Caracas, officially Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela; natives or residents are known as Caraquenians in English (Spanish: Caraqueños).
Caracas is located in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range (Cordillera de la Costa) sony vgp-bps2 battery. Terrain suitable for building lies between 760 and 910 m (2,493.44 and 2,985.56 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 (Metropolitan District of Caracas) includes the Distrito Capital (the capital city proper) and four other municipalities in Miranda Statesony vgp-bps3 battery: Chacao, Baruta, Sucre, and El Hatillo. The Distrito Capital had a population of 2,097,350 as of 2009, while that of Distrito Metropolitano was estimated at 4,196,514 as of (2008).
At the time of its founding, more than four hundred years ago, 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. sony vgp-bps4 battery Fajardo's settlement did not last long. It was destroyed by natives of the region led by Terepaima and 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 1567sony vgp-bps5 battery. In 1577 Caracas became the capital of the Spanish Empire's Venezuela Province under Governor Juan de Pimentel (1576–1583).
During the 17th century, the coast of Venezuela was frequently raided by pirates. With the coastal mountains as a barrier, Caracas was relatively immune to such attacks – one of the reasons it became the principal city of the regionsony vgp-bps7 battery. However, in the 1680s, buccaneers crossed the mountains through a little-used pass while the town's defenders were guarding the more often-used one, and, encountering little resistance, sacked and set fire to the town.
The cultivation of cocoa under the Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas stimulated the development of the city, which in 1777 became the capital of the Captaincy General of Venezuelasony vgp-bpl7 battery.
An attempt at revolution to gain independence organized by José María España and Manuel Gual was put down on 13 July 1797. But the ideas of the French Revolution and the American Wars of Independence inspired the people, and on 5 July 1811, a Declaration of Independence was signed in Caracas. This city was also the birthplace of two of Latin America's most important figures of the Venezuelan War of Independencesony vgp-bps8 battery: Francisco de Miranda and "El Libertador" Simón Bolívar. An earthquake destroyed Caracas on 26 March 1812, which was portrayed by authorities as a divine punishment for the rebellion against the Spanish Crown. The war continued until 24 June 1821, when Bolívar gained a decisive victory over the royalists at the Battle of Carabobosony vgp-bps8a battery.
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 is also known as the preferred travel hub between Europe and South America. During the 1950s, Caracas began an intensive modernization program which continued throughout the 1960s and early 1970ssony vgp-bps8b battery. 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 towards the east and southeast. Joining El Silencio, also designed by Villanueva, were several workers' housing districts, 23 de Enero and Simon Rodriguezsony vgp-bpl8 battery. Middle class developments include Bello Monte, Los Palos Grandes, Chuao, and El Cafetal. On 17 October 2004, one of the Parque Central towers caught fire. The dramatic change in the economic structure of the country, which went from being primarily agricultural to dependent on oil production, stimulated the fast development of Caracas, and made it a magnet for people in rural communities sony vgp-bps9 batterywho migrated to the capital city in an unplanned fashion searching for greater economic opportunity. This migration created the rancho (slum) belt of the valley of Caracas
Colonial painting of Our Lady of Caracas, Patroness of the city
View of Caracas in 1839; once a colonial city of red-tiled roofs, the city now has many skyscrapers
The flag of Caracas consists of a burgundy red field with the version of the Coat of Arms of the City (effective since the 1980s) sony vgp-bps9/s battery. The red field symbolises the blood spilt by Caraquenian people in favour of independence and the highest ideals of the Venezuelan Nation. Later, in the year 1994, presumably 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 of the flag is still in use todaysony vgp-bps9a/s battery.
The coat of arms of the City of Caracas was adopted by the Libertador Municipality to identify itself. Later, the Metropolitan Mayor Office assumed the lion, the scallop and Saint James' Cross for the same purpose.
