Venezuela: Page 3 of 5
the amount of available information is still very small, a first effort has been made to estimate the number of fungal species endemic to Venezuela: 1334 species of fungi have been tentatively identified as possible endemics of the country. Some 38% of the over 21,000 plant species known from Venezuela are unique to the country.
In recent decades, logging, mining, shifting cultivation, development, and other human activities have posed a major threat to Venezuela's wildlife; between 1990 and 2000, 0.40% of forest cover was cleared annually. In response, federal protections for critical habitat were implemented; for example, 20% to 33% of forested land is protected. The country has a biosphere reserve that is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; five wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention. In 2003, 70% of the nation's land was under conservation management in over 200 protected areas, including 43 national parks. Venezuela's 43 national parks include Canaima National Park, Morrocoy National Park and Mochima National Park. In the far south is a reserve for the country's Yanomami tribes. Covering 32,000 square miles (almost 83,000 square kilometers), the area is off-limits to farmers, miners, and all non-Yanomami settlers.
Venezuela is divided into 23 states (estados), a capital district (distrito capital) corresponding to the city of Caracas, and the Federal Dependencies (Dependencias Federales, a special territory). Venezuela is further subdivided into 335 municipalities (municipios); these are subdivided into over one thousand parishes (parroquias). The states are grouped into nine administrative regions (regiones administrativas), which were established in 1969 by presidential decree.
The country can be further divided into ten geographical areas, some corresponding to climatic and biogeographical regions. In the north are the Venezuelan Andes and the Coro region, a mountainous tract in the northwest, holds several sierras and valleys. East of it are lowlands abutting Lake Maracaibo and the Gulf of Venezuela.
The Central Range runs parallel to the coast and includes the hills surrounding Caracas; the Eastern Range, separated from the Central Range by the Gulf of Cariaco, covers all of Sucre and northern Monagas. The Insular Region includes all of Venezuela's island possessions: Nueva Esparta and the various Federal Dependencies. The Orinoco Delta, which forms a triangle covering Delta Amacuro, projects northeast into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Central Bank of Venezuela is responsible for developing monetary policy for the Venezuelan bolívar which is used as currency. The currency is primarily printed on paper and distributed throughout the country. The President of the Central Bank of Venezuela is presently Nelson Merentes, who also serves as the country's representative in the International Monetary Fund. Venezuela has a mixed economy dominated by the petroleum sector, which accounts for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of exports, and more than half of government revenues. Per capita GDP for 2009 was US$13,000, ranking 85th in the world. Venezuela has the least expensive petrol in the world because the consumer price of petrol is heavily subsidized.
More than 60% of Venezuela's international reserves is in gold, eight times more than the average for the region. Most of Venezuela's gold held abroad is located in London. In 25 November 2011 the first of US$11 billion of repatriated gold bullion arrived in Caracas; Chavez called the repatriation of gold a "sovereign" step that will help protect the country's foreign reserves from the turmoil in the U.S. and Europe.
Manufacturing contributed 17% of GDP in 2006. Venezuela manufactures and exports heavy industry products such as steel, aluminium and cement, with production concentrated around Ciudad Guayana, near the Guri Dam, one of the largest in the world and the provider of about three-quarters of Venezuela's electricity. Other notable manufacturing includes electronics and automobiles, as well as beverages, and foodstuffs. Agriculture in Venezuela accounts for approximately 3% of GDP, 10% of the labor force, and at least one-fourth of Venezuela's land area. Venezuela exports rice, corn, fish, tropical fruit, coffee, beef, and pork. The country is not self-sufficient in most areas of agriculture. In 2012, total food consumption was over 26 million metric tonnes, a 94.8% increase from 2003.
Since the discovery of oil in the early 20th century, Venezuela has been one of the world's leading exporters of oil, and it is a founding member of OPEC. Previously an underdeveloped exporter of agricultural commodities such as coffee and cocoa, oil quickly came to dominate exports and government revenues. The 1980s oil glut led to an external debt crisis and a long-running economic crisis, which saw inflation peak at 100% in 1996 and poverty rates rise to 66% in 1995 as (by 1998) per capita GDP fell to the same level as 1963, down a third from its 1978 peak. The 1990s also saw Venezuela experience a major banking crisis in 1994. The recovery of oil prices after 2001 boosted the Venezuelan economy and facilitated social spending, although the fallout of the 2008 global financial crisis saw a renewed economic downturn.
Petroleum and other resources
Venezuela has some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world, and consistently ranks among the top ten world crude oil producers. Compared to the preceding year another 40.4% in crude oil reserves were proven in 2010, allowing Venezuela to surpass Saudi Arabia as the country with the largest reserves of this type. The country's main petroleum deposits are located around and beneath Lake Maracaibo, the Gulf of Venezuela (both in Zulia), and in the Orinoco River basin (eastern Venezuela), where the country's largest reserve is located. Besides the largest conventional oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere, Venezuela has non-conventional oil deposits (extra-heavy crude oil, bitumen and tar sands) approximately equal to the world's reserves of conventional oil. The electricity sector in Venezuela is one of the few to rely primarily on hydropower, and includes the Guri Dam, one of the largest in the world.
