Caracas was founded in 1567 as Santiago de León de Caracas by Diego de Losada. The city was sacked by the English in 1595 and by the French in 1766. Two of South America's great revolutionary leaders, Francisco de Miranda (1750) and Simón Bolívar (1783), were born in the city. Independence from Spain was declared in Caracas in July, 1811. However, the city was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake on Mar. 26, 1812, negating the revolution led by Miranda. Bolívar captured the city in Aug., 1813, but abandoned it after a crushing defeat in June, 1814. Finally, after his victory at Carabobo, he made a triumphal entry in June, 1821.
City (pop. 2001: 1,836,000), capital of Venezuela. Its Caribbean Sea port is La Guaira. Lying at an elevation of about 3,000 ft (900 m), Caracas is one of the most developed cities in Latin America. It was founded in 1567 by Diego de Losada. It is the birthplace of Simón Bolívar (1783), under whose leadership it became the first colony to revolt against Spain (circa 1810). Caracas has become the country's primary centre of industry, commerce, education, and culture.
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Caracas is the capital and largest city of Venezuela. It is located in the north of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range (Cordillera de la Costa). The valley's temperatures are springlike. Terrain suitable for building on lies between 760 and 910 m (2,500 and 3,000 ft) above sea level. The valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2200 m (7400 ft) high mountain range, Cerro Ávila; to the south there are more hills and mountains. El Distrito Metropolitano de Caracas (The Metropolitan District of Caracas) includes the Distrito Capital (the capital city proper) and four other municipalities in Miranda State including Chacao, Baruta, Sucre, and El Hatillo. The city of Caracas had an estimated population of 3,140,076 as of 2005. The population of Greater Caracas, including neighboring cities outside the Capital District proper, is approximately 4.7 million.
More than five hundred years ago, the area was populated by indigenous peoples and Caracas did not exist. Francisco Fajardo(along with Mason Gray) , the son of a Spanish Captain and a Guaqueri queen, attempted to establish a plantation in the valley in 1562 after founding a series of coastal towns. Fajardo's settlement did not last as it was destroyed by the locals led by Terepaima and Guacaipuro. This was the last rebellion on the part of the natives, for on July 25, 1567, the Spanish captain Diego de Losada laid the foundations of the city of Santiago de León de Caracas. The cultivation of cocoa stimulated the development of the city which in 1777 became the capital of the capitanía general of Venezuela.
An attempt at revolution to gain independence organized by José María España and Manuel Gual was put down on July 13, 1797. But the ideas of the French Revolution and the American Wars of Independence inspired the people, and on July 5, 1811 a Declaration of Independence was signed in Caracas. This city was the birthplace of two of Latin America's most important figures: Francisco de Miranda and "El Libertador" Simón Bolívar. An earthquake destroyed Caracas on March 26, 1812 and was portrayed by authorities as a divine punishment for rebelling against the Spanish Crown, during the Venezuelan War of Independence. The valley became a cemetery, and the war continued until June 24, 1821, when Bolívar gained a decisive victory over the Royalists at the Battle of Carabobo.
As the economy of oil-rich Venezuela grew steadily (during the first part of the 20th Century), Caracas became one of Latin America's economic centers, and was also known as the preferred hub between Europe and South America. 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 now a UNESCO monument, was built. Joining El Silencio, also by Villanueva, several workers' (23 de Enero, Simon Rodriguez) and new middle class residential districts (Bello Monte, Los Palos Grandes, Chuao, Cafetal, etc.) sprouted in the valley, extending its limits towards the East and South East. On October 17 2004, one of the Parque Central towers caught fire. The change in the economic structure of the country, now oil dependent, and the fast development of Caracas made it a magnet for the rural communities who migrated to the capital city in an unplanned fashion, creating the ranchos (slum) belt in the valley of Caracas.
Caracas hosts numerous service companies, banks, and malls, among others. Most economic activity is in services, excepting some industries established in its metropolitan area. Caracas is home to the Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). The PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela and negotiates all the international agreements for the distribution and export of petroleum.
Small and medium industry also contribute to the economic capacity of Caracas. The city has excellent routes of communication and transportation between the metropolitan area and the country. Caracas is a regional center for the distribution of products. The high concentration of population has also been an important factor for the growth of retail wholesale markets, which form the fastest-growing segment of commerce in the region. Important industries in Caracas include chemicals, textiles, leather, food, iron and wood products. There are also rubber and cement factories.
