Update 15 to the GEC, the successor to the FIPS standard, is dated 2014-03-31. It changes the status of Delta Amacuro from federal
territory to state.
Paraskevas Renesis informs me that Venezuela has created a new administrative unit called Francisco de Miranda. Its status is territorio
insular (island territory), and it consists of three island groups of Dependencias Federales: the archipiélagos Los Roques, La Orchila,
and Las Aves. This is not all of Dependencias Federales, but contains more than three quarters of their population. It's not clear how
this territory fits into the administrative division hierarchy of Venezuela. For now, I will consider Dependencias Federales to remain as
a primary and secondary subdivision, since the parts of it that are not included in Francisco de Miranda have no separate administration
that I can find out.
Update 1 to the U.S. standard "Geopolitical Entities and Codes" is dated 2010-08-20. It changes the name of Distrito Federal to Distrito
ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number II-1, dated 2010-02-03, changes the country name to Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number I-4, dated 2002-12-10, shows the new state of Vargas. ISO 3166-2 Newsletter number I-5, dated 2003-09-05,
changes the status of Amazonas and Delta Amacuro from territories to states, correcting an error that has persisted since the original
draft standard of 1996. Change Notice 6 to FIPS PUB 10-4, published on 2001-01-28, also shows Vargas as a new state.
FIPS PUB 10-4 is the U.S. Federal standard for administrative divisions of countries. Change 1 to FIPS PUB 10-4 is dated 1998-12-01.
One of the changes is to the status of two divisions of Venezuela. Amazonas and Delta Amacuro have been changed from territorios
(territories) to estados (states).
Venezuela has been independent during the entire 20th century. In 1953, a new constitution changed the name of the country from
Estados Unidos de Venezuela to República de Venezuela.
Other names of country:
- Danish: Venezuela
- Dutch: Venezuela, Bolivarische Republiek Venezuela (formal)
- English: Republic of Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (formal)
- Finnish: Venezuela
- French: Venezuela m
- German: Venezuela n
- Icelandic: Venesúela
- Italian: Venezuela m
- Norwegian: Venezuela, Republikken Venezuela
- Portuguese: Venezuela, República de Venezuela, República f Bolivariana da Venezuela f (formal)
- Russian: Боливарианская Республика Венесуэла (formal)
- Spanish: Venezuela, República f Bolivariana de Venezuela f (formal)
- Swedish: Venezuela
- Turkish: Bolivarcı Venezuela Cumhuriyeti (formal)
Origin of name:
Spanish for little Venice, because early explorers found inhabitants living in stilt houses in lakes
Venezuela is divided into 23 estados (states), one dependencias federales (federal dependencies), and one distrito capital (capital
|377,756||76,500||29,540||San Fernando (de Apure)|
|763,188||24,800||9,580||(Santa Ana de) Coro|
|627,086||64,986||25,090||San Juan (de los Morros)|
- State: except for Dependencias Federales and Distrito Capital.
- HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes.
- ISO: State codes from ISO 3166-2. For full identification in a global context, prefix
VE-" to the code
VE-R represents Sucre).
- FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
- NUTE: Nomenclature of Statistical Territorial Units. First three digits indicate NUTE region
(see table below).
- OCEI: Codes used by the Oficina Central de Estadística e Informática (OCEI) to identify states and
territories. Within each state, OCEI numbers the municipalities from 1 to n, and so on. By
concatenating the codes for state,
municipality, parish, and populated place, you can get a unique
code for each populated place in Venezuela.
- Population: 2001-10-21 census.
- Capital: Formal name includes the part in parentheses.
The first three digits of a state's NUTE code determine what NUTE region it lies in. However, the Venezuela NUTE code system has one
exceptional case. The state of Apure is partly in two regions. Its municipio of Paez lies in region
506. These are the
same as the nine administrative regions established by decree in 1980.
|Región de los Llanos|
|Región Centro Occidental|
|Región de los Andes|
|Región Nor Oriental|
|Región de Guayana|
Venezuela uses four-digit postal codes.
