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MARGARITA ISLAND (Isla de Margarita, Spanish pronunciation: ) is the largest island in the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta
Nueva Esparta
, situated off the northeastern coast of the country, in the Caribbean Sea . The capital city of Nueva Esparta, La Asunción
La Asunción
, is located on the island. Primary industries are tourism, fishing and construction.

CONTENTS

* 1 History

* 2 Geography

* 2.1 Terrain * 2.2 Weather

* 3 Municipalities

* 4 Cities

* 4.1 La Asunción
La Asunción
* 4.2 Pampatar
Pampatar
* 4.3 Porlamar
Porlamar
* 4.4 Juan Griego

* 5 Tourism * 6 Population * 7 Religion

* 8 Natural Heritage

* 8.1 Las Tetas de María Guevara

* 9 Crime * 10 See also * 11 References * 12 External links

HISTORY

1840 map by Agustín Codazzi
Agustín Codazzi
.

Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
was the first European to arrive on Margarita Island in 1498. The local natives were the Guaiqueries people. The coast of the island was abundant in pearls, which represented almost a third of all New World tribute to the Spanish Crown. Margarita Island was fortified against the increasing threat of pirate attacks, and some fortifications remain today. It was the center of Spanish colonial MARGARITA PROVINCE , established in 1525.

In 1561, the island was seized by Lope de Aguirre , a notoriously violent and rebellious conquistador . Around 1675, the island was captured again, this time by Red Legs Greaves , a pirate known for his humanity and morality. He captured a fleet of Spanish ships off port, before turning the guns on the forts which he stormed and claimed a large booty of pearls and gold .

Construction of the fort Santa Rosa was ordered by the governor, Juan Muñoz de Gadea , after the French buccaneer Marquis de Maintenon attacked the island in early 1676.

The island gained independence from the Spanish in 1814 after the collapse of the First Republic of Venezuela
First Republic of Venezuela
. It became the first permanently free territory in Venezuela. In the same year, Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi was detained for over three years in a dungeon of the Fortress of Santa Rosa on the island in an attempt to put pressure on her husband Juan Bautista Arismendi , who was fighting for independence. Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
was confirmed as Commander in Chief of the Second Republic of Venezuela on the island in 1816. From there he started a nine-year campaign to free Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia from the Spanish Crown.

GEOGRAPHY

Nueva Esparta
Nueva Esparta
map

Located in the Caribbean Sea between latitudes 10°52'N and 11°11'N and longitudes 63°48'W and 64°23'W, the island, along with the islands of Coche and Cubagua , comprises the state of Nueva Esparta
Nueva Esparta
. The island is split into two peninsulas joined by an 18 kilometres (11 mi) long isthmus and covers an area of 1,020 km². It is 78 kilometres (48 mi) long and measures roughly 20 kilometres (12 mi) at its widest. The climate is sunny and dry with average temperatures ranging from 24 to 37 °C.

Most of the island's 420,000 residents live in the more developed eastern part of the island, which includes the large cities of Porlamar
Porlamar
and Pampatar
Pampatar
along with the state capital of La Asunción
La Asunción
. The island can be reached by direct flights from Caracas or ferries from Puerto La Cruz, Cumaná, and La Guaira. There are no international flights to the island at present. Las Tetas de María Guevara (twin mountains)

The Macanao peninsula to the west has a central mountain range in the east-west direction. The highest altitude is 760 metres (2,493 ft) at Pico de Macanao . Several smaller ranges derive from this axis following a north-south orientation with deep valleys between them. The most notable of these valleys is San Francisco in the north-central part of the peninsula. The Paraguachoa peninsula to the East is formed by a mountain range in the north-south direction from Porlamar
Porlamar
to Cabo Negro . The highest peaks are San Juan or Cerro Grande at 920 metres (3,018 ft) and El Copey 890 metres (2,920 ft). The peninsulas are connected by the La Restinga isthmus, on which the La Restinga lagoon is located. There are also two breast shaped hills known as Tetas de Maria Guevara on the isthmus.

