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. Under Hugo CHAVEZ, president from 1999 to 2013, and his hand-picked successor, President Nicolas MADURO, the executive branch has exercised increasingly authoritarian control over other branches of government. At the same time, democratic institutions have deteriorated, threats to freedom of expression have increased, and political polarization has grown. The ruling party's economic policies have 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. Current concerns include: an increasingly politicized military, rampant violent crime, high inflation, and widespread shortages of basic consumer goods, medicine, and medical supplies.



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


total: 912,050 sq km
land: 882,050 sq km
water: 30,000 sq km

Area - comparative

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

Land boundaries

total: 5,267 km
border countries (3): Brazil 2,137 km, Colombia 2,341 km, Guyana 789 km


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


tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands


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


mean elevation: 450 m
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

agricultural land: 24.5%
arable land 3.1%; permanent crops 0.8%; permanent pasture 20.6%
forest: 52.1%
other: 23.4% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

10,550 sq km (2012)

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

People and Society


30,912,302 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Venezuelan(s)
adjective: Venezuelan

Ethnic groups

Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people


Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects


nominally 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 more than 200,000 Colombian refugees. 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. Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have migrated, often illegally, to Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Chile, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, or taken perilous journeys by raft to Aruba and Curacao. Asylum applications have increased significantly in the US and Brazil in 2016. Although several receiving countries are making efforts to increase immigration restriction and to deport illegal Venezuelan migrants, Venezuelans continue to migrate to avoid economic collapse at home.

Age structure

0-14 years: 27.68% (male 4,385,415/female 4,170,160)
15-24 years: 17.27% (male 2,709,359/female 2,629,097)
25-54 years: 40.4% (male 6,182,604/female 6,304,876)
55-64 years: 7.84% (male 1,162,400/female 1,260,451)
65 years and over: 6.82% (male 952,627/female 1,155,313) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 52.4%
youth dependency ratio: 42.8%
elderly dependency ratio: 9.5%
potential support ratio: 10.5% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 28 years
male: 27.3 years
female: 28.7 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

1.28% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

19.2 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

5.2 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-1.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

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


urban population: 89% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 1.54% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

CARACAS (capital) 2.916 million; Maracaibo 2.196 million; Valencia 1.734 million; Maracay 1.166 million; Barquisimeto 1.039 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

95 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 12.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.1 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 11.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.8 years
male: 72.7 years
female: 78.9 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.35 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Health expenditures

5.3% of GDP (2014)

Hospital bed density

0.9 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Drinking water source

urban: 95% of population
rural: 77.9% of population
total: 93.1% of population
urban: 5% of population
rural: 22.1% of population
total: 6.9% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 97.5% of population
rural: 69.9% of population
total: 94.4% of population
urban: 2.5% of population
rural: 30.1% of population
total: 5.6% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.55% (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

107,300 (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

3,300 (2015 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

24.3% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

2.9% (2009)

Education expenditures

6.9% of GDP (2009)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.3%
male: 96.4%
female: 96.2% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 14 years
male: NA
female: NA (2009)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 14.7%
male: NA
female: NA (2014 est.)


Government type

federal presidential republic

Country name

conventional long form: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
conventional short form: Venezuela
local long form: Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela
local short form: 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"


name: Caracas
geographic coordinates: 10 29 N, 66 52 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

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, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Tachira, Trujillo, Vargas, Yaracuy, Zulia
note: the federal dependency consists of 11 federally controlled island groups with a total of 72 individual islands


5 July 1811 (from Spain)

National holiday

Independence Day, 5 July (1811)


many previous; latest adopted 15 December 1999, effective 30 December 1999; amended 2009 (2016)

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 by birth: yes
citizenship by descent: yes
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Nicolas MADURO Moros (since 19 April 2013); Executive Vice President Aristobulo ISTURIZ (since 6 January 2016); 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 Aristobulo ISTURIZ (since 6 January 2016)
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 14 April 2013 - a special election held following the death of President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias on 5 March 2013 (next election expected in late 2018 or early 2019 pending official convocation by the country's electoral body)
election results: 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 (167 seats; 113 members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote, 51 directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote, and 3 seats reserved for indigenous peoples of Venezuela; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 6 December 2015 (next expected to be held in 2020)
election results: percent of vote by party - MUD (opposition coalition) 56.3%, PSUV (pro-government) 40.9%, other 2.8%; seats by party - MUD 112, PSUV 55

