Venezuela Fast Facts

People walk past the National Assembly building in Caracas, on December 7, 2015. LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images
About Venezuela:
(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 912,050 sq km, about two times the size of California
Population: 30,912,302 (July 2016 est.)
    Median age: 28 years old
    Capital: Caracas
    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.)
    Other Facts:
    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.
    Despite being one of the world's top oil-producing countries, more than 30% of Venezuelans live below the poverty line as of 2015.
    Timeline:
    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.
    1830-1958 - Venezuela experiences numerous revolutions, counter-revolutions, dictatorships and rule by military juntas.
    1958 - Democracy is restored.
    February 1992 - A coup led by Hugo Chavez is put down. Chavez spends two years in prison before being pardoned.
    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.
    August 16, 2004 - A group of observers led by former US President Jimmy Carter announce that they found no fraud in the recall election.
    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.
    May 24, 2011 - The United States imposes sanctions against seven companies, including Venezuela's state oil company, for supporting Iran in the energy sector.
    October 7, 2012 - Chavez is re-elected as president for a new six-year term, defeating opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.
    March 5, 2013 - Chavez dies of cancer at the age of 58. Vice President Nicolas Maduro becomes the interim president.
    April 14, 2013 - Maduro narrowly wins the presidential election with 50.8% of the vote, defeating opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.
    September 30, 2013 - Maduro announces on state-run TV that he is expelling three US diplomats. He claims they were involved in acts to destabilize the country.
    February 2014 - Protests are held in response to economic problems and a spike in crime. Some demonstrations turn violent, with at least three protestors dying amid the unrest and police firing tear gas at the crowd.
    February 18, 2014 - Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez is arrested on charges including conspiracy and murder in connection with the demonstrations. He is later convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
    February 20, 2015 - The mayor of Caracas is arrested and accused of being involved in a plot to overthrow the government. The opposition says the mayor's arrest is an attempt to divert attention from the country's economic woes.
    December 6, 2015 - Venezuela's opposition party claims the majority of seats in elections to the National Assembly, a repudiation of Maduro. It is the first major shift in power in the legislative branch since Chavez took office in 1999.
    March 4, 2016 - Obama extends the executive order because, according to the order, the situation in Venezuela has not improved.
    March 9, 2016 - Maduro announces he's recalling Maximilien Arvelaiz, Venezuela's top diplomat in Washington.
    May 13, 2016 - Another 60-day "state of emergency" is declared by Maduro.
    October 2016 - After a recall referendum to oust Marduro is halted, opposition lawmakers meet for a special session to discuss the possibility of impeaching Maduro. Pro-government protestors break into the assembly hall to disrupt the meeting.