Caracas is contained entirely within a valley of the Venezuelan central range, and separated from the Caribbean coast by a roughly 15 km expanse of El Ávila National Park. The valley is relatively small and quite irregular, the altitude with respect to sea level varies from between 870 and 1,043 meters (2,854–3,422 ft), with 900 meters (2,953 ft) in the historic zone. This, along with the rapid population growth, has profoundly influenced the urban development of the city. The most elevated point of the Capital District, wherein the city is located, is the Pico El Ávila, which rises to 2,159 meters (7,083 ft). The main body of water in Caracas is the Guaire river, which flows across the city and empties into the Tuy river, which is also fed by the El Valle and San Pedro rivers, in addition to numerous streams which descend from El Ávila. The La Mariposa and Camatagua reservoirs provide water to the city.
The climate of Caracas is intertropical, with precipitation that varies between 900 and 1,300 millimeters (35–51 in) (annual), in the city proper, and up to 2,000 millimeters (79 in) in some parts of the Mountain range. The annual average temperature is approximately of 22.5 °C (73 °F), with the average of the coldest month (January) 22 °C (72 °F) and the average of the warmest month (May) 24 °C (75 °F), which gives little annual thermal amplitude, of 3°C. The daily thermal amplitude is greater (more than 10°C/18°F), superior to 30 °C (86 °F), that rare times descend to less from 25 °C (77 °F). In the months of December and January abundant fog may appear, in addition to a sudden nightly drop in temperature, until reaching 13 °C (55 °F) or less, this peculiar weather is known by the natives of Caracas as the Pacheco. In addition, nightly temperatures at any time of the year usually do not remain above 20 °C (68 °F), which results in very pleasant evening temperatures. Hail storms appear in Caracas, although only on rare occasions. Electrical storms are much more frequent, especially between June and October, due to the city being in a closed valley and the orographic action of Cerro El Ávila.
The population of the administrative city of Caracas is estimated at 3,140,076 as of (2005). The conurbation including the surrounding suburbs has an estimated population of 5 million.
Bolívar's funeral was held 12 years after his death at the Iglesia de San Francisco, just a few blocks west, and it was also here that he was proclaimed 'El Libertador' in 1813. The church dazzles the eye with its richly gilded baroque altarpieces, and still retains much of its original colonial interior, despite being given a modernizing once-over by Guzmán Blanco.
Parque Central is Caracas' art and culture hub, with museums, cinemas, the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex, and the Caracas Athenaeum, home to the esteemed Rajatabla theatre company. The Mirador de la Torre Oeste, on the 52nd floor, gives a 360° bird's-eye view of the city.
Plaza Caracas is s square is located in the Simón Bolívar Centre, at the foot of the well-known towers, 30 storey dominating El Silencio District and forming a unique testimony to the early days of the modernisation of the city. The square is an important centre of the activities of the city since its construction in 1983. It has various levels for pedestrian and motorised traffic, and contains the business, shops, restaurants, services of a zone in which are concentrated important public and private institutions.
Caracas has numerous religious buildings.
The Caracas Cathedral is situated in one corner of the Plaza Bolívar, it was founded in 1594. The parents of Simón Bolívar are buried there, besides its hand carved altars, it possesses works of art such as, The Resurrection by Rubens, the Presentation of the Virgin by Murillo, and the Last Supper, an unfinished work by the Venezuelan painter Arturo Michelena.
Along with the Cathedral, the San Francisco Church is one of the most important religious buildings in Caracas. It houses some 17th century masterpieces of art, carvings, sculptures and oil paintings. The Central University of Venezuela, created in the time of Philip V, was lodged in the church cloisters, today is the seat of the Language Academy, and the Academies of History, Physics, and Mathematics. This church is of much historical and sentimental value to the people of Caracas, for it was in its precincts where the people congregated in 1813, to concede the title of El Libertador (The Liberator) to Simón Bolívar.
Most notably soccer and baseball teams are located in Caracas. Several other sports also have Caracas as their home. The baseball teams Tiburones de La Guaira and Leones del Caracas have like seat the Estadio Universitario de la UCV, of the Central University of Venezuela, with a capacity of 25 000 spectators. Another baseball team founded in Caracas, the Navegantes del Magallanes, even though it was moved to Valencia, Carabobo continues to have a following in the capital because of its historic rivalry with local teams.
