Venezuela is a federal republic. It is governed under a constitution adopted in 1999. All citizens may vote beginning at age 18.
The chief executive of Venezuela is a president, who is popularly elected to a six-year term. A council of ministers assists the president. The president has the authority to dissolve the legislature under certain conditions.
The leading political parties in Venezuela are the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, PSUV), led by President Hugo Chávez; the Democratic Action Party (Accíon Democrática, AD); Movement Toward Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS); Project Venezuela (Proyecto Venezuela); and Social Christian Party of Venezuela (Partido Social Cristiano de Venezuela, COPEI).
Venezuela is divided into 23 states; federal dependencies, made up of 72 islands in the Caribbean; and the Federal District, site of Caracas, the national capital. Each of Venezuela’s 23 states and its federal district has a popularly elected governor and legislature.
The highest court in Venezuela is the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, made up of 32 judges appointed to 12-year terms by the National Assembly. Each of the states has a superior court as well as several lesser tribunals. All Venezuelan males between the ages of 18 and 45 are liable for 30 months of military service. In 2006 Venezuela maintained combined armed forces, made up of the army, navy, air force, and national guard, of 82,300 people.
The Venezuelan government sponsors a limited program of health, accident, and retirement insurance. The average life expectancy at birth in 2009 was 77 years for women and 71 for men. "Venezuela" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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