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Tribunal of Justice (consists of 32 judges organized into 6 divisions - constitutional, political administrative, electoral, civil appeals, criminal appeals, and social (mainly agrarian and labor issues)
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 non-renewable 12-year terms
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 Time or UNT [Enrique MARQUEZ]
Brave People's Alliance or ABP [Richard BLANCO]
Christian Democrats or COPEI [Roberto ENRIQUEZ]
Coalition of opposition parties -- The Democratic Unity Table or MUD [Jesus "Chuo" TORREALBA]
Communist Party of Venezuela or PCV [Oscar FIGUERA]
Democratic Action or AD [Henry RAMOS ALLUP]
Fatherland for All or PPT [Rafael UZCATEGUI]
For Social Democracy or PODEMOS [Didalco Antonio BOLIVAR GRATEROL]
Justice First or PJ [Julio BORGES]
Movement Toward Socialism or MAS [Segundo MELENDEZ]
Popular Will or VP [Leopoldo LOPEZ]
Progressive Wave or AP [Henri FALCON]
The Radical Cause or La Causa R [Americo DE GRAZIA]
United Socialist Party of Venezuela or PSUV [Nicolas MADURO]
Venezuelan Progressive Movement or MPV [Simon CALZADILLA]
Venezuela Project or PV [Henrique Fernando SALAS FEO]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Bolivarian and Socialist Workers' Union (a ruling-party-oriented organized labor union)
Confederacion Venezolana de Industriales or Coindustria (a conservative business group)
Consejos Comunales (pro-government local communal councils)
Federation of Chambers and Associations of Commerce and Production of Venezuela or FEDECAMARAS (a conservative business group)
Union of Oil Workers of Venezuela or FUTPV
Venezuelan Confederation of Workers or CTV (opposition-oriented labor organization)
other: various civil society groups and human rights organizations

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, UN Security Council (temporary), UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant) (since July 2014); Charge d'Affaires (vacant) (since March 2016)
chancery: 1099 30th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 342-2214
FAX: [1] (202) 342-6820
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico)

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Lee MCCLENNY (July 2014)
embassy: Calle F con Calle Suapure, Urbanizacion Colinas de Valle Arriba, Caracas 1080
mailing address: P. O. Box 62291, Caracas 1060-A; APO AA 34037
telephone: [58] (212) 975-6411, 907-8400 (after hours)
FAX: [58] (212) 907-8199

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


Economy - overview

Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for almost all export earnings and nearly half of the government’s revenue. In 2016 the GDP contracted 10%, inflation hit 545%, people faced widespread shortages of consumer goods, and cent

Falling oil prices since 2014 have aggravated Venezuela’s economic crisis. Insufficient access to dollars, price controls, and rigid labor regulations have led some US and multinational firms to reduce or shut down their Venezuelan operations. Market unce

Under President Nicolas MADURO, the Venezuelan Government’s response to the economic crisis has been to increase state control over the economy and blame the private sector for the shortages. The Venezuelan government has maintained strict currency contro

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$468.6 billion (2016 est.)
$520.7 billion (2015 est.)
$555.2 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$333.7 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

-10% (2016 est.)
-6.2% (2015 est.)
-3.9% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$15,100 (2016 est.)
$17,000 (2015 est.)
$18,400 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

Gross national saving

24.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
40% of GDP (2015 est.)
9.1% of GDP (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 71.1%
government consumption: 18.8%
investment in fixed capital: 16.7%
investment in inventories: 1.4%
exports of goods and services: 5.6%
imports of goods and services: -13.6% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 4%
industry: 36.1%
services: 59.9% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee; beef, pork, milk, eggs; fish


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

-8% (2016 est.)

Labor force

14.16 million (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 7.3%
industry: 21.8%
services: 70.9% (4th quarter, 2011)

Unemployment rate

10.5% (2016 est.)
6.8% (2015 est.)

Population below poverty line

32.1% (2013 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 32.7% (2006)

Distribution of family income - Gini index

39 (2011)
49.5 (1998)


revenues: $95.62 billion
expenditures: $228.8 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

28.7% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-39.9% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

36.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
49.9% of GDP (2015 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 intra-governmental debt; intra-governm

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

545.9% (2016 est.)
121.7% (2015 est.)

Central bank discount rate

29.5% (2015)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

22.5% (31 December 2016 est.)
19.4% (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of narrow money

$216.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$273.8 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of broad money

$360 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$196 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit

$260.8 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$331.3 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

$25.3 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$5.143 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$3.991 billion (31 December 2011 est.)

Current account balance

-$11.21 billion (2016 est.)
-$20.36 billion (2015 est.)


$28.07 billion (2016 est.)
$38.45 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

petroleum and petroleum products, bauxite and aluminum, minerals, chemicals, agricultural products

Exports - partners

US 26.6%, India 13.7%, China 11.7%, Cuba 6.4% (2015)


$27.13 billion (2016 est.)
$36.46 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

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

Imports - partners

US 18.4%, China 15.3%, Brazil 9.7%, Colombia 5.9%, Mexico 4.2% (2015)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$10.43 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$16.37 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Debt - external

$91.99 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$101.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home

$33.78 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$32.18 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad

$30.79 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$30.04 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

Exchange rates

bolivars (VEB) per US dollar -
56.57 (2016 est.)
13.72 (2015 est.)
13.72 (2014 est.)
6.284 (2013 est.)
4.29 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 100,000
electrification - total population: 99.7%
electrification - urban areas: 99.8%
electrification - rural areas: 98.6% (2013)

