2015 IndyCar Series
The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series was the 20th season of the IndyCar Series and the 104th season of American open wheel racing. Its premier event was the 99th Indianapolis 500, held on May 24. Will Power returned as the reigning champion, while Ryan Hunter-Reay was the defending Indy 500 champion. Chevrolet entered the season as the reigning Manufacturers' champion. Indianapolis 500 and the season finale counted for double points; the season was marred by the death of driver Justin Wilson at Pocono, after being struck on the head by debris from Sage Karam's car. A week after Wilson's accident, the finale was held at Sonoma Raceway, where Scott Dixon secured his fourth career title after a low-key season that saw him win on a tiebreak against Juan Pablo Montoya following his third win of the season after many consistent finishes leading up to the finale. Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 earlier in the season, it was a competitive season with no standout performers and many different race winners and pacesetters.
Except Dixon's three race wins, he finished on the podium only once, but due to their consistent finishing Dixon and Montoya had a significant margin to reigning champion Will Power in third. Bryan Clauson drove an entry fielded by Jonathan Byrd's Racing at the Indy 500 in 2015 and 2016. KV Racing Technology was confirmed to support the entry. Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing merged to form CFH Racing, use Chevrolet engines and aerokits in 2015. Andretti Autosport re-signed sponsor DHL to a multi year contract. Josef Newgarden was announced that he would drive the CFH Racing #67 entry full-time in 2015 with an option for an extension of the contract for a second year. Simon Pagenaud departed Schmidt Peterson Motorsports after three years and joined Team Penske in the No. 22 car. Team Penske president Tim Cindric confirmed on Twitter that defending series champion Will Power would be running the #1 car. Ryan Briscoe did not return to Chip Ganassi Racing in 2015, pursued another ride.
James Hinchcliffe has announced that he left Andretti Autosport to replace Pagenaud in the #5 Schmidt Peterson Racing car. He was joined in the team by James Jakes – replacing Mikhail Aleshin – who returned to the series after missing the 2014 season. Jack Hawksworth was confirmed to drive the #41 A. J. Foyt Enterprises car full-time in 2015. Takuma Sato returned to the team's #14 car. Mikhail Aleshin returned to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in a 3rd entry at Sonoma. O Oval/Speedway R Road course/Street circuit BOLD indicates a Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka Triple Crown event; the Itaipava Brasília Indy 300 was scheduled to be held on March 8 at the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet in Brasília, Brazil. On January 29, the race was cancelled by the Federal District officials newly elected in the 2014 national elections, where the incumbent Governor from the Workers' Party had been defeated, replaced by the candidate from the Brazilian Socialist Party; as tires and fuel had been shipped for the race, the series sent representatives to the Autódromo de Goiânia to check the viability of the venue to host the race.
NOLA Motorsports Park was announced to have a race over the weekend of April 10–12, 2015. Texas Motor Speedway was confirmed to return to the June 4–6 weekend and that the race would be on NBCSN. Auto Club Speedway was confirmed to be scheduled for June 27, moved from their usual date at the end of the season. IndyCar & Mi-Jack Promotions announced on August 29, 2014 that the Houston doubleheader at NRG Park has been canceled for 2015 due to scheduling issues; the races at Barber Motorsports Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Sonoma Raceway were confirmed by the release of the Pirelli World Challenge schedule. The Toronto Sun reported that the Honda Indy Toronto would stay at Exhibition Place and would be run on the weekend of June 12–14, 2015, to avoid a clash with the 2015 Pan American Games, due to be held the following month in the city. Unlike the last two seasons, the race weekend only featured one race instead of two, making Detroit the only double-header weekend of the season; the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile was confirmed to be held on July 12, 2015 by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway was moved from the July 4 weekend date the track had in 2013 and 2014 to the weekend of August 23 for the 2015 season. Aerokit modifications became specific to Honda and Chevy Double points were awarded for the Indianapolis 500 race and for the season finale at Sonoma only. Double points were awarded at the three 500 mile oval events; each team would continue to have two weeks of testing. Unlike past seasons, Promoter Days/Open Tests would count towards the testing allocation; the medical exemption was eliminated from pit selections. Pit selections are no longer based on drivers but teams' performance in the last race; this change eliminates a disadvantage by one IndyCar team that used a "two-platoon" system, with driver based on the circuit. Qualifying groups for qualifying at road/street course events was determined by the final practice session held before qualifying instead of by the first session of the weekend. Standing starts have been eliminated for 2015.
