Venezuela: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country Venezuela.

VENEZUELA

NITTY GRITTY

Location--North coast of South America, with a 1,750-mi. Caribbean and Atlantic coastline and Brazil, Colombia, and Guyana as neighbors.

How Created--Originally part of the Spanish viceroyalty of New Granada (which also included Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia), Venezuela was freed from Spanish rule by Simon Bolivar in 1818. Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia temporarily joined together under the title of Republic of Gran Colombia, but Venezuela seceded in 1830, proclaiming itself an independent republic.

Size--355,759 sq. mi. (921,417 sq. km.).

Population--12,400,000: mestizo, 70%; white, 20%; black, 8%; Indian, 2%. 93.4% Roman Catholic.

Who Rules--After 150 years of dictatorships, both military and civilian, Venezuela is developing some forms of representative government. All citizens over 18 vote every 5 years, selecting at one time a new, bicameral legislature and one-term President, who may not succeed himself for 10 years. There are no by-or mid-elections. There is a large number of political parties, including the communists who were banned from political activity between 1962-1969.

Who REALLY Rules--The big oil companies--Exxon, Shell, and Gulf--have long held considerable political and economic influence in Venezuela, and have engineered favors for the country in return for liberal oil-exploiting terms. However, the international energy crisis has given Venezuela much greater leverage in dealing with foreign investors, and in February, 1975, the President of Venezuela announced the gradual nationalization of the oil industry. Venezuela has been the recipient of a great deal of U.S. Government and private aid and investment, and close economic ties will continue.

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