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Here’s a look at Venezuela, an OPEC member state that has the largest proven reserves of crude oil in the coalition.

About Venezuela

(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 912,050 sq km, about two times the size of California

Population: 29,069,153 (July 2021 est.)

Median age: 30 years old

Capital: Caracas

Ethnic Groups: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African and indigenous groups

Religion: Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%

Unemployment: 27.1% (2017 est.)

Other Facts

Venezuela is located on the northern coast of South America, sharing a border with Colombia, Brazil and Guyana.

The country’s formal name is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Venezuela has proven oil reserves of approximately 302.81 billion barrels.


1520s - First settlement by Spanish explorers.

July 5, 1811 - Venezuela declares its independence from Spain, leading to more than ten years of war for independence.

1821 - The Spanish Army is defeated, and Venezuela becomes part of the Republic of Gran Colombia.

1829 - Venezuela breaks away from Gran Colombia to become an independent republic.

1958 - After decades of political instability and military rule, a coup leads to democratic reforms that culminate with a presidential election. Rómulo Betancourt is elected president.

February 1992 - A coup led by Hugo Chavez is defeated. Chavez spends two years in prison before the charges against him are dropped.

December 1998 - Chavez is elected president.

1999 - Chavez introduces a new constitution that extends his term and strengthens the executive branch while reducing the influence of National Assembly. Voters approve of the changes via a referendum.

July 30, 2000 - Chavez is re-elected.

April 2002 - Chavez is briefly ousted during a coup. He returns to power after two days of violent clashes.

December 2, 2002 - A national strike begins to protest Chavez. The strike lasts more than two months and affects oil prices worldwide.

February 2, 2003 - Opposition leaders launch a petition drive, collecting signatures endorsing several demands including the immediate removal of Chavez.

June 3, 2004 - The National Electoral Council announces that the opposition has collected enough valid signatures to call for a referendum against Chavez.

August 15, 2004 - Initial results in the recall referendum show about 59% of Venezuelans voted to keep Chavez in office. The next day, observers led by former US President Jimmy Carter announce that they found no fraud in the recall election.

December 3, 2006 - Chavez wins re-election.

February 15, 2009 - A constitutional referendum passes allowing Chavez to run for another term in 2012.

May 24, 2011 - The United States imposes sanctions against seven companies, including the state-run oil company, for supporting Iran in the energy sector.

May 2012 - Chavez, battling cancer, appoints 10 people to a commission called the Council of State. The move prompts speculation about who will succeed him.

October 7, 2012 - Chavez is re-elected.

March 5, 2013 - Chavez dies of cancer at the age of 58. Vice President Nicolás Maduro becomes the interim president.

April 14, 2013 - Maduro narrowly wins the presidential election, with 50.8% of the vote, defeating opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.

September 30, 2013 - Maduro announces on state-run TV that he is expelling three US diplomats. He claims they were involved in acts to destabilize the country.

February 12, 2014 - Protests are held as the economy sputters and crime increases. Some demonstrations turn violent. At least three protestors die amid the unrest.

February 18, 2014 - Opposition leader Leopoldo López is arrested. He is charged with conspiracy and murder in connection with the demonstrations. He is later convicted and sentenced to more than 13 years in prison.

December 18, 2014 - The Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act is signed into law by US President Barack Obama. The measure directs the United States to impose sanctions against Venezuelan officials who engage in human rights abuses.

February 20, 2015 - The mayor of Caracas is arrested and accused of being involved in a plot to overthrow the government. The opposition says the mayor’s arrest is an attempt to divert attention from the country’s economic woes.

March 9, 2015 - Obama issues an executive order meant to address the human rights crisis in Venezuela, with sanctions against seven individuals.

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