Grenada: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This South Atlantic Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACTBOOK)

 

Grenada

Introduction Carib Indians inhabited Grenada when COLUMBUS discovered the island in 1498, but it remained uncolonized for more than a century. The French settled Grenada in the 17th century, established sugar estates, and imported large numbers of African slaves. Britain took the island in 1762 and vigorously expanded sugar production. In the 19th century, cacao eventually surpassed sugar as the main export crop; in the 20th century, nutmeg became the leading export. In 1967, Britain gave Grenada autonomy over its internal affairs. Full independence was attained in 1974, making Grenada one of the smallest independent countries in the Western Hemisphere. Grenada was seized by a Marxist military council on 19 October 1983. Six days later the island was invaded by US forces and those of six other Caribbean nations, which quickly captured the ringleaders and their hundreds of Cuban advisers. Free elections were reinstituted the following year and have continued since that time. Hurricane Ivan struck Grenada in September of 2004 causing severe damage.
History The recorded history of Grenada begins in 1498, when Christopher Columbus first sighted the island and gave it the name Conception Island, and later called it Granada. At the time the Island Caribs (Kalinago) lived there and called it Camerhogue. The Spaniards did not permanently settle in Camerhogue. Later the English failed their first settlement attempts, but the French fought and conquered Grenada from the Caribs circa 1650. The French conquest resulted in the genocide of 17th century Caribs from present-day Grenada. Warfare also existed between the Caribs of present day Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines with the French invaders. The French took control of Camerhogue and named the new French colony La Grenade. La Grenade prospered as a wealthy French colony; its main export was sugar. The French established a capital known as Fort Royal in 1650 as ordered by Cardinal Richelieu. To wait out harsh hurricanes, the French navy would shelter in the capital’s natural harbour. No other French colony had a natural harbour to even compare with that of Fort Royal (later renamed St. George’s). The colony was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris. A century later, in 1877 Grenada was made a Crown Colony.

History 1958-1984: Independence and Revolution

The island was a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962. In 1967, Grenada attained the status of “Associated State of the United Kingdom”, which meant that Grenada was now responsible for her own internal affairs, and the UK was responsible for her defense and foreign affairs. Independence was granted in 1974 under the leadership of the then Premier, Sir Eric Matthew Gairy, who became the first Prime Minister of Grenada.

Civil conflict gradually broke out between Eric Gairy’s government and some opposition parties including the New Jewel Movement (NJM). Gairy’s party won elections in 1976 but the opposition did not accept the result. In 1979, the New Jewel Movement under Maurice Bishop launched a successful armed revolution against the government. Maurice Bishop suspended the constitution and declared a People’s Revolutionary Government. All parties except the NJM were banned and elections were never held to legitimize the change.

A dispute later developed between Bishop and certain high-ranking members of the NJM. Party members including Bernard Coard demanded that Bishop either step down or enter into a power sharing arrangement. The dispute eventually led to Bishop being deposed in 1983 and placed under house arrest. These actions led to street demonstrations in various parts of the island. Bishop was eventually freed by a large demonstration in the capital. Soon after, he was captured and executed by soldiers along with seven others including cabinet ministers of the government.

After the execution of Bishop, the People’s Revolutionary Army formed a military government with General Hudson Austin as chairman. The army declared a four-day total curfew during which it said that anyone leaving their home without approval would be shot on sight.

Six days after the execution of Bishop, the island was invaded by forces from the United States. The US stated this was done at the behest of Dame Eugenia Charles, of Dominica. Five other Caribbean nations participated with Dominica and the USA in the campaign, called Operation Urgent Fury. While the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon, later stated that he had requested the invasion, the governments of the United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago expressed anger at not having been consulted.

Eighteen members of the PRG and the PRA (army) were arrested after the invasion on charges related to the murder of Maurice Bishop and seven others. The eighteen included the top political leadership of Grenada at the time of the execution as well as the entire military chain of command directly responsible for the operation that led to the executions. Fourteen were sentenced to death, one was found not guilty and three were sentenced to forty-five years in prison. The death sentences were eventually commuted to terms of imprisonment. Those in prison have become known as the Grenada 17.

Twenty-first century history

In 2000-2002, much of the controversy of the late 1970s and early 1980s was once again brought into the public consciousness with the opening of the truth and reconciliation commission. The commission was chaired by a Roman Catholic priest, Father Mark Haynes, and was tasked with uncovering injustices arising from the PRA, Bishop’s regime, and before. It held a number of hearings around the country. The commission was formed, bizarrely, because of a school project. Brother Robert Fanovich, head of Presentation Brothers’ College (PBC) in St. George’s tasked some of his senior students with conducting a research project into the era and specifically into the fact that Maurice Bishop’s body was never discovered. Their project attracted a great deal of attention, including from the Miami Herald and the final report was published in a book written by the boys called Big Sky, Little Bullet. It also uncovered that there was still a lot of resentment in Grenadian society resulting from the era, and a feeling that there were many injustices still unaddressed. The commission began shortly after the boys concluded their project.