The series says more development is needed before re-introducing them to the series after numerous aborted standing starts and a crash at Houston during the 2013 season, a start-line pile-up at the Indianapolis road course race in 2014. Each phase of the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program saw see the speed requirements increased by 5 mph. Phase One consists of 10 laps at 205–210 mph, Phase Two of 15 laps at 210–215 mph and Phase Three of 15 la
Formula 3 Euro Series
The Formula 3 Euro Series was a European-based junior single seater formula for Formula Three chassis, launched in 2003 as a merger of the French Formula Three Championship and German Formula Three Championship. The Formula Three category, including this championship, is part of the established career ladder up which European drivers progress to the Formula One world championship, the highest form of single seater racing defined by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, motorsport's world governing body. 5-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, won the Euro Series drivers' title in 2005. EuroSeries champions Paul di Resta, Romain Grosjean and Nico Hülkenberg have driven in Formula 1. Other Formula One drivers who raced in the series include 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, Adrian Sutil, Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Rosberg. In 2012, the FIA announced that the series would be discontinued and incorporated into the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in 2013; the concept of a European Formula Three Championship dates back to 1975, with a five-race series known as the F3 European Cup.
Races were held at Monaco, the Nürburgring in Germany, Anderstorp in Sweden, Monza in Italy and Croix-en-Ternois in France. The series title was won by Australian Larry Perkins driving a Ralt-Ford run by Team Cowangie. In 1976, the Cup evolved into a full-scale, ten-round European F3 Championship, which ran until 1984. Among its champions were notable future Formula One drivers, such as Riccardo Patrese Alain Prost, the late Michele Alboreto; the modern-day Formula 3 Euro Series was inaugurated in 2003 in a collaboration between two of Europe's national governing bodies for motorsport – the Fédération Française du Sport Automobile in France and the Deutscher Motor Sport Bund in Germany. The new partnership between the FFSA and DMSB spelled the end of national Formula Three in France with the closure of the French Formula Three Championship, but Germany's national championship was supplanted by the creation of the Recaro Formel 3 Cup, though the DMSB attempted to block its creation; this lower-status series was formed by ADAC, the F3V and a few key German teams that chose not to participate in the new Euro Series.
BSR's owner Bertram Schäfer acts as the series' promoter. The FFSA and DMSB hold joint responsibility for determining the sporting regulations of the Euro Series; the organisation and promotion of the championship is handled by ITR, which performs the same role for the DTM touring car championship. The championship consists of ten events, each comprising two races, held at a variety of European circuits. 50–60% of these events occur at circuits in Germany, while the other events are held in various countries, including Great Britain, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain. Most rounds are shared with the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters. Notable venues have included Le Mans in France. From 2004 onwards, the Masters of Formula 3, held at Zandvoort in the Netherlands, was included as a round of the championship. In 2005, the series visited Monaco as a Grand Prix support event, the first Formula Three event at Monaco since 1997; this famous motor-racing venue has long-standing associations with Formula Three.