The anthem of the city is the Marcha a Caracas, written by the composer Tiero Pezzuti de Matteis with the lyrics by José Enrique Sarabia. The lyrics are said to be inspired by the heroism of the Caraquenian people, and the memory of the City of Red Roofssony vgp-bps9/b battery. Incidentally, the National Anthem of Venezuela, Gloria al Bravo Pueblo, includes the lines "...y si el despotismo levanta la voz, seguid el ejemplo que Caracas dio" ("...and if despotism raises its voice, follow the example that Caracas gave"), reflecting the fact that, in addition to generously providing many heroic fighters to the War of Independence, the junta established in Caracas (19 April 1810) sony vgp-bps9a/b battery served as inspiration for other regions to do the same—as did its declaration of independence a year later.
Partial view of Libertador municipality
Caracas has five municipalities: Baruta, El Hatillo, Chacao, Libertador and Sucre. The constitution of Venezuela specifies that municipal governments be divided into executive and legislative branches. The executive government of the municipality is governed by the mayorsony vgp-bps9a battery, while the legislative government is managed by the Municipal council. In 8 March 2000, the year after a new constitution was introduced in Venezuela, it was decreed in Gaceta Official N° 36,906 that the Metropolitan District of Caracas would be created, and that some of the powers of these municipalities would be delegated to the Alcaldía Mayor, physically located in the large Libertador municipality, in the center of the citysony vgp-bps9b battery.
In recent years the city has experienced the deterioration of buildings and the growth of shanty towns
Venezuelan stock exchange building in El Rosal district
Businesses located here include service companies, banks, and malls, among others. Most economic activity is in services, except some industries established in its metropolitan area. The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) are headquartered heresony vgp-bpl9c battery. The PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela, and negotiates all the international agreements for the distribution and export of petroleum. When the company existed, the airline Viasa had its headquarters in the Torre Viasa.
Caracas' central business district is Milla de Oro, located in the north of the Baruta municipality and the south of the Chacao municipalitysony vgp-bpl9 battery, it is one of largest financial districts of Latin America, it is home to many companies and is dominated by numerous high-rises. Other important business districts include Plaza Venezuela, Parque Central Complex and El Recreo.
Small and medium-size industry contributes to the Caracas economy. The city provides communication and transportation infrastructure between the metropolitan area and the rest of the countrysony vgp-bps10 battery. Important industries in Caracas include chemicals, textiles, leather, food, iron and wood products. There are also rubber and cement factories.
Millennium Mall at night
A 2009 United Nations survey reported that the cost of living in Caracas was 89% of that of its baseline city: New York. However, this statistic is based upon a fixed currency-exchange-rate of 2003 and might not be completely realistic, due to the elevated inflation rates of the last several yearsSony VGP-BPS12 Battery.
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 growthSony VGP-BPL12 Battery, 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 ÁvilaSony VGP-BPS13 Battery. The La Mariposa and Camatagua reservoirs provide water to the city.
Aerial view toward Caracas downtown.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Caracas has a Tropical savanna climate. Caracas is also 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 rangeSony VGP-BPS13B/Q battery. While Caracas is within the tropics, due to its altitude temperatures are generally not nearly as high as other tropical locations at sea level. The annual average temperature is approximately 23.1 °C (74 °F), with the average of the coldest month (January) 21.1 °C (70 °F) and the average of the warmest month (May) 25.0 °C (77 °F), which gives a small annual thermal amplitude of 3.9 °C (7.02 °F) Sony VGP-BPS13/Q battery. In the months of December and January abundant fog may appear, in addition to a sudden nightly drop in temperature, until reaching 7 °C (45 °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 are much (12 to 16 °C) lower than daytime highs and usually do not remain above 20 °C (68 °F) Sony VGP-BPS13A/B battery, resulting 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.
La trinidad neighborhood in the green belt
The population of Caracas proper (Distrito Capital) is estimated to be 5,994,002 as of 2010, while that of the Metropolitan District of Caracas is estimated at 7,001,874 as of 2011Sony VGP-BPS13/S battery. The conurbation including the surrounding suburbs has an estimated population of 8.3 million as of 2012.