In 2004, after being hurricane free for forty-nine years, the island was directly hit by Hurricane Ivan (September 7). Ivan struck as a Category 4 hurricane and caused 90 percent of the homes to be damaged or destroyed. The following year, 2005, Hurricane Emily (July 14) a Category 2 hurricane struck the northern part of the island, causing an estimated USD $110 million (EC$ 297 million) worth of damage. This was much less damage than Ivan had caused.[citations needed]

Grenada has recovered with remarkable speed, due to both domestic labor and financing from the world at large. By December 2005, 96% of all hotel rooms were to be open for business and to have been upgraded in facilities and strengthened to an improved building code. The agricultural industry and in particular the nutmeg industry suffered serious losses, but that event has begun changes in crop management and it is hoped that as new nutmeg trees gradually mature, the industry will return to its pre-Ivan position as a major supplier in the Western world.[citations needed]

In April 2007, Grenada jointly hosted (along with several other Caribbean nations) the 2007 Cricket World Cup. After hurricane Ivan, the Chinese government paid for the new $40 million national stadium, along with the aid of over 300 Chinese labourers to build and repair it.

Geography Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Geographic coordinates: 12 07 N, 61 40 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 344 sq km
land: 344 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 121 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; tempered by northeast trade winds
Terrain: volcanic in origin with central mountains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Saint Catherine 840 m
Natural resources: timber, tropical fruit, deepwater harbors
Land use: arable land: 5.88%
permanent crops: 29.41%
other: 64.71% (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Total renewable water resources: NA
Natural hazards: lies on edge of hurricane belt; hurricane season lasts from June to November
Environment – current issues: NA
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the administration of the islands of the Grenadines group is divided between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada
Politics As a Commonwealth Realm, Queen Elizabeth II is Queen of Grenada and Head of State. The Crown is represented by a Governor-General, who is currently Sir Daniel Williams. Day-to-day executive power lies with the Head of Government, the Prime Minister. Although appointed by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister is usually the leader of the largest faction in the Parliament.

The Parliament consists of a Senate (thirteen members) and a House of Representatives (fifteen members). The senators are appointed by the government and the opposition, while the representatives are elected by the population for five-year terms. With 48% of the votes and eight seats in the 2003 election, the New National Party remains the largest party in Grenada. The largest opposition party is the National Democratic Congress with 45.6% of the votes and seven seats.

Grenada is a full and participating member of both the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

People Population: 89,971 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 32.8% (male 14,876/female 14,641)
15-64 years: 64.1% (male 30,522/female 27,137)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 1,353/female 1,442) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 22.1 years
male: 22.6 years
female: 21.6 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.336% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 21.87 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 6.61 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: -11.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.016 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.125 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.938 male(s)/female
total population: 1.082 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.92 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 13.57 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.27 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 65.21 years
male: 63.38 years
female: 67.05 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.3 children born/woman (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Grenadian(s)
adjective: Grenadian
Ethnic groups: black 82%, mixed black and European 13%, European and East Indian 5%, and trace of Arawak/Carib Amerindian
Religions: Roman Catholic 53%, Anglican 13.8%, other Protestant 33.2%
Languages: English (official), French patois
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96%

Saint Lucia: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Saint Lucia

Introduction The island, with its fine natural harbor at Castries, was contested between England and France throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries (changing possession 14 times); it was finally ceded to the UK in 1814. Even after the abolition of slavery on its plantations in 1834, Saint Lucia remained an agricultural island, dedicated to producing tropical commodity crops. Self-government was granted in 1967 and independence in 1979.
History Pre-European people

Saint Lucia’s first known inhabitants were Arawaks, believed to have come from northern South America around 200-400 CE. Numerous

France

sites on the island have produced specimens of the Arawaks’ well-developed pottery. There is evidence to suggest that these first inhabitors called the island Iouanalao, which meant ‘Land of the Iguanas’, due to the island’s high number of iguanas.

Caribs gradually replaced Arawaks during the period from 800 to 1000 CE They called the island Hiwanarau, and later Hewanorra, which is now the name used for the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort. The Caribs had a complex society, with hereditary kings and shamans. Their war canoes could hold more than 100 men and were fast enough to catch a sailing ship. They were later feared by the Europeans because of stories of violence and cannibalism, but much of this was probably exaggeration on the part of the Europeans. The Caribs were usually generous until attacked or deceived (which are situations common to much of European colonial history).

Today called St. Lucia, much of the island’s population are unaware of the valued contribution to what we today call ‘freedom’. They Europeans called these freedon fighters the Brigands, who were of African and sometimes mixed African-Arawak heritage. Many Brigands still occupy the forests and surrounding areas where they still challenge injustice against them and their indigenous counterparts.

