Venezuela is a nation in northern South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south. Its capital and largest city is Caracas. The dominant religion is Roman Catholicism, and the primary language is Spanish.
Venezuela, meaning "Little Venice" in Spanish, was named by the Spanish explorers who first saw it in the 1500s. Venezuela gained independence as a part of Gran Colombia in the 1820s, but quickly seceded after Simon Bolivar's death.
Petroleum was discovered in Lake Maracaibo in the 1920s, and the Venezuelan economy boomed. Large highways and skyscrapers were constructed with the help of foreign loans. However, when the price of oil fell in the 1980s, Venezuela became deeply indebted, and government spending is much more limited.
In the 1990s, Hugo Chavez became President of Venezuela. He initiated socialist economic reforms aimed to help the poor. However, the economy tanked, and Chavez's anti-American rhetoric became increasing alienating. Chavez died in 2013 after a long illness.