Caracas is often named in the alleged megalopolis of northern Venezuela including cities such as Valencia, Maracay, Miranda, Los Teques, San Antonio de los Altos, Petare, Guarenas, Puerto Cabello, with an estimated population of 18.2 million, representing about 64% of the country's populationSony VGP-BPS13/B battery
The periphery of the city is overcrowded of massive slums which often lack of basic amenities and suffer of high poverty and crime rates such as Petare
Venezuela and its capital, Caracas, are reported to both have among the highest per capita murder rates in the world. Most murders and other violent crimes go unsolved. The poor neighborhoods that cover the hills around Caracas are dangerous at all times. Sony VGP-BPS13B/S battery More recent research, however, has called these purportedly astronomic crime rates into question. For years, the government misreported the actual population of Caracas, consistently skewing crime figures higher.
Located at the southwest corner of Plaza Bolívar is the edifice that belonged from 1637 to 1874 to the Conceptions Nuns monastery, and that from 19 April 1810 was the seat of the first congressSony VGP-BPS13A battery. The southern part is the present seat of the National Assembly, and the northern part was formerly the Elliptic room, Triptic room and Shields room. It was built during the government of Antonio Guzmán Blanco.
The Caracas East Park (Parque del Este, now officially Parque Generalísimo Francisco de Miranda) was designed by Brazilian architect Roberto Burle MarxSony VGP-BPS13A/S battery. It is a green paradise in the middle of the city, and it contains a small zoo. A replica of the ship led by Francisco de Miranda, the Leander, is being built in the southern part of the park. Before there used to exist a replica of the Santa Maria ship, used by Christopher Colombus in his voyages to AmericaSony VGP-BPS13S battery.
Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex
Main article: Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex
The Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex (Complejo Cultural Teresa Carreño), or more commonly the Teresa Carreño Theatre (Teatro Teresa Carreño), is by far the most important theater of Caracas and Venezuela, where symphonic and popular concerts imagine frequently, operas, ballet and theatre. It is the second largest theater in South America, after the Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires, ArgentinaSony VGP-BPS13A/Q battery.
Simon Bolivar birthplace house
Skyscrapers may loom overhead, but there is more than a hint of original colonial flavor in this neatly proportioned reconstruction of the house where Simon Bolivar was born on 24 July 1783. The museum's exhibits include period weapons, banners and uniforms.
Much of the original colonial interior has been replaced by monumental paintings of battle scenesSony VGP-BPS13A/R battery, but more personal relics can be seen in the nearby Bolivian museum. Pride of place goes to the coffin in which Bolivar's remains were brought from Colombia; his ashes now rest in the National Pantheon.
Main article: National Pantheon of Venezuela
Venezuela's most venerated building is five blocks north of Plaza Bolívar, on the northern edge of the old townSony VGP-BPS13B battery. Formerly a church, the building was given its new purpose as the final resting place for eminent Venezuelans by Antonio Guzmán Blanco in 1874.
Parque Central Complex
Main article: Parque Central Complex
At a short distance east of Plaza Bolívar is Parque Central, a concrete complex of five high-rise residential slabs of somewhat apocalyptic-appearing architecture, crowned by two 56-storey octagonal towers, one of them is under repair due to the fire which burnt the building on 17 October 2004Sony VGP-BPS13B/B battery.
Parque Central is Caracas' art and culture hub, with museums, cinemas and the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex. The West Tower balcony, on the 52nd floor, gives a 360° bird's-eye view of Caracas.
Plaza Bolívar is the focus of the old town with the monument to El Libertador, Simon Bolívar, at its heart. Modern high-rise buildings have overpowered much of the colonial flavor of Caracas' founding neighbourhoodSony VGP-BPL21 battery.
Plaza Venezuela is the geographic center of Caracas. It is a large urban plaza at the entrance of the Central University of Venezuela. Kinetic artists have displayed their works there, including Carlos Cruz-Diez, Alejandro Otero and Jesus Soto. East of the Plaza is the Plaza Venezuela Fountain, a large computerized display of water, music and colored light refurbished in 2009 to include the latest available technologySony VGP-BPS21 battery.
