Caracas officially Santiago de León de Caracas, abbreviated as CCS, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela, and the centre of the Metropolitan Region of Caracas. It is Venezuela’s largest urban agglomeration and the country’s primary centre of industry, commerce, education, and culture. Founded in 1567 as Santiago de León de Caracas, the city grew slowly until the 1940s, after which it expanded by monumental proportions, and its influence came to extend to even the remotest parts of the country. In addition to its role as the national capital, Caracas serves as the seat of government for the Capital District, comprising an area of 167 square miles . The city itself, however, spreads across the Capital District boundary, a considerable part of its area lying in the state of Miranda, which borders the district on the east and south.
The valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2,200-metre-high mountain range, Cerro El Ávila; to the south there are more hills and mountains. The Metropolitan Region of Caracas has an estimated population of almost 3 million inhabitants. It is the seventh largest metropolitan area in terms of population in Latin America. Strictly speaking, the centre of the city is still Catedral, located near Bolívar Square, even though it is assumed that it is Plaza Venezuela, located in the Los Caobos neighbourhood. Chacaíto area, Luis Brión Square and El Rosal neighborhood are also considered the geographic center of the Metropolitan Region of Caracas.Businesses in the city include service companies, banks, and malls. 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. Caracas has some of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America, such as the Parque Central Towers.Caracas has been considered one of the most important cultural, tourist, industrial and economic centres of Latin America. The Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas is one of the most important in South America. The Museum of Fine Arts and the National Art Gallery of Caracas are also noteworthy.
Data and Facts
- Caracas city limits border an area measuring 300 square miles (777 square kilometers), within which live approximately 3.3 million people
- Caracas is home to the 5th largest oil exporter in the world (Petroleos de Venezuela)
- There are only two seasons in Caracas – the wet and the dry seasons
- The number of policemen on Caracas streets have been greatly reduced due to the lack of budget money. This contributed further to the revelry of crime
- The highest point in Caracas is 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) above sea level and the lowest point is 870 meters (2,850 feet) above 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)
Caracas is the seat of the national government, which includes executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The city itself is governed through the Metropolitan District of Caracas, which administers the entire Capital District and four municipalities in the neighbouring state of Miranda. Also influential in local affairs, since the early days of colonial settlement, is the Municipal Council of Caracas. Caracas has been the seat of a bishopric of the Roman Catholic Church since 1535 and of an archbishopric since 1804.For almost three centuries of settlement in the valley, local water supplies were considered abundant. Not until 1940 did water shortages become critical, but since that date a continued search for new sources has been required to meet the city’s growing demand. Water supply remains one of the most critical problems to be resolved as the city continues to grow. Also of major concern are waste disposal, contamination, and pollution. Raw sewage is discharged directly into the Guaire River, and air pollution results from industry and severe traffic congestion within the relatively small, enclosed valley.
In the last half of the 20th century, both government and private investments in Venezuela focused on Caracas, with the result that the city prospered beyond all others. Immigrants have arrived in massive numbers from the rest of Venezuela, as well as from most European countries. Increasingly, Caracas has become a city of high-rise apartments that provide clean, modern, and attractive housing. Yet sprawled across the hillsides are countless thousands of ranchitos, homes constructed of corrugated metal, cardboard, or other scrap materials. The construction of new housing is impressive but remains totally inadequate to meet the continually increasing demand. Since the 1960s, large blocks of uniform dwellings have gradually replaced old homes in the Spanish colonial style, of which few now remain.
Health facilities in Caracas, like those of most large urban centres, have been challenged by the rapidly growing population, pollution, and the problems of treating a large poor population. Within the metropolitan area there are numerous clinics, sanatoriums, hospitals, and rest homes that provide health care for the capital’s inhabitants.
Under the constitution of Venezuela, municipal governments have two branches: the executive and the legislative .n 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 the Libertador, Chacao, Baruta, Sucre, and El Hatillo municipalities would be delegated to the Alcaldía Mayor, physically located in the large Libertador municipality, in the center of the city.[ The Metropolitan District of Caracas was suppressed on 20 December 2017 by the Constituent National Assembly of Venezuela.
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 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.Several international companies and embassies are located in El Rosal and Las Mercedes, in the north of the Baruta municipality and the south of the Chacao municipality. 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 is US$70 billion and the GDP per Capita is.USD 24,000. However, Caracas is now one of the cheapest cities for tourists, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit.
