OAXACA CITY (from Aztec Huaxyacac), also OAJACA or OAXACA DE JUAREZ (official title), capital of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, in the central part of the state 288 m. S.E. of the City of Mexico, and about 153 m. from Puerto Angel on the Pacific; in lat. 17 3' N., long. 96 40' W. Pop. (1000) 35,049, largely Indians, most of whom are Mixtecas and Zapotecas. Oaxaca is connected with Puebla (211 m.) by the Mexican Southern railway. The city lies in a broad, picturesque valley 5085 ft. above sealevel, and has a mild temperate climate; annual rainfall about 33 in.; mean annual temperature 68 F. It forms the see of a bishopric dating from 1535, and has a fine old cathedral ( occupying the north side of the plaza mayor), built in the Spanish Renaissance style and dating from 1553; rebuilt in 1702.
According to tradition the Aztec military post and town of Huaxyacac was founded in 1486. The date of the first Spanish settlement is uncertain, but it was probably between 1522 and 1528. The Oaxaca Valley, including several native towns, had been given to Cortes, together with the title marquez del Valle de Oaxaca. To injure him, the audiencia then administering the government, founded the villa of Antequera in close proximity to Huaxyacac and on lands belonging to Cortes in 1529, though a settlement had been made at the Indian town at an earlier date. Antequera was made a city in 1532 and the see of a bishopric in 1535, though it had but few Spanish inhabitants and no opportunity to expand. This anomalous state of affairs was eventually settled, Antequera was absorbed by Huaxyacac, and the Spanish corrupted the pronunciation to Oaxaca. The city suffered severely in the earthquakes of 1727 and 1787, the cathedral being greatly damaged in the former. It had a chequered career in the War of Independence, being captured by Morelos in 1812, reoccupied by the royalists in 1814, and recaptured by Antonio Leon in 1821. In 1823 it was again captured by Nicolas Bravo in the revolution against Iturbide. In 1865 it was besieged by the French under Bazaine and surrendered by General Diaz (4th Feb.) but was recaptured by him on the 1st of November 1866, after his escape from Puebla. In the revolution promoted by Diaz in 1871-1872 the city was captured by the Juarist general Alatorre on the 4th of January 1872, and in a second revolution of 1876 it was captured by the friends of Diaz on the 27th of January of that year.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)