France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
New York Harbor
New York Harbor, part of the Port of New York and New Jersey, is at the mouth of the Hudson River where it empties into New York Bay and into the Atlantic Ocean at the East Coast of the United States. It is one of the largest natural harbors in the world. Although the United States Board on Geographic Names does not use the term, New York Harbor has important historical, governmental and ecological usages; the original population of the 16th century New York Harbor, the Lenape, used the waterways for fishing and travel. In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazzano anchored in what is now called The Narrows, the strait between Staten Island and Long Island that connects the Upper and Lower New York Bay, where he received a canoe party of Lenape. A party of his sailors may have taken on fresh water at a spring called "the watering place" on Staten Island—a monument stands in a tiny park on the corner of Bay Street and Victory Boulevard at the approximate spot—but Verrazzano's descriptions of the geography of the area are a bit ambiguous.
It is firmly held by historians that his ship anchored at the approximate location where the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge touches down in Brooklyn today. He observed what he believed to be a large freshwater lake to the north, he did not travel north to observe the existence of the Hudson River. In 1609 Henry Hudson explored a stretch of the river that now bears his name, his journey prompted others to engage in trade with the local population. In 1624 the first permanent European settlement was started on Governors Island, eight years in Brooklyn; the colonial Dutch Director-General of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant, ordered construction of the first wharf on the Manhattan bank of the lower East River sheltered from winds and ice, completed late in 1648 and called Schreyers Hook Dock. This prepared New York as a leading port for the British colonies and within the newly independent United States. In 1686, the British colonial officials gave the municipality control over the waterfront. In 1808, Lieutenant Thomas Gedney of the United States Coast Survey discovered a new, deeper channel through The Narrows into New York Harbor.
The passage was complex and shallow enough that loaded ships would wait outside the harbor until high tide, to avoid running into the huge sandbar, interrupted in a number of places by channels of shallow depth: 21 feet at low tide and 33 feet at high tide. Because of the difficulty of the navigation required, since 1694, New York had required all ships to be guided into the harbor by an experienced pilot; the new channel Gedney discovered was 2 feet deeper, enough of an added margin that laden ships could come into the harbor at slack tide. Gedney's Channel, as it came to be called, was shorter than the previous channel, another benefit appreciated by the ship owners and the merchants they sold to. Gedney received the praise of the city, as well as an expensive silver service. In 1824 the first American drydock was completed on the East River; because of its location and depth, the Port grew with the introduction of steamships. By about 1840, more passengers and a greater tonnage of cargo came through the port of New York than all other major harbors in the country combined and by 1900 it was one of the great international ports.
The Morris Canal, carrying anthracite and freight from Pennsylvania through New Jersey to its terminus at the mouth of the Hudson in Jersey City. Portions in the harbor are now part of Liberty State Park. In 1870, the city established the Department of Docks to systematize waterfront development, with George B. McClellan as the first engineer in chief. By the turn of the 20th century numerous railroad terminals lined the western banks of the North River in Hudson County, transporting passengers as well as freight from all over the United States; the freight was ferried across by the competing railroads with small fleets of towboats, 323 car floats, specially designed barges with rails so cars could be rolled on. New York subsidized this service. Major road improvements allowing for trucking and containerization diminished the need; the Statue of Liberty stands on Liberty Island in the harbor, the Statue of Liberty National Monument recalls the period of massive immigration to the United States at the turn of the 20th century.
The main port of entry at Ellis Island processed 12 million arrivals from 1892 to 1954. While many stayed in the region, others spread across America, with more than 10 million leaving from the nearby Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal. After the United States entered World War II, the German navy's Operation Drumbeat set the top U-boat aces loose against the merchant fleet in U. S. territorial waters in January 1942. The U-boat captains were able to silhouette target ships against the glow of city lights, attacked with relative impunity, in spite of U. S. naval concentrations within the Harbor. Casualties included the tankers Coimbria off Sandy Norness off Long Island. New York Harbor, as the major convoy embarkation point for the U. S. was a staging area in the Battle of the Atlantic, with the U. S. Merchant Marine losses of 1 of 26 exceeding those of the other U. S. forces. Bright city lights made it easier for German U-boats to spot targets at night, but local officia
The Caribbean Sea is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, to the south by the north coast of South America; the entire area of the Caribbean Sea, the numerous islands of the West Indies, adjacent coasts, are collectively known as the Caribbean. The Caribbean Sea is one of the largest seas and has an area of about 2,754,000 km2; the sea's deepest point is the Cayman Trough, between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, at 7,686 m below sea level. The Caribbean coastline has many gulfs and bays: the Gulf of Gonâve, Gulf of Venezuela, Gulf of Darién, Golfo de los Mosquitos, Gulf of Paria and Gulf of Honduras; the Caribbean Sea has the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. It runs 1,000 km along the coasts of Mexico, Belize and Honduras; the name "Caribbean" derives from the Caribs, one of the region's dominant Native American groups at the time of European contact during the late 15th century.
After Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas in 1492, the Spanish term Antillas applied to the lands. During the first century of development, Spanish dominance in the region remained undisputed. From the 16th century, Europeans visiting the Caribbean region identified the "South Sea" as opposed to the "North Sea"; the Caribbean Sea had been unknown to the populations of Eurasia until 1492, when Christopher Columbus sailed into Caribbean waters on a quest to find a sea route to Asia. At that time the Western Hemisphere in general was unknown to most Europeans, although it had been discovered between the years 800 and 1000 by the vikings. Following the discovery of the islands by Columbus, the area was colonized by several Western cultures. Following the colonization of the Caribbean islands, the Caribbean Sea became a busy area for European-based marine trading and transports, this commerce attracted pirates such as Samuel Bellamy and Blackbeard; as of 2015 the area is home to borders 12 continental countries.
The International Hydrographic Organization defines the limits of the Caribbean Sea as follows: On the North. In the Windward Channel – a line joining Caleta Point and Pearl Point in Haïti. In the Mona Passage – a line joining Cape Engaño and the extreme of Agujereada in Puerto Rico. Eastern limits. From Point San Diego Northward along the meridian thereof to the 100-fathom line, thence Eastward and Southward, in such a manner that all islands and narrow waters of the Lesser Antilles are included in the Caribbean Sea as far as Galera Point. From Galera Point through Trinidad to Galeota Point and thence to Baja Point in Venezuela. Note that, although Barbados is an island on the same continental shelf, it is considered to be in the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Caribbean Sea; the Caribbean Sea is an oceanic sea situated on the Caribbean Plate. The Caribbean Sea is separated from the ocean by several island arcs of various ages; the youngest stretches from the Lesser Antilles to the Virgin Islands to the north east of Trinidad and Tobago off the coast of Venezuela.
This arc was formed by the collision of the South American Plate with the Caribbean Plate and includes active and extinct volcanoes such as Mount Pelee, the Quill on Sint Eustatius in the Caribbean Netherlands and Morne Trois Pitons on Dominica. The larger islands in the northern part of the sea Cuba, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico lie on an older island arc; the geological age of the Caribbean Sea is estimated to be between 160 and 180 million years and was formed by a horizontal fracture that split the supercontinent called Pangea in the Mesozoic Era. It is assumed the proto-caribbean basin existed in the Devonian period. In the early Carboniferous movement of Gondwana to the north and its convergence with the Euramerica basin decreased in size; the next stage of the Caribbean Sea's formation began in the Triassic. Powerful rifting led to the formation of narrow troughs, stretching from modern Newfoundland to the west coast of the Gulf of Mexico which formed siliciclastic sedimentary rocks. In the early Jurassic due to powerful marine transgression, water broke into the present area of the Gulf of Mexico creating a vast shallow pool.
The emergence of deep basins in the Caribbean occurred during the Middle Jurassic rifting. The emergence of these basins marked the beginning of the Atlantic Ocean and contributed to the destruction of Pangaea at the end of the late Jurassic. During the Cretaceous the Caribbean acquired the shape close to that seen today. In the early Paleogene due to Marine regression the Caribbean became separated from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean by the land of Cuba and Haiti; the Caribbean remained like this for most of the Cenozoic until the Holocene when rising water levels of the oceans restored communication with the Atlantic Ocean. The Caribbean's floor is composed of sub-oceanic sediments of deep red clay in the deep basins and troughs. On continental slopes and ridges calcareous silts are found. Clay minerals having been deposited by the mainland river Orinoco and the Magdalena River. Deposits on th
SS La Bretagne
SS La Bretagne was an ocean liner that sailed for the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique from her launch in 1886 to 1912, sailing in transatlantic service on the North Atlantic. Sold to Compagnie de Navigation Sud-Atlantique in 1912, she sailed for that company under her original name and as SS Alesia on France–South America routes; the liner was sold for scrapping in the Netherlands in December 1923, but was lost while being towed. In March 1885, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, announced the building of four new steamers for the Le Havre–New York route at the company's Penhoët ship yard; the sized steamers, La Champagne, La Bourgogne, La Bretagne, La Gascogne, were built under a French government subsidy law that provided that the ships could be taken over in a time of war. CGT announced that noted French designer Jules Allard would decorate the four ships. La Bretagne was launched 9 September 1885 by CGT in Saint-Nazaire. Built for France to New York service, she had a 7,112 gross tonnage and measured 150.99 metres long between perpendiculars and 15.78 metres wide.