The FFSA and DMSB created the new championship around the FIA-sanctioned F3 formula of multiple chassis builders and production-based 4-cylinder 2-litre engines with control supplies of tyres and fuel. As in most F3 championships, the Italian company Dallara is the dominant chassis supplier, it was planned to restrict entry to two-car teams, but this requirement was relaxed. In most Formula Three championships and single-car entries are common; some Formula Three championships, such as the British Formula Three Championship, use a two-tier system to provide an opportunity for low-budget teams and drivers to compete with out-dated chassis specifications. In an effort to minimise costs, Formula Three chassis regulations permit major updates only periodically, with annual updates restricted to minor improvements; when the Euro Series was launched, restrictions were placed on the teams' choice of chassis specification by opting not to create a lower-tier championship class, all entrants used the two most recent available specifications.
There is a rookie classification system with a Rookie of the Year title for drivers who have not competed in this championship. The Drivers' Trophy was introduced in 2006 to provide a classification system and class title for drivers using chassis of between two and four years old. Eligibility for this "B class" was restricted to drivers who were not more than 22 years old at the start of the season; this class is no longer in use in 2007. In 2006, testing was restricted to a maximum of 10 days per driver/car, with no testing at race venues, Consequently and drivers have to make the most of the test sessions during race weekends, reduced from 90 to 60 minutes in 2005. Tyre usage is restricted to three sets per car for the entire race weekend. There is no limit on the use of wet-weather tyres, but only when they are deemed necessary by race officials; as is the case with most racing disciplines outside Formula One, tyre warming devices are not permitted. An unauthorised engine change during the course of a race weekend invokes a ten-place penalty on the starting grid.
Each race weekend begins on Friday, with one 60-minute practice session and a qualifying session that decides the starting grid for the first
Andreas "Andi" Zuber is a motor racing driver. An Austrian by birth, he once raced under a licence issued by the United Arab Emirates. Despite beginning his karting career in 1998, 2000 saw his debut in the Formula König championship with Team Böhm Sport. Zuber finished twelfth in the championship with 39 points; the following season, Zuber competed in both the Formula Renault 2.0 Germany and Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championships for Motopark Academy. He finished sixth in the German series standings. In the Eurocup, he took 54th place in the championship, with a best finish of seventeenth at the A1-Ring. For 2002, the Austrian driver remained in the German championship with Motopark Academy, he finished second behind Dutch driver Ferdinand Kool in final standings. He was a guest driver at the Oschersleben round of the Eurocup. Zuber moved on to new-for-2003 Formula 3 Euro Series with Team Rosberg, he finished in 24th place in the standings with two points scored for seventh place in the first race at Le Mans.
He continued in the F3 Euroseries in 2004 with Team Rosberg, finishing 21st without scoring a point, with a ninth place at Brno being his best result. Zuber drove for Carlin Motorsport in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2005, finishing sixth in the championship with one win at Estoril and pole position at Valencia apiece. He switched to the GP2 Series for 2006 for the new Trident Racing team, where he partnered Gianmaria Bruni. After a slow start to his championship, he took his first race victory in the formula at the penultimate race meeting of the season at the Istanbul Park track, in which he was the only driver to hold off Lewis Hamilton, after the eventual champion spun early in the race but climbed back up to second position; this win complemented Bruni's two triumphs earlier in the year and established Zuber in fourteenth position in the championship. Zuber moved to iSport International for 2007, he took a perfect result of pole position and fastest lap at the Silverstone feature race, but his overall season was inconsistent and he finished ninth in the championship, compared to Glock's championship-winning campaign.
The team-mates collided with one another when accelerating away from the grid at the start of the Magny-Cours feature race, after starting from the front row. For 2008, Zuber switched to the Piquet Sports team alongside Pastor Maldonado. Four podium finishes saw him repeat his ninth place in the championship of the previous year, but he failed to achieve a race victory for the first time in the category, he was outperformed by Maldonado, who finished fifth overall with double the number of points. He was not helped by failing to score any points in the final seven races of the season, a run which included disqualification from third place at the Spa-Francorchamps for a technical infringement that both he and the team considered to be unfair. Zuber drove in the first two rounds of the 2008–09 GP2 Asia Series season for the FMS International team, after which he was replaced by Rodolfo González. Zuber returned to FMS for the 2009 GP2 Series season. Despite scoring more podium finishes, the year was unstable off-track: first Giancarlo Fisichella's stake in the team was bought back by the Coloni family, its original founder and owner.
