narcotics and arms), illegal migration, trafficking in animals, plants, lumber, illegal exploitation of mineral resources

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 39,185 (Colombia) (mid-year 2022)

note: As of May 2023, approximately 7.32 Venezuelan refugees and migrants reside worldwide with 83.9% in Latin America and the Caribbean

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 3 — Venezuela does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making any efforts to do so, therefore, Venezuela remained on Tier 3; the Maduro regime (which is not recognized by the US) took some steps to address trafficking, arresting some traffickers and identifying some victims; however, the regime did not report assisting victims or prosecuting or convicting traffickers; the Maduro regime continued to provide support and a permissive environment for non-state armed groups and other armed groups that forcibly recruited and used children for armed conflict or forced criminality; the armed groups also engaged in sex trafficking and forced labor while operating with impunity; the regime did not make sufficient efforts to curb the armed groups’ forced recruitment and exploitation of children (2023)

trafficking profile:

human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Venezuela, as well as Venezuelans abroad; more than six million Venezuelans, facing continued economic, political, and humanitarian crises, have fled to neighboring countries and are at risk of human trafficking; traffickers exploit Venezuelans in Aruba, The Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Guyana, Haiti, Iceland, Macau, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Spain, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay; Venezuelan women and girls are particularly at risk of sex trafficking in neighboring countries; women, including transgender women, have been lured to Spain and Germany with fraudulent employment offers and subjected to forced surgical procedures before being exploited in commercial sex; Venezuelan men are exploited in forced labor in other countries, including Aruba and Curacao; within Venezuela, Venezuelan women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking and child sex tourism; children are exploited in sex trafficking and forced labor, including in farming, domestic service, construction, mining, and criminal groups; non-state armed groups—including illegal Colombian groups near border regions—force some Venezuelans into criminal acts, use as child soldiers, and exploitation in sex trafficking and forced labor; members of the Maduro regime most likely tolerate or sometimes collude with the armed groups’ trafficking; sex and labor trafficking victims from South American, Caribbean, Asian, and African countries have been reported in Venezuela; the Cuban Government may be exploiting Cuban workers in medical missions in Venezuela (2023)

Illicit drugs

a major drug-transit country and trafficking route in the Western Hemisphere for illegal drugs mainly cocaine;  government depends on rents from narco-trafficking, along with other illicit activities, to maintain power;  evidence of coca cultivation and cocaine production in domestic drug laboratories suggests the country is now also an illicit drug-producing country;  a major source of precursor or essential chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics