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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 weakening of democratic institutions, political polarization, a politicized military, drug-related violence along the Colombian border, overdependence on the petroleum... See More



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

Area:

 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 (Rank: 41)

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 (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 1,233.2 cu km (2000)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 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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PEOPLE AND SOCIETY


Nationality:

 Noun: Venezuelan(s)
Adjective: Venezuelan

Ethnic Groups:

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

Languages:

 Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects

Religions:

 Nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%

Population:

 27,635,743 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 29.5% (male 4,149,781/female 4,002,931)
15-64 years: 65.1% (male 8,846,945/female 9,130,561)
65 years and over: 5.4% (male 665,436/female 840,089) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 26.1 years
Male: 25.4 years
Female: 26.8 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 1.493% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 20.1 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 5.17 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Urbanization:

 Urban population: 93% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 CARACAS (capital) 3.051 million; Maracaibo 2.153 million; Valencia 1.738 million; Barquisimeto 1.159 million; Maracay 1.04 million (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 68 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 20.62 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 24.12 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 16.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 73.93 years
Male: 70.84 years
Female: 77.17 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 2.42 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Physicians Density:

 1.94 physicians/1,000 population (2001)

Hospital Bed Density:

 1.3 beds/1,000 population (2007)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 94% of population
Rural: 74% of population
Total: 92% of population
Unimproved:
Urban: 6% of population
Rural: 26% of population
Total: 8% of population (2000)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 93% of population
Rural: 54% of population
Total: 89% of population
Unimproved:
Urban: 7% of population
Rural: 46% of population
Total: 11% of population (2000)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 NA; NA note - no country specific models provided

Major Infectious Diseases:

 Degree of risk: high
Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
Vectorborne disease: dengue fever and malaria (2009)

Children Under 5 - Underweight:

 3.7% (2007)

Education Expenditures:

 3.7% of GDP (2007)

Literacy:

 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 93%
Male: 93.3%
Female: 92.7% (2001 census)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 14 years
Male: 13 years
Female: 15 years (2008)

Unemployment, Youth Ages 15-24:

 Total: 13.6%
Male: 12.3%
Female: 15.9% (2008)

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GOVERNMENT


Country Name:

 Conventional long form: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Conventional short form: Venezuela
Local long form: Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela
Local short form: Venezuela

Government Type:

 Federal republic

Capital:

 Name: Caracas
Geographic coordinates: 10 30 N, 66 56 W
Time difference: UTC-4.5 (half an 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

Independence:

 5 July 1811 (from Spain)

National Holiday:

 Independence Day, 5 July (1811)

Constitution:

 December 30, 1999

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

Suffrage:

 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 2 February 1999); Executive Vice President Elias JAUA Milano (since 26 January 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

Head of government: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 2 February 1999); Executive Vice President Elias JAUA Milano (since 26 January 2010)

Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

Elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for unlimited reelection); election last held on 3 December 2006 (next to be held in December 2012)

Note: in 1999, a National Constituent Assembly drafted a new constitution that increased the presidential term to six years; an election was subsequently held on 30 July 2000 under the terms of this constitution; in 2009, a national referendum approved the elimination of term limits on all elected officials, including the presidency

Election results: Hugo CHAVEZ Frias reelected president; percent of vote - Hugo CHAVEZ Frias 62.9%, Manuel ROSALES 36.9%, other 0.2%

Legislative Branch:

 Unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (165 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; three seats reserved for the indigenous peoples of Venezuela)

Elections: last held on 26 September 2010 (next to be held in 2015)

Election results: percent of vote by party - pro-government 48.9%, opposition coalition 47.9%, other 3.2%; seats by party - pro-government 98, opposition 65, other 2

Judicial Branch:

 Supreme Tribunal of Justice or Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (32 magistrates are elected by the National Assembly for a single 12-year term)

Political Parties and Leaders:

 A New Time or UNT [Omar BARBOZA]; Brave People's Alliance or ABP [Oscar PEREZ, currently in exile]; Christian Democrats or COPEI [Roberto ENRIQUEZ]; Communist Party of Venezuela or PCV [Oscar FIGUERA]; Democratic Action or AD [Henry RAMOS Allup]; Fatherland for All or PPT [Jose ALBORNOZ]; For Social Democracy or PODEMOS [Ismael GARCIA]; Justice First [Julio BORGES]; Movement Toward Socialism or MAS [Nicolas SOSA]; The Radical Cause [Daniel SANTOLO]; United Socialist Party of Venezuela or PSUV [Hugo CHAVEZ]; Venezuela Project or PV [Henrique SALAS Romer]

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 FEDECAMARAS, a conservative business group; VECINOS groups; Venezuelan Confederation of Workers or CTV (labor organization dominated by the Democratic Action); various civil society groups and human rights organizations

