Isla de Margarita was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1498, and was given the Greek name La Margarita, meaning 'pearl.' However, the name was later changed to Isla de Margarita, by Spanish monarchs, in honor of the princess from Austria who was set to marry Spanish Prince Don Juan. The local natives, Guaiqueries, welcomed Christopher Columbus and his crew, unaware that they would be exploited and made into slaves. Their extraction of pearls profited into a third of the Spanish Crown.
In 1561 the Spanish rebel, Lope de Aguirre, seized the island, and brutally opposed any threat of suppression against him. He was eventually captured and killed after crossing South America in an attempt to gain control of Panama. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, forts were built along the coast of Isla de Margarita, to counter the growing number of pirate invasions.
The island successfully gained independence from the Spanish in 1814, and became the first permanent free territory of Venezuela. In 1974 Margarita Island was declared a free port by the Venezuelan government, which led to a major growth in the economy and tourist industry. Today, the main source of income for the island is tourism; which comes as no surprise, considering the island is fabled for consistently sunny weather, and some of the most desirable beaches in the Caribbean.
- Name: Isla de Margarita
(an island territory of Venezuela)
- Capital City: La Asuncion (23,097 pop.)
- Isla de Margarita Population: 436,900 (2010 est.)
- World Populations (all countries)
- Currency: Venezuela Bolivar Fuerte (VEF)
- Language: Spanish (official)
- Largest Cities: (by population) Porlamar, Pampatar, La Asuncion, Juan Griego
- Name: Originally given the greek name Margarita, for the pearls covering the seabed around the island; the name was later changed to Isla de Margarita for the princess of Austria who was set to marry the Spanish Prince Don Juan
- National Day: July 5
- Religion: Catholic, others
FlagsIsla de Margarita is part of the Nueva Esparta state in Venezuela, and flies the Venezuelan flag.
Larger Venezuela flag
- Coastline: 106 miles (170 km)
- Land Area:
(land) 413 sq miles (1,071 sq km)
(water) 0 sq miles (0 sq km)
(TOTAL) 413 sq miles (1,071 sq km)
To convert sq km (kilometers) to sq mi (miles)
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- Land Area: (all countries)
- Latitude & Longitude: La Asuncion
(11° 1' N, 63° 51' W)
- Horizontal Width: 48.6 miles (78.3 km) east from Punta Arenas to Polamar
- Vertical Length: 12.57 miles (20.23 km) north from La Isleta to Manzanillo
Note: Lengths and widths are point-to-point, straight-line measurements from a Mercator map projection, and will vary some using other map projections
- Geographic Center: 6.3 miles (10 km) southwest of La Guardia
- Highest Point: Cerro Grande 3,018 ft (920 m)
- Lowest Point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
GeographyIsla de Margarita (Margarita Island) is a somewhat mountainous island, located about 40 miles north of the Venezuela mainland. Together with Isla de Coche and Isla de Cubagua, they collectively form the Venezuelan state of Nueva Esparta.
ATTRACTIONS: (a few major)
As with most Caribbean islands, the white-sand beaches of Isla Margarita are a main attraction for tourists. Playa El Agua is perhaps the more popular beach destination, due to the light surf conditions and ample selection of restaurants and shops.
Isla Margarita also contains La Restinga National Park, which offers boat tours that wind through the marshland, as well as key areas for bird watching and seashell combing. The beaches that surround the area are well-known for their considerable supply of seashells.
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The climate of Isla de Margarita is very sunny and dry with temperatures ranging from 24 to 37°C (75 - 98°F).
It does not have an annual rainy season, but when it does rain it is more likely to happen during the summer months. In fact, it is not uncommon for the island to receive very little to no amount of rainfall for several months at a time.