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

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

GDP (purchasing power parity): $468.6 billion (2016 est.)

GDP per capita: $15,100 (2016 est.)

Unemployment: 10.5% (2016 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.

Despite being one of the world’s top oil-producing countries, more than 30% of Venezuelans live below the poverty line as of 2015.

1520sFirst settlement by Spanish explorers.

July 5, 1811Venezuela declares its independence from Spain.

1821The Spanish Army is defeated. Venezuela gains independence as part of the Republic of Gran Colombia.

1830Venezuela breaks away from the federation to become an independent republic.

1958Democracy is restored.

February 1992 – A coup led by Hugo Chavez is put down. Chavez spends two years in prison before being pardoned.

November 1992Another coup attempt is defeated.

December 1998 – Chavez is elected president by a landslide.

April 26, 1999Chavez signs a new law that allows him to bypass the Venezuelan Congress on economic reforms.

December 16, 1999Chavez’s new constitution, which extends his term, allows him to run again, closes the Congress, and changes the name of the country to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is endorsed by the Venezuelan people in a referendum.

July 30, 2000Chavez is elected in a landslide victory to a new six-year term.

April 12, 2002 – A coup ousts Chavez for two days, but he is returned to power by loyal troops and supporters. Sixty people are killed during the turmoil.

October 22, 2002High-ranking military officers go on national television to denounce Chavez and call for the public to rally against him.

December 2, 2002 – A general strike begins. The strike lasts 64 days, costs Venezuela $4 billion in oil revenues, and affects oil prices worldwide. During the strike, crude output of oil is estimated at about 400,000 barrels a day, compared to the pre-strike level of 3 million barrels a day.

February 2, 2003 – Venezuelan opposition leaders stage a massive petition drive, collecting thousands of signatures endorsing a number of demands including the immediate removal of Chavez.

October 5, 2003 – A campaign to recall Chavez begins.

March 7, 2004 – Thousands of Venezuelans march against Chavez, protesting an electoral council’s decision that the opposition had not collected enough valid signatures to trigger a recall referendum.

June 3, 2004 – Venezuela’s 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 more than 58% of Venezuelans have voted to keep Chavez in office while 42% favor ousting him.

August 16, 2004 – A group of observers led by former US President Jimmy Carter announce that they found no fraud in the recall election.

December 3, 2006 Chavez wins election to a new six-year term, with 62.9% of the vote.

February 15, 2009 A constitutional referendum passes that will allow Chavez to run for a third six-year term in 2012.

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

October 7, 2012 Chavez is re-elected as president for a new six-year term, defeating opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.

March 5, 2013 – Chavez dies of cancer at the age of 58. Vice President Nicolas Maduro becomes the interim president.
February 18, 2014 – Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is arrested on charges including conspiracy and murder in connection with the demonstrations. He is later convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
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.
December 6, 2015 – Venezuela’s opposition party claims the majority of seats in elections to the National Assembly, a repudiation of Maduro. It is the first major shift in power in the legislative branch since Chavez took office in 1999.
March 4, 2016 – Obama extends the executive order because, according to the order, the situation in Venezuela has not improved.

May 13, 2016 – Another 60-day “state of emergency” is declared by Maduro.