The Metropolitan District of Caracas is made up of five municipalities: Libertador Municipality which is the only administrative division of the Venezuelan Capital District, and four other municipalities, which are within in Miranda State: Chacao, Baruta, Sucre, and El Hatillo. Libertador holds many of the government buildings and is the Capital District. The Distrito Capital had a population of 2,013,366 as of 2011, while the Metropolitan District of Caracas was estimated at 3,273,863 as of 2013. The Metropolitan Region of Caracas has an estimated population of 5,243,301.
Businesses in the city include service companies, banks, and malls. Caracas has a largely service-based economy, apart from some industrial activity in its metropolitan area. The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela are headquartered in Caracas. PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela. Caracas is also Venezuela's cultural capital, with many restaurants, theaters, museums, and shopping centers. Some of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America are located in Caracas.
In 2015, Caracas had the highest per capita murder rates in the world, with 119 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Most murders and other violent crimes go unsolved.
At the time of the founding of the city in 1567, 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. 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 1567. 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. However, in 1595, around 200 English privateers including George Sommers and Amyas Preston crossed the mountains through a little-used pass while the town's defenders were guarding the more often-used one. Encountering little resistance, the invaders sacked and set fire to the town after a failed ransom negotiation.
As the cocoa cultivation and exports under the Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas grew in importance, the city expanded. In 1777, Caracas became the capital of the Captaincy General of Venezuela.
José María España and Manuel Gual led an attempted revolution aimed at independence, but the rebellion was put down on 13 July 1797. Caracas was ultimately the site of the signing of a Declaration of Independence on 5 July 1811. In 1812, an earthquake destroyed Caracas. The independentist war continued until 24 June 1821, when Bolívar defeated royalists in the Battle of Carabobo.
Caracas grew in economic importance during Venezuela's oil boom in the early 20th century. 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 declared World Heritage by UNESCO, was built. New working- and middle-class residential districts sprouted in the valley, extending the urban area toward the east and southeast. Joining El Silencio, also designed by Villanueva, were several workers' housing districts, 23 de Enero and Simon Rodriguez. Middle-class developments include Bello Monte, Los Palos Grandes, Chuao, and El Cafetal. 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 who 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.
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). 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 today.
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 Roofs. 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) served as inspiration for other regions to do the same—as did its declaration of independence a year later.
Caracas has five municipalities: Baruta, El Hatillo, Chacao, Libertador and Sucre. Under the constitution of Venezuela, municipal governments have two branches: the executive (governed by a mayor) and the legislative (managed by a municipal council). On 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 city.
Businesses that are located here include service companies, banks, and malls, among others. It has a largely service-based economy, apart from some industrial activity in its metropolitan area. The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) are headquartered here. 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, which is located in the north of the Baruta municipality and the south of the Chacao municipality, 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 country. Important industries in Caracas include chemicals, textiles, leather, food, iron and wood products. There are also rubber and cement factories. Its GDP(Nominal) is 70 billion USD and the GDP(PPP) per Capita is.USD 24,000
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 years.
In 2013, the World Economic forum evaluated countries in terms of how successful they were in advertising campaigns to attract foreign visitors. Out of the 140 countries evaluated, Venezuela fell in the last place. There are multiple factors that contribute to the lack of tourism in Caracas. A major factor that has contributed to the lack of foreign visitors has been poor transport for tourists. Venezuela has limited railway systems and airlines. High crime rates and the negative attitude of the Venezuelan population towards tourism also contributed to the poor evaluation.
In an attempt to attract more foreign visitors, the Venezuelan Ministry of Tourism invested in multiple hotel infrastructures. The largest hotel investment has been in the Hotel Alba Caracas. The cost for the general maintenance of the north and south towers of the hotel is approximately 231.5 million Venezuelan bolivars.
Although the Venezuelan Ministry of Tourism has taken the initiative to recognize the importance of the tourism industry, the Venezuelan government has not placed the tourism industry as an economic priority. In 2013, the budget for the Ministry of Tourism was only 173.8 million bolivars, while the Ministry of the Youth received approximately 724.6 million bolivars.
The tourism industry in Venezuela contributes approximately 3.8 percent of the country GDP. Venezuela's current goal is to reach a GDP of 7.6 percent. The World Economic Forum predicts Venezuela's GDP to rise to 4.2 percent by 2022.
Caracas is contained entirely within a valley of the Venezuelan central range, and separated from the Caribbean coast by a roughly 15 kilometres (9 miles) 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 and 3,422 ft), with 900 meters (3,000 feet) 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 feet). 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 city is occasionally subject to earthquakes - notably in 1641 and 1967.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Caracas has a tropical savanna climate (Aw). Caracas is also intertropical, with precipitation that varies between 900 and 1,300 millimeters (35 and 51 inches) (annual), in the city proper, and up to 2,000 millimeters (79 inches) in some parts of the Mountain range. 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 23.8 °C (75 °F), with the average of the coldest month (January) 22.8 °C (73 °F) and the average of the warmest month (July) 25.0 °C (77 °F), which gives a small annual thermal amplitude of 2.2 °C (4.0 °F). In the months of December and January abundant fog may appear, in addition to a sudden nightly drop in temperature, until reaching 8 °C (46 °F). 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 (14 to 20 °C) lower than daytime highs and usually do not remain above 24 °C (75 °F), 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. Caracas record extremes have been reported in other city's stations to reach a minimum of 6 °C (43 °F) and a maximum of 35.5 °C (95.9 °F)
According to the population census of 2011 the Caracas proper (Distrito Capital) is over 1.9 million inhabitants, while that of the Metropolitan District of Caracas is estimated at 2.9 million as of 2011. The majority of the population is mixed-race, typically with varying degrees of European, African, Indigenous and occasional Asian ancestry. There is a noteworthy Afro-Venezuelan community formed by residents whose ancestors settled in Caracas after being liberated from slavery as a reward for aiding Bolívar in the Venezuelan War of Independence. Additionally, the city has a large number of both European Venezuelans & Asian Venezuelans who descend from the massive influx of various immigrants Venezuela received from all across Eurasia during the 20th century. The descendants of Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, Chinese, Colombians, Germans, Syrians and Lebanese stand out.
Venezuela and its capital, Caracas, are reported to both have among the highest per capita murder rates in the world. Caracas is the city with the highest homicide rate in the world outside of a warzone, with a 2016 rate of around 120 murders per 100,000 people. Most murders and other violent crimes go unsolved, with estimates of the number of unresolved crimes as high as 98%. The U.S. Department of State has issued travel warnings for Venezuela (especially Caracas) due to high rates of crime.
The Federal Capitol occupies an entire city block, and, with its golden domes and neoclassical pediments, can seem even bigger. The building was commissioned by Antonio Guzmán Blanco in the 1870s, and is most famous for its Salón Elíptico, an oval hall with a mural-covered dome and walls lined with portraits of the country's great and good. The nearby Palacio Municipal de Caracas dating from 1696 was renovated in the Neoclassical style in 1906 and now serves as the city hall and the Caracas Museum.
The Caracas East Park (Parque del Este, now officially Parque Generalísimo Francisco de Miranda) was designed by Brazilian architect Roberto Burle Marx. 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 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 America.
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. The theater presents symphonic and popular concerts, operas, ballet, and dramatic works. It is the second largest theater in South America, after the Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Skyscrapers may loom overhead, but there is more than a hint of original colonial flavor in this neatly proportioned reconstruction of the house where Simón Bolívar 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 scenes, but more personal relics can be seen in the nearby Bolivarian museum. The pride of the place goes to the coffin in which Bolívar's remains were brought from Colombia; his ashes now rest in the National Pantheon.
Venezuela's most venerated building is five blocks north of Plaza Bolívar, on the northern edge of the old town. Formerly a church, the building was given its new purpose as the final resting place for eminent Venezuelans by Antonio Guzmán Blanco in 1874.
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 2004.
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.
El Hatillo is a colonial town that is 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 past.
Cerro El Ávila (Mountain El Ávila) (Indigenous name: Waraira 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 due to the amount of vegetation on the mountain.
This zone contains restaurants with varied gastronomical specialties, along with pubs, bars, pools and art galleries.
Altamira is a neighborhood 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 in Altamira.
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 Blanco, 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 Mathematics.
Caracas Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Caracas. Basilica of St. Teresa is designated a National Historic Landmark.
The Mosque of Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ibrahim is the second largest mosque in Latin America. For many years it was the biggest.
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 Caracas.
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 2000. 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.
The Simón Bolívar University (Universidad Simón Bolívar, in Spanish, or USB) is a public institution in Caracas that focuses on science and technology. Its motto is "La Universidad de la Excelencia" ("University of Excellence").
The city hosted the official 2013 Americas Basketball Championship.
There are professional association football, baseball and several other sports.
Professional teams include Caracas Fútbol Club, Deportivo Petare, Atletico Venezuela, SD Centro Italo Venezolano, Estrella Roja FC and Real Esppor Club. The Deportivo Petare has reached the semifinals of international tournaments, such as the Copa Libertadores de America, 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 1970s.
Association Football stadiums include:
Caracas is the seat of the National Institute of Sports and of the Venezuelan Olympic Committee.
Caracas hosted the 1983 Pan American Games.
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.
Caracas has a gastronomical heritage due to the influence of immigrants, leading to a choice of regional and international cuisine. There are a variety of international restaurants including American, French, Lebanese, Italian, Spanish, Indian, Chinese, Peruvian, Japanese, Mediterranean and Mexican. The district of La Candelaria contains Spanish restaurants, resulting from Galician and Canarian immigrants that came to the area in the mid-20th century.