Bordered by Colombia, Brazil, and Guyana • Capital of Caracas • The land area is slightly more than twice that of California. • Population of about 27 million (about 912, 050 km2) • Major religion is Catholicism (96%) • Head of government is a president • Their government is a federal republic. • Popular tourist spots include Angel Falls (world’s tallest waterfall), the Andes Mountains, and the Caribbean Islands • Economy dominated by petroleum • Current president is Hugo Chavez • Official language is Spanish • Current concerns include: weakening of democratic system, drug-related violence along the Columbian border, increase in drug use within the country, overdependence on the petroleum industry, irresponsible use of the rainforest
$$ Oil $$ • Venezuela contains about 7% of the world’s oil reserves • For about 4 decades (1930-1970), Venezuela was the world’s largest exporter of petroleum • Venezuela is highly dependent on its oil revenue • It accounts for about 90% of the country’s export income • About 50% of the federal budget income • About 30% of the Gross Domestic Product • Exports 2.203 million bbl/day (10th in the world) • Oil reserve: 87.04 billion bbl (7th in the world)
Venezuelan Economy, cont. Venezuelan Agriculture • Corn • Sorghum (grain) • Sugarcane • Rice • Bananas • Vegetables • Coffee • Beef • Pork • Milk • Eggs • Fish Venezuelan Industries • Petroleum • Construction materials • Food processing • Textiles • Iron ore mining • Steel • Aluminum • Motor vehicle assembly • Venezuelan Exports • petroleum • bauxite and aluminum • steel • chemicals • agricultural products • basic manufactures
Historical timeline of Venezuela 1498 Christopher Columbus landed in Venezuela1535 The Spanish conquistadors colonize the area of Venezuela1550 African slaves were shipped to Venezuela to work on plantations1700s Spain combined Venezuela with neighboring territories into one large colony called the Viceroyalty of New Granada1810 Overthrow of the king of Spain by Napoleon1810 The territories of the Viceroyalty of New Granada set up their own independent governmentsJuly 5, 1811 Venezuela became the first S. American country to declare its independence from Spain1812 Simon Bolivar and other revolutionary leaders fled abroad1814 Spain sent troops to South America to clam the uprising of the colonists1819 General Simon Bolivar defeats royalist forces in the Battle of Boyaca on August 7 and the Republic of Colombia (also known as Gran Colombia) is proclaimed on December 17, consisting of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador1821 Spain recognized Venezuela's independence after Simon Bolivar won a major victory against Spanish troops at CaraboboSimon Bolivar established Gran Colombia and became the first president1830 Ecuador and Venezuela left Gran Colombia to became totally independent1831 General Jose Antonio Paez became the first president of Venezuela1800s Venezuela was torn by civil war1908-1935 Gomez ruled Venezuela with strong military backing1950 Marcos Perez Jimenez became dictator1958 Jimenez was forced into exile paving the way for a Venezuelan democracy 1960 Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Venezuela form OPEC1999 Hugo Chavez elected President Venezuela adopted its current constitution
Venezuelan Politics: 1950s to Present • Marcos Perez Jimenez (1952 – 1958) • authoritarian dictator • wanted to give the capital city of Caracas a make-over; built the Humboldt Hotel as a show of great wealth (paid for with oil $$) • constructed costly buildings while making great cuts in health care and education • The US turned their backs on the evil that Perez did because of the amount of oil Venezuela exported to the US under his rule • Eventually overthrown in 1958 by a military junta • Changes after Perez • Many citizens want change in government because of poor health care and poverty • Leads to a two-party system: Democratic Action and the Committee of Independent Political and Electoral Organization • High rate of incumbent turnover led to a crisis in the election of 1993 • The next truly important figure to rise to power was Hugo Chavez in 1999.
Hugo Chavez • A failed attempt at a military coup to overtake President Perez in 1992, ended Chavez in prison for two years. • Won the election of 1998. Was reelected under a new constitution in 1999. • Changed the official name of the country from the Republic of Venezuela to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, paying homage to the ideas of Bolivar in his overthrow of Spain, just as Chavez seeks to undermine the US. • More recently, Chavez has directed his ideals toward “21st century socialism.” This includes limited social change, political and economic pluralism, and updated ideas of Bolivar. • Chavez has a close relationship with Cuba’s Fidel Castro which could prove dangerous for the US when it comes to oil exports. • With Chavez in power, the country of Venezuela is seeing increasing changes leading them to become a socialist country.