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Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Located on the southern shores of Lake Managua, the city's site had been an ancient Indian settlement of the Chorotega called Manahuec. Before 1855, however, it was an obscure village. At that time it was chosen as a compromise capital to avoid conflict between the competing centers of León and Granada. The city grew rapidly after the completion of the railroad to coffee-producing areas in 1898 and to the Pacific port of Corinto in 1903. Although it was a late starter among Central American capitals, Managua is now the commercial and political center of Nicaragua. U.S. Marines came to Managua in 1912 to back a Conservative Party revolt. They returned in 1927 to enforce a political settlement between the Conservatives and Liberals. Remaining until 1932, they also supervised elections and trained the National Guard.

A severe earthquake destroyed a large part of the city in 1931, and a major fire caused widespread destruction in 1936. Another earthquake in December 1972 leveled the center of the city. Over 10,000 people were killed, and 300,000 were left homeless. A pattern of decentralization was decided upon in rebuilding, because the fault lines clearly concentrated in the city center. The principal commercial ventures moved to the southern part of the city.

In 1978–1979 the city led the general strikes held to oppose the government of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Heavy fighting with the Sandinista opposition took place in the city's slum areas in 1979. After more than a decade of peace, Managua continues to grow, contributing to housing shortages and high real estate prices. The population reached 937,489 in 2005, with more than 1.2 million people in the metropolitan area, representing one-fourth of the total population of Nicaragua. It is nearly ten times the size of León, the second-largest city of the country. Managua is governed as a national district under the control of the central government, rather than as a typical municipality. It shares with León the main campuses of the National Autonomous University (UNAN). The Central American University (UCA), a Jesuit institution, was founded in Managua in 1962. The Central American Institute of Business Administration (INCAE) has its original campus to the south of the city.

See alsoCatholic Church: The Modern Period; Coffee Industry; Nicaragua.


Gratus Halftermeyer, Historia de Managua (1971).

Additional Bibliography

Koonings, Kees, and Dirk Kruijt, eds. Fractured Cities: Urban Violence, State Failure, and Social Exclusion New York: Zed, 2006.

Lungo, Mario, and Mario Polèse. Economía y desarrollo urbano en Centroamérica. San José: FLACSO, Sede Costa Rica, 1998.

Traña Galeano, Marcia, and Adolfo Díaz Lacayo. Apuntes sobre la historia de Managua. Managua: Aldilá, 2000.

                                      David L. Jickling

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Managua (mänä´gwä), city (1995 pop. 819,731), W Nicaragua, capital and largest city of Nicaragua, on the southern shore of Lake Managua. It is the commercial and industrial center of the country. Situated on the Inter-American Highway, the city is the hub of Nicaragua's railroads. Managua was made permanent capital in 1855 to end the bitter feud between Granada and León. During periods of disorder (1912–25 and 1926–33), it was occupied by U.S. marines. Managua is generally hot and sultry. A fairly constant wind blows from nearby Lake Managua, notable for the same marine phenomena as Lake Nicaragua and flanked by the smoking volcano Momotombo. Many residences and farms have been established on the cooler heights rising in the southern outskirts of the city. Managua was damaged by earthquake and fire in 1931 and by fire in 1936. On Dec. 23, 1972, it was almost completely destroyed in an earthquake that took more than 10,000 lives. The old city center went largely unrestored, and only partially rebuilt. The old cathedral (1920s) survives mainly as a shell; the new cathedral, a controversial modern structure, was completed in 1993. Managua also suffered damage in the fighting between government troops and Sandinistas in 1978–79, and it was hit by a hurricane in 1998.

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Managua Capital of Nicaragua, on the s shore of Lake Managua, w central Nicaragua. It became the capital in 1855. Managua suffered damage from earthquakes in 1931 and 1962. It is the economic, industrial and commercial hub of Nicaragua. Industries: textiles, tobacco, cement. Pop. (2002) 1,106,600.

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Managua ★★ 1997 (R)

Paul Gleason (Gossett Jr.) goes to Nicaragua to claim the body of old friend Dennis Rice (Savage) but gets stonewalled by the authorities. Rice was working undercover, going after drug cartels and supposedly crossed over to the bad guys. Gleason decides to find out the truth and, of course, discovers Rice is alive. 108m/C VHS . Louis Gossett Jr., Assumpta Serna, John Savage, Robert Beltran, Michael Moriarty, John Diehl; D: Michele Taverna.