Venezuela has a population density of 32 residents per km2, but the majority of the population lives in the coastal inland. The urbanization rate is one of the continent’s highest (88 percent, 2017). The largest cities are Maracaibo (1.9 million, 2012), Caracas (1.9 million), and Valencia (1.4 million).
According to Countryaah, Venezuela has one of the continent’s more mixed populations. As many as 67 percent are considered mastics, and of these, a great deal is called pardos, which suggests that they also have African roots. 21 percent are of European origin while 10 percent are of African descent. The majority of the latter group is concentrated on the coast.
Only 2 percent can be counted as Indians today. They are divided into some forty people, some of them very small, who live in marginal areas. Some of them have become particularly well known through ethnographic works, such as the guajiro cattle (45,000) and the motilón (850 in Venezuela) gatherers and hunters in the northwest, on the border with Colombia. The only major Native American people in the Northeast are warao (15,000), a hunter and fisherman known among others as skilled canoe builders and living in the inaccessible Orinoco Delta. In central Venezuela, there are almost no Indians at all. An exception is the acculturated caribou(10,000). Most peoples are in the south, in the tab that penetrates the Amazon. Among the larger groups there are hunters and gatherers piaroa (12,000) and yanomamo (10,000 in Venezuela).
Spanish is the official language and majority language. Of the 40 native languages still spoken in the country (by about 2% of the population), Wayuu (Guajiro) and other Arawak languages have by far the highest number of speakers. Other indigenous languages include the language isolate warao and yanoma, guahibo and piaroa. In the 1999 constitution, the indigenous languages have gained a stronger position and in the areas where they are spoken have been given the status of official language alongside Spanish.
The Spanish colonial church persecuted Native American religions. After independence, during a liberalization process, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and followers of Pentecostal communities came to Venezuela, a total of about 40,000 people. There are (1999) about 16,000 Orthodox Christians, 8,500 Jews and a lower number of Muslims. 80% of the population are Catholics, persecuted during General Guzman’s dictatorship (1870–88). Under the influence of the Latin American Episcopal Conferences (CELAM), a church renewal is underway. Ecumenical work takes place between the churches mainly in the fight against poverty, against marginalization and for human rights. Afro-Indian traditions are alive, mainly as widespread spiritualism and popular Catholicism. Evangelical and charismatic groups from the United States are increasing the most.
Caracas, capital of Venezuela; 1.94 million inbd (2011), DKK 5 million in the metropolitan region. The town is located at a height of 920 m in a valley surrounded by mountains 20 km from the Caribbean coast. The altitude causes the climate of Caracas to differ from the other major cities of Venezuela; together with considerable runoff and moisture from the surrounding mountains, it gives rise to a distinctive and rich plant and animal life in the valley. The natural riches are threatened by Caracas ‘rampant urban growth, but can still be experienced in the Avila National Park, a protected forest area north of the city with a wealth of tropical plant and animal species, popularly called “Caracas’ lung”.
Caracas is an old city, but the cityscape is completely dominated by the strong development that has taken place since the 1930’s with a background in Venezuela’s oil production. Most of the colonial buildings have had to give way to modern building that has been shot up everywhere. The city has expanded both in area and in height. Caracas is a cosmopolitan business center that intersects with intense traffic. Since 1983, the city has had a network of subways with four lines. The pollution from both car traffic and from the growing industry is great. Industrial production is versatile with the construction, food and timber industries as important industries. A large part is oriented towards the domestic market. As a financial and commercial center, the city is the seat of both Venezuelan and foreign banks and commercial houses, and it is not least a major center for oil trading.
Along the hillsides are several slums, which are the backdrop of many decades of large domestic migrations from country to city.
Caracas was founded in 1567 by Diego de Losada (c. 1511-69) and named after the local Caracas Indians; ten years later it became the provincial capital of Venezuela and grew into one of the area’s largest cities. English pirates plundered the city in 1595; in addition, due to its location, it was spared piracy, but was greatly ravaged by earthquakes in 1755 and 1812. Trade privileges from the Spanish king enabled the development of a Creole citizenship in the city, and the first university was founded in 1721.
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Freedom hero Simón Bolívar was born in Caracas, who became the center of the South American independence struggle against Spanish colonial rule 1810-21. In 1830, Venezuela became independent with Caracas as its capital.
In 1999, Caracas was one of the areas affected by mudslides, caused by heavy rains in the surrounding mountains. The disaster was 1900’s worst in Venezuela.