Located in the central north region of Venezuela, Caracas is a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city with a fast-growing population. The words of Simón Bolívar, liberator of the country, after the 1812 earthquake, appropriately describe the plight of this Venezuelan capital: "If nature opposes us, we will fight against it and force it to obey." When Diego de Losada founded the city, he believed he had found the ideal location—a city in a valley with agricultural potential, warm days, cool nights, and proximity to a port. He could not have imagined the incredible growth the city has experienced in the last few decades. Modern-day Caracas is indeed a city in a valley, but one that is surrounded by shantytowns covering the hillsides in every direction. It is a city continually fighting pollution, traffic, and crime spurred by urbanization and mismanagement. Despite its problems, Caracas's traditional charm, coupled with its reputation as one of Latin America's most modern capitals, has for years drawn visitors from all over the world to its wonderful restaurants, museums, and nightlife.