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Introduction: 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...

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Economic Overview: At a glance

For latest economic date refer to the Venezuela fact sheet (PDF) (http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/fs/venz.pdf)

Policy directions

Venezuela's economy is largely based on its petroleum sector, which accounts for roughly a third of the country's GDP and around 80 per cent of its exports. Like other oil-dependent economies, Venezuela has suffered from the rapid reduction in the price of oil compounded by the global financial crisis.

Venezuela has also experienced high inflation, with inflation hitting 32 per cent in 2008. Inflation in 2010 is forecast to rise ...

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History and Political Conditions: At the time of Spanish discovery, the natives in Venezuela were mainly agriculturists and hunters living in groups along the coast, the Andean mountain range, and the Orinoco River. Venezuela was a relatively neglected colony in the 1500s and 1600s as the Spaniards focused on extracting gold and silver from other areas of the Americas.

Toward the end of the 18th century, the ...

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History: 1498 Christopher Columbus lands on Paria Peninsula
1681 Spanish crown takes over control of the colonies
1739 Political and military unification of Venezuela
1811 Venezuela proclaims independence from Spain
1812 Simón Bolívar establishes the Second Republic; is proclaimed Liberator
1823 Spanish are defeated in Battle of Carabobo
1830 Dissolution of Gran Colombia (Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela)
1845 Spain recognises independence of Venezuela with Treaty of Madrid
1922 Venezuela discovers oil transforming agrarian economy
1958 Overthrow of dictatorship of Perez Jimenez; beginning of democratic ...

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Christopher Columbus first sighted Venezuela during his third voyage to the New World, when he saw the Península de Paria from his ship at anchor off the coast of the island of Trinidad Three days later, on August 1, 1498, Columbus became the first European to set foot on the South American mainland. Unaware of the significance of his discovery and of the vastness of the continent, he christened ...

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Area Handbook Series
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(Bs) Venezuelan Bolivar Fuerte (VEF)
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