European invasion

Europeans first landed on the island in either 1492 or 1502 during Spain’s early exploration of the Caribbean. The Dutch, English, and French all tried to establish trading outposts on St. Lucia in the 17th century but faced opposition from Caribs whose land they were occupying.

17th century

Although the French pirate Francois le Clerc (also known as Jamb de Bois, due to his wooden leg) frequented Saint Lucia in the 1550s, it was not until years later, around 1600, that the first European camp was started by the Dutch, at what is now Vieux Fort. In 1605, an English vessel called the Olive Branch was blown off-course on its way to Guyana, and the 67 colonists started a settlement on Saint Lucia but after five weeks only 19 of them remained due to disease and conflict with the Caribs, so they fled the island.

The French officially claimed the island in 1635 but it was the English that started the next European settlement in 1639, which was wiped out by the Caribs. It was not until 1651 that the French came, this time from Martinique, commanded by De Rousselan, who held the island until his death in 1654.

In 1664, Thomas Warner (son of the governor of St Kitts) claimed Saint Lucia for England. He brought 1,000 men there to defend it from the French, but after two years there were only 89 left, mostly due to disease. For years after this, the island was official traded back and forth between the English and the French in various treaties, as a bargaining chip in negotiations.

18th century

The English, with their headquarters in Barbados, and the French, centered on Martinique, found St. Lucia attractive after the sugar industry developed in 1765. Colonists who came over were mostly indentured white servants serving a small percentage of wealthy merchants or nobles. Conflict with the Caribs increased as more and more land was taken.

Near the end of the century, the French Revolution occurred, and a revolutionary tribunal was sent to Saint Lucia, headed by captain La Crosse. Bringing the ideas of the revolution to Saint Lucia, he set up a guillotine that was used to execute Royalists. In 1794, the French governor of the island declared that all slaves were free, but only a short time later the British invaded again in response to the concerns of the wealthy plantation owners, and restored slavery after years of fighting. Castries was burned in 1796 as part of that battle between the British and the slaves and French republicans.

19th century

Britain eventually triumphed, with France permanently ceding Saint Lucia in 1814. The British abolished the African slave trade in 1807, three years after former slaves in Haiti had gained their independence as the first black republic in the Caribbean, but it was not until 1834 that slavery was actually abolished on Saint Lucia. Even after slavery was officially abolished, all former slaves had to serve a four-year “apprenticeship” which forced them to work for free for their former slavemasters for at least three-quarters of the work week, with final freedom in 1838.

Also in 1838, Saint Lucia was incorporated into the British Windward Islands administration, headquartered in Barbados. This lasted until 1885, when the capital was moved to Grenada.

20th century to present day

Increasing self-government has marked St. Lucia’s 20th century history. A 1924 constitution gave the island its first form of representative government, with a minority of elected members in the previously all-nominated legislative council. Universal adult suffrage was introduced in 1951, and elected members became a majority of the council. Ministerial government was introduced in 1956, and in 1958 St. Lucia joined the short-lived West Indies Federation, a semi-autonomous dependency of the United Kingdom. When the federation collapsed in 1962, following Jamaica’s withdrawal, a smaller federation was briefly attempted. After the second failure, the United Kingdom and the six windward and leeward islands–Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis and Anguilla, and St. Lucia–developed a novel form of cooperation called associated statehood.

As an associated state of the United Kingdom from 1967 to 1979, St. Lucia had full responsibility for internal self-government but left its external affairs and defense responsibilities to the United Kingdom. This interim arrangement ended on February 22, 1979, when St. Lucia achieved full independence. St. Lucia continues to recognize Queen Elizabeth II as titular head of state and is an active member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The island continues to cooperate with its neighbors through the Caribbean community and common market (CARICOM), the East Caribbean Common Market (ECCM), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Geography Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Geographic coordinates: 13 53 N, 60 58 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 616 sq km
land: 606 sq km
water: 10 sq km
Area – comparative: 3.5 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 158 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: tropical, moderated by northeast trade winds; dry season January to April, rainy season May to August
Terrain: volcanic and mountainous with some broad, fertile valleys
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Gimie 950 m
Natural resources: forests, sandy beaches, minerals (pumice), mineral springs, geothermal potential
Land use: arable land: 6.45%
permanent crops: 22.58%
other: 70.97% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.01
per capita: 81 cu m/yr (1997)
Natural hazards: hurricanes and volcanic activity
Environment – current issues: deforestation; soil erosion, particularly in the northern region
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the twin Pitons (Gros Piton and Petit Piton), striking cone-shaped peaks south of Soufriere, are one of the scenic natural highlights of the Caribbean
Foreign relations Saint Lucia has no extant international disputes aside from tension resulting from the island’s status as a transit point for South American drugs destined for the United States and Europe.

