Maracay is a city in central Venezuela and is the capital and most important city of the Aragua State. Most of it falls under the jurisdiction of the Girardot Municipality.
Basic Information and History
The population as per the 2001 census was 850.000. As of 2005, Maracay and its surroundings have an estimated population of 1,367,217.
It was officially established on March 5, 1701 by Bishop Diego de Baños y Sotomayor in the valleys of Tocopio and Tapatapa (what is known today as the central valley of Aragua) in northern Venezuela. According to the most accepted explanation, it was named after a local indigenous chief, and refers to the "Maracayo" (Felis mitis), a small tiger. Alternative etymologies cite a local aromatic tree called Mara.
Maracay experienced rapid growth during Juan Vicente Gómez's dictatorship (1908 - 1935). Gómez saw Maracay as a suitable place to make his residence during his rule, and ordered the construction of an Arc of Triumph, a bull plaza (a near replica of the one in Seville, Spain), an Ópera house, a Zoo, and, most notably, the Hotel Jardín (Garden Hotel), a majestic, tourist attraction with very large gardens. The city is home to the Mausoleo de Gómez (Gómez's mausoleum), where the dictator's remains are stored.
Economy and Transport
One of the most important cities in Venezuela
, Maracay is primarily an industrial and commercial center, the city produces paper
, textiles chemicals
, tobacco, cement, cattle derived foods, such as milk or meat conserves, as well as soap and perfumes.
Even though it is an industrial center, the surroundings of Maracay live of an intensive agriculture, where sugarcane, tobacco, coffee and cocoa stand out as the main products. There are also cattle-herding and timber-cutting activities.
Activity by the Venezuelan Military also adds a great deal to Maracay's economy.
Maracay has good transportation facilities and infrastructure that effectively connects it to the rest of the country, it is linked to most other important localities by the Autopista Regional del Centro (Central Regional Highway), it also has good access to the only, small railway system in the country. The city boasts the national Hidroplane airport, located on the shore of the Lago de Valencia (Lake of Valencia). The city does not have a Subway system, but one is in the planning stages.
Maracay and the Military
Maracay is a city heavily influenced by the military. Maracay is the cradle of Venezuelan aviation, and it is home to the two largest Air Force bases in the country. The Venezuelan F-16 fighter planes are stationed here, as well as the new Sukhoi-30MKEs
acquired by the Venezuelan Government.
Other military facilities include the Fourth Armored Division of the Army and the Venezuelan Paratroopers main base and training center.
It is also home to the government-owned ammunition and weapons factory (CAVIM) that produces the Venezuelan version of the FN FAL (Fusil Automatique Leger - Light Automatic Rifle) rifle and will produce the newly acquired AK-103s; as well as the ammunition for both models.
The mountains on the north side of Maracay, that separate it from the coast, make up the Henri Pittier
National Park, named after the Swiss naturalist
that studied them. The park is a very lush rainforest
, with a great variety of ferns
. Two very winding roads cut through the park over the mountains to the coast. One, beginning at the North-Central part of the city known as Urbanización El Castaño, goes to the beach town of Choroní
. The other, beginning at the North-Western part at the city of El Limón, goes to Ocumare de la Costa and the beaches of Cata and Catica.
Higher Education Institutions and Cultural Venues
Maracay houses the Faculty of Veterinarians and Agronomy of the Universidad Central de Venezuela, and an extension of the Universidad de Carabobo
The main Campus of the UNEFA (a military university open to civilians) is located here. Career choices include, Electronics, Aeronautical and Civil Engineering, as well as other disciplines such as avionics.
The main museums are:
- The Anthropological Museum.
- The Aviation Museum.
- The Museum of Modern Arts "Mario Abreu".
- The Opera House.
In Venezuela, Maracay is known as "Cuidad Jardín", or "Garden City".
Maracay is the home of the local baseball team Tigres de Aragua.
The city's Bullfight arena is the only "Maestranza" (bullfighting school) in the country. At the present day is called "Maestranza Cesar Girón"
The Patron Saint is Saint Joseph.
Mass media in Maracay
- TRV (Orbivisión)
- Color TV
- TIC TV Televisión Informativa del Centro
- Novavisión TV
- Aragua TV
Maracay in the web
Industry in Maracay
Masterbatches: Clariant (Venezuela)
Born in Maracay
- Cesar Girón Diaz Famous Bullfighter.
- Alicia Machado, 1996 Miss Universe.
- Pilin Leon, 1981 Miss World.
- Juan Arango, football player.
- Miguel Cabrera, baseball player.
- Bobby Abreu, baseball player.
- Juan-Carlos Bianchi, tennis player.
- Carlos Guillén, baseball player.
- Luis González, baseball player.
- Ray Olmedo, baseball player.
- Aníbal Sánchez, baseball player.
- Pastor Maldonado, racing driver.
- Juan Rivera, baseball player.
- Juan C. Arias, U.S. Army.
- Milagros Del Mar Eberstark, Model.
- Katty Pulido, Models Manager.