Margarita Island, also known as Margarita or the "Pearl of the Caribbean", is located southeast of the Caribbean Sea , in northeast Venezuela and north of the Araya Peninsula of Sucre State. Together with Coche and Cubagua, it constitutes the only island state of Venezuela called Nueva Esparta. Margarita Island played an important role during the Independence of Venezuela and is currently one of the most important tourist destinations in the country .
Margarita is a female name of Greek origin Μαργαρίτης ("Margarites"), which means "pearl" . Christopher Columbus baptized the island with the name of La Asunción, for having been discovered on August 15, the religious date of the Assumption of Mary. The following year, in 1499, Pedro Alonso Niño and Cristóbal Guerra renamed it "La Margarita" due to the abundance of pearls found in the region. Margarita, was called Paraguachoa by the Waikerí indigenous people and, according to Luis B. Mata García in his book "Toponymy of Neoespartan Towns", comments that "Paraguachoa, a term that for some researchers means ''fish in abundance'' and for others ' 'Seafarers''".
It is the largest of the Venezuelan Caribbean islands and is the largest island in the Nueva Esparta state, with an area of 956 km² and a distance from the mainland of approximately 22 km. Actually, Margarita is the result of the union of two islands , which are made up of two areas with mountainous massifs joined together by an isthmus of very low and arid relief and the lagoon (La Restinga) bordered by a thin beach line. The western massif is known as the Macanao Peninsula and the eastern as Paraguachoa, although it is often called Margarita Oriental. In the eastern massif is the state capital, La Asunción and other important cities such as Porlamar, Pampatar, San Juan Bautista and Juan Griego. A large part of the population lives in this sector of the island where the most populated urban areas are located. La Asunción is the state capital with a population of approximately 30,000 inhabitants and is located 10 kilometers from the east coast of the island. To the south of La Asunción, the coastal cities of Porlamar and Pampatar, commercial centers of the island where the largest number of hotels, apartments, bars and restaurants are concentrated. Another important tourist city is Juan Griego, which is located on the northeast coast.
Margarita is mainly characterized by a dry semi-arid tropical climate accompanied by radiant sunshine, largely on the Macanao Peninsula. The average temperature is 27 °C with minimum temperatures ranging between 22 and 23 °C and maximum temperatures that can easily exceed 34 °C. There are exceptions such as Cerro Copey where you can perceive a type of mountainous climate where the temperature can drop drastically to 14 °C. Precipitation is common in the winter months or rainy season that begins in mid-November-February (although it is usually quite scarce). No snowfall or hailstorms have been recorded on Margarita Island. Because it is located in the Caribbean Sea, near the Earth's equator, the sun's rays fall perpendicularly on the island and therefore it is advisable to always use some type of sunscreen when visiting its beaches.
- Water Beach
- Punta Arenas Beach
- La Pared Beach
- Puerto Cruz
- Puerto Viejo Beach
- La Restinga Beach
- Juan Griego Beach
- Punta de Mangle Beach (Paradise Beach)
- El Yaque Beach
- Parguito Beach
- Guacuco Beach
- El Tirano Beach
- La Galera Beach
- Caribbean Beach
- Manzanillo Beach
- El Humo Beach
- Zaragoza Beach (Pedro González)
Towards the north the beaches are oceanic type while to the south they are Caribbean type. Those in the northeastern part tend to have strong waves, while those in the southern part usually have calmer waves.
The name of the natives is Margariteños/as and Neoespartanos/as. A large number of foreigners live on the island, especially colonies of Lebanese, Spanish, Italians, Germans, French, Dutch, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, Argentines, Peruvians, Uruguayans, Colombians, Chinese, among others. There are also immigrant people from the Venezuelan mainland, who are colloquially called navigaos.
La Asunción is the political capital, but the largest city is Porlamar, which has a little less than 25% of the Neo-Spartan population, and more than 1/4 of the Margarita population. The population of Margarita is 491,610 inhabitants, although this tends to fluctuate during vacation periods or Christmas and festive seasons.
In the state there is a predominantly Catholic population and other Christian branches, evidenced by the churches present in the neo-Spartan entity, among the most important are: Basilica Menor de Nuestra Señora del Valle (in the Valley of the Holy Spirit), Cathedral of La Asunción, San Juan Evangelista Church (in Juangriego), San Juan Parish Church (in San Juan Bautista), San Nicolás de Bari Church (Porlamar), San José de Paraguachi and other smaller churches and chapels located in the towns of Santa Ana, Punta de Piedras, Porlamar, Pampatar and practically all the towns on the island.
The patron saint of eastern Venezuela is the Virgen del Valle and in the town of El Valle del Espíritu Santo is the Minor Basilica of Nuestra Señora del Valle, to which the inhabitants of the Margarita, Coche and Cubagua islands come to honor her in her honor. day.
Margarita Island is the most important tourist attraction in Venezuela, as it has beaches with conditions for surfing, diving, windsurfing, kitesurfing and other water sports, as well as historic colonial towns and several ancient Spanish fortifications (castles, forts and fortresses). , which are considered national heritage.
With information from Wikipedia / Photos: Gustavo De Marmol