The city was founded as Puerto de la Mar (now Porlamar) on the southeast coast in 1536, less than 40 years after Christopher Columbus first sailed through.
In 1680 the Council of the Indies ordered Margarita born Juan Fermín de Huidobro to build a fortress with four bastions and a watchtower known as San Carlos Borromeo. Porlamar was a quiet fishing village until the arrival of air travel. Since then, it has become the central hub of the island with shops, restaurants and nightlife supported mostly by European and Venezuelan tourism.
Porlamar holds about one-third of Margarita Island's population.
Porlamar is Margarita Island's center of commerce. Since it was granted free-port status in 1973, its boutique-lined avenues have been crowded with tourists. In the early 1990s, the economic downfall hit Porlamar.
Del Caribe International General Santiago Marino Airport (PMV) in Porlamar has charter services to Europe and Colombia, and is located 20 kilometres (12 mi) southwest of the city center.