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The Just Student Jobs Country guide for gap year travel in South America - Venezuela

Where to Go - South America

Click on the links below to view information on a specific country.

Argentina | Brazil | Chile| Colombia
Ecuador | Guyana| Peru | Venezuela


Population: 23,542,649

Literacy rate: 91.1%

Life expectancy at birth: male – 70.05 yrs, female – 76.31 yrs

Infant mortality rate: 26.17 deaths/1,000 live births

Population growth rate: 1.6%

GDP growth rate: -7.2%

GDP per capita: £5,400

Unemployment: 18%


TI index: 2.7

Climate: tropical; hot, humid; more moderate in highlands

Time: GMT - 4.

Electricity: 110 volts AC, 60Hz. American-type 2-pin plugs are the most commonly used fittings.


Venezuela holds 6% of world petroleum reserves and had the highest GNP of any country in Latin America before widespread flooding and the economic decline which followed. It has been plagued by dictators and mismanagement ever since gaining independence from Spain in 1811 and has never really seemed to get its act together. The petroleum reserves account for 30% of the GDP and 80% of foreign earnings. It is no surprise, therefore, that anything that affects oil exports or the price of oil affects Venezuela greatly. The recent great increase in crime and the poor performance of the economy has led to an exodus of the middle classes.

Flying in, as most people do, you will be surprised to find that the main airport – Simón Bolivar – is separated from Caracas by a range of mountains. Once over them, and in the capital, you will find a well-organised and generally clean city. Beware of asking directions, no matter how good your Spanish or your guide map – every street corner has its own name and everybody knows them. However, none of these names is printed on maps. Taxi drivers and locals all know them. You will find it useful to learn them. There is a cable car ride to the top of the mountain range – this is not to be taken if you are afraid of heights. On clear days (you are above the cloud level) the view is marvellous. There are chic shopping centres and expensive suburbs, but there are also slums on the outskirts. An interesting trip out of Caracas is to Colonia Tovar – a village set up in the mountains by German Black Forest immigrants early in the 19 th century. The dialect of German spoken there is no longer spoken in Germany and it is amusing to see German tourists and locals trying to communicate and having to recur to Spanish in desperation.

Maracaibo is a humming centre of commerce. The local businessmen are known by the name of maracuchos. Visit Lake Maracaibo and the native village on the lake. The authorities tried to get the native Venezuelans to come and live in the city. A flat refusal was given. Now the village has a hospital, schools, a police station etc. all built on stilts on the lake, as is the village itself.

Venezuelans are a somewhat conservative people, and like Mexicans, harbour mixed feelings towards the USA. Food and drink excellent.

Entry requirements

Prepare for a lot of paperwork.


Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid

Tax and Insurance

No information available on tax. Get health insurance.

Gap Year Programmes

Click here to find gap year programmes and placements in Venezuela

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Argentina | Brazil | Chile| Colombia
Ecuador | Guyana| Peru | Venezuela

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