COBAN, or Santo Domingo de Cobán, the capital of the department of Alta Vera Paz in central Guatemala; about 90 m. N. of the city of Guatemala, on the Cojabón, a left-hand tributary of the Polochic. Pop. (1905) about 31,000. The town is built in a mountainous and fertile district, and consists chiefly of adobe Indian cottages, surrounded by gardens of flowering shrubs. More modern houses have been erected for the foreign residents, among whom the Germans are numerically predominant. In the chief square of the town stands a 16th-century Dominican church, externally plain, but covered internally with curious Indian decorations. The municipal offices, formerly a college for priests, are remarkable for their handsome but disproportionately large gateway in Renaissance style. Despite the want of a railway, Cobán has a flourishing trade in coffee and cinchona; cocoa, vanilla and sugar-cane are also cultivated, and there are manufactures of rum, cotton fabrics, soap and cigars. The prosperity of the town is largely due to the industry of the Quecchi, Kacchi or Kakchi Indians who form the majority of the inhabitants.
Cobán was founded in the 16th century by Dominican monks under Fray Pedro de Angulo, whose portrait is preserved in the church. In honour of the emperor Charles V. (1500-1558), Cobán received the name of Ciudad Imperial (which soon became obsolete), together with a coat of arms and other privileges belonging to a Spanish city of the first class.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)