Historically, the major thrust of foreign affairs for St. Lucia has been economic development. The government is seeking balanced international relations with emphasis on mutual economic cooperation and trade and investment. It seeks to conduct its foreign policy chiefly through its membership in the OECS. St. Lucia participated in the 1983 Grenada mission, sending members of its Special Services Unit into active duty. St. Lucia is a member of the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States, and the United Nations. It seeks pragmatic solutions to major international issues and maintains friendly relations with the major powers active in the Caribbean, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and France. St. Lucia has been active in eastern Caribbean regional affairs through the OECS and CARICOM.

As a member of CARICOM, St. Lucia strongly backed efforts by the United States to implement UN Security Council Resolution 940, designed to restore democracy to Haiti. The country agreed to contribute personnel to the multinational force, which restored the democratically elected government of Haiti in October 1994.

St. Lucia participated, along with 14 other Caribbean nations, in a summit with US President Bill Clinton in Bridgetown, Barbados, in May 1997. The summit, which was the first-ever meeting in the region between the U.S. and Caribbean heads of government, strengthened the basis for regional cooperation on justice and counternarcotics, finance and development, and trade issues.

St. Lucia had official diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) for about 13 years, but switched recognition to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1997. On 25 April 2007, the Premier of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Su Tseng-chang, announced that St. Lucia and Taiwan would resume formal diplomatic relations.[1] On May 1, 2007, St. Lucia regained diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan).[2] Within a few days, the People’s Republic of China suspended diplomatic relations.

People Population: 159,585 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.2% (male 20,614/female 19,559)
15-64 years: 65.8% (male 50,897/female 54,140)
65 years and over: 9% (male 6,481/female 7,894) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 29.2 years
male: 28.2 years
female: 30.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.436% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 15.4 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.71 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -4.33 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.96 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.8 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 12.75 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.25 years
male: 73.59 years
female: 79.05 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.86 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Saint Lucian(s)
adjective: Saint Lucian
Ethnic groups: black 82.5%, mixed 11.9%, East Indian 2.4%, other or unspecified 3.1% (2001 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 67.5%, Seventh Day Adventist 8.5%, Pentecostal 5.7%, Rastafarian 2.1%, Anglican 2%, Evangelical 2%, other Christian 5.1%, other 1.1%, unspecified 1.5%, none 4.5% (2001 census)
Languages: English (official), French patois
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over has ever attended school
total population: 90.1%
male: 89.5%
female: 90.6% (2001 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 6.6% of GDP (2006

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Introduction Resistance by native Caribs prevented colonization on St. Vincent until 1719. Disputed between France and the United Kingdom for most of the 18th century, the island was ceded to the latter in 1783. Between 1960 and 1962, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines was a separate administrative unit of the Federation of the West Indies. Autonomy was granted in 1969 and independence in 1979.
History Carib Indians aggressively prevented European settlement on St. Vincent until the 18th century. Enslaved Africans – whether shipwrecked or escaped from Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada and seeking refuge in mainland St. Vincent, or Hairouna as it was originally named by the Caribs – intermarried with the Caribs and became known as Garifuna or Black Caribs. Beginning in 1719, French settlers cultivated coffee, tobacco, indigo, cotton, and sugar on plantations worked by enslaved Africans. In 1763, St. Vincent was ceded to Britain. Restored to French rule in 1779, St. Vincent was regained by the British under the Treaty of Paris (1783) in which Great Britain officially recognized the end of the American Revolution. Ancillary treaties were also signed with France and Spain, known as the Treaties of Versailles of 1783, part of which put St. Vincent back under British control. Conflict between the British and the Black Caribs, led by defiant Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer, continued until 1796, when General Sir Ralph Abercromby crushed a revolt fomented by the French radical Victor Hugues. More than 5,000 Black Caribs were eventually deported to Roatán, an island off the coast of Honduras.

Slavery was abolished in 1834. After the apprenticeship period, which ended prematurely in 1838, labour shortages on the plantations resulted in the immigration of indentured servants. The Portuguese came from Madeira starting in the 1840s and shiploads of East Indian labourers arrived between 1861-1880. Conditions remained harsh for both former slaves and immigrant agricultural workers, as depressed world sugar prices kept the economy stagnant until the turn of the century.

From 1763 until independence, St. Vincent passed through various stages of colonial status under the British. A representative assembly was authorized in 1776, Crown Colony government installed in 1877, a legislative council created in 1925, and universal adult suffrage granted in 1951.

During this period, the British made several unsuccessful attempts to affiliate St. Vincent with other Windward Islands in order to govern the region through a unified administration. The colonies themselves, desirous of freedom from British rule, made a notable attempt at unification called West Indies Federation, which collapsed in 1962. St. Vincent was granted associate statehood status on October 27th, 1969, giving it complete control over its internal affairs. Following a referendum in 1979, under Milton Cato St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the Windward Islands to gain independence on the 10th anniversary of its associate statehood status, October 27th, 1979.

