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Venezuela Country Guide

  1. Country Facts
  2. Health
  3. Media
  1. Intro
  2. Geography
  3. People
  4. Travel
  5. Embassies & Visas
  6. Finance
  7. Cities/Regions

Quick Facts

Region: South America
Full Name: Venezuela
Capital City: Caracas
Language Spoken: Spanish (official), numerous indigenous dialects

Venezuela Travel Insurance

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Geographic data

8 00 N, 66 00 W

Elevation Extremes

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: Pico Bolivar (La Columna) 5,007 m

Land boundaries

total: 4,993 km border countries: Brazil 2,200 km, Colombia 2,050 km, Guyana 743 km

Natural hazards

subject to floods, rockslides, mudslides; periodic droughts

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite, other minerals, hydropower, diamonds

Land use

arable land: 2.85% permanent crops: 0.88% other: 96.27% (2005)

Environmental current issues

sewage pollution of Lago de Valencia; oil and urban pollution of Lago de Maracaibo; deforestation; soil degradation; urban and industrial pollution, especially along the Caribbean coast; threat to the rainforest ecosystem from irresponsible mining operations

Climate

The climate varies according to altitude. Lowland areas have a tropical climate. The dry season is from December to April and the rainy season from May to December. During the rainy season, there is the possibility of flooding in certain low-lying areas, such as the Llanos and in some valley of the Andes. Various parts of Venezuela, including Caracas and the eastern part of Sucre, are vulnerable to earthquakes, although there have been no serious earthquakes for many years. The best time to visit is between January and April.

Time difference

time difference: UTC-4

Population

25,730,435 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 29.1% (male 3,860,116/female 3,620,440) 15-64 years: 65.7% (male 8,494,944/female 8,410,874) 65 years and over: 5.2% (male 609,101/female 734,960) (2006 est.)

Median age

total: 26 years male: 25.4 years female: 26.6 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate

1.38% (2006 est.)

Birth rate

18.71 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate

4.92 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.83 male(s)/female total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.54 years male: 71.49 years female: 77.81 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.23 children born/woman (2006 est.)

Business Practices

Business meetings are typically formal, with suit and tie expected of visitors. English is becoming more widely spoken in business circles, particularly at executive level. Nevertheless, Spanish is essential for most business discussions. Appointments are necessary and a business visitor should be punctual. It is common to exchange visiting cards. Office hours are 0800-1800 Monday to Friday with a long midday break.

Crime

Crime is the greatest problem confronting the visitor to Venezuela. Seventy-five percent of the crimes reported in Caracas involve some type of street crime, pickpockets, snatch-and-run or armed robberies. These types of robberies occur at any time of day or night. Visitors to Venezuela are advised to avoid the economically deprived barrios, areas known for extremely high incidents of crime. Visitors in Caracas should limit their exposure on street, particularly at night. If travel is required, the use of a privately-owned vehicle or taxi is recommended. Visitors should maintain a low profile and try to blend in. They should take special precautions to avoid wearing expensive watches, gold chains, or jewelry, or carrying large amounts of cash. The conventional wisdom is to carry only what is absolutely needed in cash, credit cards, and identification when traveling around the country. Experience has shown that persons who carry a camera in plain view are normally relieved of that property in short order. Carry cameras and other hand-carried objects of value, concealed in some type of handbag. If confronted on the street by a would-be thief, it is best to assume that your assailant is armed and working with an accomplice, whether you can immediately identify one or not. Without any hesitation or show of resistance, hand over what you have. Experience has shown that this response usually prevents needless violence. It has been shown that violence normally occurs when a victim fails to cooperate or struggles with the would-be thieves. Most of the crimes committed are economically motivated. However, people should not/not agree to move off the street if told to do so by the assailant. It is best to have the robbery take place on the street and in full public view to minimize chances of any possible gratuitous violence. Most crime is economically motivated. Pickpockets concentrate in and around crowded bus and subway stations, along with the area around "Parque Simon Bolivar" near the "Capitolio" area in downtown Caracas. There have been cases of theft from hotel rooms and safe deposit boxes. The "barrios" (the poor neighborhoods that cover the hills around Caracas) and isolated urban parks, such as "El Calvario" in the "El Silencio" area of Caracas, can be very dangerous. Most criminals are armed with guns or knives, and will use force. Theft of unattended valuables on the beach and from rental cars parked in isolated areas or on city streets is common. A guarded garage is not always a guarantee against theft. Travelers are advised not to leave valuables or belongings in open view, even in locked vehicles. There have been incidents on Margarita Island in which tourists have been targeted for robbery and theft. Armed robberies are common in urban and tourist areas, and travelers should exercise caution in displaying money and valuables. Also, four-wheel drive vehicles have been targeted for carjackings in the past. For expatriates, residential crime is a real and growing problem, with no reason to believe that this escalating problem will be brought under control in the foreseeable future. People who opt to live in single family homes, referred to as "quintas" in the local lexicon, should be aware that police patrols of residential neighborhoods are rare, and that criminals normally prey on those "quintas" that are left unoccupied. While experience shows that maintaining a 24-hour continuous presence in the "quinta" is an excellent preventive measure, the best solution to residential crime is to require all expatriates to live in apartment buildings that offer 24-hour guard service and secured off-street parking for vehicles.

