Andes Mountains and Maracaibo Lowlands in northwest; central plains (llanos); Guiana Highlands in southeast
Tropical; hot, humid, more moderate in highlands
Population: 28,459,085 (July 2013 est.)
Languages: Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects
Nominally Roman Catholic 96%, Protestant 2%, other 2%
Venezuela remains highly dependent on oil revenues, which account for roughly 95% of export earnings, about 45% of federal budget revenues, and around 12% of GDP. Fueled by high oil prices, record government spending helped to boost GDP growth in 2011, after a sharp drop in oil prices caused an economic contraction in 2009-10. Government spending, minimum wage hikes, and improved access to domestic credit created an increase in consumption.
OPEC OIL EXPORTERS (1:05)
The major cities in Argentina have a European look to them. The middle classes live in tall, modern apartment buildings or in bungalows with small gardens. Since the 1930s, rural workers have flocked to the big cities and a number of slums have sprouted on the outskirts, where the workers live in shacks. Rural houses are often built of adobe, with earth floors and roofs of straw and mud.
US Military Presence/Support