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Tuesday 28th May
Venezuela Information - Page 2
Spanish colonization of "Venezuela" began in the 1520s. Independence was not declared until almost three hundred years later.

Venezuela became a member of the Republic of Gran Colombia (Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela) which dissolved in 1830.

During the early twentieth century Venezuela was the largest oil exporter in the world. Venezuela's oil industry continued to thrive but the fall of oil prices in the 1980s caused unrest.

The 1990s were a time of economic crisis. In 1998 Hugo Chavez was elected president. Chavez introduced a number of controversial laws including economic reform and land redistribution.

Venezuela's petroleum industry is the country's most important industry. However the oil industry provides employment for a relatively small percentage of the workforce.

At the beginning of 2010 the bolivar currency was devalued to boost revenue from oil exports. Price controls were extended on more basic goods in 2012, along with public spending cuts; in 2014 oil prices continued to fall.

Other industries include hydropower, coal, gold, iron ore, steel, aluminum, construction materials, motor vehicle assembly, textiles and food processing.

Agriculture provides the smallest percentage of GDP. Agricultural products are corn, sorghum, rice, sugarcane, coffee, bananas, vegetables, beef, pork and dairy products. Cattle ranching is part of the agricultural sector.

The services sector is the country's largest employer. (2014)

The country's artistic traditions represent the diversity found in Venezuela's population. For example, in music there are many styles such as indigenous music, joropo dance music and "Venezuelan calypso".

In the world of literature, a number of Venezuela's political leaders have been writers. These include Simon Bolivar, the leader of the War of Independence and Romulo Gallegos, a novelist, who became President of Venezuela.

Baseball is a very popular team game in Venezuela. Other sports played are football, basketball and tennis. Horse-racing is a favourite spectator sport and the tradition of bullfighting also draws large crowds.

Water sports along the coast include scuba diving, surfing and water-skiing.

Religious holidays such as Easter and Christmas are celebrated. Non-religious holidays include Labour Day (1 May) and Independence Day (5 July).

"Carnaval", a very popular holiday, is celebrated before Lent with parades and street parties.

News from Venezuela is available from Newslink.

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