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The Meridian people- Merideños- are as with all Venezuelans, a very open and friendly people. The state has 715,963 in habitants in total (2001, a projection of 970.406 in 20.15), which makes up about 4% of the national population. The city is largely based on its 36,000 student membership. The city has numerous universities, but the University of Los Andes and the National Open University. The ULA is considered one of the best universities in South America.
The other side of Mérida is the tourist business, with one of the most advanced and developed tourist industries in Venezuela; you will find that a large percentage of the citizens live off tourism or things related to tourism- hotels, restaurants, tour agencies etc. This means that the population shifts are very dramatic, i.e. Christmas: all the students leave on vacation and all the tourists arrive.
Because of its links with the outside, both through the multicultural students that come from all parts of south America to study, and the large number of foreigners in the city, Mérida has some of the most diverse culture and nightlife that you will see in Venezuela. This is also because of the very high literacy rate (90%) in the State of Merida. You will often find that people speak a decent level of English too, which can help you get around and ask advice.
Mérida is also considered a good city to learn Spanish, because the dialect here is very slowly spoken, and generally very clear. Numerous students off private classes, or there are 2 schools if you wished to enroll for a course.
The industrial side of the city is largely focused on the mountain produce that is famous in Venezuela. This includes potatoes, garlic, strawberries, carrots, fruits, sugar cane, bananas, trout, plantain, and coffee. Also this is one of the main dairy producing regions in Venezuela, for milk, cheese, yoghurt and so on.