International Organization Participation:

 Caricom (observer), CDB, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, LAS (observer), Mercosur (associate), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, PetroCaribe, RG, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Angelo RIVERO Santos
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 John CAULFIELD
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, 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 province of Guayana

National Symbols:

 Troupial (bird)

National Anthem:

 Name: "Gloria al bravo pueblo" (Glory to the Brave Nation)
Lyrics/music: Vicente SALIAS/Juan Jose LANDAETA

Note: adopted 1881; the lyrics were written in 1810, the music some years later; both SALIAS and LANDAETA were executed in 1814 during Venezuela's struggle for independence

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ECONOMY


Economy - Overview:

 Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for roughly 95% of export earnings, about 55% of the federal budget revenues, and around 30% of GDP. A nationwide strike between December 2002 and February 2003 had far-reaching economic consequences - real GDP declined by around 9% in 2002 and 8% in 2003 - but economic output recovered strongly through 2008. Fueled by high oil prices, record government spending helped to boost GDP by about 10% in 2006, 8% in 2007, and nearly 5% in 2008, before a sharp drop in oil prices caused a contraction in 2009-10. This spending, combined with recent minimum wage hikes and improved access to domestic credit, created a consumption boom which came at the cost of higher inflation - roughly 32% in 2008, and slowing only slightly to 30% in 2010, despite the lengthy downturn. Imports also jumped significantly before the recession of 2009. President Hugo CHAVEZ's continued efforts to increase the government's control of the economy by nationalizing firms in the agribusiness, financial, construction, oil, and steel sectors have hurt the private investment environment, reduced productive capacity, and slowed non-petroleum exports. In the first half of 2010 Venezuela faced the prospect of lengthy nationwide blackouts when its main hydroelectric power plant - which provides more than 35% of the country's electricity - nearly shut down. In May, 2010, CHAVEZ closed the unofficial foreign exchange market - the "parallel" market - in an effort to stem inflation and slow the currency's depreciation. In June 2010, the government created the "Transaction System for Foreign Currency Denominated Securities" (SITME) to replace the "parallel" market. In December 2010, CHAVEZ eliminated the dual exchange rate system and unified the exchange rate at 4.3 bolivars per dollar. In January 2011, CHAVEZ announced the second devaluation of the bolivar within twelve months. In December 2010, the National Assembly passed a package of five organic laws designed to complete the transformation of the Venezuelan economy in line with CHAVEZ's vision of 21st century socialism. These laws likely will be implemented in 2011. Venezuela began 2011 wrestling with macroeconomic imbalances resulting from the government's unorthodox economic policies, a housing crisis, and a continuing electricity crisis.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $345.2 billion (2010 est.)
$351.9 billion (2009 est.)
$363.9 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $290.7 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 -1.9% (2010 est.)
-3.3% (2009 est.)
4.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $12,700 (2010 est.)
$13,100 (2009 est.)
$13,800 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 3.9%
Industry: 36.1%
Services: 60% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 13.11 million (2010 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 13%
Industry: 23%
Services: 64% (1997 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 8.5% (2010 est.)
7.9% (2009 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 37.9% (2005 est.)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 1.7%
Highest 10%: 32.7% (2006)

Distribution of Family Income - Gini Index:

 41 (2009)
49.5 (1998)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 17.6% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget:

 Revenues: $63.02 billion
Expenditures: $79.59 billion (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 21.7% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -5.7% of GDP (2010 est.)

Public Debt:

 24.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
18% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 28.2% (2010 est.)
27.1% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 29.5% (31 December 2009)
33.5% (31 December 2008)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 18.348% (31 December 2010 est.)
19.893% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $78.09 billion (31 December 2008)
$61.74 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $10.69 billion (31 December 2008)
$8.687 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $70.57 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$104.5 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $78.88 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$118.1 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $48.78 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$75.98 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market Value of Publicly Traded Shares:

 $3.991 billion (31 December 2010)
$8.86 billion (31 December 2009)
$8.251 billion (31 December 2006)

Agriculture - Products:

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

Industries:

 Petroleum, construction materials, food processing, textiles; iron ore mining, steel, aluminum; motor vehicle assembly

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 -3.3% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 123.4 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 31.7%
Hydro: 68.3%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 84.72 billion kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 633 million kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 373 million kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 2.375 million bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 746,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 1.871 million bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 211.2 billion bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 22.9 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 25.08 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 2.18 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 5.065 trillion cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 $14.38 billion (2010 est.)
$8.561 billion (2009 est.)

