Cruising in Venezuela

Background

Venezuela was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Ecuador and New Granada, which became Colombia). For most of the first half of the 20th century, Venezuela was ruled by generally benevolent military strongmen, who promoted the oil industry and allowed for some social reforms. Democratically elected governments have held sway since 1959. Current concerns include: a weakening of democratic institutions, political polarization, a politicized military, drug-related violence along the Colombian border, increasing internal drug consumption, overdependence on the petroleum industry with its price fluctuations, and irresponsible mining operations that are endangering the rain forest and indigenous peoples.

Geography

Location: Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana
Geographic coordinates: 8 00 N, 66 00 W
Map references: South America
Area: total: 912,050 sq km
Land: 882,050 sq km
Water: 30,000 sq km

Coastline

2,800 km

Maritime Claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 15 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

Climate

Tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands

Terrain

Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast

Elevation Extremes

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Pico Bolivar (La Columna) 5,007 m

Economy

Venezuela continues to be highly dependent on the petroleum sector, accounting for roughly one-third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings, and over half of government operating revenues. Government revenue also has been bolstered by increased tax collection, which has surpassed its 2005 collection goal by almost 50%. Tax revenue is the primary source of non-oil revenue, which accounts for 53% of the 2006 budget.

A disastrous two-month national oil strike, from December 2002 to February 2003, temporarily halted economic activity. The economy remained in depression in 2003, declining by 9.2% after an 8.9% fall in 2002. Output recovered strongly in 2004-2005, aided by high oil prices and strong consumption growth. Venezuela continues to be an important source of crude oil for the US market. Both inflation and unemployment remain fundamental problems.

Transportation

Airports: 370 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 128
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 11
1,524 to 2,437 m: 33
914 to 1,523 m: 60
under 914 m: 19 (2005)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 242

Waterways

7,100 km -  Orinoco River and Lake de Maracaibo navigable by oceangoing vessels, Orinoco for 400 km (2005)

Merchant Marine

Total: 57 ships (1000 GRT or over) 800,040 GRT/1,285,206 DWT
By type: bulk carrier 7, cargo 14, chemical tanker 1, container 1, liquefied gas 5, passenger/cargo 9, petroleum tanker 19, roll on/roll off 1
Foreign-owned: 11 (Denmark 2, Greece 2, Hong Kong 1, India 1, Mexico 1, Russia 1, Singapore 1, Spain 1, US 1)
Registered in other countries: 14 (Panama 14) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and Terminals

Amuay, La Guaira, Maracaibo, Puerto Cabello, Punta Cardon

Disputes

Claims all of the area west of the Essequibo River in Guyana, preventing any discussion of a maritime boundary; Guyana has expressed its intention to join Barbados in asserting claims before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that Trinidad and Tobago's maritime boundary with Venezuela extends into their waters; dispute with Colombia over Los Monjes islands and maritime boundary near the Gulf of Venezuela; Colombian-organized illegal narcotics and paramilitary activities penetrate Venezuela's shared border region resulting in several thousand residents migrating away from the border; US, France, and the Netherlands recognize Venezuela's claim to give full effect to Aves Island, which creates a Venezuelan EEZ/continental shelf extending over a large portion of the Caribbean Sea; Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines protest Venezuela's claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation and other states' recognition of it  

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Argentina - Belize - Brazil - Chile - Colombia - Costa Rica - Ecuador - El Salvador - French Guiana - Guatemala - Guyana - Honduras - Mexico - Nicaragua - Panama - Peru - St. Pierre and Miquelon - Suriname - Uruguay - Venezuela

Further Reading

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