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Venezuela:
Geography

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Background
Definition
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.
Location
Definition
Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana
Geographic coordinates
Definition
8 00 N, 66 00 W
Map references
Definition
South America
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 912,050 sq km
land: 882,050 sq km
water: 30,000 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly more than twice the size of California
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 4,993 km
border countries: Brazil 2,200 km, Colombia 2,050 km, Guyana 743 km
Coastline
Definition
2,800 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 15 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate
Definition
tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands
Terrain
Definition
Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Pico Bolivar (La Columna) 5,007 m
Natural resources
Definition
petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 2.85%
permanent crops: 0.88%
other: 96.27% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
5,750 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
1,233.2 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 8.37 cu km/yr (6%/7%/47%)
per capita: 313 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
subject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues
Definition
sewage pollution of Lago de Valencia; oil and urban pollution of Lago de Maracaibo; deforestation; soil degradation; urban and industrial pollution, especially along the Caribbean coast; threat to the rainforest ecosystem from irresponsible mining operations
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed but not ratified:: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note
Definition
on major sea and air routes linking North and South America; Angel Falls in the Guiana Highlands is the world's highest waterfall


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