Zuber wound up in thirteenth place overall. Zuber has represented Al Ain in the Superleague Formula, a championship in which the cars represent different football teams. * Al Ain FC overall standing. There is no drivers' championship in the Superleague Formula. Official site Andreas Zuber career statistics at Driver Database
Giedo van der Garde
Giedo van der Garde is a Dutch racing driver. He drove for the Caterham F1 team in 2013 and joined Sauber as a reserve driver in 2014. Van der Garde has a successful karting career, winning the Dutch championship in 1998. In Super A he was best rookie in 2001 and world champion in 2002; the following year he joined the Formula Renault 2000 Championship and finished sixth, driving for Dutch team Van Amersfoort Racing. On the strength of his performance he became part of the Renault F1 Driver Development programme, he joined the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2004 with Signature-Plus but after finishing the year ninth he was dropped by Renault Driver Development. A move to Team Rosberg for 2005 yielded another ninth in the series. For 2006 he joined the ASM team, which had dominated the season in 2005 with Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil; the team claimed the top two places in the championship once more in 2006 – but it was Van der Garde's team mates Paul di Resta and Sebastian Vettel who topped the leader board.
The Dutchman ended the year sixth with a single victory. On 17 December 2006 Van der Garde announced that he would drive in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for Victory Engineering, a team that works together with Carlin Motorsport. Van der Garde had podium positions in mind for the season, but though he was the most consistent driver, always around 6th or 5th, he did not win nor reach the podium, he finished the season 3rd in the Rookie of the year standings. He received several offers for tests in GP2, from teams like DAMS and Arden International, during which he impressed, he signed with P1 Motorsport to compete in the 2008 season. In the first race of the 2008 FR3.5 season in Monza, Van der Garde managed to qualify on pole for the feature race. Due to regulations, he started 8th in the sprint race because of the reverse grid order in the sprint race, he came through the field to clinch victory in the sprint race, converted his pole position into a victory in the feature race to show his fine form in the start of the season.
In the second race at Spa, he narrowly missed out on pole by 0.033 seconds after topping the tables at all practice sessions. In the sprint race, Julien Jousse collided into him forcing Van der Garde into retiring from the race. Having qualified second for the feature race, he lost a position at the start, he overtook Mikhail Aleshin on the first lap to regain his position, overtook Marco Bonanomi for the lead which he held to the checkered flag. After this strong start to the season, Van der Garde was never headed in the championship and duly won it with two races remaining. Van der Garde signed to drive for the iSport International team in the 2008–09 GP2 Asia Series season, in the 2009 GP2 Series season. At the Hungaroring, he took his first victory, in the sprint race, he added two more wins before the end of the season en route to seventh in the championship standings. He had not been due to compete in the 2009–10 GP2 Asia season, but competed in the second round for Barwa Addax, he drove for the same team in the 2010 GP2 Series season, equalling his seventh place in the drivers' championship, whilst team-mate Sergio Pérez was runner-up.
Van der Garde remained with Barwa Addax for the 2011 GP2 Asia Series season, with Charles Pic replacing the Formula One-bound Pérez as his team-mate. He finished third in the championship, behind Romain Grosjean and Jules Bianchi, led the main series after two rounds despite not winning a race, he did, take his first series pole position and fastest lap at Catalunya. He took pole position for the Monaco round as well, but was penalised for an incident in qualifying, he took no points from the weekend and lost his championship lead to Grosjean, who secured the title with one round of the series remaining. He held second place in the championship until the last round of the season at Monza, where he had a disastrous weekend and slipped back to fifth in the standings, behind Luca Filippi and Pic; as part of his deal to become the Caterham Formula One team's reserve driver, Van der Garde joined the marque's GP2 team for the 2012 season, alongside Rodolfo González. He returned to the winner's circle with race victories at Catalunya and Singapore, but again was not consistent enough to mount a championship challenge, finishing sixth in the points standings.
