COUNTRYAAH, Venezuela's economic policy is based entirely on oil
production that pays for the state's social programs and the
country's growing imports. Price controls and currency
controls have undermined and reduced domestic production and
caused many international companies to leave the country.
After the sharp oil price collapse since 2013, the economy
has been in a deep crisis with falling GDP, rapidly rising
inflation and commodity shortages. People have had to queue
for hours to buy food and hygiene items.
The 2015 continuing price race for oil has further
exacerbated the economic crisis. In the ensuing years, oil
prices have turned upward, but the economic crisis in the
country has continued.
The government has tried to gain control of the situation
by introducing different types of rationing, but failed to
address the problems. The central bank has stopped
publishing official government statistics, but calculations
indicate that inflation reached up to 200 percent in 2015.
Inflation has continued to rise and in 2017 the country had
so-called hyperinflation with an annual inflation of just
over 10,000 percent.
Oil revenues account for 90 percent of the country's
export revenues and more than 50 percent of the state
Many attempts have been made to use oil revenues to build
up a domestic industry and reduce dependence on imports, but
without much success. In recent years, in accordance with
Hugo Chávez's vision of socialism of the 21st century, the
state has taken control of several basic industries such as
cement, steel, electricity, telecom and food.
Until the discovery of oil, Venezuela was an agricultural
country with significant exports of coffee and cocoa.
However, a very small part of the land is suitable for
agriculture, and today the cultivated land constitutes just
over 4 per cent of the land area. In 2001, a law was
introduced that gives the state the right to confiscate
privately owned land that is not used. By increasing the
proportion of land in production, it was hoped to reduce
dependence on food imports and contribute to rural
development. The law has resulted in more than 1 million
hectares of land being distributed to farm workers, but
agricultural production has not increased.
The main crop is sugar cane, but also bananas, corn and
rice are grown. Coffee is the most important export
commodity from agriculture, but rice and cocoa are also
About 20 percent of the land area consists of pasture,
and livestock farming is a traditional industry in the
plains, where it is still of great importance.
Vegetable cultivation for the big cities has increased in
importance in recent years.
Venezuela is a very resource-rich country, and its main
natural resource is oil and natural gas. Oil deposits were
discovered in the 1910s in the Maracaibo area, and by the
end of the 1920s Venezuela was the world's largest oil
The country was severely affected by the depression in
the 1930s, but during the first post-war period Venezuela
was the world's second largest oil producer, after the
United States. Oil is currently extracted in three regions
of the country, of which the Maracaibo fields in the
northwest are the oldest and most famous. Large amounts of
oil are also believed to be found in the Guyanese basin and
the El Tigre area in the eastern part of the country.
Venezuela also has large deposits of iron ore, gold and
diamonds, mainly in the Amazon region, as well as coal,
bauxite, nickel phosphate, scheelite (tungsten), manganese,
zinc and copper.
By far the largest industrial branch is the oil industry.
At the same time, it is the least labor-intensive and
employs only 1 percent of the labor force. Venezuela is one
of the founders of the oil countries' cooperative
organization OPEC and was for long its only Latin American
After the oil extraction, the steel industry is the most
important sector, and there is also income-generating
production of aluminum, chemicals, vehicles and consumer and
capital goods. The heavy industry is located in the areas
around the cities of Ciudad Guayana and Valencia.
By far, the largest export product is oil, which accounts
for 90 percent of revenue, but bauxite and aluminum also
generate high income, as do some industrial products. The
most important import goods are agricultural products,
machinery and chemicals.
The United States is the largest trading partner,
followed by India and China.
Tourism and gastronomy
Venezuela was visited in 2015 by just under 800,000
tourists. A number that could have been greater if not
political and social concern deterred many visitors.
The capital of Caracas is strongly characterized by the
expansion of recent decades, which has been expressed in an
extensive high-rise building with a partly interesting
architecture, but also led to an extensive street crime.
Sabana Grande pedestrian street and the Parque Central mall
offer an overwhelming range of shops and restaurants. In the
modern districts there are also interesting museums: the Art
Museum (for older art) and the Modern Museum not only have
Venezuelan and Latin American art, but also a selection of
European art with few counterparts in South America. Despite
all modern buildings, a town center from the Spanish era has
been preserved around the Plaza Bolívar with town halls and
three churches from the 17th century. The driven Bolivar
cult meets in Cuadra Bolívar, the family's summer mansion,
in the rebuilt birth house and in Panteón Nacional.
To the west are other cities with colonial city centers,
nice green areas and beautiful surroundings, eg. Mérida,
Valencia and Maracay. The island of Margarita in the
Caribbean is important for bathing tourism with miles of
beaches and a lush interior. However, the areas of greatest
interest in eastern and southern Venezuela have the greatest
interest. Here Llanos, the large, flat and undulating plain,
spreads out and here lies the more than two hundred year old
settler town Ciudad Bolívar on the river Orinoco and the
jungle area towards the border with Brazil. In the highlands
of Guyana lies the large national park Canaima, which
attracts tourists with its dense forests and unspoilt
rivers, interesting wildlife and the world's highest
waterfall, the Angelfallen.
The food in Venezuela is generally spiced milder than in
the rest of South America, and many mild fish dishes with
coconut milk are on the menus, such as pargo (red
snapper). Beef, red or black beans, corn and rice are the
most common ingredients. Every day and for all dishes, corn
buns are eaten. Pabellón is a stew where beef and
rice are mixed with bananas and black beans. Another common
stew, sancocho, may also contain meat, feed or
fish. Grilled meat is often served with the avocado
sauce guasacaca. Papaya is included in many desserts
but is also served for meat and fish. Shrimp, oysters and
mussels are served along the coast. Cachapas are
soft corn pancakes, often rolled around cheese filling. For
Christmas you make lawshallacas, corn pancakes
filled with meat or fish, raisins, eggs, olives and sweet
almonds and cooked in banana leaves. A popular dessert is
huevos chimbos, a very sweet egg yolk dish.