26,814,843 (July 2010 est.)
1.508% (2010 est.)
7.9% (2009 est.)
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, 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.
A January 10, 2006, BBC article reported that since 2003, President Hugo Chavez has been setting price ceilings on food, and that these price ceilings have caused shortages and hoarding. The military was ordered to keep people from smuggling across scarce, price-controlled items like milk and seized about 750 tons of food and 9,000 gallons of fuel. Venezuelan farmers who attempt to smuggle milk or other foods into Colombia seeking a higher profit could have their properties expropriated by the state.
In April, 2008, Chavez ordered the nationalization of the cement industry in response to the industry exporting its products to receive higher prices outside the country.
In February, 2009 Chavez ordered the military to temporarily seize control of all the rice processing plants in the country. He accused some firms of overcharging by refusing to produce rice at prices set by the government.
By 2009, a country that has claimed the world’s biggest oil reserves and is home to its fourth-mightiest river, the Orinoco, has been forced to ration both water and electricity. What has been declared the government’s failure to plan, maintain and invest in the necessary infrastructure, was in 2007 compounded by nationalising what remained of the private power industry. While there have been several national blackouts, the demand for electricity has grown by an annual average of 4.5%. The thermal plants cannot be used to take up the slack. They have been neglected. Meanwhile, the utility rates have been frozen for most of Mr Chávez’s time in office.
In October, 2010, president Hugo Chavez signed a decree to expropriate a leading farm-supply business, promising to bring down prices of seeds and fertilizers as his government takes control. Also, the government planned to increase seizures of farmland deemed underused in order to aid small farmers. An additional 250,000 hectares (more than 600,000 acres) in the coming month should be seized.
President Hugo Chavez has used state powers and agencies including CESNA (entro de Estudio Situacional de la Nación/Center for Situational Studies of the Nation) to limit public debate including discrediting human rights defenders and prosecuting critics, "blatantly violating the rights of expression and to information," according to José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch. Forced closure of newspapers, magazines and prosecution of television station personalities is systematic in the country.
Falling oil production under Chavez
Between the rise of Preisdent Hugo Chavez to power in 1998 to 2010 oil production has fallen 33% The falling production rates are in a large part due to the politicising of the companies mission, a directive to engage in non core activities including farming, politically installed price controls and subsidies to foreign customers and a shortfall of as much as $32 billion in production capacity.
- Currency: Bolívar fuerte (ISO code: VEF)
- Central bank discount rate: 33.5% (31 December 2008)
- Commercial banks lending rate: 22.37% (31 December 2008)
- Stock of money (M1): $78.09 billion (31 December 2008)
- Quasi money (with M1 makes M2): $10.69 billion (31 December 2008)
- Banking crisis: 1978-1986, 1993-1995
- Years in inflation: 11% (share of years 1829-2009 with annual inflation above 20 per cent per annum)
- Public default: 1826-1840, 1848-1859, 1860-1862, 1865-1881, 1892, 1898-1905, 1983-1988, 1990, 1995-1997, 2004-2005 (external), 1995-1997, 1998 (domestic)
|Statistic / Year||1999||2000||2001||2002||2003||2004||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010|
|GDP (million USD)||97 974||117 148||122 910||92 890||83 529||112 452||145 513||184 509||228 071||314 150|
|Govt. debt (% of GDP)||38.8||43.1||34.2||28.4||27|
|Govt. revenue (% of GDP)||18.960||21.179||21.728||22.842||24.028||24.647||28.262|
|Govt. expenses (% of GDP)||19.973||21.639||24.083||23.322||25.155||24.707||25.066|
|Debt to revenue (years)|
Note: statistical data was rounded. Different sources may use different methodologies for their estimates. Debt to revenue is calculated by dividing the two variables from their original ('unrounded') values. It represents how long it would a government take to repay its entire debt if it used its whole revenue for this purpose.
- CIA - The World Factbook. "Venezuela", from The World Factbook. Referenced 2010-09-28.
- Heritage Foundation. "Venezuela", Economic Freedom Score. A lower ranking is better; but please be careful when comparing between different countries or years. Referenced 2010-09-28.
- Transparency International. "Venezuela", Corruption Perceptions Index 2009. A lower ranking is better; but please note that the numbers cannot be compared between countries or years due to different methodology. Referenced 2010-09-28.
- Doing Business. "Venezuela", Doing Business 2010 (part of The World Bank Group). A lower ranking is better; but please be careful when comparing between different countries or years. Referenced 2010-09-28.