Natural disasters have featured in the country’s history. In 1902, La Soufrière volcano erupted, killing 2,000 people. Much farmland was damaged, and the economy deteriorated. In April 1979, La Soufrière erupted again. Although no one was killed, thousands had to be evacuated, and there was extensive agricultural damage. In 1980 and 1987, hurricanes compromised banana and coconut plantations; 1998 and 1999 also saw very active hurricane seasons, with Hurricane Lenny in 1999 causing extensive damage to the west coast of the island.

Geography Location: Caribbean, islands between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, north of Trinidad and Tobago
Geographic coordinates: 13 15 N, 61 12 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 389 sq km (Saint Vincent 344 sq km)
land: 389 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 84 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm
Climate: tropical; little seasonal temperature variation; rainy season (May to November)
Terrain: volcanic, mountainous
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: La Soufriere 1,234 m
Natural resources: hydropower, cropland
Land use: arable land: 17.95%
permanent crops: 17.95%
other: 64.1% (2005)
Irrigated land: 10 sq km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.01
per capita: 83 cu m/yr (1995)
Natural hazards: hurricanes; Soufriere volcano on the island of Saint Vincent is a constant threat
Environment – current issues: pollution of coastal waters and shorelines from discharges by pleasure yachts and other effluents; in some areas, pollution is severe enough to make swimming prohibitive
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the administration of the islands of the Grenadines group is divided between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is comprised of 32 islands and cays
Politics St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a parliamentary democracy within the Commonwealth of Nations. Queen Elizabeth II is head of state and is represented on the island by a governor general, the Honourable Sir Fedrick Ballantyne, a

OECSn office with mostly ceremonial functions. Control of the government rests with the prime minister and the cabinet. There is a parliamentary opposition made of the largest minority stakeholder in general elections, headed by the leader of the opposition. The current Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is the Honourable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, affectionately called “Comrade.”

The country has no formal armed forces, though Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force includes a Special Service Unit.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are a full & participating member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

People Population: 118,432 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 25.1% (male 15,161/female 14,600)
15-64 years: 68.4% (male 41,855/female 39,105)
65 years and over: 6.5% (male 3,402/female 4,309) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 28 years
male: 27.8 years
female: 28.1 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.231% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 15.82 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.96 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -7.56 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 13.62 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 14.83 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 12.36 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 74.34 years
male: 72.42 years
female: 76.31 years (2008 est.)

Information About Venezuela From The ‘CIA Fact Book’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘CIA FACT BOOK’)

 

Venezuela

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 globalization and undermining regional stability. Current concerns include: a weakening of democratic institutions, political polarization, a politicized military, drug-related violence along the Colombian border, increasing internal drug consumption, over dependence on petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples. On March 5th of 2013 Hugo Chavez died from cancer and his Vice President Nicolas Maduro assumed the Office of the Presidency and Mr. Maduro is still the President at this time.
History Human habitation of Venezuela is estimated to have commenced at least 15,000 years ago from which period leaf-shaped tools, together with chopping and plano-convex scraping implements, have been found exposed on the high river terraces of the Rio Pedregal in western Venezuela. Late Pleistocene hunting artifacts, including spear tips, have been found at a similar series of sites in northwestern Venezuela known as “El Jobo”; according to radiocarbon dating, these date from 13,000 to 7,000 BC. In the 16th century, when the Spanish colonization of Venezuela began, indigenous peoples such as the Mariches, themselves descendants of the Caribs, were systematically killed. Indian caciques (leaders) such as Guaicaipuro and Tamanaco attempted to resist Spanish incursions, but were ultimately subdued; Tamanaco was put to death by order of Caracas’ founder Diego de Losada.

Venezuela was first colonized by Spain in 1522 in what is now Cumaná. These portions of eastern Venezuela were incorporated into New Andalusia. Administered by the Audiencia of Santo Domingo since the early 16th century, most of Venezuela became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in the early 18th century, and was then reorganized as an autonomous Captaincy General starting in 1776. After a series of unsuccessful uprisings, Venezuela—under the leadership of Francisco de Miranda, a Venezuelan marshal involved in the French Revolution—declared independence on July 5, 1811. This began the Venezuelan War of Independence. However, a devastating earthquake that struck Caracas in 1812, together with the rebellion of the Venezuelan llaneros, helped bring down the first Venezuelan republic. A second Venezuelan republic, proclaimed on August 7, 1813, lasted several months before being crushed as well.

Sovereignty was only attained after Simón Bolívar, aided by José Antonio Páez and Antonio José de Sucre, won the Battle of Carabobo on June 24, 1821. José Prudencio Padilla and Rafael Urdaneta’s victory in the Battle of Lake Maracaibo on July 24, 1823, helped seal Venezuelan independence. New Granada’s congress gave Bolívar control of the Granadian army; leading it, he liberated several countries and founded Gran Colombia. Sucre, who won many battles for Bolívar, went on to liberate Ecuador and later become the second president of Bolivia. Venezuela remained part of Gran Colombia until 1830, when a rebellion led by Páez allowed the proclamation of a new Republic of Venezuela; Páez became its first president.

