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Venezuela Fast Facts

(CNN)Here's a look at what you need to know about Venezuela, one of the top oil-producing countries in the world.

About Venezuela:
(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 912,050 sq km, about two times the size of California

Population: 28,868,486 (July 2014 est.)

Median age: 26.9 years old

Capital: Caracas

Ethnic Groups: Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Arab, German, African and indigenous groups

    Religion: Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%

    GDP: $407.4 billion (2013 est.)

    GDP per capita: $13,600 (2013 est.)

    Unemployment: 7.9% (2013 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.

    It is one of the world's top oil exporting countries, according to the Energy Information Administration.

    Venezuela has proven oil reserves of approximately 297 billion barrels. This is the second largest proven oil reserve in the world.

    Despite being one of the world's top 10 oil-producing countries, more than 25% of Venezuelans live below the poverty line.

    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 in 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 President Hugo Chavez.

    October 5, 2003 - A campaign to recall President Chavez begins.

    March 7, 2004 - Thousands of Venezuelans march against President 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 President 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 U.S. 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.

    May 2, 2012 - President Chavez names 10 Venezuelans to an influential commission called the Council of State. It is the highest circle of advisers to the president, but has never actually been formed. The timing of the appointments is significant, as speculation increases over who will succeed Chavez if he becomes too ill to govern, or if he dies. Among the members are: Vice President Elias Jaua, Jose Vincente Rangel, Roy Chaderton, German Mundarain, Rafael Giacopini, Luis Britto Garcia.

    October 7, 2012 - Chavez is re-elected as president for a new six-year term, defeating opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.

    March 5, 2013 - President Chavez dies of cancer at the age of 58. Vice President Nicolas Maduro becomes the interim president.

    April 14, 2013 - Interim President Nicolas Maduro narrowly wins the presidential election with 50.8% of the vote, defeating opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski.

    May 2, 2013 - Gerardo Fernandez, attorney for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, files a lawsuit with Venezuela's Supreme Court contesting April's election results.

    September 30, 2013 - President Nicolas Maduro announces on state-run VTV that he is expelling three U.S. diplomats. He claims they were involved in a widespread power outage earlier in the month. He says, "They have 48 hours to leave the country...Get out of Venezuela...Yankee go home. Enough abuses already."

    February 2, 2014 - A student is reportedly sexually assaulted at the University of Los Andes in San Cristóbal.

    February 4, 2014 - University students demonstrate, demanding better security.

    February 7, 2014 - Student leaders are detained, which leads to further demonstrations across the country.

    February 12-18, 2014 - Unrest in the country leads to demonstrations demanding major social and economic changes. At least three people have been killed during clashes with police. Leopoldo Lopez, leader of the opposition, is arrested and charged with arson, conspiracy, murder and terrorism. Three U.S. diplomats are given 48 hours to leave the country, accused of attempting to destablize the government.

    February 20, 2014 - Charges of murder and terrorism against Lopez are dropped. Demonstrations continue.

    February 24, 2014 - Attorney General Luisa Ortega Diaz says that 13 people have died since clashes began.

    February 25, 2014 - U.S. State Department announces the expulsion of three Venezuelan diplomats.

    March 5, 2014 - Venezuela severs diplomatic relations with Panama accusing them of being a "lackey" for the United States in a conspiracy plot against the government.

    March 25, 2014 - Venezuela has arrested three air force generals. They are accused of plotting a coup by turning "the air force against the legitimately constituted government."