See the Municipalities of Venezuela page.
The states are divided into municipios (municipalities), or, in the case of territories/capital district, into departamentos
(departments). The municipios are further subdivided into parroquias (parishes).
- Delta Amacuro includes many islands in the deltas of the Orinoco, Amacuro, and other rivers.
- Dependencias Federales consists of the Caribbean islands, other than those belonging to Nueva Esparta, between 62° and 68° W. and
south of 12°15' N., as well as Isla de las Aves, which is nearer to Guadeloupe. The largest of these islands are La Tortuga, La
Blanquilla, and Los Roques.
- Nueva Esparta consists of Margarita, Cubagua, and Coche islands.
- Zulia is divided into three parts by Lake Maracaibo. Traveling clockwise around the lake shore from its opening to the sea in the
north, you pass through Zulia, Trujillo, Zulia, Mérida, and Zulia.
- The city of Caracas is divided roughly in half between Distrito Capital and Miranda. It is quite unusual for a city to lie in two
different primary administrative divisions of a country.
Origins of names:
- Amazonas: for the Amazon River
- Anzoátegui: Basque for "place of the elder [tree]"; for General José Antonio Anzoátegui (1789-1819)
- Apure: for the Apure River
- Aragua: after the Aragua tribe, whose leader was Chief Maracay; or, Cumanagoto for the chaguaramo, a kind of palm tree
- Barinas: for the Barinas River
- Bolívar: for Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), independence fighter
- Carabobo: named for a village, from an ethnic name
- Caracas: from an ethnic name
- Cojedes: "nation of potters", from Carib coa: nation, heir: pottery
- Delta Amacuro: the Amacuro River is a short river within the Orinoco delta
- Falcón: for General Juan Crisóstomo Falcón (1820-1870), president of Venezuela
- Guárico: for the Guárico River
- Lara: for General Jacinto Lara (1777-1859), independence fighter
- Mérida: after the capital city, which was in turn named after Mérida in Extremadura, Spain
- Miranda: for Francisco de Miranda (1750-1816), independence fighter
- Monagas: for José Tadeo Monagas (1784-1868) and José Gregorio Monagas (1795-1858), brothers and presidents of Venezuela
- Nueva Esparta: Spanish for "New Sparta", to commemorate the inhabitants' heroism in the war for independence
- Portuguesa: = Portuguese, for the Portuguesa River, supposedly so named because a Portuguese woman drowned in it during the conquista
- Sucre: for Antonio José de Sucre (1795-1830), South American independence fighter
- Táchira: for the Táchira River, which was named for tachure, a medicinal plant
- Trujillo: after the capital city, which was in turn named after Tungala, a former city in Cáceres, Spain
- Vargas: for José María Vargas (1786-1854), second president of Venezuela
- Yaracuy: named for a valorous native chief; the name means "to bring water from far away"
- Zulia: named for Zulia (1538-1561), a native princess who resisted the conquistadores
- 1777-09-08: The provinces of Cumaná (or Nueva Andalucía), Guayana, Maracaibo, Margarita, and Trinidad were detached from the
virreinato (viceroyalty) and capitanía general (captaincy-general) of New Granada, and attached to the captaincy-general of Venezuela (or
Caracas). The same region had been made an intendencia in 1776. As a result, Venezuela was unified administratively, militarily, and
judicially, with six provinces and Caracas as its capital (source ).
- 1797: Trinidad province (now part of Trinidad and Tobago) taken from Venezuela by the British. The Venzuelan flag of 1797 had four
stars, representing four provinces; for that purpose, Margarita was deemed an island and not a province.
- 1810: Trujillo province split from Maracaibo.
- 1811-07-05: First Congress of Venezuela declared independence, with representatives of seven provinces present: Barcelona, Barinas,
Caracas, Cumaná, Margarita, Mérida, and Trujillo. The provinces of Coro (officially split from Caracas in 1818-07), Guayana, and
Maracaibo did not participate.
- 1817: Guayana province was liberated and became part of Venezuela.
