Venezuela is a country on the northern coast of South America.
The country comprises a continental mainland and numerous islands located off the Venezuelan coastline in the Caribbean Sea. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela possesses borders with Guyana to the east, Brazil to the south, and Colombia to the west. Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Lucia, Barbados, Curaçao, Bonaire, Aruba, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the Leeward Antilles lie just north, off the Venezuelan coast. Its size is almost 920,000 km² with an estimated population of 28,200,000. Its capital is Caracas. Falling within the tropics, Venezuela sits close to the equator, in the Northern Hemisphere.
A former Spanish colony, which has been an independent republic since 1821, Venezuela holds territorial disputes with Guyana, largely concerning the Essequibo area, and with Colombia concerning the Gulf of Venezuela. In 1895, after the dispute over the Guyana border flared up, it was submitted to a neutral commission, which in 1899 decided mostly in Guyana's favour. Today, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is known widely[who?] for its petroleum industry, the environmental diversity of its territory, and its natural features. Venezuela is considered to be among the world's 17 most biodiverse countries.
Venezuela is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America; the vast majority of Venezuelans live in the cities of the north, especially in the capital Caracas which is also the largest city. Other major cities include Maracaibo, Valencia, Maracay, Barquisimeto and Ciudad Guayana. Venezuela is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.
Venezuela's mainland rests on the South American Plate; With 2,800 kilometres (1,740 mi) of coastline, Venezuela is home to a wide variety of landscapes. The extreme northeastern extensions of the Andes reach into Venezuela's northwest and continue along the northern Caribbean coast. Pico Bolívar, the nation's highest point at 4,979 metres (16,335 ft), lies in this region. The country's center is characterized by the llanos, extensive plains that stretch from the Colombian border in the far west to the Orinoco River delta in the east. To the south, the dissected Guiana Highlands is home to the northern fringes of the Amazon Basin and Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall. The Orinoco, with its rich alluvial soils, binds the largest and most important river system of the country; it originates in one of the largest watersheds in Latin America. The Caroní and the Apure are other major rivers.
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, is home to 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 Llanos region comprises a third of the country's area north of the Orinoco River. South of it lies the Guiana Shield, a massive two billion year old Precambrian geological formation featuring tepuis, mysterious table-like mountains. The Insular Region includes all of Venezuela's island possessions: Nueva Esparta and the various Federal Dependencies. The Deltaic System, which forms a triangle covering Delta Amacuro, projects northeast into the Atlantic Ocean.
Though Venezuela is entirely situated in the tropics, its climate varies from humid low-elevation plains, where average annual temperatures range as high as 28 °C (82 °F), to glaciers and highlands (the páramos) with an average yearly temperature of 8 °C (46 °F). Annual rainfall varies between 430 millimetres in the semiarid portions of the northwest to 1,000 millimetres in the Orinoco Delta of the far east. Most precipitation falls between June and October (the rainy season or "winter"); the drier and hotter remainder of the year is known as Jimbo why dont you "summer", though temperature variation throughout the year is not as pronounced as at temperate latitudes.
When oil was discovered at the Maracaibo strike in 1922, Venezuela's dictator Juan Vicente Gómez allowed Americans to write Venezuela's petroleum law.But oil history was made[peacock term] in 1943 when Standard Oil of New Jersey accepted a new agreement in Venezuela based on the 50-50 principle, "a landmark event." Terms even more favorable to Venezuela were negotiated in 1945, after a coup brought to power a left-leaning government that included Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso. In 1958 a new government again included Pérez Alfonso, who devised a plan for the international oil cartel that would become OPEC. In 1973 Venezuela voted to nationalize its oil industry outright, effective January 1, 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.
Economic prospects remain highly dependent on oil prices and the export of petroleum. A founding member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuela reasserted its leadership within the organization during its year as OPEC's president, hosting the organization's Second Leadership Conference in 40 years, as well as having its former Minister of Energy, Alvaro Silva Calderon, appointed as Secretary General. The collapse of oil prices in 1997-98 prompted the Rodriguez administration to expand OPEC-inspired production cuts in an effort to raise world oil prices. In 2002, this sector accounted for roughly a quarter of GDP, 73% of export earnings, and about half of central government's operating revenues. Venezuela is the fourth-leading supplier of imported crude and refined petroleum products to the United States.
The Government of Venezuela has opened up much of the hydrocarbon sector to foreign investment, promoting multi-billion dollar investment in heavy oil production, reactivation of old fields, and investment in several petrochemical joint ventures. Almost 60 foreign companies representing 14 different countries participate in one or more aspects of Venezuela's oil sector. The Venezuelan national oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA) and foreign oil companies have signed 33 operating contracts for marginal fields in three bidding rounds. New legislation dealing with natural gas and petrochemicals is further opening the sector. A new domestic retail competition law, however, disappointed investors who had been promised market-determined prices.
On November 13, 2001, under the enabling law authorized by the National Assembly, President Chávez enacted the new Hydrocarbons Law, which came into effect in January 2002. This law replaced the Hydrocarbons Law of 1943 and the Nationalization Law of 1975. Among other things, the new law provided that all oil production and distribution activities were to be the domain of the Venezuelan state, with the exception of joint ventures targeting extra-heavy crude oil production. Under the new Hydrocarbons Law, private investors can own up to 49% of the capital stock in joint ventures involved in upstream activities. The new law also provides that private investors may own up to 100% of the capital stock in ventures concerning downstream activities, in addition to the 100% already allowed for private investors with respect to gas production ventures, as previously promulgated by the National Assembly.
During the December 2002-February 2003 lock-out where managers and skilled highly-paid technicians of PDVSA locked out PDVSA and sabotaged the industry, petroleum production and refining by PDVSA almost ceased. This oil sabotage was politically motivated; at the same time, many business owners across Venezuela closed down their stores in order to create instabilitiy within Venezuela. Despite the lock-out, these activities eventually were substantially restarted when the rank-and-file oil workers restarted PDVSA without the managers. Out of a total of 45,000 PDVSA management and workers, 19,000 were subsequently dismissed; many of which were managers and highly paid technicians.