Most Venezuelans count as white or of mixed origin, from indigenous peoples, Europeans and Africans. The small minority of indigenous people consists of about 30 groups. Venezuela has long been an immigrant country but during the crisis of recent years a huge emigration has instead occurred. The refugee stream is now the largest in modern times in Latin America.
In a 2011 census, half the population identified themselves as of mixed descent – European, African, and American (that is, native peoples or “Indians”). Almost as many identified themselves as white. Most of the whites have Spanish outbreaks but many other Europeans have also emigrated to Venezuela as well as people from the Middle East. Around 3 percent considered themselves black and slightly fewer belong to the indigenous peoples. Of these, over half are wayuu (or guajiro), living on both sides of the Venezuela-Colombia border.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Venezuela, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
Minority rights were strengthened in the 1999 constitution, but the UN has repeatedly criticized Venezuela for not doing enough to protect indigenous peoples and other minorities. Many of them lack access to health care and the mortality rate in curable diseases is high in these groups. Indigenous peoples’ land rights are not always respected, and mineral extraction and infrastructure projects often threaten their traditional way of life.
Population growth was high for a long time, between 1958 and 2007 the number of residents increased five-fold. The cause was mainly high natural population growth, but immigration from Europe was great between 1950 and 1980. Several millions of Colombians were estimated to recently also live in Venezuela. Many had fled the war in their home country, but most moved for financial reasons. The deeper crisis in Venezuela is now causing the current to turn, many Colombians have returned home and more and more Venezuelans are seeking refuge in neighboring countries or in other countries. The UN now estimates that over 5 million Venezuelans have fled their homeland since 2015. In the world, only Syria has had a major emigration in a short time. Colombia is the country that has received the most Venezuelans – around a third of all refugees – followed by Peru, Chile and Ecuador.
Even before the crisis worsened, around 1.5 million Venezuelans were estimated to live abroad, not least in the US and Europe. A large proportion of emigrants belong to the middle and upper classes, which has resulted in the loss of well-educated citizens.
Population growth has slowed but the population is still quite young; just over a quarter of Venezuelans are under the age of 15. More than nine out of ten residents live in cities, most of them on the coast.
Wayuunaiki is the largest of the indigenous peoples’ languages, an Arawak language spoken by the Wayuu people. Many people no longer speak the traditional languages, but have completely switched to Spanish. The minority languages are counted as national cultural heritage and according to the constitution the indigenous peoples have the right to use their own languages in official contexts throughout the country.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
majority white or mixed origin (mainly European / Native / African), small groups of blacks, indigenous peoples
Number of residents
31 977 065 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
88.2 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
19.0 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
5.6 per 1000 residents (2016)
1.3 percent (2017)
2.3 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
50.3 percent (2017)
75 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
79 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
71 years (2016)
Spanish is the official language 1
- In addition, there are about 30 Native American languages (of which wayuunaiki is the largest)
Chávez is ill again
In a televised speech to the nation, President Hugo Chávez announces that he will travel to Cuba to be operated on and tells that the cancer has returned (see March 2012). He also talks for the first time that Vice President Nicolás Maduro should replace him if necessary.
Maduro becomes Vice President
Chávez appoints Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro as new vice president. Maduro is considered one of Chávez’s closest men.
Chávez wins the presidential election
Opposition hopes for a change of power come to shame when the results of the presidential election are presented: incumbent President Hugo Chávez gets 55 percent of the vote, against 44 percent for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. For Chávez, the choice is still a disappointment; in the 2006 election, the distance to two was 27 percentage points.
New price controls are introduced
A ceiling is set on the prices of, among other things, hygiene articles and detergents, in an attempt to curb inflation. Earlier, price controls exist on a range of basic products such as cooking oil, milk, sugar, coffee, rice and chicken.
New cancer surgery for Chávez
President Chávez, who has relapsed, is operating in Havana (see September 2011). After three weeks he returns to Venezuela, but soon he travels to Cuba again to undergo radiation treatment.
Chávez is up for re-election
President Hugo Chávez announces in his annual speech to the National Assembly that he is running for re-election in the October presidential election. The talk goes on for almost ten hours. Chávez ends by saying “I’m back”.
The opposition agrees on the presidential candidate
Henrique Capriles Radonski, Governor of Miranda, becomes the opposition candidate in the October presidential election, through a primary election open to all citizens.