Official Name: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela)

Government: Federal Republic

Location: Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana

Area: 353,841 sq mi (912,050 sq km) - almost six times the size of Georgia; slightly more than twice the size of California

Fast Facts:

Population 29,275,460 (2015 estimate) - Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African, indigenous people

Average income (2012): $15,940

Major Cities:

CARACAS (capital) 2.916 million;
Maracaibo 2.196 million;
Valencia 1.734 million;
Maracay 1.166 million (2015)

People from Venezuela are called Venezuelans

The official language is Spanish

The country is nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%

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. Under Hugo CHAVEZ, president from 1999 to 2013, and his hand-picked successor, President Nicolas MADURO, the executive branch has exercised increasingly authoritarian control over other branches of government. At the same time, democratic institutions have deteriorated, threats to freedom of expression have increased, and political polarization has grown.

Venezuela is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America; the vast majority of Venezuelans live in the cities of the north, especially in the capital, Caracas, which is also the largest city in Venezuela. Since the discovery of oil in the early 20th century, Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves and has been one of the world's leading exporters of oil. Previously an underdeveloped exporter of agricultural commodities such as coffee and cocoa, oil quickly came to dominate exports and government revenues. Falling oil prices since 2014 have aggravated Venezuela’s economic crisis. Insufficient access to dollars, price controls, and rigid labor regulations have led some US and multinational firms to reduce or shut down their Venezuelan operations. High costs for oil production and state oil company PDVSA’s poor cash flow have slowed investment in the petroleum sector, resulting in a decline in oil production.

Books for Pastors work:

TImeframe unknown, Books for Pastors has been invited to Venezuela to help teach at the Instituto Biblico Bautista De Venezuela (Baptist Bible Institute of Venezuela) in Puerto Ordaz, but the US State Department has issued travel advisories and does not recommend travel to Venezuela at this time. Please keep the people of Venezuela in prayer, as there is much civil unrest, towering inflation rates, and many shortages of basic items. There is a spiritual darkness there, and training pastors to reach their local communities and towns is greatly needed.