- Greg Morsbach. "Venezuelan shoppers face food shortages", BBC, January 10, 2006. Referenced 2010-10-31.
- Fabiola Sanchez. "Venezuelan troops crack down on smuggling along Colombian border", Associated Press, January 22, 2008. Referenced 2010-10-31.
- The Associated Press. "Hugo Chavez Nationalizes Cement Industry", CBS News, April 4, 2008. Referenced 2010-10-31.
- BBC. "Chavez sends army to rice plants", BBC, 1 March 2009. Referenced 2010-10-31.
- The Economist. "Venezuela's energy shortage: Losing power", November 2009. Referenced 2010-10-31.
- The Associated Press. "Chavez Decrees Expropriation of Farm Business", "Venezuela's Chavez decrees expropriation of farm supply company, promises lower prices", ABC News, October 2010. Referenced 2010-10-31.
- HRW "Venezuela: Close Chavez’s New Censorship Office ", "Stop Prosecuting and Harassing Critics and Restricting Flow of Information ", HRW, July 2010. Referenced 2011-11-13.
- LAHT "Chavez Government Closes Venezuela Opposition Newspaper & Magazine", Latin American Herald Tribune, 2009. Referenced 2011-11-13.
- Index Mundi "Venezuela Crude Oil Production by Year", "graph of production", Index Mundi, January 2011. Referenced 2011-11-13.
- REF PUBLISHER "Venezuela's oil output slumps under Hugo Chavez", The Telegraph, October 2008. Referenced 2011-11-13.
- Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff. "This Time is Different", Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-14216-6, p. 391. (The list does not claim to be complete.) Referenced 2011-07-21.
- Carmen M. Reinhart. "This Time is Different Chartbook: Country Histories on Debt, Default, and Financial Crises" (pdf), March 3, 2010, p. 122. (The list does not claim to be complete.) Referenced 2011-07-21.
- World Bank. "Venezuela: GDP", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-28.
- World Bank. "Venezuela: government debt", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-28.
- World Bank. "Venezuela: government revenue", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-28.
- World Bank. "Venezuela: government expenses", from World Bank Data. Referenced 2010-09-28.
- Index Mundi. "Venezuela Inflation", Index Mundi 2010 (data from the International Monetary Fund). Referenced 2011-1-13.
- Venezuela on Wikipedia
- Central bank of Venezuela
- Country profile (pdf) from the Enterprise Studies page (part of the The World Bank Group)
- Studies from the Library of Congress (1986-1998)
- BBC country profile
- A Tale of Two Shortages by Doug French, September 2009, about the coffee industry
- Power cuts in Venezuela lead to traffic gloom, BBC, January 2010
- Devaluation Sparks Chaos in Caracas by John Lyons and Darcy Crowe, January 2010
- Venezuela's devaluation will cost some U.S. companies by Jessica Wohl, January 2010
- Devaluation ups stakes in Venezuela election year, Reuters, January 2010
- Chavez Devalues Bolivar 50%, First Time Since 2005 by Daniel Cancel, January 2010
- The Fine Print of Central Banking by Jonathan M. Finegold Catalan, May 2010
- Chavez pushes Venezuela into food war by Damien McElroy, June 2010
- Venezuelans battling soaring food prices by Fabiola Sanchez, May 2011
- Venezuela struggles with sporadic food shortages by Vivian Sequera and Christopher Toothaker, January 2013
- Chavez Risks Backlash After Venezuela Devalues Bolivar 32% by Charlie Devereux and Corina Pons, February 2013
- Almost-Free Gas Comes at a High Cost by Ángel González, April 2013
- Economy woes pile up for Latin America's leftists by Robert Plummer, October 2013
- Venezuela jails 100 'bourgeois' businessmen in crackdown by Andrew Cawthorne and Deisy Buitrago, November 2013
- "Inflation, Shortages, and Social Democracy in Venezuela" by Matt McCaffrey, November 2013
- "Venezuela’s Ongoing Economic Crisis" by Matt McCaffrey, February 2014
- "The Road to Poverty Is Paved with Small Inflations" by Carmen Elena Dorobăț, October 2014
- "Socialism and Other Crimes in Venezuela" by Benjamin M. Wiegold, November 2014
- "Middle-of-the-Road Policy: Lessons from Argentina and Venezuela" by Iván Carrino, November 2014
- Venezuela Runs Out of Toilet Paper, Achieves True Socialism by David Boaz, April 2015
- Venezuela Doesn't Have Enough Money to Pay for Its Money by Andrew Rosati, April 2016
- Socialism: The View from Venezuela by Ed Krayewski, May 2017