Equipped with twin triple-expansion steam engines driving a single screw propeller that drove her at 17 knots, she was outfitted with two funnels and four masts carrying a barquentine rig. La Bretagne was equipped with accommodations for 390 first-class, 65 second-class, 600 third-class passengers, her hull was made of steel from the foundries at Terre-Noire and featured eleven bulkheads which created twelve watertight compartments. The ship cost exclusive of decorations which were provided for $75,000 by CGT employees. La Bretagne began her maiden voyage from Le Havre to New York on 14 August 1886, arrived on 22 August after a storm-tossed voyage carrying 281 passengers. In June 1891, a westbound passage was marred when a drunken man flung his five-year-old son overboard in mid ocean; the man was seized and straitjacketed while a boat was launched in an unsuccessful attempt to save the boy. In the last quarter of 1892, La Bretagne seemed to be jinxed. In September, a cholera outbreak, traced to a United States immigrant brought aboard the Hamburg-Amerika steamer Moravia, caused all steerage traffic to be suspended and CGT's New York traffic to depart from Cherbourg for the next two months.
La Bretagne, arriving in New York in mid-September, was caught in the middle of the outbreak and was detained at the New York Quarantine Station. Among the passengers aboard was John D. Washburn, the United States Minister to Switzerland, leaving his diplomatic post. On her next voyage, a purser's error resulted in the ship being detained for an "uncomfortable long time" off Liberty Island in early December while the error was sorted out. Departing from her pier at the foot of Morgan Street in New York on 11 December, a pilot error resulted in La Bretagne plowing 50 feet through a pier at the foot of Franklin Street; the New York agent for CGT estimated that it would take two weeks to repair the eleven plates crushed by the collision. The success of upgraded engines on the liner La Normandie in 1894 prompted CGT to make similar changes on several older liners, including La Bretagne. In 1895, her triple-expansion engines were upgraded to quadruple-expansion engines, her four barquentine-rigged masts were removed and replaced with two pole masts.
At the same time, her third-class passenger capacity was nearly tripled, going from 600 to 1,500 passengers. In April 1898, The New York Times reported on a rescue at sea accomplished by La Bretagne's crew that had happened late the previous month. Encountering the dismasted British bark Bothnia, the crew of La Bretagne effected rescue of the stricken ship's master and ten surviving crewmen; the crew used carrier pigeons to announce the rescue. The carrier pigeons were being carried aboard La Bretagne as a trial program under the watch of a French Army officer, after the CGT liner La Champagne broke her propeller shaft and was adrift for five days in February without any way of communicating her predicament. On 18 May 1899, a fire was discovered in the cargo hold of the outbound North German Lloyd liner Barbarossa, when she had just sailed through the Narrows. Barbarossa's crew—in a panic, according to a Chicago Daily Tribune news story—turned the big liner around and hastily headed back to her pier, ramming the docked La Bretagne in her starboard quarter in the process.
The damage to La Bretagne's hull was significant: a hole 25-foot long, 10 feet below the waterline that left her in danger of sinking at her pier. By making the ship list to port, La Bretagne's crew were able to get the hole above the waterline and prevent further damage. Estimates in The New York Times two days put La Bretagne's repair time at ten days. In the meantime, her passengers were able to choose to travel on the Cunard liner RMS Carmania or the CGT liner La Touraine to complete their travel. On 27 May 1909, La Bretagne was tangentially involved in another North German Lloyd liner mishap. Princess Alice, departing for Bremen from New York in a fog, steered clear of La Bretagne and instead ran hard aground near the seawall of Fort Wadsworth. La Bretagne's career was not marked by misfortune. On her August 1902 crossing, a group of about 30 first-cabin passengers formed a vegetarian society, which they called "La Société des Legumineux", that gave the steward fits because they ignored the chef's signature meat dishes of roast beef and Philadelphia chicken.
