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Venezuela is an oil-rich country in northern South America, with a population in 2015 of more than 30 million. Although Venezuela’s political confrontations were not predominantly violent for most of the 20th century, its political history has witnessed a row of tense conflicts and coups d’état up to the present and has become, especially since the 1990s, often outright destructive.

The European colonization of the region, starting in 1522, was accompanied by elimination, removal, or enslavement of the previous population. Venezuela developed over the next centuries into a landscape of feudal plantations and mines, increasingly worked by African slaves; a few cities such as Caracas, which blossomed to a cultural and economic center in the 18th century; and retreat areas of the non-European population toward the ...

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