- 1819-08-15: A new constitution for Venezuela specified a division into the same ten provinces that had existed in 1811.
- 1819-12-17: Congress of Angostura (now known as Ciudad Bolívar) established the Republic of Colombia (later called Gran Colombia).
This entity was initially divided into three departamentos (departments): Cundinamarca (or Santafé), Quito, and Venezuela. By 1821, they
had been replaced by nine departments: Boyacá, Cauca, Cundinamarca, Magdalena, Orinoco (or Orinoco y Maturín), Panama, Quito, Venezuela,
and Zulia (or Maracaibo). In 1821 and 1822 the departments of Apure (split from Venezuela department), Azuay, and Guayaquil were added,
and Panama was renamed Istmo. Of these departments, Apure, Orinoco, Venezuela, and Zulia fell mostly within present-day Venezuela. As
related to the pre-1819 divisions, Apure department corresponded roughly to Barinas province; Orinoco department to the provinces of
Barcelona, Cumaná, Guayana, and Margarita; Venezuela department to Caracas province, and Zulia department to the provinces of Coro,
Maracaibo, Mérida, and Trujillo.
- 1824-06-24: Under Law of Territorial Political Division, Carabobo province split from Caracas.
- 1830: República de Colombia split into three independent countries. Cundinamarca department became Colombia, Quito department became
Ecuador, and Venezuela department became República de Venezuela. Under the new constitution, the departments disappeared, and Venezuela
had eleven provinces.
- 1831: Trujillo province split from Maracaibo.
- 1832-03-29: Barquisimeto province split from Carabobo. According to source , the populations and areas of the thirteen provinces
were as follows.
|Apure||15,479||1,860||43,356||Acháguas||Acháguas, Guasdualito, Mantecal, San Fernando|
|Barcelona||52,103||1,155||26,923||Barcelona||Aragua, Barcelona, Onoto, Pao, Piritu, San Diego,|
San Matéo, Soledad
|Barínas||109,497||1,994||46,480||Barínas||Araure, Barinas, Guanare, Guanarito, Nutrias, Obispo,|
|Barquisimeto||112,755||782||18,228||Barquisimeto||Barquisimeto, Carora, Quibor, San Felipe, Tocuyo, Yaritagua|
|Carabobo||96,967||679||15,827||Valencia||Montalban, Nirgua, Ocumare, Pao, Puerto Cabello,|
San Carlos, Valencia
|Carácas||242,888||2,842||66,247||Carácas||Calabozo, Carácas, Caucagua, Chaguaramas, Cura, Guaira,|
Guarenas, Ocumare, Orituco, Petare, Rio Chico,
San Sebastian, Santa Lucia, Turmero, Victoria
|Coro||40,476||941||21,935||Coro||Casigua, Coro, Cumarebo, Pueblo Nuevo, San Luis, Tocuyo|
|Cumaná||50,671||1,463||34,102||Cumaná||Aragua, Barrancas, Cariaco, Carúpano, Cumaná,|
Cumanacoa, Güiria, Maturin, Rio Caribe
|Guayana||56,471||20,149||469,671||Angostura||Angostura, Caycara, Piacoa, Rio Negro, Upata|
|Maracaibo||42,832||2,780||64,802||Maracaibo||Altagracia, Gibraltar, Maracaibo, Perija, San Carlos|
|Mérida||62,116||907||21,142||Mérida||Bailadores, Ejido, Grila, Lobatera, Mérida, Mucuchies,|
San Antonio, San Cristóbal
|Trujillo||44,788||362||8,438||Trujillo||Bocono, Carache, Escuque, Trujillo|
- Population: estimates. Guayana includes 41,040 "independent Indians".
- Area: Atlas gives areas in square leagues.
Notes: Areas in km.² were computed using one league (lg.) = three miles. Guayana area does not include Venezuela's claim to
parts of British Guiana and Brazil, amounting to 6,000 lg.². The atlas also lists population densities of the provinces. The
density equals the population divided by the area, rounded down to the next lower tenth of a unit, except in two cases. The density given
for Guayana is 2.2 (should be 2.8), and for Carabobo, 145.7 (should be 142.8). I have no explanation for these discrepancies.