The same voyage carried eight Franciscan nuns—reportedly the last of the expelled order to leave France—on their way to Canada. In September 1905, The New York Times heralded t
Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Saint Thomas is one of the Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea and, together with Saint John, Water Island and Saint Croix, a former Danish colony, form a county and constituent district of the United States Virgin Islands, an unincorporated territory of the United States. Located on the island is the territorial capital and port of Charlotte Amalie; as of the 2010 census, the population of Saint Thomas was 51,634 about 48.5% of the US Virgin Islands total. The district has a land area of 32 square miles; the island was settled around 1500 BC by the Ciboney people. They were replaced by the Arawaks and the Caribs. Christopher Columbus sighted the island in 1493 on his second voyage to the New World; the Dutch West India Company established a post on Saint Thomas in 1657. The first congregation was the St. Thomas Reformed Church, established in 1660 and was associated with the Dutch Reformed Church. Denmark-Norway's first attempt to settle the island in 1665 failed. However, the Danes did resettle St. Thomas in 1671, under the sponsorship of the Glueckstadt Co. the Danish West India Company.
The first slave ships arrived in 1673, St. Thomas became a slave market; the island became a Danish crown colony in 1754, was granted free port status in 1764. The land was divided into plantations and sugarcane production became the primary economic activity; as a result, the economies of Saint Thomas and the neighboring islands of Saint John and Saint Croix became dependent on slave labor and the slave trade. In 1685, the Brandenburgisch-Africanische Compagnie took control of the slave trade on Saint Thomas, for some time the largest slave auctions in the world were held there. Saint Thomas's fine natural harbor became known as "Taphus" for the drinking establishments located nearby. In 1691, the primary settlement there was renamed Charlotte Amalie in honor of the wife of Denmark's King Christian V, it was declared a free port by Frederick V. In December 1732, the first two of many Moravian Brethren missionaries came from Herrnhut Saxony in present-day Germany to minister to them. Distrusted at first by the white masters, they soon won their confidence.
From 1796 a small Jewish community developed in Charlotte Amalie. It established a historic synagogue, Beracha Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim, the oldest synagogue in continuous use anywhere in the United States or its external territories; the first British invasion and occupation of the island occurred in 1801. The islands were returned to Denmark under the terms of the Treaty of Amiens. Fire destroyed hundreds of homes in Charlotte Amalie in 1804; the second British occupation of the island occurred from 1807-1815, after the Invasion of the Danish West Indies, during which they built Fort Cowell on Hassel Island. While the sugar trade had brought prosperity to the island's free citizens, by the early 19th century Saint Thomas was in decline; the continued export of sugar was threatened by hurricanes and American competition. Following the Danish Revolution of 1848, slavery was abolished and the resulting rise in labor costs further weakened the position of Saint Thomas's sugar producers. Given its harbors and fortifications, Saint Thomas still retained a strategic importance, thus, in the 1860s, during the American Civil War and its aftermath, the United States government considered buying the island and its neighbors from Denmark for $7.5 million.
However, the proponents of the purchase failed to gain legislative support for the bid. As the islands were poorly managed by the Danes, a local islander, David Hamilton Jackson, was instrumental in persuading the Danish to allow the US to purchase the islands of Saint Thomas, Saint John, Saint Croix. In 1915, he traveled to Denmark and convinced the King of Denmark to allow freedom of the press in the islands, he began the first newspaper in the islands, known as The Herald. After this, he organized labor unions among the islanders for better working conditions; the islands now have an annual celebration in November to honor the legacy of David Hamilton Jackson. In 1917, Saint Thomas was purchased by the United States for $25 million in gold, as part of a defensive strategy to maintain control over the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during the First World War; the transfer occurred on March 31, 1917, behind Fort Christian before the barracks that now house the Legislature of the U. S Virgin Islands.
The baccalaureate service for the transfer was held at the St. Thomas Reformed Church as it was identified as the American church in the Danish West Indies; the United States granted citizenship to the residents in 1927. The U. S. Department of the Interior took over administrative duties in 1931. American forces were based on the island during the Second World War. In 1954, passage of the U. S. Virgin Islands Organic Act granted territorial status to the three islands, allowed for the formation of a local senate with politics dominated by the American Republican and Democratic parties. Full home rule was achieved in 1970; the post-war era saw the rise of tourism on the island. With cheap air travel and the American embargo on Cuba, the numbers of visitors increased. Despite natural disasters such as Hurricane Hugo and Hurricanes Luis and Marilyn, the island's infrastructure continues to improve as the flow of visitors continues. Hotels have been built from the West End to the East End; the island has a number of natural bays and harbors including Magens Bay, Great Bay, Jersey Bay, Long Bay, Fortuna Bay, Hendrik Bay.
