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Maracaibo travel guide — Maracaibo tourism and travel information

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about Maracaibo

The city of Maracaibo, founded in 1571, is the capital of the State of Zulia and is Venezuela's second largest population center. The 1990 census assigned a population of 1,249,670—a number that many considered to be understated.

Maracaibo was founded on the western side of Lake Maracaibo. Favored by prevailing winds and a protected harbor the city is located on the shores of the lake where the narrows, which eventually lead to the Gulf of Venezuela, first become pronounced.

During the city's first 390 years or so Maracaibo remained isolated and separated from the rest of the country. Land transportation was only possible across the lake by ferry or other marine transport.

Cars, buses, and trucks, 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 highway system.

This isolation was both a challenge and an advantage. The very nature of the city's location made for a population known for independent thought and character.

The separation from Caracas, the seat of national government, created a liberty of thought and character for the "Maracucho" (those that called Maracaibo their home). This characteristic of scrutiny and suspect of "national decision" served the city well. Even in today's connected world the national government's decisions are a bit more suspect and debated by Maracaibo's citizens than in the rest of the country. A protective watchdog attitude remains today by this "independent" population.

The dictatorial regime of General Marcos Perez Jimenez of the 1950s set as a goal the construction of a bridge connecting the two lakeshores. Various bridge projects for the spanning of the Lake Maracaibo narrows near the city were in the works. The General's government had decided that this "city of independent thought" should be more "connected" to the rest of the country.

Proposals for a bridge design that included rail transport and tourist facilities were seriously considered. The fall of the Perez Jimenez government in January 1958 quickly led to a less elaborate design project that was approved and funded by a democratic and more conservative government.

The building of the "El Puente Sobre El Lago de Maracaibo "General Rafael Urdaneta"—(General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge over Lake Maracaibo) named after the distinguished hero of the War of Independence was opened to public traffic in 1962. The project was completed on schedule in 40 months.

This bridge construction project was a remarkable feat. Built under very difficult conditions, when completed, it became the longest prestressed concrete bridge in the world. The structure is in constant use and remains today as the most important link between Maracaibo, along with much of the State of Zulia, and the rest of Venezuela.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Maracaibo".

This city is also known as: Maracaibo.

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