The atlas also shows the cantons constituting each province. Capitals of cantons have the same name as the cantons.
- 1848-02-11: Aragua province split from Caracas with La Victoria as its capital.
- 1856-04-28: Law of Territorial Division divided Venezuela into 21 provinces: Amazonas, Apure, Aragua, Barcelona, Barinas,
Barquisimeto, Carabobo, Caracas, Cojedes, Coro, Cumaná, Guárico, Guayana, Maracaibo, Margarita, Maturin, Mérida, Portuguesa, Táchira,
Trujillo, and Yaracuy.
- ~1860: Amazonas province merged with Guayana.
- 1862: Apure and Barinas provinces merged to form Zamora (reversed in 1864).
- 1864-03-28: Constitution signed. Estados Unidos de Venezuela designated as the official name of the country. The twenty provinces
became "sovereign states" (estados soberanos).
- ~1864-10: Name of Caracas state changed to Bolívar.
- ~1864-11: Name of Maracaibo state changed to Zulia.
- ~1864: Name of Margarita state changed to Nueva Esparta.
- 1865-06-02: Capital of Bolívar state moved from Petare to Caracas.
- 1866: Name of Barinas state changed to Zamora.
- 1871-08-22: Territorio Colón, equivalent to present Dependencias Federales, created by presidential decree,
- 1873: Name of Aragua state changed to Guzmán Blanco.
- 1874: Name of Coro state changed to Falcón.
- 1874: Name of Mérida state changed to Guzmán.
- 1881-04-27: New constitution changed all of the old states to secciones (sections), and created nine new states, whose composition
was as shown in this table.
|Carabobo||Carabobo, Nirgua department of Yaracuy|
|Guzmán Blanco||Bolívar, Guárico, Guzmán Blanco, Nueva Esparta|
|Los Andes||Guzmán, Táchira, Trujillo|
|Norte de Occidente||Barquisimeto, Yaracuy except for Nirgua department|
|Oriente||Barcelona, Cumaná, Maturín|
|Sur de Occidente||Cojedes, Portuguesa, Zamora|
- 1881-08-17: Falcón and Zulia states merged to form Falcón-Zulia state, with Casigua as provisional capital, later moved to
- 1890-04-01: Falcón-Zulia state split into Falcón and Zulia states again.
- 1891-04-16: Venezuela reorganized under a new constitution. The territorial division was the same as under the 1881 constitution,
except that Guzmán Blanco was now named Miranda, Norte de Occidente became Lara, Oriente became Bermúdez, and Sur de Occidente became
Zamora. This constitution also called for the creation of a federal district. It placed the Amazonas and Goagira territories, and
certain islands (probably equivalent to modern Dependencias Federales), directly under federal administration.
- The following table shows the composition of Venezuela in 1891 based on three more contemporary sources: The Columbian Atlas of
the World, Garretson, Cox & Co., Buffalo, New York, 1898; The Century Atlas of the World, Benjamin E. Smith, ed., New York,
1906; and Longman's Gazetteer of the World, George G. Chisholm, ed., London, 1920, apparently not revised since its first edition
in 1895. These sources present the territories as separate entities, where the constitution considers them as part of various states.
|Armisticio (4)||t||(6)||San Fernando||Apure|
|Bermudez||s||300,597||83,509||Barcelona||Anz., Mon., N.E., Sucre|
|Bolivar||s||56,289||229,735||Ciudad Bolivar (2)||Bolívar|
|Falcon||s||139,110||93,789||Maracaibo||Fal., Zulia, Tru.|
|Federal District||s||72,429||117||Caracas||Dist. Cap.|
|Los Andes||s||336,146||38,122||Merida||Mér., Tach., Tru.|
|Miranda||s||484,509||87,979||Caracas||Ara., Guá., Mir., Var.|
|Zamora||s||246,676||65,299||Guanare||Bar., Coj., Por.|
|18 divisions||2,323,527 (7)||1,448,919|
- Typ: s = state, t = territory
- Population: 1891 census
- Now: present-day divisions occupying approximately the same territory
- (1) Longman lists Falcon and Zulia as a single entry. The atlases both spread the name "Falcon" across the territory of both states.