On 9 February 2015, Van der Garde returned to this series for testing, racking up over 350 km at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. He drove for the first time. 2006 saw Van der Garde being brought into the McLaren Young Drivers Programme. On 15 December 2006 Van der Garde was confirmed as the Super Aguri Formula One team's test and reserve driver for the 2007 season. On 1 February 2007 Van der Garde was unexpectedly announced by Spyker F1 as the team's test and reserve driver. On 2 February 2007 Super Aguri confirmed their belief their existing contract with Van der Garde was still in force, stating "Super Aguri F1 Team has a valid contract with Giedo van der Garde to drive for the team in the position of Friday and Test Driver for the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship; the contract was submitted by the SAF1 Team to the Contracts Recognition Board on 23rd January 2007." However, on 20 June 2007 Van der Garde tested at Silverstone with Spyker, indicating the contract dispute had been resolved. Spyker intended Van der Garde to be the team's Friday driver at the Australian Grand Prix, but he failed to obtain the necessary superlicence from the FIA in time.
Van der Garde was a candidate to race in Formula One for Virgin in 2011, but that seat went to Belgian Jérôme d'Ambrosio. On 4 February 2012, it was announced tha
Caracas Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela, centre of the Greater Caracas Area. Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range. Terrain suitable for building lies between 760 and 1,140 m above sea level, although there is some settlement above this range; the valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2,200-metre-high mountain range, Cerro El Ávila. The Metropolitan Region of Caracas has an estimated population of 4,923,201. Speaking, the centre of the city is still "Catedral", located near Bolívar Square though it is assumed that it is Plaza Venezuela, located in the Los Caobos neighbourhood. Chacaíto area, Luis Brión Square and El Rosal neighborhood are considered the geographic center of the Metropolitan Region of Caracas called "Greater Caracas". Businesses in the city include service companies and malls.
Caracas has a service-based economy, apart from some industrial activity in its metropolitan area. The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela are headquartered in Caracas. PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela. Caracas is Venezuela's cultural capital, with many restaurants, theaters and shopping centers; some of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America are located in Caracas. Caracas has been considered one of the most important cultural, tourist and economic centers of Latin America; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas is one of the most important in South America. The Museum of Fine Arts and the National Art Gallery of Caracas are noteworthy; the National Art Gallery is projected to be the largest museum in Latin America, according to its architect Carlos Gómez De Llarena. Caracas is home to two of the tallest skyscrapers in South America: the Parque Central Towers, it has a nominal GDP of 91,988 million dollars, a nominal GDP per capita of 18,992 and a PPP GDP per capita of 32,710 dollars.
Being the seventh city in GDP and the seventh metropolitan area in population of Latin America. Caracas has the highest per capita murder rate in the world, with 111.19 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. At the time of the founding of the city in 1567, the valley of Caracas was populated by indigenous peoples. Francisco Fajardo, the son of a Spanish captain and a Guaiqueri cacica, attempted to establish a plantation in the valley in 1562 after founding a series of coastal towns. Fajardo's settlement did not last long, it was destroyed by natives of the region led by Guaicaipuro. This was the last rebellion on the part of the natives. On 25 July 1567, Captain Diego de Losada laid the foundations of the city of Santiago de León de Caracas; the foundation − 1567 – "I take possession of this land in the name of God and the King" These were the words of Don Diego de Losada in founding the city of Caracas on 25 July 1567. In 1577, Caracas became the capital of the Spanish Empire's Venezuela Province under Governor Juan de Pimentel.
