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Cheap flights to Paris from Maracaibo
Maracaibo is a city and the municipal seat of Maracaibo Municipality in northwestern Venezuela, on the western shore of the strait that connects Lake Maracaibo to the Gulf of Venezuela. It is the second-largest city in Venezuela, after the national capital, Caracas, and the capital of the state of Zulia. The population of the city is approximately 2.658.355 with the metropolitan area estimated at 5 278 448 as of 2010. Maracaibo is nicknamed “The Beloved Land of the Sun” (Spanish: “La Tierra del Sol Amada”).
Maracaibo is considered the economic centre of the western part of Venezuela, owing to the petroleum industry that developed in the shores of Lake Maracaibo. It is sometimes known as “The First City of Venezuela”, for being the first city in Venezuela to adopt various types of public services, including electricity, as well as for being located adjacent to shores of Lake Maracaibo, where the name of Venezuela allegedly originates.
Early indigenous settlements around the area were of Arawak and Carib origin. Maracaibo’s founding date is disputed. There were failed attempts to found the city—in 1529, by Captain Ambrosio Ehinger, and in 1569, by Captain Alonso Pacheco. Founded in 1574 as Nueva Zamora de la Laguna de Maracaibo by Captain Pedro Maldonado, the city became a transshipment point for inland settlements after Gibraltar, at the head of the lake, had been destroyed by pirates in 1669. It was not until the first decades of the 17th century that the first town was settled. Petroleum was discovered in 1917, leading to a large increase in population from migration.
Maracaibo is served by La Chinita International Airport. The General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge connects Maracaibo with the rest of the country. The La Chiquinquirá Church catholic church within the city.
The name Maracaibo is said to come from the brave cacique (Indian chief) Mara, a young native who valiantly resisted the Spaniards and died fighting them. Legend says that when Mara fell, the Indians shouted “Mara kayó!” (Mara fell!), thus originating the city name –although it would be strange for them to shout in Spanish. Other historians say that the first name of this land in the local language was “Maara-iwo” meaning “Place where serpents abound”.
The first indigenous settlements were of Arawak and Carib origin. Around the main group were the Añu tribe who built rows of stilt houses all over the northern riviera of the Lake Maracaibo. The first Europeans arrived in 1499.
The city was founded three times: the first time was during the Klein-Venedig period (1528–1546), when the Welser bankers of Augsburg received a concession over Venezuela Province from Charles I. of Spain. In August 1529, the German Ambrosius Ehinger made his first expedition to Lake Maracaibo, which was bitterly opposed by the indigenous Coquivacoa. After winning a series of bloody battles, he founded the settlement on 8 September 1529. Ehinger named the settlement New Nuremberg (German: Neu-Nürnberg) and the lake after the valiant chieftain Mara of the Coquivacoa, who had died in the fighting. The city was renamed Maracaibo after the Spanish took possession. The lack of activity in the zone made Nikolaus Federmann evacuate the village in 1535 and move its population to Santa Marta near the then capital of Venezuela Province, Santa Ana de Coro.
A second attempt by Captain Alonso Pacheco in 1569 suffered a brief setback when the city had to be evacuated in 1573 due to ferocious attacks by native local tribes. The European settlement returned a short while later, in 1574, however, for which it was re-founded by Captain Pedro Maldonado under Governor Diego de Mazariegos’ command and assuming the name of Nueva Zamora de Maracaibo. “Nueva Zamora” comes from Mazariego’s place of birth, Zamora, in Spain. Since its definite foundation, the town began to develop as a whole. It is based on the western side of Lake Maracaibo, the dominant feature of the oil-rich Maracaibo Basin. Favoured by prevailing winds and a protected harbour, the city is located on the shores of the lake where the narrows, which eventually lead to the Gulf of Venezuela, first become pronounced.
The Dutch corsair Enrique de Gerard plundered Maracaibo in 1614, and in 1642 the city was attacked by the British pirate William Jackson. In 1667, l’Olonnais with a fleet of eight ships and a crew of six hundred pirates sacked Maracaibo and Gibraltar. En route, l’Olonnais crossed paths with a Spanish treasure ship, which he captured, along with its rich cargo of cacao, gemstones and more than 260,000 pieces of eight.
In March 1669, Henry Morgan sacked Maracaibo, which emptied when his fleet was first spied, and moved on to the Spanish settlement of Gibraltar on the inside of Lake Maracaibo in search of more treasure. A few weeks later, when he attempted to sail out of the lake, Morgan found an occupied fort blocking the inlet to the Caribbean, along with three Spanish ships. These were the Magdalena, the San Luis, and the Soledad. He destroyed the Magdalena and burned the San Luis by sending a dummy ship full of gunpowder to explode near them, after which the crew of the Soledad surrendered. By faking a landward attack on the fort, thereby convincing the Spanish governor to shift his cannon, he eluded their guns and escaped.
In June 1678, Michel de Grammont French commander of six ships and 700 men captured Maracaibo then followed the plundering of several smaller towns as Gibraltar, penetrating as far inland as Trujillo.
In 1810, the province of Maracaibo did not join the First Republic of Venezuela and remained loyal to the Spanish crown. Maracaibo then held the seat of the Captaincy General of Venezuela.
In 1821, uprisings in favour of independence began to lead to warfare and hostility. The royalists, led by Francisco Tomás Morales, fought with the patriots, led by Rafael Urdaneta, to take back control over the province in the Juana de Ávila Battle and Morales brought back Spanish rule in 1822 until he was defeated at the Battle of Lake Maracaibo on 24 July 1823, culminating Venezuela’s struggle for independence.
For about 390 years, Maracaibo remained isolated and separated from the rest of the country. Transportation was only possible across the lake by ferry or other marine transport.
Cars, buses, and lorries, with their constant flow of manufactured goods and agricultural product, depended on the ferry system between the city and the eastern shore with their roads to connect to the country’s motorway system. Maracaibo and the Lake Maracaibo region’s economy was more linked to Colombia than to eastern Venezuela due to the natural route available through Lake Maracaibo then leading to the sea.
This isolation was both a challenge and an advantage. The very nature of the city’s location made for a population known for their independent thought and character. The history of this region is rife with stories about the creation of an independent and sovereign nation apart from Venezuela, a nation called La República Independiente del Zulia, which means The Independent Republic of Zulia, but this has never come to be.
In January 1903, as the naval blockade of Venezuela continued during the negotiations with presidente Cipriano Castro, the German warship SMS Panther attempted to enter Lake Maracaibo, which was a centre of German commercial activity. On 17 January, it exchanged fire with the settlement of Fort San Carlos, but withdrew after half an hour, as shallow waters prevented it getting close enough to the fort to be effective. The Venezuelans claimed this as a victory, and in response the German commander sent the SMS Vineta, with heavier weapons, to set an example. On 21 January, the SMS Vineta bombarded the fort, setting fire to it and destroying it, with the death of 25 civilians in the nearby town.
In 1908, the Friesland, Gelderland and Jacob van Heemskerck were sent to patrol the Venezuelan coast during the second Castro crisis. Friesland guarded the entry way to Maracaibo.
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