Passenger ships dock and
Panama the Republic of Panama, is a country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica to the west, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the south. The capital and largest city is Panama City, whose metropolitan area is home to nearly half the country's 4 million people. Panama was inhabited by indigenous tribes before Spanish colonists arrived in the 16th century, it broke away from Spain in 1821 and joined the Republic of Gran Colombia, a union of Nueva Granada and Venezuela. After Gran Colombia dissolved in 1831, Panama and Nueva Granada became the Republic of Colombia. With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the construction of the Panama Canal to be completed by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1904 and 1914; the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties led to the transfer of the Canal from the United States to Panama on December 31, 1999. Revenue from canal tolls continues to represent a significant portion of Panama's GDP, although commerce and tourism are major and growing sectors.
It is regarded as a high-income country. In 2015 Panama ranked 60th in the world in terms of the Human Development Index. In 2018, Panama was ranked seventh-most competitive economy in Latin America, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index. Covering around 40 percent of its land area, Panama's jungles are home to an abundance of tropical plants and animals – some of them found nowhere else on the planet. Panama is a founding member of the United Nations and other international organizations such as OAS, LAIA, G77, WHO and NAM; the definite origin of the name Panama is unknown. There are several theories. One postulates that the country was named after a found species of tree. Another that the first settlers arrived in Panama in August, when butterflies abound, that the name means "many butterflies" in one or several of indigenous Amerindian languages that were spoken in the territory prior to Spanish colonization. Most scientifically corroborated theory, that by Panamanian linguists, states that the word is a hispanicization of Kuna language word "bannaba" which means "distant" or "far away".
A relayed legend in Panama is that there was a fishing village that bore the name "Panamá", which purportedly meant "an abundance of fish", when the Spanish colonizers first landed in the area. The exact location of the village is unspecified; the legend is corroborated by Captain Antonio Tello de Guzmán's diary entries, who reports landing at an unnamed village while exploring the Pacific coast of Panama in 1515. In 1517, Don Gaspar de Espinosa, a Spanish lieutenant, decided to settle a post in the same location Guzmán described. In 1519, Pedrarias Dávila decided to establish the Spanish Empire's Pacific port at the site; the new settlement replaced Santa María La Antigua del Darién, which had lost its function within the Crown's global plan after the Spanish exploitation of the riches in the Pacific began. The official definition and origin of the name as promoted by Panama's Ministry of Education is the "abundance of fish and butterflies"; this is the usual description given in social studies textbooks.
At the time of the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, the known inhabitants of Panama included the Cuevas and the Coclé tribes. These people have nearly disappeared; the Isthmus of Panama was formed about three million years ago when the land bridge between North and South America became complete, plants and animals crossed it in both directions. The existence of the isthmus affected the dispersal of people and technology throughout the American continent from the appearance of the first hunters and collectors to the era of villages and cities; the earliest discovered artifacts of indigenous peoples in Panama include Paleo-Indian projectile points. Central Panama was home to some of the first pottery-making in the Americas, for example the cultures at Monagrillo, which date back to 2500–1700 BC; these evolved into significant populations best known through their spectacular burials at the Monagrillo archaeological site, their beautiful Gran Coclé style polychrome pottery. The monumental monolithic sculptures at the Barriles site are important traces of these ancient isthmian cultures.
Before Europeans arrived Panama was settled by Chibchan and Cueva peoples. The largest group were the Cueva; the size of the indigenous population of the isthmus at the time of European colonization is uncertain. Estimates range as high as two million people, but more recent studies place that number closer to 200,000. Archaeological finds and testimonials by early European explorers describe diverse native isthmian groups exhibiting cultural variety and suggesting people developed by regular regional routes of commerce; when Panama was colonized, the indigenous peoples fled into nearby islands. Scholars believe that infectious disease was the primary cause of the population decline of American natives; the indigenous peoples had no acquired immunity to diseases, chronic in Eurasian populations for centuries. Rodrigo de Bastidas sailed westward from Venezuela in 1501 in search of gold, became the first European to explore the isthmus of Panama. A year Christopher Columbus visited the isthmus, established a short-lived settlement in the Darien.
