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Managua, Nicaragua

Managua, population 819,731 (1995), is the capital of Nicaragua. Situated on the southern shore of Lake Managua, the city was made the national capital in 1855; previously the capital had alternated between the cities of Leon and Granada.

Managua was damaged by earthquake and fire on March 31, 1931 and by fire again in 1936. On December 23, 1972, the city was very severely damaged in an earthquake that took more than 10,000 lives. In the aftermath, when international help came in to rebuild the town, the dictator Somoza and his troops allegedly took the donations and either hid them from the public or used the donations for themselves. Those actions were a contributing factor to the Sandinistas' takeover of Nicaragua in 1979. In 1998 Managua was damaged by a hurricane.

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Managua is also the birthplace of Nicaraguan Sign Language, where the Sandinistas gathered deaf children who never learned to speak, but who could communicate clumsily with parents and family members using gestures, and put them together in an effort at "socialistic" education. The children then proceeded to communicate among themselves, and, in doing so, invented one of the world's newest languages.