TERRAIN

Macanao peninsula consists of mountainous spine of the central west-east, with several culminations, including Macanao Peak, which is the highest, with an altitude of 760 meters above sea level stands. This axial region several side brackets oriented north-south off, including deep valleys are dissected, the most important is San Francisco in the north central of Margarita. The central massif is surrounded by foothills forming a more or less continuous, narrow strip and north and south of the peninsula reaches almost to the coast.

Isla Margarita eastern is formed by a mountain range which runs roughly north-south direction, from northern Porlamar
Porlamar
to Cabo Negro; north from the town of El Espinal the massif rises steeply to the culminations of San Juan and Copey hill, showing heights of 960 and 890 m respectively. The hills are Matasite and Guayamurí Los Andes foothills. To the north stands the Tragaplata hill.

Among the higher elevations found on the island, are cited:

PARAGUACHOA:

* San Juan Hill 960 meters above mean sea level * Copey Hill 890m amsl * Cocheima 810m amsl * Tragaplata Hill 640m amsl * El Cacho Hill 510m amsl

PENíNSULA DE MACANAO:

* Macanao Hill 750m amsl * Los Cedros Hill 745m amsl * Risco Blanco Hill 680m amsl * Guaraguao Hill 660m amsl * Soledad Hill 540m amsl * Piedra Lisa Hill 500m amsl * El Castillo Hill 380m amsl

Copey Hill - view from San Juan downtown

WEATHER

The average temperature is 27 ° C with minimum ranging between 22 ° and 23 ° C and maximum that can easily exceed 34 ° C. Rainfall is common in the winter months or rainy season that begins around July-October (although the rain is usually quite rare). Being located in the Caribbean Sea near the Earth's equator, solar rays fall perpendicularly on the island and therefore it is advisable to always use some sort of sunscreen when visiting its beaches.

MUNICIPALITIES

ISLA DE MARGARITA ISLA DE CUBAGUA ISLA DE COCHE MACANAO PENINSULA Boca de Río MAR CARIBE TUBORES TUBORES Punta de Piedras VILLALBA San Pedro DíAZ San Juan Bautista GARCíA El Valle MARIñO Porlamar
Porlamar
MANEIRO Pampatar
Pampatar
ARISMENDI LA ASUNCIÓN MARCANO Juan Griego Santa Ana GóMEZ Santa Ana GóMEZ Paraguachí ANTOLíN

Political Territorial Division of Nueva Esparta
Nueva Esparta
MUNICIPALITY CAPITAL SURFACE POPULATION DENSITY (KM²)

Antolín del Campo La Plaza de Paraguachí 72 km² 21.890 305,30

Arismendi La Asunción
La Asunción
52 km² 23.616 454,15

Díaz San Juan Bautista 166 km² 39.491 238,04

García El Valle del Espíritu Santo 85 km² 49.967 587,16

Gómez Santa Ana 96 km² 33.436 349,38

Maneiro Pampatar
Pampatar
35 km² 35.901 1.028,68

Marcano Juan Griego 40 km² 31.959 796,98

Mariño Porlamar
Porlamar
39 km² 85.942 2.203,64

Península de Macanao 1) Boca de Río 331 km² 5.205 69,26

Tubores 2) Punta de Piedras 180 km² 30.062 167,10

Villalba San Pedro de Coche 55 km² 80.238 218,33

Nueva Esparta La Asunción
La Asunción
1.150 km² 387.175 336,67

CITIES

LA ASUNCIóN

La Asunción
La Asunción
from Santa Rosa Castle

La Asunción
La Asunción
is the capital of the Federal State of Nueva Esparta with a population of around 28,500. It is the seat of the regional government. The city is overlooked by the Santa Rosa Castle of La Asunción

PAMPATAR

Beach near Pampatar
Pampatar

The urban area of Pampatar
Pampatar
has a population of around 50,000. A number of the island's larger shopping malls are located in the city, namely Sambil Margarita, Rattan Depot, Centro Comercial La Vela, Centro Comercial Costa Azul, Centro Comercial AB (Avenida Bolivar) and La Redoma. The Royal Fortress of San Carlos Borromeo , constructed in the late 17th century, is located in Pampatar. The city also has several beaches.

PORLAMAR

The largest city on Margarita Island
Margarita Island
is Porlamar
Porlamar
. The population can reach 125,000 in the high season, while in the low season, the population is about 85,000. Two beaches are located within the city.