Between the most important soccer stadiums we have:
Caracas for being the capital of Venezuela, has the seat of the National Institute of Sports and the Venezuelan Olympic Committee as well as of many clubs and national federations of a great diversity of disciplines. Bodybuilding, in particular Female Bodybuilding has become popular in Caracas as well. The most famous names being Betty Viana and Yaxeni Oriquen, who is also a Ms. Olympia champion. Both women are also natives of Caracas.
Caracas, has been a city with great cultural aspirations throughout the course of its history. Institutions such as the old Atheneum bear witness to this awareness. The National library holds a great amount of volumes, and affords abundant bibliographic information for the student of the discovery and independence of Venezuela. The museum of Colonial Art has on show an interesting exhibition of Venezuelan art from the periods previous to its independence with fountains, furniture, colonial courtyards etc. In the Fine Arts Museum are kept some archaeological finds with some good examples of precolombine pottery.
Since 1974, Caracas has had a Contemporary Art Museum, containing works representing the most important tendencies in contemporary art, and since 1982, counts with a Children's Museum, a privately managed museum foundation, with the propose of teaching children about science, technology, culture and arts. The Natural Science Museum, has a rich collection os archaeological pieces from the primitive native cultures, in these collections and in other no less important galleries (Raúl Santana Creole Museum, Transport Museum, the Coin Museum, Bolivarian Museum, Jacobo Borges Museum, Carlos Cruz-Diez Museum, Alejandro Otero Museum, Sacred Museum, etc.) the cultural aspirations of Caracas are more than evident.
Caracas has been the birthplace of many politicians and artists that notably shaped the country's history and culture:
|Northwest||Catia • 23 de Enero • Propatria • Lomas de Urdaneta • Casalta • El Atlántico • Caño Amarillo • Los Magallanes de Catia • Alta Vista • Ruperto Lugo • Lídice • Gramoven • Manicomio|
|Center||El Silencio • Capitolio • La Hoyada • Altagracia • La Pastora • Cotiza • Quinta Crespo • Guaicaipuro • La Candelaria|
|Southwest||Artigas • Vista Alegre • Bella Vista • Colinas de Vista Alegre • La Yaguara • Zona Industrial de La Yaguara • El Algodonal • Carapa • Antímano • Washington • Las Fuentes • El Paraíso • El Pinar • La Paz • El Paraíso • Montalbán • Juan Pablo II • La Vega • Las Adjuntas • Caricuao • Mamera|
|Centereastern||El Conde • Parque Central • San Agustín del Sur • San Agustín del Norte • Simón Rodríguez • Maripérez •La Colina • Las Palmas • Las Lomas • San Rafael • Los Caobos • Quebrada Honda • San Bernardino • La Campiña • La Florida • Alta Florida • Chapellín • Los Cedros • El Bosque • Chacaíto • Sabana Grande • Bello Monte|
|South||Cementerio • Los Carmenes • Los Castaños • Prado de Maria • La Bandera • Las Acacias • Colinas de las Acacias • Los Rosales • Valle Abajo • Los Chaguaramos • Ciudad Universitaria • Santa Mónica • Colinas de Santa Mónica • Colinas de Bello Monte • Cumbres de Curumo • El Valle • Los Jardines de El Valle • Coche • Delgado Chalbaud • La Rinconada|
|Eastern||Country Club • El Pedregal • San Marino • Campo Alegre • Chacao • Bello Campo • El Rosal • El Retiro • Las Mercedes • Tamanaco • Chuao • Altamira • Los Palos Grandes • La Castellana • La Floresta • Santa Eduvigis • Sebucán • La Carlota • Santa Cecilia • Campo Claro • Los Ruices • Montecristo • Los Chorros • Los Dos Caminos • Boleíta • Los Cortijos • La California • Horizonte • El Marqués • La Urbina • Terrazas del Ávila • Lomas del Ávila • El Llanito • Macaracuay • La Guairita • Caurimare • El Cafetal • San Román • Santa Rosa • San Luis • Santa Sofía • Santa Paula • Santa Inés • Los Pomelos • Palo Verde • Petare|
|Southeastern||Valle Arriba • Santa Fe • Los Campitos • Prados del Este • Alto Prado • El Peñón • Baruta • Piedra Azul • La Trinidad • La Tahona • Monterrey • Las Minas • Cerro Verde • Los Naranjos • La Boyera • Alto Hatillo • El Hatillo • Los Geranios • La Lagunita • El Placer • El Guayabao • El Volcán • La Unión • Sartanejas|