THE THIRD WORLD NATION OF VENEZUELA
Venezuela, officially Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is the sixth largest
country in South America, unique in landscape, flora, fauna, and wild life that rivals the larger nations in South America. In fact, due to it's uniqueness, Venezuela is as much a Caribbean country as it is a South American one.
Venezuela lies at the northern extreme of South America, bordered by Columbia
to the West, Brazil to the South, Guyana to the East, and the Caribbean Sea to the North.
The country is just over 900,000 square kilometers , divided into 23 states. The area
includes stretches of the Andes Mountains, huge areas of Amazonian rain forest, fertile plains, miles of Caribbean shoreline and even a small desert. The nation also has two
geographical superlatives, the world's highest waterfall and South America's biggest lake. Because of its proximity to the Equator, Venezuela experiences few climatic variations, just two seasons, dry [December to April] and wet [May to November] and an average temperature of 27C.
Whatever economic development has occurred in Venezuela, is largely due to
the enormous natural resources of oil. The country was the world's third largest exporter
of oil, its ninth largest producer of oil, and accounted for more oil reserves than any other nation in the Western Hemisphere. The national petroleum company, Venezulean Petroleum Corporation [PDVSA], was also the third largest international conglomerate. In 1973 the Organization of Oil producing countries [OPEC] succeeded in raising the price of oil drastically, a major boost to the economy.. If you meet a business traveler in Venezuela, there's a good chance they work in the petroleum industry . Because of its immense mineral wealth, Venezuela in 1990 was poised to become an international leader in the export of coal, iron, steel, and aluminum. Not withstanding the oil market, the country has embarked on a program to develop it's tourism industry, hoping to surpass oil revenue by the year 2002. Agriculture, Banking, and Fishing complete the list of the nations major industries
Although the oil industry has generated great wealth, society remains sharply
divided between rich and poor. An elite class of businessmen, oil-company technicians , and large landowners controls most of the country's resources, while a large number of
unskilled urban laborers and rural farm workers live in relative poverty.
As a upper-middle income, oil-producing country, Venezuela enjoyed the highest
standard of living in Latin America. The country's gross domestic product in 1988 was
approximately US $58 billion, or roughly US $3,100 per capita . Although the petroleum industry has dominated the Venezulean economy since the 1920s, aluminum, steel, and petrochemicals are catching up.
As long as there is a class system separating the rich from the poor and
unstable government, and a high birth rate, the oil reserves cannot take the
country out of it's third world grouping with South America. Although tourism
can be tainted by corrupt politicians and drug cartels, the diversification may be
what Venezuela needs to keep off International Welfare Assistance. Maybe the United States could enter into a "trade" agreement and swap for oil for aid money. The distance between the two countries may be shorter than the U.S.'s Alaskan Pipeline.
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