Officially known as Santiago de los Caballeros de Mérida, is the capital of the municipality of Libertador and the state of Mérida, and is one of the principal cities of the Venezuelan Andes.
This city sits on a tableland nestled in the valley of the Chama River, which runs from end to end. The town of Mérida is located at an altitude of 1,600 meters (5,249 ft). As background on the horizon rises the country's highest summit: the Pico Bolívar with an altitude of 4981 meters (16,338 ft).
The University of the Andes, the most important in the city, very well known in the country, was established in 1785, and offers undergraduate programs in art, sciences, literature, and humanities, long and short programs, as well as courses, degrees, post-graduate programs, specializations, diplomas, etc., bringing together more than 40,000 students and 6,000 professors. The university operates two campuses in Mérida, and about a dozen faculties spread throughout the city.
The city enjoys the highest quality of life in Venezuela. In the year 2000, thirty-six health centers were located in the metropolitan area of Mérida, as follows: one type I hospital, one type III hospital, and one type IV hospital, in the city proper, plus 15 urban clinics, four of type III and 11 of type I. The area also has 18 rural clinics, 13 of type II and 5 of type I.
As in other respects, the Universidad de Los Andes and its buildings are closely tied to the city; the health care infrastructure consists largely of medical centers belonging to the former, in addition to private health centers. Notable among the public hospitals that offer free services is the Instituto Autónomo Hospital Universitario de Los Andes (IHULA), the largest in the region, as well as two smaller hospitals and a chapter of the Venezuelan Red Cross. The larger private hospitals (commonly referred to as "clinics") are the Clinical Hospital of Mérida, the Clinical Center, the Mérida Clinic, and the Albarregas Clinic. There are also another dozen smaller clinics.
The city had one national airport, Alberto Carnevalli Airport, which is embedded in the center of the city, and once offered connections to the principal cities of the western Venezuela, such as Maracaibo and Caracas. Furthermore, this airport was one of the most active in the country, with more than 20 daily flights to and from Caracas alone. The airport was closed down however in 2009 due to the many accidents that occurred because of its difficult position within the Andes. As of 2015, Avior Airlines offers flights to Caracas. Other nearby airports, such as Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso International Airport in El Vigía, now serve Mérida. Only 60 minutes away from Merida
The airport was built in 1956, on the former grounds of a slaughterhouse. Commercial air service was provided by two airlines. There is also an area for private aviation, which receives various types of private flights as well as air ambulance flights, and the delivery of parcels and other valuables.
Mérida has four large internal roadways, which run from one end of the city to the other, and five smaller roadways. The largest is the combination of the Andrés Bello andUrdaneta avenues. With a length of more than 8 km (5 mi), it runs from the neighborhoods of the central quarter of Mérida to the outskirts of Ejido. The other three correspond toLas Américas and Alberto Carnevali avenues; 16 de septiembre and Tulio Febres Cordero avenues; and the corridor of Los Próceres avenue.
Two national highways connect Mérida with other cities in Venezuela. The first is Troncal 7 or the Trans-Andes Highway, which runs to the city of Valera. This highway crosses the Andes by way of the valley of the Chama River, and, arriving at the region of Apartaderos, is crossed by Local 1. Finally, following the course of the Santo Domingo River, it arrives at the city of Barinas. The other national highway is the so-called Carretera La Variante. Upon arriving at the Estanques region it becomes Local 8 or Autopista Rafael Caldera. La Variante connects Mérida with El Vigía, and in turn, with the Pan-American Highway, thereby giving the city a connection with Colombia and with other important destinations, such as San Cristóbal and Maracaibo.
In addition to the national highways, three alternative routes exit the city of Mérida. The first, called the Vía del Valle (Valley Road) links the city with the north, to various communities in the valley of the Culata, in the municipality of Santos Marquina. The second is an alternative route to the city of Ejido and other communities such as Jají and La Azulita; it is also a tourism route, with various lookout points facing Mérida in its initial section. A third minor route, used exclusively by rural vehicles, connects the city with the community of Los Nevados and with the Sierra Nevada National Park.
Along with a trolleybus rapid-transit system (still under construction and not fully open), the city relies on a vast system of urban and interurban bus routes which connect the city with its metropolitan area. The conventional bus routes traverse the various avenues of the city and cover a large percentage of the city's area. Mérida has one of Venezuela's best public transit systems; nevertheless, the system has become overwhelmed by increasing demand, and may be beginning to collapse. Among the existing routes, the route from the center of the city of Ejido to the center of the city of Mérida stands out, with a volume of thousands of passengers daily.
The bus routes are serviced by private companies, the majority of which are cooperatives or driver's associations, following the private model practiced in most of the cities in Venezuela. However, the prices charged are regulated by the city and supervised by the municipal organization for metropolitan transport. As is the practice throughout the country, the public transport system has special fares for senior citizens, and a student pass providing some of the lowest costs in the country.
After years of study, the construction of a non-polluting mass transit system was proposed; the trolleybus was chosen as the most appropriate means of transport. Construction of the Mérida trolleybus system started near the end of the 1990s. The first line was inaugurated on June 18, 2007, with 15 of 34 proposed stations completed. This route serves Ejido and Mérida. The second line is in the planning stages and is expected to be 12 km (7 mi) long with 3 common stations alongside or crossing route 1. Route 3, an aerial cableway(originally planned to be a funicular), is a 3 km (2 mi) long route that will connect the community of Chama to a Mérida trolleybus station; construction has yet to begin. Once construction is completed, Mérida will be the first city in Latin America with under 500,000 inhabitants to have a rapid-transit system. The existing bus lines will be reorganized into 47 or so feeder routes, in order to provide better public transit to less-serviced areas.
The only regional public transit available in Mérida is by bus. These depart from the city bus station. In addition, there are other private terminals from which private lines depart. From the central station one can take buses to destinations within the state, the region, and the rest of the country. Some of the most heavily used routes in the country start from this station, in particular, those that link Mérida with the city of Caracas. Though Venezuela is undertaking the construction of a national railway system, the IAFE, in order to link together the country, the city of Mérida is not projected to be a stop on this system: the nearest stop will be the city of El Vigía, some 60 km (37 mi) away.
- House of Former Governors
- Rectorate's Building
- Government Palace
- Plaza Monumental Román Eduardo Sandia
- The Mérida Cable Car is one of the main touristic spots.
- Cathedral of Mérida
- Boulevard de los Pintores (Painters' Boulevard)
- Aquarium Garden
- Beethoven Park
- Mérida Botanical Garden
- Parque Domingo Peña
- Parque Metropolitano Albarregas
- Parque Ciudad de los Niños (Children's City Park)
- Parque de las Cinco Repúblicas (Park of the Five Republics)
- Parque La Isla (Island Park)
- Parque Zoológico los Chorros de Milla
- Plaza Belén
- Mukimbari Cable Car
Venezuela has a strong political division, we advice to incomings listen and make their own impressions about the country, just ask respect for the individual criteria of any citizen.
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