Mérida (mārēˈdĕ) [key], city (1990 pop. 170,902), capital of Mérida state, W Venezuela. The highest city in Venezuela, Mérida has fishing and a variety of light manufacturing, in addition to such popular tourist activities as skiing and mountaineering. Founded in 1558, it became a religious and educational center. It is the site of the Universidad de los Andes (1785).