A City Of Venezuela, capital of the state of Zulia (formerly Maracaybo), situated on the W. shore of a channel connecting the lake and gulf of the same name, about 25 m. from the gulf, and 300 in. W. of Caracas; lat. 10° 40' N., Ion. 71 40' W.; pop. about 15,000. The city is built on a dry sandy soil, and the N. portion, upon a rising ground, commands a fine view of the lake. The houses, a few of which are handsome, are for the most part of chalk and sand, or of wood, and covered with reeds. The harbor is commodious and well defended by three forts; but, owing to the bar at the entrance, only vessels drawing less than 10 ft. can come up to the town. The climate is excessively hot, but more salubrious than that of the lowland towns of the eastern and inland states. Heavy rain falls from May to November; and in the other months violent and even disastrous rains, accompanied by terrific lightning and thunder, are not infrequent, but hurricanes are unknown. Earthquakes are common. The principal articles of export are cacao, cotton, sugar, fustic, and coffee; of the last 23,000,000 lbs. were exported in the year ending June 30, 1872. Cattle are reared in large numbers in the surrounding country. Ship building, for which a dockyard in the port offers superior facilities, is extensively carried on.
There is an important coasting trade. The foreign trade is mostly in the hands of English, French, and Germans. - This city was founded in 1571 by Alonso I'acheco, who named it Zamora; it was afterward called Maracaybo, after a powerful cacique of the lake region. It has frequently suffered by tire and earthquakes.
Lake or ;i large lagoon or inlet of the sea, in shape resembling a guitar, lying immediately S. of the city; length, nearly 100 m.; greatest breadth, 75 m. The channel connecting the lake with the sea is 15 in. long and from 4 to 14 m. wide, and deep enough except over the bar at its mouth for the largest vessels. The shores of the lake are low and barren, and at certain seasons inundated to a distance of 10 or 20 m. Its waters., being fed by about 500 small streams (only about 100 of which however are perennial), are generally fresh when the S. wind prevails;at other times they are brackish. On the N E. shore is a mine of mineral pitch which at night during the hottest months emits a brilliant phosphoric light resembling lightning, and called by navigators the lighthouse (faro) of Maracaybo. The carrying trade on the lake is done by schooners; but it is now proposed to establish also one or two lines of steamers.