Exports:

 $65.79 billion (2010 est.)
$57.6 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Petroleum, bauxite and aluminum, minerals, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures

Exports - Partners:

 US 38.7%, China 7.7%, India 4.8%, Cuba 4.1% (2010)

Imports:

 $38.61 billion (2010 est.)
$38.44 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Agricultural products, raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials

Imports - Partners:

 US 26.6%, Colombia 11.4%, Brazil 9.6%, China 9.1% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $29.62 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$35 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $61.42 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$54.5 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - Abroad:

 $19.89 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$17.67 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Direct Foreign Investment - At Home:

 $38.02 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$41.21 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Venezuelan Bolivar Fuerte to Any Currency

Bolivars (VEB) per US dollar -
4.3039 (2010)
2.147 (2009)
2.147 (2008)
2,147 (2007)
2,147 (2006)

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COMMUNICATIONS


Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 7.083 million (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 27.88 million (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: modern and expanding

Domestic: domestic satellite system 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 of digital multimedia services; combined fixed and mobile-cellular telephone subscribership 130 per 100 persons

International: country code - 58; submarine cable systems provide connectivity to 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 the construction of an international fiber-optic network; constructing submarine cable to provide connectivity to Cuba with an estimated date of completion in late 2011 (2010)

Broadcast Media:

 Government supervises a mixture of state-run and private broadcast media; 1 state-run television network, 4 privately-owned TV networks, a privately-owned news channel with limited national coverage, and a government-backed pan-American channel; state-run radio network includes 65 news stations and roughly another 30 stations targeted at specific audiences; state-sponsored community broadcasters include 244 radio stations and 36 television stations; the number of private broadcast radio stations has been declining, but a large number remain in operation (2010)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 46, FM 131, shortwave 3 (2008)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 66 (plus 45 repeaters) (1997)

Internet Country Code:

 .ve

Internet Hosts:

 238,665 (2010)

Internet Users:

 8.918 million (2009)

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TRANSPORTATION


Airports:

 409 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 129
Over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 34
914 to 1,523 m: 63
Under 914 m: 17 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 280
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 16
914 to 1,523 m: 91
Under 914 m: 172 (2010)

Heliports:

 4 (2010)

Pipelines:

 Extra heavy crude 980 km; gas 5,347 km; oil 6,694 km; refined products 1,620 km (2010)

Railways:

 Total: 806 km
Standard gauge: 806 km 1.435-m gauge (41 km electrified) (2010)

Roadways:

 Total: 96,155 km
Paved: 32,308 km
Unpaved: 63,847 km (2002)

Waterways:

 7,100 km (the Orinoco River (400 km) and Lake de Maracaibo are navigable by oceangoing vessels) (2010)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 59
By type: bulk carrier 5, cargo 15, chemical tanker 5, liquefied gas 5, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 12, petroleum tanker 16
Foreign-owned: 10 (Denmark 1, Estonia 1, Germany 1, Greece 4, Mexico 1, Norway 1, Spain 1)
Registered in other countries: 9 (Panama 8, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

 La Guaira, Maracaibo, Puerto Cabello, Punta Cardon
Oil terminals: Jose terminal

Transportation - Note:

 The International Maritime Bureau reports the territorial and offshore waters in the Caribbean Sea as a significant 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

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MILITARY


Military Branches:

 Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, FANB): Bolivarian National Army (Ejercito Nacional Bolivariano, ENB), Bolivarian Navy (Armada Bolivariana, AB; includes Naval Infantry, Coast Guard, Naval Aviation), Bolivarian Military Aviation (Aviacion Militar Bolivariana, AMB), Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivaria, GNB), Bolivarian Militia (Milicia Bolivariana, MB) (2011)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 18-30 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; 30-month conscript service obligation; Navy requires 6th-grade education for enlisted personnel; all citizens of military service age (18-60 years old) are obligated to register for military service (2011)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 7,013,854
Females age 16-49: 7,165,661 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 5,614,743
Females age 16-49: 6,074,834 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 277,210
Female: 273,353 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 1.2% of GDP (2005 est.)

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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 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 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; in 2006, an estimated 139,000 Colombians sought protection in 150 communities along the border in Venezuela; US, France, and the Netherlands recognize Venezuela's granting full effect to Aves Island, thereby claiming a Venezuelan EEZ/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

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 (2011)

Trafficking in Persons:

 Current situation: Venezuela is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; Venezuelan women and girls are trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation, lured from the nation's interior to urban and tourist areas; to a lesser extent, Brazilian women and Colombian women are subjected to forced prostitution; some Venezuelan women are transported to Caribbean islands, particularly Aruba, Curacao, and Trinidad & Tobago, where they are subjected to forced prostitution

Tier rating: Tier 3 - the government investigated potential cases of suspected human trafficking and arrested at least 12 people for trafficking crimes during the reporting period; however, there was no further publicly available information regarding those cases; Venezuela is not making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking (2011)

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Last Updated: December 2011

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