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.)
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.
1520s – First settlement by Spanish explorers.
July 5, 1811 – Venezuela declares its independence from Spain.
1821 – The Spanish Army is defeated. Venezuela gains independence as part of the Republic of Gran Colombia.
1830 – Venezuela breaks away from the federation to become an independent republic.
1958 – Democracy is restored.
November 1992 – Another coup attempt is defeated.
December 1998 – Chavez is elected president by a landslide.
April 26, 1999 – Chavez signs a new law that allows him to bypass the Venezuelan Congress on economic reforms.
December 16, 1999 – Chavez’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, 2000 – Chavez 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, 2002 – High-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.
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.
October 7, 2012 – Chavez is re-elected as president for a new six-year term, defeating opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.
May 13, 2016 – Another 60-day “state of emergency” is declared by Maduro.