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Oaxaca (pronounced "wuh-HA-kah") is the name of a state in Mexico, as well as the capital city of that state.

The City of Oaxaca is located in the Oaxaca Valley in the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains, at 17.07°N 96.72°W. In 2003 the estimated population was 259,600 people.

The State of Oaxaca is in the south west of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Oaxaca borders the Mexican states of Guerrero to the west, Puebla to the north west, Veracruz to the north, and Chiapas to the east. To the south Oaxaca fronts the Pacific Ocean. Oaxaca has an area of 95,364 km square; it is the fifth largest state in the Republic. In 2003 it had an estimated population of 3,597,700 people. ISO 3166-2 is MX-OAX.

The state is located in the mountains and valleys of the Sierra Madre Sur and Sierra Madre Oriental ranges.

Oaxaca is the historic home of the Zapotec and Mixtec peoples. Mexico's most famous leader, President Benito Juarez, came from the Oaxacan village of San Pablo Guelatao.


During the three millennia prior to the arrival of the Aztecs in 1436, the most powerful and influential groups in what is today Oaxaca were the Zapotec, the Mixtec and the Mixe. The civilization achieved by these groups is reflected in important archeological sites including Monte Albán[?], Mitla[?], Cerro de Minas, Guiengola and Huijatzoo.

The influences changed when the Aztecs settled around the Cerro del Fortín and down to the present Church of Carmen Alto where their temple was located. The name of the state comes from the Nahuatl designation they gave to the Central Valley around the capital - "Huaxyácac" or place of the huaje trees because of the great number of this species of the leucaena.

As the Spanish who arrived less than a century later found this difficult to pronounce it evolved into the present name of Oaxaca, for the city and for the state. The settlement founded by the Spanish in 1521 as Segura de la Frontera, later known as Nueva Antequera, was officially raised to the category of a royal city in 1532 by decree of Emperor Carlos V with the name of Antequera de Guaxaca.

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