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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 generally benevolent military strongmen, who promoted the oil industry and allowed for some social reforms. Democratically elected governments have held sway since 1959. Hugo CHAVEZ, president since 1999, seeks to implement his "21st Century Socialism," which purports to alleviate social ills while at the same time attacking capitalist globalization and existing democratic institutions. Current concerns include: a weakening of democratic institutions, political polarization, a politicized military, drug-related violence along the Colombian border, overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.


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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 World Ranking: 33
Total 912,050 sq km
Land 882,050 sq km
Water 30,000 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly more than twice the size of California

Land boundaries
Total 4,993 km
Border countries
Brazil 2,200 km, Colombia 2,050 km, Guyana 743 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 extremes
Lowest point Caribbean Sea 0 m
Highest point Pico Bolivar 5,007 m

Natural resources
Petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds

Land use
Arable land 2.85%
Permanent crops 0.88%
Other 96.27% (2005)

Irrigated land
5,800 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
1,233.2 cu km (2000)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 8.37 cu km/yr (6%/7%/47%)
Per capita 313 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Subject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts

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 Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
Signed but not ratified
None of the selected agreements

Geography - note
On major sea and air routes linking North and South America; Angel Falls in the Guiana Highlands is the world's highest waterfall


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  Venezuela (Caracas):


  GPS points from Venezuela (Caracas)

Filo El Urao Estado Merida

Quebrada Buena Vista Estado Sucre

Chuponal Alto Barinas

El Ingenio Yaracuy

Cerro Curiapo Estado Bolivar

Agua Blanca Guarico


Morrocoy Estado Cojedes




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