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Guatemala (city, Guatemala)

Guatemala, city (1994 est. pop. 823,301), S central Guatemala, capital of the republic. Its full name is La Nueva Guatemala de la Asunción. In a broad, fertile, highland valley, c.5,000 ft (1,520 m) high, it enjoys an equable climate the year round. It is the largest city in Central America, with a cosmopolitan atmosphere and many fine public buildings. It is served by international and local airways, railroads, and modern highways, and is the industrial, commercial, and financial center of the republic. To the city's markets come the fruits and vegetables of the tropical coasts and temperate highlands and also native handicrafts, especially textiles. Much of the produce is carried in from the countryside and sold in the market stalls. There is also a modern business section.

The present city is the fourth permanent capital of Guatemala; the capital was moved there after Antigua Guatemala was destroyed by earthquakes in 1773. An earthquake destroyed Guatemala City in 1917–18, but it was rebuilt on the same site. In 1976, another earthquake caused extensive damage to the city and its environs, resulting in more than 20,000 fatalities. The city is also near several volcanoes, the most active of which is Pacaya (8,373 ft/2,552 m high), some 15 mi (25 km) to the south. From the city excursions may be made to Antigua Guatemala and Ciudad Vieja, the third and second capitals. Many interesting remains of Mayan civilization have been unearthed in the vicinity of Guatemala City, notably at Lake Amatitlán. The Univ. of San Carlos de Guatemala (1676) is in the city, as are many other educational and cultural institutions.

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Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala (ăntē´gwə gwätəmä´lə, Span. äntē´gwä gwätāmä´lä) [Span.,=Old Guatemala] or Antigua, town (1991 pop. 58,114), S central Guatemala. It is the capital of Sacatepéquez dept. Founded in 1542 by survivors from nearby Ciudad Vieja, which had been destroyed by a volcanic mud and debris flow and earthquake, Antigua Guatemala became the third capital of Spanish Guatemala. In the 17th cent., it flourished as one of the richest capitals of the New World, rivaling Lima and Mexico City; by the 18th cent., its population had increased to c.60,000. Its university was a center of the arts and learning, and its churches, convents, monasteries, public buildings, and residences were characterized by massive luxury. Antigua Guatemala, dominated by the volcanoes Agua (12,310 ft/3,752 m high), Acatenango (12,982 ft/3,957 m high), and Fuego (12,854 ft/3,918 m high), was continually subject to disaster from volcanic eruptions, floods, and earthquakes. In 1773 a series of earthquakes leveled the city, and the Spanish captain-general subsequently ordered the removal of the capital to a plain supposedly free from earthquakes, there founding Guatemala city. Antigua Guatemala, which has many fine Spanish colonial buildings, is a major tourist center. It is also a commercial center and a rich coffee-growing region.

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