Most important in the economic life of Caracas is the tertiary, or service, sector. This includes wholesale and retail trade, transportation and public utilities, education and health care, and especially government. The city serves as headquarters for most of Venezuela’s commercial and industrial firms, its banks and insurance companies, and government agencies both foreign and domestic. Nearly all countries of the world maintain embassies or consulates within the city. In Caracas, as in any city of dynamic growth, the construction trades are yet another source of livelihood. Chronic unemployment nevertheless remains and is only partially relieved by activities such as street vending, peddling, and shoe shining.
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.
Caracas, capital of Venezuela, is the principal entrepreneurship city of the country. With a proximal population of 2,5 million, the startups ecosystem in the city has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years even though the big economic and political problems during the past decades. However, startups and innovation are becoming an important solution for the Venezuelan economy. According to the 2012 GEM , Venezuela is ranked 12th in the Total Entrepreneurial Activity with a TEA by opportunity rate of 10.78% which indicate the great entrepreneurial spirit of citizens. In StartupBlink’s 2019 report, Caracas Ranked 1st in Venezuela and 495th globally.
Probably the most important reference of the startups in Caracas is Open English, an online educational platform focus on reinventing the way to learn English. Founded by Andrés Moreno in 2007, this startup has currently business activities in more than 40 countries. Quiro app, another great reference of what’s happening in Caracas’ startup ecosystem, is the first mobile application in the world that uses video game technology and design to deliver realistic and interactive medical training. Founded in 2014 by Saúl González and Robert Valerio. Disenia is an e-commerce focus on a product designed by Latin American. It was founded in 2012 by Odreman’s brothers. Currently, these startups have business activities in Venezuela, Chile, and Mexico. Teachlr, e-learning platform founded in 2011 in Caracas by Rubén Benarroch y Jean Moisés Annicchiarico. In 2015 Teachlr become the first Venezuelan startup to win the TIC Américas on Economic Innovation Talent.
One of the biggest advantages of Caracas has always been its geographic location which allows entrepreneurs to easily connect with the rest of the world. In recent years have appeared new spaces and programs to encourage entrepreneurship in the city due to the high demand for services to support entrepreneurship as part of the solution of the national economic situation. The public and private organizations are working on new ordinances related to technological and social development. Currently, Venezuela is going through a process of positive change that allows entrepreneurs to wait for future legislation more flexible to promote and support technological development. Caracas in the last decade has become the center of national enterprise. We are motivated to make the venture a bridge for the development of a better country. It is no secret for anyone the difficult situation in Venezuela on the economic, political and social environment. This has caused a big negative impact on the development of national entrepreneurship ecosystem in the past two decades. One of the biggest consequences is the poor development of public policies that support entrepreneurship. In the country, it takes 4 to 6 months to complete the legal process of formalizing a new company.
Many social problems are also affecting the development of entrepreneurship in the country. Limited access to new technologies as a result of exchange controls imposed by the government 12 years ago, has been the deterioration of technological installations and backwardness of the few functioning compared to other Latin American countries. The deteriorating internet connection system is one of the major consequences that have a low investment in new infrastructure in the country. In Venezuela, we develop new startups with the world’s slowest internet. Another is the negative impact of the political process that the country has experienced over the past decades. Increases poverty, underdevelopment of banking systems and payment processes; laws that hinder development, access to foreign exchange, among others.
Caracas is linked directly with other major urban centres of the world by air and ocean transport. Maiquetía Airport, located 10 miles by road from Caracas on the coast, provides international connections as well as domestic flights to all parts of the republic. Two smaller airports, La Carlota and Francisco de Miranda, also serve the city. La Guaira and, to a lesser extent, Puerto Cabello are the natural seaports for Caracas and handle most of its import and export trade. A modern superhighway, including two long tunnels through the mountains, leads from Caracas to Maiquetía, La Guaira, and various beaches and resort areas along the coast. Within the city large numbers of buses, private automobiles, and taxis provide transportation, but during rush hours they clog the streets in what has become an increasing problem of traffic congestion. The public transportation system, although deficient, improved greatly with the inauguration, in 1983, of a modern subway system. Traffic is also facilitated by a system of autopistas, multilane divided highways extending east–west through the valley and connecting the city with interior locations. Railroads, which once provided Caracas with vital links to the sea and to interior valleys, have been abandoned in favour of highway transportation.
