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Regions & CountriesJanuary 23, 2020 | 18:27 GMT
Venezuela
Venezuela

Located in South America, Venezuela is bordered by Colombia, the Caribbean Sea, Guyana and Brazil. Colonized by the Spanish in the 16th century, Venezuela became an independent country in 1830. The northern portion of Venezuela is dominated by the eastern spur of the northern Andes. The mountains are cooler than the surrounding subtropical plains and host the majority of Venezuela's population. The country's core includes Lake Valencia and Caracas. Since the late 19th century, oil has been the driving force behind Venezuela's political and economic affairs. The first discoveries were made in the Maracaibo basin, and later discoveries revealed heavy, sour crude deposits in the Orinoco basin. The tropical Orinoco basin is largely unpopulated, with little significant infrastructure. Just to the south are the Guiana Highlands, which buffer Venezuela from the jungles of the Amazon River basin. As a Caribbean country, Venezuela lies within the direct sphere of influence of the United States. The United States is not only the largest military power in the region, but also the largest consumer market and a key destination for Venezuelan crude oil exports. As a result, Venezuela's primary geographic challenge is managing its relations with the United States. Venezuela has throughout history used its relationship with the United States to attract the foreign investment and technological development that resulted in the country's well-developed oil sector. But relations between the two countries don't always match the economic reality. Former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez built domestic and foreign policies around rejecting U.S. influence.

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Regions & CountriesJanuary 23, 2020 | 18:52 GMT
Peru
Peru
Peru is the third-largest country in South America, located on the west coast of the continent, just south of the equator. The country has three main geographic zones: the Andean highlands, the desert coast and the largely unpopulated Peruvian Amazon. Pre-colonial civilization in Peru was centered on the rugged Andean highlands, where most of Peru's natural riches – including gold, silver and hydrocarbons – are concentrated. The arrival of European colonists and maritime transport focused economic and political activity on the coast, and eventually created the modern state of Peru, with Lima as its capital. This metropolitan area produces more than 50 percent of Peru's gross domestic product (GDP) and is home to a third of the nation's population. With the Andes protecting Peru's coastal core, Peru's biggest external threats have come from the north, the south and the sea. Although Peru has had border disputes with both neighbors Ecuador and Colombia, Peru's main rivalry is with Chile. In the late 1800s, Peru and Chile fought the War of the Pacific. During that war, Chile seized large portions of the Bolivian and Peruvian Atacama Desert using its significantly more powerful navy. But Peru's biggest challenges by far come from its internal security situation. Deep ethno-linguistic divides between European descendants and Aymara, Quechua and other Andean communities are exacerbated by rugged terrain and poor infrastructure. As a result, civil unrest is pervasive and frequently violent. At the same time, Peru is the native home of the coca plant, which brings regional drug trafficking networks deep into the heart of Peru in pursuit of cocaine supplies. In turn, this fuels drug related violence and funds armed rebel groups. Despite these challenges, Peru has seen significant growth in recent years. However its basic geography will give the country an internal focus for the foreseeable future.
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