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Area: 912,050 sq. km. (352,143 sq. mi.); slightly more than twice the size of California.
Cities: Capital--Caracas (metro. area pop. 3.6 million, 2004 est.). Other major cities--Maracaibo, Valencia, Barquisimeto.
Terrain: Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains; Guiana Highlands in southeast.
Climate: Varies from tropical to temperate, depending on elevation.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Venezuelan(s).
Population (2004 est.): 24,705,900.
Annual population growth: 1.48%.
Religion: Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%
Language: Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects.
Education: Years compulsory--9. Literacy-- 93.4% (male 93.8%, female 93.1%)
Health: Infant mortality rate--26.17 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy--73.81 yrs.
Ethnic groups: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, Amerindian.

Type: Federal Republic.
Independence: July 5, 1811.
Constitution: December 30, 1999.
Branches: Executive--President (head of government and chief of state; 6-year term); Council of Ministers (cabinet, appointed by president). Legislative--Unicameral Congress (5-year term). Judicial--32 -member Supreme Court (elected by Congress; 12-year term). Electoral--Nation Electoral Council (elected by Congress; 7-year term). Citizen Power--Prosecutor General, Ombudsman, Comptroller General (elected by Congress; 7-year term).
Subdivisions: 23 states, one federal district (Caracas), and one federal dependency (72 islands).
Major political parties: Fifth Republic Movement or Movimiento V Republica (MVR), Democratic Action or Accion Democratica (AD), Christian Democrats or Comite Organizador Politico por Elecciones Independientes (COPEI), Homeland for All or Patria Para Todos (PPT), Movement to Socialism or Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), Radical Cause or La Causa R, First Justice or Primero Justicia, and the National Convergence or Convergencia.
Suffrage: Universal, age 18 and over.
Principal government officials: See listing under History and Political Conditions section.

GDP (2004 est.): $115.0 billion.
Annual growth rate (2004 est.): 16%.
GDP per capita (2004 est.): $4,400.
Government expenditures: 27% of GDP.
Natural resources: Petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, gold, diamonds, bauxite, other minerals, hydroelectric power.
Petroleum industry (25% of GDP): Oil refining, petrochemicals.
Manufacturing (16% of GDP): Types--iron and steel products, paper products, aluminum, textiles, transport equipment, consumer products.
Agriculture (4% of GDP): Products--corn, sorghum, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee, beef, pork, milk, eggs, fish.
Trade: Exports (2004)--$41.0 billion: petroleum $34.0 billion, aluminum, steel, chemical products, iron ore, cigarettes, plastics, fish, cement, and paper products. Major markets (2004)--U.S. 55%, Colombia 14%, Mexico 6%, the Netherlands 4%, Ecuador 4.0%, Japan 3%, Brazil 2%. Imports (2004)--$15.8 billion: machinery and transport equipment, manufactured goods, construction materials. Major suppliers (2004)--U.S. 33%, Colombia 11%, Brazil 8%, Mexico 5%, Germany 3.4%, Japan 3.2%, Italy 3%.
Exchange rate (Dec. 2004): $1,920 bolivars=U.S. $1.

Adapted from material published in the CIA World Factbook.
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