It covers a great part of the city and also has an integrated ticket system that combines the route of the Metro with those offered by the Metrobús, a bus service of the Caracas Metro. In 2010, the first segment of a new ariel cable car system opened, Metrocable which feeds into the larger metro system.
Buses are the main means of mass transportation. There are two bus systems: the traditional system and the Metrobús. The Los Teques Metro is a suburban mass-transit system completed in 2006 that connects Caracas with the suburban city of Los Teques. In March 2009 four of the five Caracas districts launched Plan Vía Libre to reduce traffic .
Science and technology in Venezuela includes research based on exploring Venezuela's diverse ecology and the lives of its indigenous peoples. The escalating crisis in Venezuela has seen sky-high hyperinflation, widespread hunger and a large-scale exodus out of the country. The desperate circumstances have led to more than three million Venezuelans leaving the country for a better life. According to recent numbers published by the UN, Latin American countries have doled out around 1.3 million residence permits and other state authorisations to Venezuelans in need.
The impact on the country has been generational and this effect is no different when applied to its tech sector. Once considered one of the centres of wealth and innovation in Latin America, Venezuela’s capital Caracas now stands a shell of its former self, having seen a core of top talent leave for other countries on the continent. Formerly an advisor to a parliamentary committee on Science, Technology and Innovation in Venezuela, Knobelsdorf is now blockchain strategist for Kruger Corp and has regularly seen Venezuela’s top tech minds–particularly among experienced candidates–find greener pastures elsewhere. The crisis in Venezuela’s first major symptom was a hyper-inflating currency which not only prevented tech talent migrating from other Latin American nations, it also led to salaries stagnating for local workers; all the way from programmers to executives. The situation has gotten so extreme that money isn’t counted anymore, it’s weighed, as the sheer amount needed to buy basic goods has led to widespread poverty within the country.
According to a recent ENCOVI study into living conditions in Venezuela, 87 percent of the country now live under the poverty line. Out of 119 countries, Venezuela came in at number 105 for the ability to compete for talent in specialised professions. Moreover, the country ranked poorly in its ability to attract talent from elsewhere and was at the very bottom when it came to keeping its brightest minds. The tragedy of this ranking becomes all too acute on realising that this result is despite Venezuela’s high education outcomes and highly-educated workforce. The report also highlighted another common reality for Venezuelans: that of an uncertain security situation and the rampant rise of crime in the country. From safety while travelling on the city’s public transport, to the constant danger of muggings, many have now decided to move on from their homeland for a more secure future.
This also contributes to a larger problem — the crumbling infrastructure necessary for tech companies and professionals to continue working in the country. Venezuela was known to be one of the Latin American countries with the best internet connectivity in the past. But now, with frequent power outages and irregular coverage, many companies have looked to opt out of the country. A recent study also showed that internet speed within Caracas now stands at less than half of the average speed within Latin American countries. In addition to companies and multinationals having left the country as a result of the crisis, the country’s top scientific minds too have followed suit. Under his successor Nicolás Maduro things didn’t pick up for scientific research either, with funding all but evaporating. This trend also applied to universities where low salaries–as low as US$18 a month–have led to large scale walkouts in both public and private institutions in Venezuela.
Colombia, having taken the lion’s share of Venezuelan nationals following the crisis, has seen a large influx into their informal economy. With over a million Venezuelans choosing to call their western neighbour home, it also comes as little surprise that Venezuelans would also be among Colombia’s tech ecosystem as well. Francisco Fernandez came to Medellin, Colombia around 18 months ago. His heart condition along with Venezuela’s failing healthcare system made the choice to leave a difficult but necessary step. His fortune came in the fact that The History Channel took him on as an animator on a remote contract, allowing him to work anywhere in the world. Like many media professionals and companies–including Latina Productions and VC Media–Fernandez chose Colombia for its ease of access to his home country. Which is perhaps why it’s so crucial that Venezuela’s brightest minds do find firmer, safer footholds elsewhere to give Venezuela a fighting chance when it finally finds political and economic stability.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
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 and British Foreign and Commonwealth Office have issued travel warnings for Venezuela (especially Caracas) due to high rates of crime. Caracas is Venezuela's cultural capital, with many restaurants, theaters, museums, and shopping centers. The city is home to many immigrants from Spain, Italy, Portugal, the Middle East, Germany, China, and Latin American countries.