Plaza Caracas was constructed in 1983. It is in the Simón Bolívar Center, at the foot of the 30-story towers, dominating El Silencio District and forming a unique testimony to the early days of the modernization of the city. It has various levels for pedestrian and motorised traffic, and contains the business, shops, restaurants, services of a zone in which are concentrated public and private institutionsSony VGP-BPS21A battery.
Plaza San Jacinto is situated among the San Jacinto, San Pablo, El Chorro and Trapos's corners. Its history dates from 1603 and there used to be the market of the city. In the middle of the square, there was an Antonio Leocadio Guzmán statue and after which this place is called now "The Venezuelan". In the northwest part of the square is found the Sun's clockSony VGP-BPS21B battery, made by Alexander Humboldt when he was in Caracas. In 1983, as part of the bycentenarial anniversary of Simón Bolívar, was built a black chambre. In 2010, as part of the celebration of the Bicentenary of the events of 19 April 1810, was inaugurated a steel obelisk.
Main article: El Hatillo Municipality
El Hatillo is a colonial town located at the south-east suburbs of Caracas in the municipal area of the same name. This small town, which is one of Venezuela's few well-preserved typical colonial areas, gives an idea of what Caracas was like in centuries pastSony VGP-BPS26 Battery.
Cerro El Ávila
Main article: Cerro El Ávila
Cerro El Ávila (Mountain El Ávila) (Indigenous name: Guaraira Repano), is a mountain in the mid-North of Venezuela. It rises next to Caracas and separates the city from the Caribbean Sea. It is considered the lungs of Caracas because there is a lot of vegetation on it.
Main article: Las Mercedes
This zone contains restaurants with varied gastronomical specialties, along with pubs, bars, pools and art galleriesSony VGP-BPS26A Battery.
Main article: Altamira (Caracas)
Altamira is a neighborhood located in the Chacao municipality of Caracas. It has its own Metro Station, many hotels, malls and restaurants, and is an important business and cultural centre. The Francisco de Miranda avenue (a major avenue in Caracas) and the Distibuidor Altamira (a congested highway exit) are both located in AltamiraSony VGP-BPS13 battery(without CD).
The Iglesia de San Francisco is of historical value. Bolívar's funeral was held here twelve years after his death. Here he was proclaimed Libertador in 1813 by the people of Caracas. The church has gilded baroque altarpieces, and retains much of its original colonial interior, despite being given a treatment in the 19th century under the auspices of Antonio Guzmán BlancoSony VGP-BPS13B/Q battery(without CD), which was intended to be modernizing. It contains some 17th century masterpieces of art, carvings, sculptures and oil paintings. The Central University of Venezuela, established during the reign of Philip V, was lodged for centuries in the church cloisters next door, which today are the seat of the Language Academy, and the Academies of History, Physics, and MathematicsSony VGP-BPS13/Q battery(without CD).
The Caracas Cathedral is seat of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Caracas.
The Mosque of Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ibrahim is the second largest mosque in Latin America. For many years it was the biggest.
The Union Israelita de Caracas is the biggest Synagogue for the Jewish Ashkenazi community in Caracas. Its mission is to host the religious services and preserve the memory of the Jewish heritage in Venezuela. Similarly, Mariperez is the biggest Synagogue for the Jewish Sephardic community in CaracasSony VGP-BPS13A/B battery(without CD).
Colleges, universities and international schools
Central University of Venezuela
Main article: Central University of Venezuela
The Central University of Venezuela (Universidad Central de Venezuela in Spanish) is a public University. Founded in 1721, it is the oldest university in Venezuela and one of the first in Latin America. The university campus was designed by architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva and it was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 2000Sony VGP-BPS13/S battery(without CD). The Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas, as the main Campus is also known, is considered a masterpiece of architecture and urban planning and it is the only university campus designed in the 20th century that has received such recognition by UNESCO.
UCV Olympic Stadium
Simón Bolívar University
Main article: Simón Bolívar University
The Simón Bolívar University (Universidad Simón Bolívar, in Spanish, or USB) is a public institution located in Caracas, VenezuelaSony VGP-BPS13/B battery(without CD), with scientific and technological orientation. Its motto is "La Universidad de la Excelencia" ("University of Excellence"). Nationally, Simón Bolívar University is a well known school with a high reputation in scientific and engineering careers.