Hotels

There are many excellent hotels in Caracas. Numerous smaller hotels are open throughout the country but it is essential to make reservations at both these and the larger international hotels well in advance. The main hotels are Hotel Caracas Hilton, the Hotel Eurobuilding, the Sheraton and the Hotel Tamanaco Intercontinental.

Communications

Telephone IDD service is available to the country. The country code is 58 and the outgoing international code is 00. Fax facilities are available at larger hotels. Important documents can be sent via international courier (such as DHL or Federal Express, and more recently, UPS). Note however that international courier service should only be used for papers and documents and not include anything else or it will be delayed by Venezuelan customs. Most correspondence is by fax. Electricity is a 110 volts AC, 60Hz. American-type 2-pin plugs are the most commonly used fittings.

Electricity

110 volts AC, 60Hz. US-style two-pin plugs are the most commonly used fittings.

Plug Types

A,B

Food And Dining

Cumin and saffron are used in many dishes but the distinctive and delicate flavor of most of the popular dishes comes from the use of local roots and vegetables. There is no good local wine, although foreign wines are bottled locally. There are several good local beers, mineral waters, gin and excellent rum.

National specialties:

  • Arepas (the native bread made from primitive ground corn, water and salt).
  • Pabell?n criollo (hash made with shredded meat and served with fried plantains and black beans on rice).
  • Hallaca (cornmeal is combined with beef, pork, ham and green peppers, wrapped in individual pieces of banana leaves and cooked in boiling water, traditionally eaten at Christmas and New Year).
  • Parrilla criolla is beef marinated and cooked over a charcoal grill.
  • Hervido (soup made with chunks of beef, chicken or fish and native vegetables or roots).

National drinks:

  • Coffee.
  • Merengada (fruit pulp, ice, milk and sugar).
  • Pousse-caf? is an after-dinner liqueur.

Things to know: Bars have either table or counter service. A lisa is a glass of draught beer and a tercio a bottled beer. Most bars are open very late and there are no licensing laws. Table service is the norm and opening hours are 2100-2300.

Tipping:

Tips are discretionary but in the majority of bars and restaurants, 10 per cent is added to the bill and it is customary to leave another 10 per cent on the table. Bellboys and chambermaids should be tipped and, in Caracas, tips are higher than elsewhere.

Nightlife:

There are many nightclubs and discos in the major cities of Venezuela. The National and Municipal Theaters offer a variety of concerts, ballet, plays, operas and operettas. There are other theaters - some of which are open-air - in Caracas, as well as several cinemas.

Entry departure requirements

* Please see visa section Visa immigration information

Passports

Passport valid for at least six months (if entering with a visa) or for the duration of stay (if entering with a Tourist Entry Card) required by all.

