Capital City Origins ~ North America Part 2
First published: Monday December 27th, 2021
Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, the end is nigh. Those of you that have
tolerated read my blogs will be pleased to hear that this is the last one in the series.
Our journey around the world's capital cities is almost over, just another ten places to visit. Starting in Panama and finishing in Canada, I can almost feel the cold winter weather already...oh wait, the dogs are outside and the door is open, thats why I'm cold. I'm off at a tangent again, sorry.
So, onto our final push to the end, for now at least. Other blogs are in the pipeline, but more about that later.
Here we go then, onto our first city in our last section....
Panama City. Panama.
Founded in 1519 by Spanish conquistador Pedro Davila, the city was the starting point for expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire. It was sacked and destroyed by privateer Henry Morgan (the famous Captain Morgan rum is named after him) in 1671 and two years later moved to it's current location.
The city is located at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal and has benefited from the trade this brought. According to the Ministry of Education, the official meaning of Panama is "abundance of fish, trees, and butterflies" although there are other theories. So therefore....
PANAMA CITY = CITY WITH ABUNDANCE OF FISH, TREES, AND BUTTERFLIES
San Jose. Costa Rica.
San Jose was founded in 1736 as a plan to concentrate the widespread inhabitants of the area. A modest chapel was constructed to facilitate this. The chapel was dedicated to Saint Joseph.
The city today is ranked as one of the safest in Latin America and as such has attracted more tourists than other places. It was awarded City of Culture in 2006.
SAN JOSE = dedicated to SAINT JOSEPH
Ancient footprints dating back over 2000 years have been found on the shores of nearby Lake Nicaragua, although there is evidence of inhabitation of the area going back to around 12,000BC.
Managua was founded as a pre-Colombian fishing town and incorporated as a city in 1819 and given the name Leal Villa de Santiago de Managua. It was given capital status in 1852.
There are two theories about the city's name. One is that it derives from the Nahuatl term Mana-ahuac which translates as "adjacent to water". The other hypothesis is that it comes from the Mangue language in which the word managua means "place of the big man or chief". Either could be correct so....
MANAGUA = PLACE OF THE BIG MAN or ADJACENT TO WATER (Pick your favourite)
Known locally as Teguz for short, this city was founded by the Spanish on the site of a native village in 1578. It became the capital in 1880 permanently after switching several times with nearby Comayagua.
Most sources suggest that the name derives from the Nahuatl language and means "hills of silver" however this is also thought to be wrong, given that the Nahuatl people didn't know about the mineral deposits. Other suggestions include words meaning "painted rocks","small green parrot", and "Mexican Dance" . In Mexico it is thought that the name derives from the word Tecuzticallipan meaning "place of residence of the noble". I don't know which to choose, but my gut feeling is the Mexican theory.
TEGUCIGALPA = PLACE OF RESIDENCE OF THE NOBLE
San Salvador. El Salvador.
San Salvador is sited in the Salvadoran highlands, in an area prone to earthquakes and surrounded by volcanoes. The city has been plagued by disruption many times, volcanoes erupting at the same time as earthquakes, along with civil unrest and military coups. Despite all this the city has been host to many international events. Events as diverse as political summits and Miss World competitions.
The name is Spanish and translates as "Holy Saviour"
SAN SALVADOR = HOLY SAVIOUR
Guatemala City. Guatemala.
Human settlement in the area of Guatemala City began in around 1500BC by the Maya peoples. Following the Spanish conquest the town was developed and turned into the capital of the Kingdom of Guatemala in 1776. Guatemala became an independent nation in 1847 with G.C. as its capital.
Since the city is named as such to diferentiate it from the country, that is where we must look for it's origins. Guatemala derives from the Nahuatl word Cuauhtemallan which translates to "place of many trees".
GUATEMALA CITY = CITY OF THE PLACE OF MANY TREES
Belmopan is a planned city, first designed in 1970 to replace Belize City as the nations capital following the destruction caused by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. At that time the country was a colony of the United Kingdom and called British Honduras. Although many countries embassies are in Belmopan, there is a significant number still located in Belize City.
The name chosen for the new capital is a fusion of two river names. The Belize River and the Mopan River that empties into the Belize.
BELMOPAN = named after BELize and MOPAN rivers
Mexico City. Mexico.
The oldest capital city in the Americas, Mexico City is located within the Valley of Mexico, and was originally built on a group of islands in Lake Texcoco in 1325 by the Aztecs and called Tenochtitlan. It was almost completely destroyed by a siege in 1521, and rebuilt on a Spanish style grid pattern. There is evidence of human habitation in the area dating back to about 9000BC.
The city was named after the former Aztec inhabitants. They were known as the Mexica people.
MEXICO CITY = CITY OF THE MEXICA
Washington D.C. United States of America.
Commonly known by the initials DC, Washington is one of the most visited cities in the US. D.C. incidently stands for "District of Columbia". Columbia is the female personification of the nation, the female version of Uncle Sam, I suppose. The area of the city was originally inhabited by the Piscataway people, they were eventually relocated to nearby Maryland following conflicts with other tribes and European settlers.
The city is named in honour of one of the founding fathers and the first president, George Washington. Probably the best known etymology of any city worldwide.
WASHINGTON = named after George WASHINGTON
Founded in 1826 as Bytown the name of the city was changed to Ottawa in 1855. It is located on the Ottawa River in southern Ontario, just across the river from Gatineau in Quebec. Local native populations have used the area for hunting, fishing, trade and travel since the Champlain Sea was drained around 10,000 years ago making the valley inhabitable. Ottawa is built in the territory of the Algonquin people.
The city is named after the river it sits on, which in turn is named after the Odawa people. Their name is derived from the Algonquin word odawa meaning "to trade"
OTTAWA = TO TRADE
The end. That's it. No more capital cities to do. At least not yet anyway. There has recently been murmurings of a new nation and therefore a new capital city. I'm talking about Bougainville, an island off Papua New Guinea that recently voted for independence. You can read the story in this excellent blog by GeoSmartKirbyXD . Once this nation is granted it's freedom and a new capital is announced, I will update the relevant section of the blog series, presumably it will be Oceania.
Now that I've finished this series, what of the future ? I have a few ideas for new multiple section series, and a few stand alone blogs. I seem to be gravitating more towards blogs than quizzes at the moment, and I must say, I think I am enjoying it more. I know there isn't the feeling of getting "takes" and climbing the "ranking" , but, to be honest, that never bothered me anyway. I made quizzes to keep my brain active, so writing blogs is doing the same thing. Research is research whatever it is for and that means I am learning something new each day, bonus all round I think.
Sorry, got carried away a little there, the future ? What's in the pipeline ? Without giving too much away, I have been thinking of the etymology of other things. Not just cities, although there may be some blogs about the larger cities of the world, but what about cars, or animals, or people, or everyday objects. It's still early days yet and there are a couple of blogs I want to do first, and give etymology a rest for a bit. I want to do a series on Overseas Territories of various nations, UK, France, USA, etc. But these will be in 2022 I think. I'm going to have a short rest from writing, but I will be doing some research and preparation.
That's it for now, I'll shut up. Just one thing left to say and that is.......
I WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS 2022