Background: 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 industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.
Location: Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana
Area land: 882,050 sq km
Area water: 30,000 sq km
Coastline: 2,800 km
Country name conventional long form: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Country name conventional short form: Venezuela
Country name former: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
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.);
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.)
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.);
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.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA; NA note - no country specific models provided;
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA;
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA;
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);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $344.2 billion (2010 est.); $354.1 billion (2009 est.); $366.2 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $285.2 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: -2.8% (2010 est.); -3.3% (2009 est.); 4.8% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $12,600 (2010 est.); $13,200 (2009 est.); $13,900 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 4.1%; industry: 34.9%; services: 61.1% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 37.9% (yearend 2005 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.7%; highest 10%: 32.7% (2006);
Labor force: 13.3 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 13%; industry: 23%; services: 64% (1997 est.);
Unemployment rate: 12.1% (2010 est.); 7.9% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $50.12 billion; expenditures: $56.53 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: petroleum, construction materials, food processing, textiles; iron ore mining, steel, aluminum; motor vehicle assembly;
Industrial production growth rate: -8% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 113.3 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 83.02 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 540 million kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - imports: 1.651 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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(Independent), Isla Margarita
(Online news portal), Caracas
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At this weekend's Summit of the Americas, Latin American nations continue to push back against U.S. dominance, starting with U.S. military bases.
As protests have expanded in Venezuela this month, state security forces have used excessive force on protestors while cracking down on the press and the opposition.
Venezuela's domestic media blackout has been joined by an international blackout, one born not of censorship but of disinterest and inertia.
Chavez was a man of controversy and contradiction. Worldpress.org takes a snapshot of world news coverage following his death.