Visas

Required by all except the following, who do, however, require a Tourist Entry Card (DEX-2), which is issued free of charge by an authorized air carrier on presentation of valid air tickets (including return or onward ticket) for stays of maximum 90 days (non-extendable):
(a) nationals of countries mentioned in the chart above, except 1. nationals of Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia and Malta who do need a visa;
2. (b) nationals of Andorra, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Grenada, Guatemala, Hong Kong (SAR), Iceland, Jamaica, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Romania, San Marino, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago and Uruguay.

Types of visa and cost

Tourist Entry Card: Free of charge (single-entry). Tourist: US$38 (multiple-entry). Business: US$75 (multiple-entry). Student: US$75 (multiple entry). Transit: US$38 (single-entry).

Validity

Tourist/Tourist Entry Cards: 90 days (tourist visas are valid for up to one year but only permit entry for 90 days in any one period). Business: 180 days. Transit: up to 72 hours.

Application to

Consulate (or consular section at Embassy); see Passport/Visa Information. Tourist Entry Cards are available at the airport check-in desk prior to departure.

Application requirements

Tourist: (a) Completed and signed application form. (b) Two recent color passport-size photos. (c) Passport with at least six months' validity at time of visa application. (d) Fee (postal order). (e) Self-addressed, recorded delivery envelope for postal applications. (f) A letter of employment from employer, stating date of commencement, position and salary. (g) Latest bank statement. Business: (a)-(e) and, (f) Employer's reference and letter confirming purpose of visit. (g) Reference from company to be contacted in Venezuela. Student: (a)-(e) and, (f) Letter of admission from educational institution. (g) Proof of academic degrees/attestations. Transit: (a) Ticket confirming you will be continuing to a third country. (b) Name of airline carrier. (c) Flight number. (d) Date you will be entering and departing Venezuela. (e) Name of entry and departing Venezuelan port or airport.

Working days required

Three.

Temporary residence

Special authorization is required from the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Caracas.

HIV entry requirements

No Test Required

Departure tax

VEB73,000 on international flights from all international airports. Transit passengers and children under two years are exempt.

Embassies

Embassy of the Republic of Venezuela in the UK

1 Cromwell Road, London SW7 2HR, UK
Tel: (020) 7584 4206/7.
Website: http://reinounido.embajada.gob.ve/index.php?lang=en
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1600.

Embassy of the Republic of Venezuela (Consular Section) in the UK

56 Grafton Way, London W1P 5LB, UK
Tel: (020) 7387 6727.
Website: http://reinounido.embajada.gob.ve/index.php?lang=en
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 1000-1300.

Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the USA

1099 30th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA
Tel: (202) 342 2214.

The incidence of street crime in Venezuela is high and rising. There have been muggings and kidnappings by bogus taxi operators at Caracas International Airport (Maiquetia).
Political demonstrations may occur at any time in the major cities, possibly leading to localized violence.

Travelers should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organizations for the latest travel advice:

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Tel: (0845) 850 2829.
Website: www.fco.gov.uk

US Department of State

Website: http://travel.state.gov/travel

Currency

Bol?var (VEB) = 100 c?ntimos. Notes are in denominations of VEB50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5000, 2000, 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of VEB500, 100, 50, 25, 5, 2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10 and 5 c?ntimos.

Currency restrictions

The import and export of local and foreign currency is unlimited.

Banking hours

Mon-Fri 0830-1530.

Currency exchange

Banks will change cheques and cash, and cambios will change cash only; as will hotels, although often at a less favorable rate. Travelers are advised to bring currency in US Dollars.

Credit cards

American Express, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in main cities and tourist centers; Diners Club has more limited acceptance. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and for other facilities which may be available.

Travellers cheques

Widely accepted, although one may be asked to produce a receipt of purchase when changing them in Venezuela. Exchange is more difficult in some places than others. Some kinds of traveller's cheques are not accepted; seek advice before traveling. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travelers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars.

