Caracas

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Caracas

(kəră`kəs, kərä`–, Span. kärä`käs), city (1990 pop. 1,824,892), Federal Dist., N Venezuela, the capital and largest city of the country, near the Caribbean Sea. Its port is La GuairaLa Guaira
, city (1990 pop. 23,831), capital of Vargas state, N Venezuela, on the Caribbean Sea NW of Caracas. It is the principal international port of Venezuela; cacao, coffee, and tobacco are the chief exports. La Guaira is also a seaside resort. Founded in the 16th cent.
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. With an elevation of c.3,100 ft (945 m), Caracas has a pleasant climate, which contributed to making it rather than ValenciaValencia
, city (1990 pop. 903,621), capital of Carabobo state, N Venezuela. It is Venezuela's fourth largest city and one of its major industrial centers. Products include motor vehicles, chemicals, textiles, cattle feed, and consumer goods.
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 the economic and political center of Spanish colonization in Venezuela. Caracas is the commercial, industrial, and cultural hub of the nation. As a result of the oil boom of the 1950s the city expanded prodigiously. Enormous sums were spent on public works, notably the futuristic University City, school construction, slum clearance projects, a new aqueduct, and an impressive highway cloverleaf, known to Caracans as "the octopus." The symbol of the new Caracas is the twin-towered complex housing government offices known as Centro Bolívar. The city has a noted contemporary art museum, and a colossal shopping center, the Helicoid, was built on a hill outside the city. Rapid population growth continues to exacerbate the city's housing problems and unemployment rate. In addition to oil refining, industries include textile milling, clothing manufactures, processed foods, tobacco products, publishing, glassworks, rubber goods, chemicals, and ceramics.

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 MirandaMiranda, Francisco de
, 1750–1816, Venezuelan revolutionist and adventurer. A hero of the struggle for independence from Spain, he is sometimes called the Precursor to distinguish him from Simón Bolívar, who completed the task of liberation.
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 (1750) and Simón BolívarBolívar, Simón
, 1783–1830, South American revolutionary who led independence wars in the present nations of Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
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 (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.

Caracas

 

the capital of Venezuela; an important political, commercial, financial, industrial, transportation, and cultural center of the country. It is situated in a mountain valley of the Caribbean Andes, 13–14 km from the coast of the Caribbean Sea, at an elevation 900–1,000 m. The climate is subequatorial and humid: Average January temperature is 18.6°C; average July temperature, 21.2°C; annual precipitation, 820 mm. In 1812 and 1900 the city was almost completely destroyed by earthquakes. Caracas and the adjacent area are set apart as the federal (capital) district. Area, 1, 900 sq km. Population (including the suburbs within and outside the boundaries of the federal district), 2.2 million (1970). The city is administered by a governor appointed by the president; there is also a municipal council elected by the population.

The city was founded on St. Jacob’s Day (July 25) in 1567 by the Spanish conquistador Diego de Losada, on the site of a burned-out settlement of the Caracas Indians. He named the city Santiago de Léon de Caracas. During the 16th and 17th centuries, it suffered attacks by pirates. In 1577 it became the residence of the Spanish governor; and in 1777, the capital of the captaincy general of Venezuela. The uprising in Caracas in April 1810 marked the beginning of the War of Independence of the Spanish-American Colonies (1810–26). During the war, Caracas was the site of the most fierce fighting between the patriots and the Spanish. Caracas became the capital of Venezuela after the disintegration of Gran Colombia in 1830 and the formation of the republic of Venezuela. After World War II (1939–45), Caracas was Venezuela’s most important center for the worker and student movement.

Among Caracas’ industries are those engaged in the production of processed foods, textiles, clothing, leather footwear, chemicals, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, rubber goods, glassware, paper, cement, and metal goods. Motor vehicles and other types of machinery are assembled. Offices of the major national and foreign banks, industrial concerns, and commercial companies are located in Caracas. The city is linked by railroads and highways to the port of La Guaira, the Maiquetia International Airport, and the cities of Maracay and Valencia. The Pan American Highway connects Caracas with Bogotá (Colombia); in the southeast, there is a highway leading to Ciudad Bolívar.

Since colonial times, the city has had a regular street plan. A cathedral (original structure, 1664–74, architect P. de Medina) stands in the central square, Plaza Bolivar. In 1936 the reconstruction of old thoroughfares and the building of new ones was undertaken. Imposing complexes of public and commercial buildings have also been constructed; these include the Centro Social Simon Bolivar (1938, architect S. Domínguez), university city (begun in 1944, architect C. R. Villanueva), Avenue Bolivar with the two skyscrapers, Torres del Silensio, and the Plaza Venezuela with the skyscraper Edificio Polar (1952–54, architects J. M. Galia and M. Vegas Pacheco). Residential complexes include Cerro Grande, El Paraiso, and Cerro Belen. The Museum of Fine Arts (architect O. Niemeyer), the National Pantheon, and the Capitolia are among the public buildings constructed in the mid-20th century. Sections of slums remain.

Caracas is the site of the Central University of Venezuela, two private universities (Santa Maria University and the Catholic University of Andrés Bello), eight colleges of music and art, the National Pedagogical Institute, and the Higher School of Medicine. Its academies include the Academy of Venezuela, the National Academy of History, the National Academy of Medicine, the Academy of Political and Social Sciences, and the Academy of Physical, Mathematical, and Natural Science. There are other scientific research institutions and several international societies, including the Institute of Experimental Medicine. The city is also the site of the National Library, the Central University Library, and various academy libraries. Museums include the Bolivar Museum, Bolivar’s House, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Collection of Venezuelan Birds, the Museum of Natural Sciences, and the Museum of Colonial Art.

Among the city’s theaters and theatrical concert halls (used also to show films) are Ateneo, Teatro Alberto de Paz, Tilingo, Florida, Urdaneta, Caribe, Lido, Aula Manga, Teatro Nacional, Teatro Municipal, Concha Acústica (an open amphitheater), and the Puppet Theater. The companies performing in these theaters include Universitario, Compás, Mascaras, Teatro del Duende, Leonsio Martínez, Teatro de Bolsillo, and the troupe directed by R. Antilano. Music schools include the Padre Sojo Academy of Music and the Fischer Academy of Music.

REFERENCES

Venesuela: Ekonomika, politika, kul’tura. Moscow, 1967.
Stolitsy stranmira. Moscow, 1966.
Villanueva, C. R. Caracas de ayer y de hoy. Caracas [1943].

Caracas

the capital of Venezuela, in the north: founded in 1567; major industrial and commercial centre, notably for oil companies. Pop.: 3 276 000 (2005 est.)