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Venezuela Country Profile

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Venezuela at a Glance

Location:Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana
Climate:tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands
Terrain:Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast
Resources:petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds
Hazards:subject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts
Population:26,814,843 (July 2009 est.)




A Brief Profile of Venezuela

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, overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.






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