Much of Venezuela’s nineteenth century history was characterized by political turmoil and dictatorial rule. During first half of the 20th century, caudillos (military strongmen) continued to dominate, though they generally allowed for mild social reforms and promoted economic growth. Following the death of Juan Vicente Gómez in 1935 and the demise of caudillismo (authoritarian rule), pro-democracy movements eventually forced the military to withdraw from direct involvement in national politics in 1958. Since that year, Venezuela has had a series of democratically elected governments. The discovery of massive oil deposits during World War I prompted an economic boom that lasted into the 1980s; by 1935, Venezuela’s per capita gross domestic product was Latin America’s highest. After World War II the globalization and heavy immigration from Southern Europe (mainly from Spain, Italy, Portugal) and poorer Latin American countries markedly diversified Venezuelan society.

The huge public spending and accumulation of internal and external debts by the government and private sector during the Petrodollar years of the 1970s and early 1980s, followed by the collapse of oil prices during the 1980s, crippled the Venezuelan economy. As the government devalued the currency in order to face its mounting local and non-local financial obligations, Venezuelans’ real standard of living fell dramatically. A number of failed economic policies and increasing corruption in government and society at large, has led to rising poverty and crime and worsening social indicators and increasing political instability, resulting in two major coup attempts in 1992.

In the February 1992 coup, Hugo Chávez, a former paratrooper, attempted to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez as anger grew against the president’s economic austerity measures. Chávez was unsuccessful and was placed in jail. In November 1992, another unsuccessful coup attempt occurred, organized by other revolutionary groups in the Venezuelan Armed Forces and those that remained from Chávez’s previous attempt.

In 1998, Chávez was elected president as a reaction against the established political parties and the corruption and inequalities their policies created. He remains president today. Since coming to power, Chávez has attracted some controversy through his reforms of the Constitution, the implementation of his “Bolivarian Revolution”, and in April 2002 (though now a democratically elected president) Chávez was temporarily ousted from power by right-wing elements in the army and the business sector.

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
Map references: South America
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
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 (La Columna) 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: 5,750 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 1,233.2 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): 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
Politics There are currently two major blocs of political parties in Venezuela: the incumbent leftist bloc United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), its major allies Fatherland for All (PPT) and the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), and the opposition bloc led by A New Era (UNT) together with its allied parties Project Venezuela, Justice First, Movement for Socialism (Venezuela) and others. Following the fall of Marcos Pérez Jiménez in 1958, Venezuelan politics was dominated by the third-way Christian democratic COPEI and the center-left social democratic Democratic Action (AD) parties; this two-party system was formalized by the puntofijismo arrangement. However, this system has been sidelined following the initial 1998 election of current President Hugo Chávez, which started what he calls the Bolivarian Revolution.

Most of the political opposition boycotted the 2005 parliamentary election. Consequently, Hugo Chávez’s MVR-led bloc secured all 167 seats in the National Assembly. Then, the MVR voted to dissolve itself and join the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela, while Chávez requested that MVR-allied parties merge themselves into it as well. The National Assembly has twice voted to grant Chávez the ability rule by decree in several broadly defined areas, once in 2000 and again in 2007. This power has been granted to previous administrations as well. Chavez has established alliance with several Latin American countries which have elected leftist governments, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Paraguay.