Electricity - production

124 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

78 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

705 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - imports

700 million kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

31 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

44.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

55.6% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

0.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

2.5 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

1.548 million bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

300 billion bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

999,400 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

776,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

390,900 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

41,530 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

21.88 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

23.72 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - imports

1.839 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

5.617 trillion cu m (1 January 2016 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

188 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 7,780,096
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 27 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 29.094 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 99 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: modern and expanding
domestic: 2 domestic satellite systems with 3 earth stations; recent substantial improvement in telephone service in rural areas; substantial increase in digitalization of exchanges and trunk lines; installation of a national interurban fiber-optic network capable
international: country code - 58; submarine cable systems provide connectivity to Cuba and the Caribbean, Central and South America, and US; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 PanAmSat; participating with Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia in (2013)

Broadcast media

government supervises a mixture of state-run and private broadcast media; 13 public service networks, 61 privately owned TV networks, a privately owned news channel with limited national coverage, and a government-backed Pan-American channel; state-run ra (2014)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 18.113 million
percent of population: 61.9% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 17
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 122
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 6,456,853
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 6,204,085 mt-km (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

YV (2016)


444 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 127
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9
1,524 to 2,437 m: 33
914 to 1,523 m: 62
under 914 m: 17 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 317
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 57
914 to 1,523 m: 127
under 914 m: 130 (2013)


3 (2013)


extra heavy crude 981 km; gas 5,941 km; oil 7,588 km; refined products 1,778 km (2013)


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


total: 96,189 km (2014)


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

Merchant marine

total: 53
by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 12, chemical tanker 1, liquefied gas 5, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 14, petroleum tanker 16
foreign-owned: 9 (Denmark 1, Estonia 1, Germany 1, Greece 4, Mexico 1, Spain 1)
registered in other countries: 14 (Panama 13, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): La Guaira, Maracaibo, Puerto Cabello, Punta Cardon
oil terminals: Jose terminal

Transportation - note

the International Maritime Bureau continues to report the territorial and offshore waters in the Caribbean Sea as at risk for piracy and armed robbery against ships; numerous vessels, including commercial shipping and pleasure craft, have been attacked and hijacked both at anchor and while underway; crews have been robbed and stores or cargoes stolen


Military branches

Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, FANB): Bolivarian Army (Ejercito Bolivariano, EB), Bolivarian Navy (Armada Bolivariana, AB; includes Naval Infantry, Coast Guard, Naval Aviation), Bolivarian Military Aviation (Aviacion Militar Bolivariana, AMB; includes Air National Guard), Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivaria, GNB) (2015)

Military service age and obligation

all citizens of military service age (18-60 years old) are obligated to register for military service, though mandatory recruitment is forbidden; the minimum conscript service obligation is 12 months (2015)

Military expenditures

1% of GDP (2015)
1.63% of GDP (2014)
1.4% of GDP (2013)
1.3% of GDP (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

claims all of the area west of the Essequibo River in Guyana, preventing any discussion of a maritime boundary; Guyana has expressed its intention to join Barbados in asserting claims before the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that Trinidad and Tobago's maritime boundary with Venezuela extends into their waters; 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; US, France, and the Netherlands recognize Venezuela's granting full effect to Aves Island, thereby claiming a Venezuelan Economic Exclusion Zone/continental shelf extending over a large portion of the eastern Caribbean Sea; Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines protest Venezuela's full effect claim

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 173,673 (Colombia) (2015)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Venezuela is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; Venezuelan women and girls, sometimes lured from poor interior regions to urban and tourist areas, are trafficked for sexual exploitation within the country, as well as in the Caribbean; Venezuelan children are exploited, frequently by their families, in domestic servitude; people from South America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa are sex and labor trafficking victims in Venezuela; thousands of Cuban citizens, particularly doctors, who work in Venezuela on government social programs in exchange for the provision of resources to the Cuban Government experience conditions of forced labor
tier rating: Tier 3 – Venezuela does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, the government appeared to increase efforts to hold traffickers criminally accountable, but a lack of government data made anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts difficult to assess; publically available information indicated many cases pursued under anti-trafficking law involved illegal adoption rather than sex and labor trafficking; authorities identified a small number of trafficking victims, and victim referrals to limited government services were made on an ad hoc basis; because no specialized facilities are available for trafficking victims, women and child victims accessed centers for victims of domestic violence or at-risk youth, and services for men were virtually non-existent; NGOs provided some services to sex and labor trafficking victims; Venezuela has no permanent anti-trafficking interagency body, no national anti-trafficking plan, and still has not passed anti-trafficking legislation drafted in 2010 (2015)

Illicit drugs

small-scale illicit producer of opium and coca for the processing of opiates and coca derivatives; however, large quantities of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana transit the country from Colombia bound for US and Europe; significant narcotics-related money-laundering activity, especially along the border with Colombia and on Margarita Island; active eradication program primarily targeting opium; increasing signs of drug-related activities by Colombian insurgents on border