Vasco Núñez de Balboa's tortuous
Caracas Santiago de León de Caracas, is the capital and largest city of Venezuela, centre of the Greater Caracas Area. Caracas is located along the Guaire River in the northern part of the country, following the contours of the narrow Caracas Valley on the Venezuelan coastal mountain range. Terrain suitable for building lies between 760 and 1,140 m above sea level, although there is some settlement above this range; the valley is close to the Caribbean Sea, separated from the coast by a steep 2,200-metre-high mountain range, Cerro El Ávila. The Metropolitan Region of Caracas has an estimated population of 4,923,201. Speaking, the centre of the city is still "Catedral", located near Bolívar Square 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 considered the geographic center of the Metropolitan Region of Caracas called "Greater Caracas". Businesses in the city include service companies and malls.
Caracas has a service-based economy, apart from some industrial activity in its metropolitan area. The Caracas Stock Exchange and Petróleos de Venezuela are headquartered in Caracas. PDVSA is the largest company in Venezuela. Caracas is Venezuela's cultural capital, with many restaurants, theaters and shopping centers; some of the tallest skyscrapers in Latin America are located in Caracas. Caracas has been considered one of the most important cultural, tourist and economic centers 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 noteworthy; the National Art Gallery is projected to be the largest museum in Latin America, according to its architect Carlos Gómez De Llarena. Caracas is home to two of the tallest skyscrapers in South America: the Parque Central Towers, it has a nominal GDP of 91,988 million dollars, a nominal GDP per capita of 18,992 and a PPP GDP per capita of 32,710 dollars.
Being the seventh city in GDP and the seventh metropolitan area in population of Latin America. Caracas has the highest per capita murder rate in the world, with 111.19 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. At the time of the founding of the city in 1567, the valley of Caracas was populated by indigenous peoples. Francisco Fajardo, the son of a Spanish captain and a Guaiqueri cacica, attempted to establish a plantation in the valley in 1562 after founding a series of coastal towns. Fajardo's settlement did not last long, it was destroyed by natives of the region led by Guaicaipuro. This was the last rebellion on the part of the natives. On 25 July 1567, Captain Diego de Losada laid the foundations of the city of Santiago de León de Caracas; the foundation − 1567 – "I take possession of this land in the name of God and the King" These were the words of Don Diego de Losada in founding the city of Caracas on 25 July 1567. In 1577, Caracas became the capital of the Spanish Empire's Venezuela Province under Governor Juan de Pimentel.
During the 17th century, the coast of Venezuela was raided by pirates. With the coastal mountains as a barrier, Caracas was immune to such attacks. However, in 1595, around 200 English privateers including George Sommers and Amyas Preston crossed the mountains through a little-used pass while the town's defenders were guarding the more often-used one. Encountering little resistance, the invaders sacked and set fire to the town after a failed ransom negotiation; as the cocoa cultivation and exports under the Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas grew in importance, the city expanded. In 1777, Caracas became the capital of the Captaincy General of Venezuela. José María España and Manuel Gual led an attempted revolution aimed at independence, but the rebellion was put down on 13 July 1797. Caracas was the site of the signing of a Declaration of independence on 17 August 1811. In 1812, an earthquake destroyed Caracas; the independentist war continued until 24 June 1821, when Bolívar defeated royalists in the Battle of Carabobo.
Caracas grew in economic importance during Venezuela's oil boom in the early 20th century. During the 1950s, Caracas began an intensive modernization program which continued throughout the 1960s and early 1970s; the Universidad Central de Venezuela, designed by modernist architect Carlos Raúl Villanueva and declared World Heritage by UNESCO, was built. New working- and middle-class residential districts sprouted in the valley, extending the urban area toward the east and southeast. Joining El Silencio designed by Villanueva, were several workers' housing districts, 23 de Enero and Simon Rodriguez. Middle-class developments include Bello Monte, Los Palos Grandes, El Cafetal; the dramatic change in the economic structure of the country, which went from being agricultural to dependent on oil production, stimulated the fast development of Caracas, made it a magnet for people in rural communities who migrated to the capital city in an unplanned fashion searching for greater economic opportunity. This migration created the rancho belt of the valley of Caracas.
The flag of Caracas consists of a burgundy red field with the version of the Coat of Arms of the City. The red field symbolises the blood spilt by Caraquenian people in favour of independence and the highest ideals of the Venezuelan Nation. In the year 1994 as a result of the change of municipal authorities, it was decided to increase the size of the Caracas coat of arms and move it to the centre of the field; this version