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La Guaira

LA GUAIRA, or LA GUAYRA (sometimes LAGUAIRA, etc.), a town and port of Venezuela, in the Federal district, 23 m. by rail and 6j m. in a direct line N. of Caracas. Pop. (1904, estimate) 14,000. It is situated between a precipitous mountain side and a broad, semicircular indentation of the coast line which forms the roadstead of the port. The anchorage was long considered one of the most dangerous on the Caribbean coast, and landing was attended with much danger. The harbour has been improved by the construction of a concrete breakwater running out from the eastern shore line 2044 ft., built up from an extreme depth of 46 ft. or from an average depth of 295 ft., and rising 195 ft. above sea-level. This encloses an area of 765 acres, having an average depth of nearly 28 ft. The harbour is further improved by 1870 ft. of concrete quays and 1397 ft. of retaining sea-wall, with several piers (three covered) projecting into deep water. These works were executed by a British company, known as the La Guaira Harbour Corporation, Ltd., and were completed in 1891 at a cost of about one million sterling. The concession is for 99 years and the additional charges which the company is authorized to impose are necessarily heavy. These improvements and the restrictions placed upon the direct trade between West Indian ports and the Orinoco have greatly increased the foreign trade of La Guaira, which in 1903 was 52% of that of the four puertos habilitados of the republic. The shipping entries of that year numbered 217, of which 203 entered with general cargo and 14 with coal exclusively. The exports included 152,625 bags coffee, 114,947 bags cacao and 152,891 hides. For 1905-1906 the imports at La Guaira were valued officially at 767,365 and the exports at 663,708. The city stands on sloping ground stretching along the circular coast line with a varying width of 130 to 330 ft. and having the appearance of an amphitheatre. The port improvements added 18 acres of reclaimed land to La Guaira 's area, and the removal of old shore batteries likewise increased its available breadth. In this narrow space is built the town, composed in great part of small, roughlymade cabins, and narrow, badly-paved streets, but with good business houses on its principal street. From the mountain side, reddish-brown in colour and bare of vegetation, the solar heat is reflected with tremendous force, the mean annual temperature being 84 F. The seaside towns of 'Maiquetia, 2 m. W. and Macuto, 3 m. E., which have better climatic and sanitary conditions and are connected by a narrow-gauge railway, are the residences of many of the wealthier merchants of La Guaira.

La Guaira was founded in 1588, was sacked by filibusters under Amias Preston in 1595, and by the French under Grammont in 1680, was destroyed by the great earthquake of the 26th of March 1812, and suffered severely in the war for independence. In 1903, pending the settlement of claims of Great Britain, Germany and Italy against Venezuela, La Guaira was blockaded by a British-German-Italian fleet.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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