About Venezuela

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela can boast incredible landscapes, which range from Amazonian jungles and snow-capped Andean peaks to Caribbean coastline and idyllic islands. It is a diverse paradise on Earth with a warm climate that begs to be explored at any time of year. Venezuela can lay claim to the steamy Delta del Orinoco (Orinoco Delta), which is ideal for wildlife-viewing on the water's edge, and Salto Ángel (Angel Falls), which is the world's highest waterfall at about 16 times the height of Niagara Falls! The adventure-sports capital of Mérida is an affluent Andean city that offers active expatriates countless opportunities for paragliding, hiking, rafting, canyoning, and mountain biking while the group of nearly 300 sandy islands that form the Archipiélago Los Roques make for an ideal island-hopping getaway from the actual capital of Caracas.

As well as boasting incredible natural beauty, Venezuela is one of the most highly urbanised countries in Latin America, with a huge potential to achieve sustainable economic and social development. It has one of the largest proven oil deposits in the world, as well as huge quantities of natural resources, such as iron ore, coal, bauxite, and gold. However, many Venezuelans live in poverty, often in shanty towns that sprawl over the hillsides, and personal safety (particularly in Caracas) is arguably worse than anywhere else on the continent.

From the turn of the 21st century until late 2014, high oil prices enabled the former president Hugo Chavez to style himself as a champion of the poor by pouring billions of dollars of Venezuela's oil wealth into large social programmes called misiones, which were implemented to deliver services and resources to previously overlooked parts of the population. However, during this boom period, Venezuela did not accumulate savings to cushion any adjustments, and the collapse in international oil prices, along with inadequate policies, resulted in a severe economic crisis.

As hyperinflation has eroded incomes, private consumption has understandably collapsed, and there has been a dramatic dip in investments and imports. Venezuela now faces major stagflation and the challenge of protecting a vast population living in poverty. This has opened opportunities for foreign professionals in the aid and microfinance sectors.

Venezuela's most pressing challenge is to contain the macroeconomic imbalances that have already reversed any previous social advances. It needs to improve the investment climate to strengthen its long-term growth perspectives, and to diversify its exports to reduce its extreme vulnerability to oil price fluctuations, as the country’s reliance on the hydrocarbon sector has sharply increased (oil accounts for 96% of exports).