Managua mänä´gwä [key], 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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