The Century Atlas index, on the other hand, says that Falcon and Zulia are both states, and gives a population for each one separately.
- (2) An alternate name for Ciudad Bolivar was Angostura, Spanish for "narrows".
- (3) Goajira represents Venezuela's claim to the Guajira Peninsula, now part of Colombia.
- (4) Graphically, the Century Atlas makes Armisticio, Caura, and Yuruari territories appear to be part of Bolivar state.
- (5) Longman's Gazetteer says that Yuruari territory was reincorporated with Bolivar state in 1891, but the Century Atlas still
displays it and lists it in the index.
- (6) Population data are from the Century Atlas index. For Armisticio territory, the listing says the population is "included in new
divisions"; for Caura territory, "included with the state of Bolivar".
- (7) When the sum of the individual division populations is compared to the population for Venezuela as a whole, there are 16,910 souls
- (8) Most of the area data in the Columbian Atlas and Longman's Gazetteer match. Where they differ, I tried to choose the more
plausible figure. The total is much larger than Venezuela's present-day area, but this may be accounted for by border disputes.
- (9) Both the Columbian and Longman's lump the territories together into a single area figure, which I have arbitrarily listed under
- 1899-04-22: National Congress decreed a return to the twenty states of 1864. This change was embodied in the new constitution, which
was adopted on 1901-04-13. The 1901 constitution defined the states to be the same as under the 1864 constitution, with the following
names changed: Barinas to Zamora, Barquisimeto to Lara, Caracas to Miranda, Coro to Falcón, Cumaná to Sucre, Guayana to Bolívar,
Maracaibo to Zulia, and Margarita to Nueva Esparta. At the same time, Distrito Federal and the territories of Amazonas, Colón, Delta
Amacuro, and Yuruary were created.
- 1904-04-27: New constitution adopted, dividing Venezuela into thirteen states (Aragua, Bermúdez, Bolívar, Carabobo, Falcón, Guárico,
Lara, Mérida, Miranda, Táchira, Trujillo, Zamora, and Zulia), five territories (Amazonas, Colón, Cristóbal Colón, Delta-Amacuro, and
Yuruari), and Distrito Federal. The constitution defined each state, and the federal district, by enumerating the distritos that composed
it. The federal district included Margarita.
- 1909-08-05: New constitution adopted. Under it, Venezuela was divided into twenty states, two territories, a federal district, and
the federal dependencies. The states were defined by reference to the twenty states under the constitution of 1864, with these changes:
Independencia parish was transferred from Maracaibo state to Mérida state, while the remainder of Maracaibo state became Zulia state;
Vargas district was transferred from Caracas state to the Distrito Federal, while the remainder of Caracas state became Miranda state;
Amazonas and Delta Amacuro territories were split from Guayana state, while the remainder of Guayana state became Bolívar state; and the
names of Barcelona, Barinas, Barquisimeto, Coro, Cumaná, Margarita, and Maturín states were changed to Anzoátegui, Zamora, Lara, Falcón,
Sucre, Nueva Esparta, and Monagas, respectively.
- 1917: Border adjustment between Aragua and Carabobo states.
- 1917-03-12: Capital of Aragua moved from La Victoria to Maracay.
- These were the divisions at the time of the 1926 census.
|Amazonas||60,276||San Fernando Atabapo|
|Miranda||189,572||Ocumare del Tuy|
|Nueva Esparta||69,392||La Asunción|
- State: Amazonas and Delta Amacuro
were territories; Distrito Federal was
a federal district
- Population: 1926-01-31 census
- 1927-02-13: Capital of Miranda moved from Ocumare del Tuy to Los Teques. (Apparently took effect in 1928.)