People Population: 26,814,843 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30.5% (male 4,157,194/female 4,022,595)
15-64 years: 64.3% (male 8,480,872/female 8,754,620)
65 years and over: 5.2% (male 620,657/female 778,905) (2009 est.)
Median age: total: 25.5 years
male: 24.8 years
female: 26.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.508% (2009 est.)
Birth rate: 20.92 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.1 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.42 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
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: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 21.54 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 25.1 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 17.81 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 73.61 years
male: 70.54 years
female: 76.83 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.48 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.7%; note – no country specific models provided (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 110,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 4,100 (2003 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne disease: dengue fever, malaria, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis (2008)
Nationality: noun: Venezuelan(s)
adjective: Venezuelan
Ethnic groups: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people
Religions: nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%
Languages: Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93%
male: 93.3%
female: 92.7% (2001 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 12 years
male: 11 years
female: 12 years (2003)
Education expenditures: 3.7% of GDP (2006)
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**, Distrito Federal*, 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: 30 December 1999
Legal system: open, adversarial court system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 3 February 1999); Executive Vice President Ramon Alonzo CARRIZALEZ Rengifo (since 4 January 2008); note – the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias (since 3 February 1999); Executive Vice President Ramon Alonzo CARRIZALEZ Rengifo (since 4 January 2008)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 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
election results: Hugo CHAVEZ Frias reelected president; percent of vote – Hugo CHAVEZ Frias 62.9%, Manuel ROSALES 36.9%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Asamblea Nacional (167 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms; three seats reserved for the indigenous peoples of Venezuela)
elections: last held 4 December 2005 (next to be held in 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – pro-government 167 (MVR 114, PODEMOS 15, PPT 11, indigenous 2, other 25), opposition 0; total seats by party as of 1 January 2008 – pro-government 152 (PSUV 114, PPT 11, indigenous 2, other 25), PODEMOS 15
Judicial branch: Supreme Tribunal of Justice or Tribuna Suprema de Justicia (magistrates are elected by the National Assembly for a single 12-year term)
Political parties and leaders: A New Time or UNT [Manuel ROSALES]; Christian Democrats or COPEI [Cesar PEREZ Vivas]; Communist Party of Venezuela or PCV [Jeronimo CARRERA]; Democratic Action or AD [Henry RAMOS Allup]; Fatherland for All or PPT [Jose ALBORNOZ]; Justice First [Julio BORGES]; Movement Toward Socialism or MAS [Hector MUJICA]; United Socialist Party of Venezuela or PSUV [Hugo CHAVEZ]; Venezuela Project or PV [Henrique SALAS Romer]; We Can or PODEMOS [Ismael GARCIA]
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)
International organization participation: Caricom (observer), CDB, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, LAS (observer), Mercosur (associate), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, RG, UN, UNASUR, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, 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)
note: as of September 2008, the US has expelled the Venezuelan ambassador to the US
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
note: as of September 2008, the Venezuelan Government has expelled the US Ambassador to Venezuela
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
Culture Venezuela’s heritage, art, and culture have been heavily influenced by the Caribbean context. These elements extend to its historic buildings, architecture, art, landscape, boundaries, and monuments. Venezuelan culture has been shaped by indigenous, Spanish and African influences. Before this period, indigenous culture was expressed in art (petroglyphs), crafts, architecture (shabonos), and social organization. Aboriginal culture was subsequently assimilated by Spaniards; over the years, the hybrid culture had diversified by region.

Venezuelan art was initially dominated by religious motifs but began emphasizing historical and heroic representations in the late 19th century, a move led by Martín Tovar y Tovar. Modernism took over in the 20th century. Notable Venezuelan artists include Arturo Michelena, Cristóbal Rojas, Armando Reverón, Manuel Cabré; the kinetic artists Jesús-Rafael Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez; and contemporary artist Yucef Merhi.

Venezuelan literature originated soon after the Spanish conquest of the mostly pre-literate indigenous societies; it was dominated by Spanish influences. Following the rise of political literature during the War of Independence, Venezuelan Romanticism, notably expounded by Juan Vicente González, emerged as the first important genre in the region. Although mainly focused on narrative writing, Venezuelan literature was advanced by poets such as Andrés Eloy Blanco and Fermín Toro. Major writers and novelists include Rómulo Gallegos, Teresa de la Parra, Arturo Uslar Pietri, Adriano González León, Miguel Otero Silva, and Mariano Picón Salas. The great poet and humanist Andrés Bello was also an educator and intellectual. Others, such as Laureano Vallenilla Lanz and José Gil Fortoul, contributed to Venezuelan Positivism.

Carlos Raúl Villanueva was the most important Venezuelan architect of the modern era; he designed the Central University of Venezuela, (a World Heritage Site) and its Aula Magna. Other notable architectural works include the Capitolio, the Baralt Theatre, the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex, and the General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge.

Indigenous musical styles of Venezuela are exemplified by the groups Un Solo Pueblo and Serenata Guayanesa. The national musical instrument is the cuatro. Typical musical styles and pieces mainly emerged in and around the llanos region, including Alma Llanera (by Pedro Elías Gutiérrez and Rafael Bolivar Coronado), Florentino y el Diablo (by Alberto Arvelo Torrealba), Concierto en la Llanura by Juan Vicente Torrealba, and Caballo Viejo (by Simón Díaz). The Zulian gaita is also a popular style, generally performed during Christmas. The national dance is the joropo. Teresa Carreño was a world-famous 19th century piano virtuosa. In the last years, Classical Music has had great performances. The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra has realized excellent presentations in many European concert halls, notably at the 2007 Proms, and has received honors of the public.

Baseball is Venezuela’s most popular sport, although football (soccer), spearheaded by the Venezuela national football team, is gaining influence.

Venezuela is well-known for its successions in beauty pageants. Miss Venezuela is a big event in the country, and Venezuela has received 5 Miss World, 5 Miss Universe and 5 Miss International titles.

The World Values Survey has consistently shown Venezuelans to be among the happiest people in the world, with 55% of those questioned saying they were “very happy”.

