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León City in w Nicaragua, its second-largest city. It was founded near Lake Managua in 1524. In 1610, a severe earthquake forced the city's reconstruction on its present site. It served as the nation's capital until 1858. In 1821, when Nicaragua gained independence from Spain, a bitter rivalry between León and Granada led to civil war. León was the scene of bitter fighting between Sandinista guerrillas and government forces in the late 1970s. Industries: food processing, leather goods, cigars, cotton. Pop. (1995) 123,865.

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