City/RegionCity/Area codeFollowed by
Amazonas, Apure, Bolkvar(0)248+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Anzoitegui(0)283+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Anzoitegui, Bolkvar(0)285+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Anzoitegui, Bolkvar, Guirico(0)235+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Anzoitegui, Monagas(0)292+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Apure, Barinas, Guirico(0)247+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Apure, Barinas, Tichira(0)278+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Apure, M?rida, Tichira(0)277+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Aragua, Carabobo(0)243+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Aragua, Guirico(0)246+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Aragua.(0)244+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Barinas, Cojedes(0)258+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Barinas, M?rida(0)273+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Bolkvar(0)288+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Bolkvar, Monagas(0)286+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Carabobo(0)249+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Carabobo, Falc?n(0)242+ 7 digit subscriber nr
D.F, Miranda, Vargas(0)212+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Delta Amacuro, Monagas(0)287+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Dep. Federales(0)237+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Falc?n(0)269+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Falc?n, Zulia(0)266+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Guirico(0)238+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Lara(0)252+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Lara, Yaracuy(0)253+ 7 digit subscriber nr
M?rida(0)274+ 7 digit subscriber nr
M?rida, Tichira, Zulia(0)275+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Miranda(0)239+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Monagas(0)291+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Nueva Esparta(0)295+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Portuguesa(0)257+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Sucre(0)294+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Tichira(0)276+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Trujillo(0)272+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Yaracuy(0)254+ 7 digit subscriber nr
Zulia(0)267+ 7 digit subscriber nr
  1. Health Information
  2. Recent Disease Outbreaks
  3. Hospital Database

Dental care

Good quality dental care is available in the capital - Caracas

Medication Availability

Supplies of international medications are generally available from private pharmacies in the larger towns and cities.

Blood supplies

Screening is inconsistent in Venezuela, therefore blood supplies should be considered as unsafe

Medical facilities

Medical care in Caracas is good at private hospitals and clinics. Cash payment is usually demanded. Most hospitals and clinics, however, accept credit cards. In rural areas outside Caracas, physicians and medical supplies may be minimal.

General caution

Recent medical and dental exams should ensure that the traveler is in good health. Carry appropriate health and accident insurance documents and copies of any important medical records. Bring an adequate supply of all prescription and other medications as well as any necessary personal hygiene items, including a spare pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses if necessary. Drink only bottled beverages (including water) or beverages made with boiled water. Do not use ice cubes or eat raw seafood, rare meat or dairy products. Eat well-cooked foods while they are still hot and fruits that can be peeled without contamination. Avoid roadside stands and street vendors. Swim only in well-maintained, chlorinated pools or ocean water known to be free from pollution; avoid freshwater lakes, streams and rivers. Wear clothing which reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas. Sleep in well-screened accommodations. Carry anti-diarrheal medication. Reduce problems related to sun exposure by using sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, sunscreen lotions and lip protection.

Specific concerns

AIDS occurs. Single-use, disposable needles and syringes may be unavailable. Adequately screened blood supply may be available in some medical facilities in Venezuela, including major hospitals in Caracas. When possible, travelers should defer medical treatment until reaching a facility where safety can be assured. The altitude, climate and prevalent tropical pollens year round in Caracas have aggravated asthma and hay fever conditions. Sinus conditions may also be aggravated. Health officials suspect that river water near the southeastern border with Brazil may be contaminated with mercury, believing it to be responsible in the deaths of 19 Indians and apparent poisoning of 26 others in a remote Amazon jungle.