JUAN GRIEGO

Juan Griego is a city on the northern side of Isla Margarita, and is the most northern port in Venezuela. It has a population of 28,256 inhabitants (as per census of 2001) and is capital of the Marcano municipality of the Nueva Esparta
Nueva Esparta
state. Its church of gothic styling, constructed in 1850 by Fray Nicholas de Igualdad, is still, along with the lovely bay, the symbol of the city. The La Galera fortress, where in the early 1820s a fierce battle for independence was fought, is located near the city centre. In 1973, the island become a free port and the city once again become the second city in sequence of importance in the commercial activities after Porlamar.

TOURISM

Playa El Agua
Playa El Agua
Margarita Hilton at Puerto Cruz beach

The island's status as a duty-free port and proximity to the mainland make it a popular vacation spot for Venezuelans. It sees a large number of tourists around Christmas
Christmas
time, Easter
Easter
week, and from July to mid-September. Whiskey, cheese, chocolate, and electrical appliances, among other goods, can be purchased less expensively than on the mainland.

There are at least 50 beaches on the island, which has a 106 miles (171 km) coastline. Playa El Yaque is popular as a windsurfing and kitesurffing location. Playa Parguito , Playa Caribe , Playa Punta Arenas , Playa El Agua
Playa El Agua
and Playa Puerto Cruz
Playa Puerto Cruz
are also popular beaches.

Margarita Island
Margarita Island
was the venue for the 2014 Caribbean Series
Caribbean Series
. It was the second time it hosted the Series; 2010 was the first. It is expected that the development of the tourism industry on the island will be boosted by the influence of predominantly Dominican , Mexican , Puerto Rican , and Venezuelan sports enthusiast who arrived for the competition.

POPULATION

A typical house in San Juan Bautista View of Margarita island at night.

The demonym for islanders is Margariteños/as and Neoespartanos/as. Ethnic minority populations of some significance include Lebanese, Spanish , Italian , German, French, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Portuguese, Argentine, Chilean, Uruguayan, Colombian, and Chinese. Immigrants from mainland Venezuela are colloquially called navegaos by islanders.

A little less than 25% of the Neoespartanian population live in Porlamar. Margarita's population is just under 440,000, although this tends to fluctuate during holiday periods and the festive season.

RELIGION

Basílica de la Virgen del Valle (Valley of the Espíritu Santo)

The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism . Other Christian denominations are also present. Of the churches that present in the Neospartan entity, among the most important are: Basílica de la Virgen del Valle (in the Valley of the Espíritu Santo), Cathedral of La Asunción, Iglesia San Juan Evangelista (Juangriego), Iglesia parroquial de San Juan (San Juan Bautista), Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari (Porlamar), of the San José de Paraguachi and other churches and chapels minor located in populations of Santa Ana, Punta de Piedras, Porlamar, Pampatar
Pampatar
and virtually all the towns of the island. There are also small populations of Jews and Muslims.

Evangelical Christian churches have had a significant growth in recent years demonstrating their presence and impact in the population of the island. One of the fastest-growing is the Centro Cristiano Casa de Alabanza (CCCA), present in Porlamar, Juan Griego, La Asunción
La Asunción
and Tubores Municipality. Main article: Virgen del Valle

The patron saint of eastern Venezuela is the Virgen del Valle and in the population El Valle del Espíritu Santo is the Basílica Menor de Nuestra Señora del Valle, which approaching Margarita, Coche and Cubagua Islanders visit to honor her on her feast day.

NATURAL HERITAGE

El Reino Musipán amusement park.

LAS TETAS DE MARíA GUEVARA

The Las Tetas de Maria Guevara ("Maria Guevara's breasts"), located in a coastal plain in the south of the 1,670 hectare Laguna de La Restinga National Park , consists of two small twin hills with a height of 135 metres (443 ft). The vegetation around the hills is desert , with cacti, prickly pears, yaks, guamaches. The fauna is diverse, including desert lizards, rabbits, rattlesnakes and coral.

The legend told by the inhabitants of the island goes that the name María Guevara comes from a white young girl who was heavily involved in the War of Independence and that upon her death, the hills rose on her grave. One other Margaritan myth says the source of the name also comes from the same woman, but that she was from Cumaná