Economy Economy – overview: Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for roughly 90% of export earnings, about 50% 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 since then has recovered strongly. Fueled by high oil prices, record government spending helped to boost GDP by about 9% in 2006, 8% in 2007, and nearly 6% in 2008. This spending, combined with recent minimum wage hikes and improved access to domestic credit, has created a consumption boom but has come at the cost of higher inflation-roughly 20% in 2007 and more than 30% in 2008. Imports also have jumped significantly. Declining oil prices in the latter part of 2008 are expected to undermine the govenment’s ability to continue the high rate of spending. President Hugo CHAVEZ in 2008 continued efforts to increase the government’s contol of the economy by nationalizing firms in the cement and steel sectors. In 2007 he nationalized firms in the petroleum, communications, and electricity sectors. In July 2008, CHAVEZ implemented by decree a number of laws that further consolidate and centralize authority over the economy through his plan for “21st Century Socialism.”
GDP (purchasing power parity): $368.6 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $331.8 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 5.7% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $14,000 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 3.6%
industry: 35.3%
services: 61.1% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 12.49 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 13%
industry: 23%
services: 64% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate: 8.5% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 37.9% (end 2005 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 0.7%
highest 10%: 35.2% (2003)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 48.2 (2003)
Investment (gross fixed): 20.5% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $106.2 billion
expenditures: $100.8 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 17.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 31% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 28.5% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 17.11% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $63.18 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $8.889 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $50.24 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $8.251 billion (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% (2008 est.)
Electricity – production: 110.7 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 83.84 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 542 million kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 31.7%
hydro: 68.3%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 2.667 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 738,300 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – exports: 2.203 million bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – imports: 0 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – proved reserves: 87.04 billion bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 26.5 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 26.5 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 4.708 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: $48.44 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $103.5 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: petroleum, bauxite and aluminum, steel, chemicals, agricultural products, basic manufactures
Exports – partners: US 42.7%, Netherlands Antilles 8%, China 3.1% (2007)
Imports: $53.44 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: raw materials, machinery and equipment, transport equipment, construction materials
Imports – partners: US 26.6%, Colombia 13.5%, Brazil 9.5%, China 6.7%, Mexico 5.2%, Panama 5% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $48.66 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $36.36 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $47.99 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $44.31 billion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $15.81 billion (2008 est.)
Currency (code): bolivar (VEB)
Currency code: VEB
Exchange rates: bolivars (VEB) per US dollar – 2.147 (2008 est.), 2,147 (2007), 2,147 (2006), 2,089.8 (2005), 1,891.3 (2004)
note: On 1 January 2008 Venezuela revalued its currency with 1000 old bolivares equal to 1 new bolivar
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 5.082 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 23.82 million (2007)
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; fixed-line teledensity 20 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity more than 90 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 (2007)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 201, FM NA (20 in Caracas), shortwave 11 (1998)
Radios: 10.75 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 66 (plus 45 repeaters) (1997)
Televisions: 4.1 million (1997)
Internet country code: .ve
Internet hosts: 145,394 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 16 (2000)
Internet users: 5.72 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 390 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 128
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 10
1,524 to 2,437 m: 34
914 to 1,523 m: 61
under 914 m: 18 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 262
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 97
under 914 m: 149 (2007)
Heliports: 2 (2007)
Pipelines: extra heavy crude 980 km; gas 5,036 km; oil 6,695 km; refined products 1,484 km; unknown 141 km (2008)
Railways: total: 682 km
standard gauge: 682 km 1.435-m gauge (2006)
Roadways: total: 96,155 km
paved: 32,308 km
unpaved: 63,847 km (2002)
Waterways: 7,100 km
note: Orinoco River (400 km) and Lake de Maracaibo navigable by oceangoing vessels (2008)
Merchant marine: total: 62
by type: bulk carrier 9, cargo 16, chemical tanker 3, liquefied gas 5, passenger/cargo 10, petroleum tanker 17, refrigerated cargo 2
foreign-owned: 12 (Chile 1, Denmark 1, Greece 3, Mexico 5, Panama 1, Spain 1)
registered in other countries: 12 (Bahamas 1, Panama 10, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: La Guaira, Maracaibo, Puerto Cabello, Punta Cardon
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
Military Military branches: National Bolivarian Armed Forces (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, FANB): National Bolivarian Army (Ejercito Nacional Bolivariano, ENB), Bolivarian Navy (Fuerza Armada Bolivariana (FAB); includes Marines, Coast Guard, Naval Aviation), Bolivarian National Military Aviation (Aviacion Militar Nacional Bolivariana, AMNB), Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivaria, GNB) (2009)
Military service age and obligation: 18-30 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; 30-month conscript service obligation – all citizens 18-50 years old are obligated to register for military service (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 6,647,124
females age 16-49: 6,801,133 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 5,391,582
females age 16-49: 5,873,563 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 276,051
female: 274,162 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures: 1.2% of GDP (2005 est.)
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
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; child prostitution in urban areas and child sex tourism in resort destinations appear to be growing; Venezuelan women and girls are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation to Western Europe, Mexico, and Caribbean destinations
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Venezuela is placed on the Tier 2 Watch List, up from Tier 3, as it showed greater resolve to address trafficking through law enforcement measures and prevention efforts in 2007, although stringent punishment of offenders and victim assistance remain lacking (2008)
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