Immunization

Cholera: Although limited in effectiveness, vaccination may be appropriate for persons living and/or working in less than sanitary conditions for more than 3 months where medical facilities are unavailable. Vaccination may also be appropriate for travelers with impaired gastric defenses who are planning an extended visit or being exposed to unsanitary conditions. Vaccination is not advised for pregnant women, infants younger than 6 months old, or persons with a history of severe reaction to the vaccine. Hepatitis A: Consider active immunization with hepatitis A vaccine or passive immunization with immune globulin (IG) for all susceptible travelers. Especially consider choosing active immunization for persons planning to reside for a long period or for persons who take frequent short-term trips to risk areas. The importance of protection against hepatitis A increases as length of stay increases. It is particularly important for persons who will be living in or visiting rural areas, eating or drinking in settings of poor or uncertain sanitation, or who will have close contact with local persons (especially young children) in settings with poor sanitary conditions. Hepatitis B: Vaccination is advised for health care workers, persons anticipating direct contact with blood from or sexual contact with inhabitants, and persons planning extended stays of 6 months or greater (especially those who anticipate using local health care facilities, staying in rural areas, or having intimate contact with the local population). Rabies: Preexposure vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 30 days who are expected to be at risk to bites from domestic and/or wild animals (particularly dogs), or for persons engaged in high risk activities such as spelunking or animal handling. Need for vaccination is more important if potential exposure is in rural areas and if adequate postexposure care is not readily available. Typhoid: Vaccination should be considered for persons staying longer than 3 weeks, adventurous eaters, and those who will venture off the usual tourist routes into small cities, villages and rural areas. Importance of vaccination increases as access to reasonable medical care becomes limited. Contraindications depend on vaccine type. Yellow fever: Vaccination is recommended for travelers over 9 months of age going outside of urban areas. Note: All routine vaccines (such as DTP or Td, Hib, MMR, polio, varicella, influenza and pneumococcal) should be kept up-to-date as a matter of good health practice unrelated to travel.

Disease risk summary

Insect-borne illness: these diseases are an important cause of ill health in rural areas. Dengue fever - occurs, including in urban areas Dengue hemorrhagic fever - occurs Encephalitis - occurs Leishmaniasis (cutaneous and mucocutaneous) - occurs Leishmaniasis (visceral) - common Malaria - occurs Onchocerciasis (river blindness) - occurs (problem exists in isolated cases in rural areas; the bites of blackflies, the carrier, may also transmit other filarial parasites or cause unpleasant and sometimes severe hemorrhagic reactions) Trypanosomiasis (Chagas' disease) - occurs Yellow fever - occurs Food-borne and water-borne illness: these diseases are common and include amoebiasis, diarrheal diseases, helminthic infections, and viral hepatitis. Cholera - occurs Echinococcosis (hydatid disease) - occurs Schistosomiasis (intestinal form) - occurs in north-central areas Other hazards: Influenza risk extends throughout the year. Rabies - occurs (carriers include vampire bats whose range extends to coastal islands)

Entry requirements

None.

Recent disease outbreaks

No recent disease outbreaks

NameAddress
C. A. EsculapioCalle Rondon Nr 9549 Valencia
Centro Clinico San CristobalAv Las Pilas G. Urbanizacion Sta. Ines San Cristobal
Centro M?dico de CaracasAv. El Erazo Plaza El Estanque San Bernardino Caracas
Centro Medico La FlorestaAv. Principal Caracas 1060
Clinica El AvilaAvenida San Juan Bosco con 6ta Transversal Altamira Caracas 1060
Ctro. Medico Nueva EspartaVia La Sierra Sector El Dique Isla Margarita
Hospital de Clinicas CaracasCalle Alameda con Av. Panteon San Bernardino Caracas 410
Instituto DiagnosticoAv Anauco No 60 San Bernardino Caracas
Policlinica TachiraAv 19 de Abril Edif Policlinica Tachira Tachira

Media

President Ch?vez's attitudes towards the media have attracted criticism from external watchdogs. A 2005 media law banned the inappropriate airing of scenes of sex and violence, as well as material deemed harmful to national security. Opponents of the bill claimed it was an attempt to silence media criticism. Both private and state-owned broadcasters operate in the country. President Ch?vez has his own weekly TV and radio program.
Press: The English-language daily newspaper is The Daily Journal, published in Caracas. Spanish-language dailies include El Nacional (website: www.el-nacional.com), El Mundo (website: www.elmundo.com.ve), El Universal (website: www.eluniversal.com) and Ultimas Noticias (website: www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve).
TV: Venezolana de Television is Government-run. Other channels include Caracas-based Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), private networks Televen and Venevision and 24-hour news channel Globovision. Telesur is a pan-American broadcaster based in Caracas.
Radio: Radio Nacional de Venezuela is a state broadcaster with 15 stations. Union radio Noticias is a commercial news network.

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