During the 17th century, the coast of Venezuela was raided by pirates. With the coastal mountains as a barrier, Caracas was immune to such attacks. However, in 1595, around 200 English privateers including George Sommers and Amyas Preston crossed the mountains through a little-used pass while the town's defenders were guarding the more often-used one. Encountering little resistance, the invaders sacked and set fire to the town after a failed ransom negotiation; as the cocoa cultivation and exports under the Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas grew in importance, the city expanded. In 1777, Caracas became the capital of the Captaincy General of Venezuela. José María España and Manuel Gual led an attempted revolution aimed at independence, but the rebellion was put down on 13 July 1797. Caracas was the site of the signing of a Declaration of independence on 17 August 1811. In 1812, an earthquake destroyed Caracas; the independentist war continued until 24 June 1821, when Bolívar defeated royalists in the Battle of Carabobo.
Caracas grew in economic importance during Venezuela's oil boom in the early 20th century. During the 1950s, Caracas began an intensive modernization program which continued throughout the 1960s and early 1970s; the Universidad Central de Venezuela, designed by modernist architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva and declared World Heritage by UNESCO, was built. New working- and middle-class residential districts sprouted in the valley, extending the urban area toward the east and southeast. Joining El Silencio designed by Villanueva, were several workers' housing districts, 23 de Enero and Simon Rodriguez. Middle-class developments include Bello Monte, Los Palos Grandes, El Cafetal; the dramatic change in the economic structure of the country, which went from being agricultural to dependent on oil production, stimulated the fast development of Caracas, made it a magnet for people in rural communities who migrated to the capital city in an unplanned fashion searching for greater economic opportunity. This migration created the rancho belt of the valley of Caracas.
The flag of Caracas consists of a burgundy red field with the version of the Coat of Arms of the City. The red field symbolises the blood spilt by Caraquenian people in favour of independence and the highest ideals of the Venezuelan Nation. In the year 1994 as a result of the change of municipal authorities, it was decided to increase the size of the Caracas coat of arms and move it to the centre of the field; this version
Murphy Prototypes is an Irish auto racing team founded by ex-single seater racer Greg Murphy. The team is based in Dublin and compete in the European Le Mans Series driving an Oreca 03-Nissan in the LMP2 class as well as competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; the team was founded in January 2012 by former Asian Formula Three Championship driver Greg Murphy. They entered into that years European Le Mans Series in the LMP2 class with an Oreca 03-Nissan. During the opening round of the season at Paul Ricard, they bowed out early after just 64 laps but finished third at the following round in Donington; the team were accepted to compete at Le Mans along with 19 other LMP2 entrants. They fielded a strong line up which included Mercedes AMG Formula One test driver at the time Brendon Hartley who now competes in Porsche's LMP1 programme; the team were competitive throughout the race and led for a number of times in the LMP2 class before a gearbox failure in the middle of the night put an end to their maiden Le Mans voyage.
2013 is arguably Murphy Prototypes best season to date. They finished fourth in the 2013 European Le Mans Series season which saw the team pick up their first victory in the ELMS at the final round in Paul Ricard, they finished well at Le Mans as the Oreca-Nissan of Murphy Prototypes finished 12th overall and sixth in the LMP2 class. The team signed former Formula One driver Karun Chandhok for the race. Murphy's 2014 campaign saw them finish seventh in the 2014 ELMS standings having earned just one podium in the opening round at Silverstone, their Le Mans 2014 campaign lasted just 73 laps after a collision during a spell of torrential rain with fellow LMP2 competitors Greaves Motorsport put an abrupt end to their race. For 2015, Murphy Prototypes have been entered into the European Le Mans Series and the Le Mans 24 Hours for the fourth consecutive year although they have yet to sign any drivers for the season. In addition to their racing team division, Murphy Prototypes has an'Alternative Powered Vehicles' division which specialise in designing cars based around alternative power sources such as electricity.
