Facts About Venezuela

By 22 October, 2011

Venezuela appears to becoming more and more of an enigma – especially to people outside of the country – with contrasting levels in murder rates and levels of happiness, a government whose relations with other countries and media outlets can be called temperamental at best, and one of the largest sources of oil in the world.

We have tried to explain some of these paradoxes and interesting points about Venezuela via these facts below. We have tried to cover areas that we feel are of real interest, and not draw too many conclusions from these. They are just facts after all and even though some may paint Venezuela as a country with troubles, we personally don’t see any reason why any of these stats should dissuade you from visiting the country.


  • Venezuela was the world’s eleventh-largest net oil exporter in 2009 according to the EIA
  • According to the same sources it is the 10th largest producer of oil in the world…
  • And also the fourth largest exporter of oil to the USA
  • According to the World Factbook oil accounts for 94% of Venezuela’s export revenue and 30% of it’s GDP
  • Venezuela has the cheapest petrol in the world (equivalent to 2p per litre)
  • Oil was found in 1922. Before that cocoa and coffee had been the main exports


  • Has had the largest average annual inflation in South America over the last 10 years, 20.6% from 2000-2008. Only Myanmar, Congo, Angola and Zimbabwe were higher in the world.

Population and Land Use

  • Half of Venezuela’s land has no inhabitants at all
  • Almost 90% of the population live in urban areas
  • Roughly 47% of the population are under 25
  • It is the sixth largest country by size in South America, roughly equivalent to Nigeria and Egypt

Freedom of Speech

  • Venezuela ranked bottom out of all South American countries in 2011’s Freedom In The World survey, ranking the freedom given to citizens around the world
  • Since Hugo Chavez came to power, Venezuela’s government has closed down three television channels, 32 radio stations and one newspaper, the first two of which they did by revoking their licenses, the newspaper however was closed by court order


  • Venezuela has the worst homicide rate, 49 murders for each 100,000 people,  in South America according to the UN Human Development Report 2010
  • In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela, there were 4,644 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela during this same period there were almost 14,000
  • The capital of Venezuela, Caracas, easily has the highest homicide rate of any city in the world. In 2009  the homicide rate was around 200 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 22.7 in Bogotá, Colombia and 14 per 100,000 in Sao Paulo


  • In the World Values Survey 2005 Venezuela was ranked 1st in the world. TheWorld Values Survey attempts to discover levels of happiness around the world.
  • In the Happy Planet Index Venezuela was placed 26th in the world (2nd in South America) in 2006 until falling to 36th in the world (6th in South America) in 2009

Entertainment and Culture

  • Venezuela has won more Miss World and Miss Universe titles than anywhere else in the world. It has received 5 Miss World, 6 Miss Universe, 6 Miss International and 1 Miss Earth titles
  • The setting for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World was inspired by Percy Harrison Fawcett’s expedition to the borderland between Venezuela and Brazil, particularly a mountain called Mount Roraima
  • The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra have performed at the BBC Proms and featured in programs on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four TV
  • Baseball is Venezuela’s most popular sport
  • The national musical instrument is the cuatro
  • The national dance is the joropo

Final Fact

  • The term Venezuela translates as “Little Venice”, a name that was given to the country as it resembled Venice to explorers who saw houses on stilts when they arrived

For a personal account of Venezuela please see our article Calling On Caracas and remember that these are just facts. As Simon Bolivar said, “judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement. “

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