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The Zapotecs

Oaxaca - Land of the Zapotecs and Mixtecs


Oaxaca de Juarez, the capital of the state of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, lies at an altitude of 1,534 m (5,034 ft) in an area of gold and silver mines. It has a predominantly ZAPOTEC population of 212,943 (1990). Oaxaca's industries produce textiles--including handmade serapes--as well as pottery, gold and silver jewelry, and leather goods. An important source of income is tourism. Famous pre-Columbian ruins are located nearby: 42 km (26 mi) to the southeast are the MIXTEC ruins at MITLA, and 5 km (3 mi) to the west is the complex of MONTE ALBAN, a center of ancient Zapotec culture. Among the colonial buildings in the city proper, the most notable are a 17th-century cathedral and the church of Santo Domingo, begun about 1575. The birthplace of the Mexican presidents Porfirio Diaz and Benito Juarez, Oaxaca is the seat of the Benito Juarez University of Oaxaca (f. 1827; university status, 1955).

Founded in 1486 as an Aztec garrison, Oaxaca was taken by the Spanish in 1522. The city was captured by Mexican revolutionaries in 1812.

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