Venezuela Travel Information

Photo Venezuela was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Colombia and Ecuador). 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. Current concerns include: an embattled president who is losing his once solid support among Venezuelans, a divided military, drug-related conflicts 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.

The population of Venezuela is comprised of a combination of European, indigenous, and African heritages. About 85% of the population lives in urban areas in the northern portion of the country. While almost half of Venezuela's land area lies south of the Orinoco River, this region contains only 5% of the population.

At the time of the Spanish discovery, the indigenous in Venezuela were mainly agriculturists and hunters living in groups along the coast, the Andean mountain range, and the Orinoco River. The first permanent Spanish settlement in South America--Nuevo Toledo--was established in Venezuela in 1522. Venezuela was a relatively neglected colony in the 1500s and 1600s.

Political instability has had serious effects on the performance of the Venezuelan economy, with a sharp drop in investment and a general recession during 2002 and 2003. Total GDP decreased 18.5% during the first semester of 2003 compared with the same period in 2002. This is the steepest decline in Venezuelan history. The hardest hit sectors were construction (-55.9%), petroleum (-26.5%), commerce (-23.6%) and manufacturing (-22.5%).

Major U.S. interests in Venezuela include promotion of U.S. exports and protection of U.S. investment, continuation of the economic reform program, preservation of Venezuela's constitutional democracy, closer counternarcotics cooperation, and continued access to a leading source of petroleum.

Important: Travel to Venezuela may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Venezuela visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Capital city: Caracas
Area: 912,050 sq km
Population: 28,047,938
Ethnic groups: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people
Languages: Spanish
Religions: nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%
Government: federal republic
Chief of State: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias
Head of Government: President Hugo CHAVEZ Frias
GDP: 374.1 billion
GDP per captia: 12,600
Annual growth rate: 4.2%
Inflation: 26.1%
Agriculture: corn, sorghum, sugarcane, rice, bananas, vegetables, coffee
Major industries: petroleum, construction materials, food processing, textiles
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds
Location: Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana
Trade Partners - exports: US 40.2%, China 10.5%, India 5.5%, Cuba 4%
Trade Partners - imports: US 28.6%, China 15.1%, Brazil 10.6%