BARQUISIMETO, a city of western Venezuela, capital of the state of Lara, on the Barquisimeto river, 101 m. by rail S.W. of Tucacas, its port on the Caribbean coast. Pop. (est. 1899) 40,000. It is built in a small, fertile valley of the Merida Cordilleras, 1985 ft. above sea-level, has a temperate, healthy climate with a mean annual temperature of 78° F., and is surrounded by a highly productive country from which are exported coffee, sugar, cacao and rum. It is also an important distributing centre for neighbouring districts. The city is the seat of a bishopric, is regularly laid out and well built, and is well provided with educational and charitable institutions. Barquisimeto was founded in 1522 by Juan de Villegas, who was exploring the neighbourhood for gold, and it was first called Nueva Segovia after his native city. In 1807 its population had risen to 15,000, principally through its commercial importance, but on the 26th of March 1812 it was totally destroyed by an earthquake, and with it 1500 lives, including a part of the revolutionary forces occupying the town. It was soon rebuilt and is one of the few cities of Venezuela which have recovered from the ravages of the war of independence and subsequent disorders.
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