- 1928-05-22: New constitution signed. Dependencias Federales created.
- 1933-12-13: Land around Turiamo transferred from Carabobo to Aragua; several municipios exchanged between Aragua and Guárico,
amounting to a net gain of 1,414 sq. km. for Aragua.
- 1934: Capital of Guárico moved from Calabozo to San Juan de los Morros.
- 1937: Name of Zamora changed to Barinas.
- ~1947: Capital of Portuguesa moved from Acarigua to Guanare.
- 1948: Under the new constitution, Cubagua island transferred from Dependencias Federales to Nueva Esparta state.
- 1991-03-08: Status of Delta Amacuro changed from territory to state.
- 1992-07-23: Status of Amazonas changed from territory to state.
- 1998-04-22: Vargas territory split from Distrito Federal, consisting of Vargas municipality. The constitutionality of this action
was contested; the Supreme Court affirmed it on 1998-05-28.
- 1998-12-31: Status of Vargas changed from territory to state.
- 1999-12-30: New Constitution took effect. Name of Distrito Federal changed to Distrito Capital.
Other names of subdivisions:
- Amazonas: Amazone (French)
- Anzoátegui: Barcelona (obsolete)
- Barinas: Zamora (obsolete)
- Bolívar: Guayana (obsolete)
- Dependencias Federales: Dependencias Federales de Alta Mar (formal); Federal Dependencies (variant); Territorio Colón (obsolete)
- Distrito Capital: Distrito Federal (obsolete)
- Falcón: Coro (obsolete)
- Lara: Barquisimeto (obsolete)
- Mérida: Guzmán (obsolete)
- Miranda: Caracas (obsolete)
- Monagas: Maturín (obsolete)
- Nueva Esparta: Margarita (obsolete)
- Sucre: Cumaná (obsolete)
- Zulia: Maracaibo (obsolete)
|Vargas|| || || || || ||280,439||298,109|
1990 data adjusted to reflect the split of Vargas from Distrito Capital.
Source  has data from earlier censuses. The data agree with the table above, except for 1926 (taken from source ), where there
are some discrepancies.
-  Atlas del Estado Nueva Esparta. Ministerio del Ambiente y de los Recursos Renovables (MARNR), Porlamar, 1994.
-  Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada Europeo-Americana. Espasa-Calpe, S.A., Madrid, 1958.
-  Chisholm, George G., ed., Longman's Gazetteer of the World. Longmans, Green and Co., London, 1920 (apparently not revised since the
1895 first edition).
-  Anuario Estadístico de Venezuela 1991. Oficina Central de Estadística e Informática, Caracas, 1992.
-  Venezuela: División Politico-Territorial 1978. Oficina Central de Estadística e Informática, Caracas, 1978.
-  Venezuela's
constitutions , Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library (retrieved 2005-06-09).
-  "Así va el Censo" has preliminary 2001 census figures for the states (http://www.ine.gov.ve/ine/censo/boletines/asi_va_el_censo09.pdf,
dead link, retrieved 2004-01-31). Note: the PDF document gives 22,688,803 as the total population of Venezuela, but the state-by-state
populations add up to 22,689,935. The difference between these two numbers is 1,132, which happens to be the population of Dependencias
Federales. Does this mean that the people of Dependencias Federales are not part of Venezuela? Anyway, I included them in my total for the
2001 population of Venezuela.
-  Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas y
Sociales has (presumably proleptic) census populations by states from 1873 to 1990 (retrieved 2005-06-09).
-  Metes and bounds of Vargas territory were given at http://www.terra.com.ve/especiales/vargas/vistazo/gaceta36464.htm (dead link,
retrieved 2003-09-08), and before that at http://www.estadovargas.com/Gaceta1.html (dead link, retrieved 2001-02-06).
-  "Integración de las provincias", with maps
-  Codazzi, Agustin, Atlas fisico y politico de la Republica de
Venezuela , 1840 (retrieved 2005-06-09).
-  Library of Congress country study