mestizos, population of Venezuela, farmworkers, shantytowns, Native American ancestry
About 67 percent of the population of Venezuela is made up of mestizos (people of mixed European and Native American ancestry), and some 21 percent is of European descent. The remainder is predominantly black, and about 2 percent of the total population is unmixed Native American. The society is 87 percent urban. Spanish is the official language of the country. The principal religion is Roman Catholicism.
Venezuelan society is marked by a striking contrast between rich and poor, with the poorest 20 percent of the population receiving only 5 percent of the wealth. In Caracas government-distributed oil wealth has created impressive buildings and a class of millionaires and highly paid technicians whose standard of living is on a par with that of the wealthy in any western country. But in the hills surrounding Caracas, unskilled laborers live in squalor in shantytowns. Similarly, in the countryside a small number of great landowners live in mansions and entertain graciously, while farmworkers live in rudimentary dwellings and are undernourished, diseased, and illiterate.
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