Team principal Greg Murphy is well established in the alternative fuels market having founded Biodiesel Ireland in 2004 and Greenwell Resources in 2010. Official website
Venezuela the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and a large number of small islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. The capital and largest urban agglomeration is the city of Caracas, it has a territorial extension of 916,445 km2. The continental territory is bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Colombia, Brazil on the south and Tobago to the north-east and on the east by Guyana. With this last country, the Venezuelan government maintains a claim for Guayana Esequiba over an area of 159,542 km2. For its maritime areas, it exercises sovereignty over 71,295 km2 of territorial waters, 22,224 km2 in its contiguous zone, 471,507 km2 of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean under the concept of exclusive economic zone, 99,889 km2 of continental shelf; this marine area borders those of 13 states. The country has high biodiversity and is ranked seventh in the world's list of nations with the most number of species.
There are habitats ranging from the Andes Mountains in the west to the Amazon basin rain-forest in the south via extensive llanos plains, the Caribbean coast and the Orinoco River Delta in the east. The territory now known as Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522 amid resistance from indigenous peoples. In 1811, it became one of the first Spanish-American territories to declare independence, not securely established until 1821, when Venezuela was a department of the federal republic of Gran Colombia, it gained full independence as a country in 1830. During the 19th century, Venezuela suffered political turmoil and autocracy, remaining dominated by regional caudillos until the mid-20th century. Since 1958, the country has had a series of democratic governments. Economic shocks in the 1980s and 1990s led to several political crises, including the deadly Caracazo riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez for embezzlement of public funds in 1993.
A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 election of former coup-involved career officer Hugo Chávez and the launch of the Bolivarian Revolution. The revolution began with a 1999 Constituent Assembly, where a new Constitution of Venezuela was written; this new constitution changed the name of the country to Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. The sovereign state is a federal presidential republic consisting of 23 states, the Capital District, federal dependencies. Venezuela claims all Guyanese territory west of the Essequibo River, a 159,500-square-kilometre tract dubbed Guayana Esequiba or the Zona en Reclamación. Venezuela is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America. Oil was discovered in the early 20th century, today, Venezuela has the world's largest known oil reserves and has been one of the world's leading exporters of oil; the country was an underdeveloped exporter of agricultural commodities such as coffee and cocoa, but oil came to dominate exports and government revenues.
The 1980s oil glut led to a long-running economic crisis. Inflation peaked at 100% in 1996 and poverty rates rose to 66% in 1995 as per capita GDP fell to the same level as 1963, down a third from its 1978 peak; the recovery of oil prices in the early 2000s gave. The Venezuelan government under Hugo Chávez established populist social welfare policies that boosted the Venezuelan economy and increased social spending, temporarily reducing economic inequality and poverty in the early years of the regime. However, such populist policies became inadequate, causing the nation's collapse as their excesses—including a uniquely extreme fossil fuel subsidy—are blamed for destabilizing the nation's economy; the destabilized economy led to a crisis in Bolivarian Venezuela, resulting in hyperinflation, an economic depression, shortages of basic goods and drastic increases in unemployment, disease, child mortality and crime. These factors have precipitated the Venezuelan Migrant Crisis where more than three million people have fled the country.
By 2017, Venezuela was declared to be in default regarding debt payments by credit rating agencies. In 2018, the country's economic policies led to extreme hyperinflation, with estimates expecting an inflation rate of 1,370,000% by the end of the year. Venezuela is a charter member of the UN, OAS, UNASUR, ALBA, Mercosur, LAIA and OEI. According to the most popular and accepted version, in 1499, an expedition led by Alonso de Ojeda visited the Venezuelan coast; the stilt houses in the area of Lake Maracaibo reminded the Italian navigator, Amerigo Vespucci, of the city of Venice, Italy, so he named the region Veneziola, or "Little Venice". The Spanish version of Veneziola is Venezuela. Martín Fernández de Enciso, a member of the Vespucci and Ojeda crew, gave a different account. In his work Summa de geografía, he states that the crew found indigenous people who called themselves the Veneciuela. Thus, the name "Venezuela" may have evolved from the native word; the official name was Estado de Venezuela, República de Venezuela, Estados Unidos de Venezuela, a