History of Caracas

Brief history of Caracas summarized

We get to know the history of Caracas, in a brief and summarized way.

The origin of Caracas

The history of Caracas dates back more than 400 years, when indigenous communities occupied much of the valley. In the year 1562, the Spanish explorer Francisco Fajardo arrived with the ambition to create a plantation here, after establishing a series of settlements along the north coast.

The initial settlement of Fajardo was soon destroyed by the natives of the region, but it would be the last rebellion of the natives. In July 1567, the foundations of Caracas, then called Santiago de León de Caracas, were laid by the powerful Spanish conquistador Diego de Losada.

Rise to a prominent place in history

During much of the 17th century, the Venezuelan coasts regularly suffered from pirate attacks. As the coastal mountains acted as a natural obstacle for Caracas, they were fortunately not affected. This was one of the main reasons why it became the number one city in the region.

However, the city was taken by surprise in the 1860s, when buccaneers bravely ventured through the mountains, evading the city’s defenders in the process. Subsequently, Caracas was looted and burned to the ground.

By the mid-18th century, cacao was proving to be an important and highly profitable crop in Venezuela, and Caracas soon joined the initiative. This explosion of income stimulated the development of the city and its fortunes were led by the Spanish trading company called Real Compañía Gipuzkoana de Caracas.

Shortly after, in the year 1777, the city became the Spanish administrative district of the newly formed Captaincy General of Venezuela.

Independence from Spanish rule

Many locals grew tired of their Spanish rule and plans for a rebellion were underway. However, although these attempts were frustrated in 1797 and largely unsuccessful, the dream of independence had been planted in the minds of many Venezuelans.

Both the American Wars of Independence and the French Revolution had a great impact on the country and eventually a Declaration of Independence was drafted and signed in the city of Caracas in 1811.

This resulted in the start of the long Venezuelan War of Independence. It should be noted that two of the most important fighters for the independence of Venezuela, Simón Bolívar and Sebastián Francisco de Miranda Rodríguez, were born in the city.

One of the biggest disasters in the history of Caracas was when it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1812, an event that the authorities decided to use to their advantage, claiming it was an act of God, punishing the country for not accepting Spanish rule.

The Venezuelan War of Independence lasted until 1821, when Bolívar successfully defeated royalist forces during the Battle of Carabobo, resulting in the eventual achievement of Venezuelan independence.

Oil and economy

The Venezuelan economy grew steadily during the first decades of the 20th century due to the presence of oil, and Caracas became a major Latin American city, known for its wealth and prosperous economy.

It also functioned as an important transportation hub, as it was conveniently located at the northern tip of South America and thus offered good connections to much of Europe.

In the mid-20th century, Caracas was keen to improve its infrastructure and facilities, and many modernization plans were discussed and implemented. These improvements continued for several decades.

The impressive Central University of Venezuela was moved from its original site, where it had been founded in 1721, and new residential neighborhoods sprang up throughout the valley.

The history of Caracas is defined by the rapid change in the Venezuelan economy, having gone from being a predominantly agricultural country, to one based on the “black gold”, oil.

This encouraged the general development of the city and soon people decided to migrate from rural communities, believing that the capital would provide a better lifestyle. As a result of this enormous growth in the urban population, coupled with the lack of adequate housing, the development of the rancho areas (slums) was almost inevitable.

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