Caracas, Venezuela, the nation's capital and largest city. It occupies part of the Federal District and lies in an Andean mountain valley about 7 miles (11 km) from the Caribbean Sea. The city's elevation is roughly 3,100 feet (950 m). The climate is mild throughout the year.
Caracas has a modern downtown section and is served by expressways and a subway. An expressway links Caracas to its port at La Guaira and to the international airport at Maiquetia.
Caracas is the industrial and commercial center of Venezuela. Principal industries include banking, food processing, oil refining, and production of chemicals and clothing.
The city is also Venezuela's main center of higher education and cultural life. Central University is the largest of four universities in Caracas. There are numerous museums, including art museums and a museum of natural history. Performing arts include opera, ballet, and theater companies and symphony orchestras. Places of interest include the birthplace and tomb of Simón Bolívar; the Plaza Bolívar; historic buildings including the gold-domed capitol and the cathedral; a botanical garden; a bullring; a horse-racing track; and many city parks.
Caracas was founded in 1567 by the Spanish as Santiago de León de Caracas and became a prosperous colonial city. It was sacked by the English in 1595 and by the French in 1766. An earthquake leveled the city in 1812. Caracas was rebuilt and became the capital of Venezuela in 1829. The city began to develop rapidly in the 1950's as a result of an oil boom.