- Country name : Venezuela
- Official name : Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
- System of government : Federal republic.
- National anthem :
- Area : 912 050 km²
- Capital : Caracas.
- Border countries : Brazil, Colombia, Guyana.
- Population : 24,6 millions (2003).
- Language(s) : Spanish (official), various indigenous languages.
- Religions : Roman Catholic (96 %), Protestant (2 %), other (2 %).
>The Venezuelan economy is based primarly on oil, although the diversification of the industry has been encouraged.
>Venezuela is rich in mineral resources : oil, natural gas, bauxite, iron, gold, copper… Crude and refined oil are the main source of government revenue.
>Agriculture : the principal crops include corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffe. The fish sector is dominant in the economy (shrimp, tuna, sardines).
>The government has used oil revenues to stimulate manufacturing industries. Food processing and the manufacture of construction materials, textiles, chemicals and automobiles have become well established.
>When Colombus explored Venezuela on his third voyage in 1498, the area was inhabited by Arawak, Carib and Chibcha Indians.
>In 1499, the Venezuela coast was explored by Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci. The latter nicknamed it Venezuela (litte Venice) because of native villages built above the water on stilts. The named was soon applied to the mainland.
>Settlement in the country was begun by the Spanish in 1520 ; the first important settlement was that of Caracas in 1567.
>Francisco de Miranda led the most significant pre-independence movement in 1809 and independence was formally proclaimed on July 5, 1811 but it was not effective.
>Later, Simon Bolivar and his lieutenants, working from Colombia, were able to liberate Venezuela. The victory of Carabobo (1821) secured independence from Spain.
>Federated at first with Colombia, Ecuador and Panama as the Republic of Greater Colombia, Venezuela became a republic in 1830.
>1858-1870 : civil war between conservatives and liberals.
>From 1908 to 1935, General Juan Vicente Gomez was dictator when Venezuela became a major oil exporter.
>From 1947 to 1961, a period of unstable dictatorships followed.
>1968 : Rafael Caldera Rodriguez won the presidential elections. It is the first time in the history of Venezuela that the ruling party had peacefully handed over power to the opposition.
>A decrease in world oil prices during the early 1980s shocked the Venezuelan economy and massively increased Venezuela's foreign debt.
>In February and November 1992, two military coup attempts were crushed.
>1998 : Hugo Chavez Frias won the presidential elections. He was re-elected president in July 2000.