There are professional Association Football, baseball and several other sports.
Professional teams include Deportivo Italia, Caracas Fútbol Club, SD Centro Italo Venezolano, Estrella Roja FC and Real Esppor Club. The Deportivo Italia has reached the semifinals of international tournaments such as the Copa Libertadores de AmericaSony VGP-BPS13B/S battery(without CD), while the Caracas Fútbol Club has reached the quarterfinals.
Baseball teams Tiburones de La Guaira and Leones del Caracas play in the Estadio Universitario de la UCV, of the Central University of Venezuela, with a capacity of 26,000 spectators.
Another baseball team started in Caracas: the Navegantes del Magallanes. It was moved to Valencia, Carabobo in the 1970sSony VGP-BPS13A battery(without CD).
Association Football stadiums include:
Estadio Olímpico de la UCV, with capacity of 30 000 spectators is seat of the Deportivo Italia and Caracas Fútbol Club.
Brígido Iriarte stadium, with a capacity of 12 000 spectators (old seat of the Deportivo Italia and Caracas Fútbol Club, and seat of the Estrella Roja FC). The Caracas Fútbol Club opened its own stadium in 2005, Campo Deportivo CocodrilosSony VGP-BPS13A/S battery(without CD).
Cocodrilos de Caracas plays in the Venezuelan professional basketball league. They play their games in the "Gimnasio José Beracasa" in the neighbourhood of El Paraíso.
Caracas is the seat of the National Institute of Sports and of the Venezuelan Olympic Committee.
Caracas hosted the 1983 Pan American Games.
Association Football: Caracas Fútbol Club, Deportivo Petare, Atletico Venezuela, Estrella Roja Futbol club, Real Esppor ClubSony VGP-BPS13AS battery(without CD).
Baseball: Tiburones de la Guaira, Leones del Caracas.
Basketball: Cocodrilos de Caracas.
Cloud Shepherd, by Hans Arp, UCV
National Library of Venezuela
View from UCV grounds towards the east
Caracas is Venezuela's cultural capital, with many restaurants, theaters, museums, and shopping centers. The city is home to an array of immigrants from but not limited to: Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Middle East, Germany, China, and Latin American countries.
Museums, libraries and cultural centres
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 awarenessSony VGP-BPS13S battery(without CD). 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 potterySony VGP-BPS13A/Q battery(without CD).
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 purpose of teaching children about science, technology, culture and arts. The Natural Science MuseumSony VGP-BPS13A/R battery(without CD), has a rich collection of archaeological pieces from the 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 evidentSony VGP-BPS13B battery(without CD).
Caracas has a gastronomical heritage due to the influence of immigrants, leading to a choice of regional and international cuisine. There is a variety of international restaurants including American, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Indian, Chinese, Peruvian, Japanese, Mediterranean and Mexican. The district of La Candelaria contains Spanish restaurantsSony VGP-BPS13B/B battery(without CD), resulting from Galician and Canarian immigrants that came to this area in the mid-20th century.
Inside Plaza Venezuela station of the Caracas Metro
Boyacá Avenue (Cota Mil)
Cable Cars are connected to metro stations for transportation in slums which lack in their mejority of roads and proper streets
The Caracas Metro has been in operation since 27 March 1983. With 4 lines, 47 stations and about 10 more to be constructed. It covers a great part of the city and also has an integrated ticket system that combines the route of the Metro with those offered by the Metrobús, a bus service of the Caracas MetroSony VGP-BPL21 battery(without CD).
Buses are the main means of mass transportation. There are two bus systems: the traditional system and the Metrobús. The traditional system runs a variety of bus types, operated by several companies on normal streets and avenues:
Autobus; large buses.
Camioneta; medium size buses.
microbus or camionetica; vans or minivans.
IFE; train services to and from Tuy Valley cities of Charallave and Cúa.
Simón Bolívar International Airport, the biggest and most important in the country is located outside the city, roughly 20 miles (32 km) from the downtown areaSony VGP-BPS21 battery(without CD).