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macrohistory & world report

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Map of Venezuela

Venezuela (capital Caracas) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of October 2014: "Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for roughly 96% of export earnings, about 45% of budget revenues, and around 12% of GDP. Fueled by high oil prices, pre-election government spending helped spur GDP growth in 2012 to 5.6%. Government spending, minimum wage hikes, and improved access to domestic credit created an increase in consumption which combined with supply problems to cause higher inflation – roughly 20% in 2012 and rising to more than 56% in 2013. Former President Hugo CHAVEZ's efforts to increase the government's control of the economy by nationalizing firms in the agribusiness, financial, construction, oil, and steel sectors hurt the private investment environment, reduced productive capacity, and slowed non-petroleum exports. In 2013, Venezuela continued to wrestle with housing and electricity crises, and rolling food and goods shortages, resulting from the government's unorthodox economic policies. The budget deficit for the public sector reached 17% of GDP in 2012 and was trimmed to under 10% of GDP in 2013. The Venezuelan government has maintained a regime of strict currency exchange controls since 2003. Venezuelan law now sanctions a three-tiered exchange rate system, with rates based on the government's import priorities."

Economic growth rate
2013: 1.6%
2012: 5.6%
2011: 4.2%
2010: minus 1.5%
2009: minus 3.2%

Export/import ratio
2011: exports about twice imports in cash value

Export partners
2010: US 38.7%, China 7.7%, India 4.8%, Cuba 4.1%

Income Distribution – GINI index
Ranks 39th among 141 countries ( lower rank number is less equal).

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2005: 1.2%

People

Living in an urban area
2010: 93%

Ethnic groups
World Factbook (2012): "Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people"

Religions
World Factbook (2012): "nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%"

Density for 2005: 28.7 persons per square kilometer,  975 persons per square kilometer of arable land.

Net migration rate
2012: zero

Literacy, age 15 and older
2011: males 95.7 percent, females 95.4 percent
2003: males 93.8 percent, females 93.1 percent<

Geography

Between Colombia and Guyana. 2,800 kilometers of coastline along the Caribbean Sea. Slightly more than twice the size of California.

Government

A federated republic. Presidents elected by popular vote to a six-year term. Unicameral legislature with 165 seats, its members elected by popular vote to five-year terms.

Capital: Caracas

Recent History

Independence from Spain in 1811. Separated from Colombia and Bolivia in 1830.

Hugo Chavez was elected to a first term that began on February 2, 1999. A presidential recall vote on 15 August 2004 resulted in Chavez winning with 58 percent of the vote, leaving President Chavez in office for the remaining two years of his term. He was reelected in 2006.

November 13, 2010: Venezuela has a rapid growth in population. The Caracas metro was designed to carry 600,000 persons per day. It now carries 1.3 persons per day. The metro opened in 1983 and at that time it was a source of national pride. Now with too many people and delays there is a protest. Thirty-three are arrested. The BBC writes that, "The arrests were the culmination of several weeks of growing anger among commuters in Caracas over the state of the metro system. A lawyer acting for the protesters said they were simply angry at having to wait around 40 minutes for a train, only to be told that they could not board the one which eventually arrived."

October 2011: President Hugo Chávez has described the reason for military intervention in Libya as a plot to take over Libya's wealth, and he claims that the same imperialist tactics are being exercised in Syria. He joins Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia in communicating his support for Syria's Assad regime.

March 5, 2013: President Hugo Chávez dies of cancer. Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research describes him as having "reduced poverty by half and extreme poverty by 70 percent." Weisbrot writes that, "Millions of people also got access to health care for the first time, and access to education also increased sharply, with college enrollment doubling and free tuition for many. Eligibility for public pensions tripled."

SOURCES:
The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.