In the first half of the 20th century, US oil companies were heavily involved in Venezuela, initially interested only in purchasing concessions. In 1943 a new government introduced a 50/50 split in profits between the government and the oil industry. In 1960, with a newly installed democratic government, Hydrocarbons Minister Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso led the creation of OPEC, the consortium of oil-producing countries aiming to support the price of oil.
In 1973 Venezuela voted to nationalize its oil industry outright, effective 1 January 1976, with Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) taking over and presiding over a number of holding companies; in subsequent years, Venezuela built a vast refining and marketing system in the U.S. and Europe. In the 1990s PDVSA became more independent from the government and presided over an apertura (opening) in which it invited in foreign investment. Under Hugo Chávez a 2001 law placed limits on foreign investment.
The state oil company PDVSA played a key role in the December 2002 – February 2003 national strike which sought President Chávez' resignation. Managers and skilled highly paid technicians of PDVSA shut down the plants and left their posts, and by some reports sabotaged equipment, and petroleum production and refining by PDVSA almost ceased. Activities eventually were slowly restarted by returning and substitute oil workers. As a result of the strike, around 40% of the company's workforce (around 18,000 workers) were dismissed for "dereliction of duty" during the strike.
Venezuela is connected to the world primarily via air (Venezuela's airports include the Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetía, near Caracas and La Chinita International Airport near Maracaibo) and sea (with major sea ports at La Guaira, Maracaibo and Puerto Cabello). In the south and east the Amazon rainforest region has limited cross-border transport; in the west, there is a mountainous border of over 2,213 kilometres (1,375 mi) shared with Colombia. The Orinoco River is navigable by oceangoing vessels up to 400 kilometres (250 mi) inland, and connects the major industrial city of Ciudad Guayana to the Atlantic Ocean.
Venezuela has a limited national railway system, which has no active rail connections to other countries; the government of Hugo Chávez has invested substantially in expanding it. Several major cities have metro systems; the Caracas Metro has been operating since 1983. The Maracaibo Metro and Valencia Metro were opened more recently. Venezuela has a road network of nearly 100,000 kilometres (62,000 mi) in length, placing the country around 45th in the world; around a third of roads are paved.
With social programs such as the Bolivarian Missions, Venezuela made progress in social development in 2000s, particularly in areas such as health, education, and poverty. Many of the social policies pursued by Chávez and his administration were jumpstarted by the Millennium Development Goals, eight goals that Venezuela and 188 other nations agreed to in September 2000. It is expected that Venezuela will meet all eight goals by the 2015 deadline.
The people of Venezuela come from a variety of heritages. It is estimated that the majority of the population is of mestizo, or mixed, ethnic heritage.
Nevertheless in the 2011 census, which Venezuelans were asked to identify themselves according to their customs and ancestry, the term mestizo was excluded from the answers. While the English mestizo means a specific European and Amerindian mix, Spanish mestizo, much like Portuguese mestiço, is ambiguous and can mean any kind of interracial relationship or multiracial person. Also, in Latin American conventions of race, it is generally possible to be both mestizo/mestiço and white, black or Asian (that usually refer to phenotypes rather than descent), or Amerindian (that usually refers to culture rather than descent). Spanish lacks a specific word to refer to multiracials of combined white and Amerindian descent, nevertheless non-Indigenous persons of mestizo (in the English sense) or Amerindian phenotypes may be referred colloquially by the often pejorative slang cholo (non-pejorative Portuguese caboclo also refers only to those that have a non-white or a perceptibly non-fully white phenotype, but it is not a slang and may be used formally).
«Based on your physical features, ancestry, culture and traditions, would you consider yourself: black, afrodescendiente [sic], moreno [sic], white, what else?»
—XIV Population and Housing National Census (2011)
Practically half of the population (49.9%) claimed to be moreno, a term used throghout Ibero-America that in this case means "dark-skinned" or "brown-skinned", as opposed to having a lighter skin (this term connotes skin color or tone, rather than facial features or descent); another substantial part of the population (42.2%) claimed to be white.
Ethnics minorities in Venezuela consists in groups that descend mainly from African or Amerindian; a 2.8% identified themselves as "Black" and a 0.7% as afrodescendiente (Afro-descendant), 2.7% claimed to belong to Indigenous peoples and 1.1% answered "other races".
Among indigenous people, 58% were Wayúu, 7% Warao, 5% Kariña, 4% Pemón, 3% Piaroa, 3% Jivi, 3% Añu, 3% Cumanagoto, 2% Yukpa, 2% Chaima and 1% Yanomami nation, the remaining 9% consists in other indigenous nations.
According to an autosomal DNA genetic study conducted in 2008 by the University of Brasilia (UNB) the composition of Venezuela's population it's: 60.60% of European contribution, 23% of Amerindian contribution and 16,30% of African contribution.
During the colonial period and until after the Second World War, many of the European immigrants to Venezuela came from the Canary Islands, which had a significant cultural impact on the cuisine and customs of Venezuela. However, with the start of oil exploitation in the early 20th century, companies from the United States began establishing operations in Venezuela, bringing with them U.S. citizens. Later, during and after the war, new waves of immigrants from other parts of Europe, the Middle East, and China began; many were encouraged by government established immigration programs] Between 1900 and 1958 more than one million Europeans immigrated to Venezuela. In addition, Venezuela also experienced immigration from other Latin American countries (especially Colombia) in the mid-to-late 19th century.
According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Venezuela hosted a population of refugee and asylum seekers from Colombia numbering 252,200