Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Cobán

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

COBÁN, or Santo Domingo Cobán, a city of Central America, in the republic of Guatemala, and the department of Vera Paz, situated about 90 miles north of the city of Guatemala, on the direct route to Flores, not far from the source of the Rio de Cajabon, which flows into the Golfo Dolce. It occupies the slopes of a rounded hill, on the top of which is the central square or plaza, with the cathedral aud the ruins of the once magnificent Dominican monastery on the one side, and on the others the shops and houses of the merchants and artizans. The houses of Coban are low and covered with tiles ; and, as each with its garden and croft attached is curtained by a dense and lofty hedge, the streets have rather the appearance of woodland avenues. The cathedral is a large and imposing edifice, decorated in the interior with a barbaric profusion of ornament ; but like the rest of the public buildings of the town it shows signs of decay. Since the removal of the seat of the Pro vincial Government to Salama, the prosperity of Coban has greatly declined, but it still contains about 12,000 inhabitautSjWho carry on the weaving of cotton cloth, the cultivation of coffee, sugar, and pimento, and a considerable trade with the neighbouring provinces. The Spanish and Ladino part of the population does not exceed 2000 ; and the rest are Indians originally from the mountains of Chichen and Jucamel, who still speak the Kacchi or Quecchi language. Coban owes its origin to the missionary labours of the Dominicans of the 16th century, and more especially to Fray Pedro de Augulo, whose portrait is pre served in the cathedral. It was made the political capital of the province of Vera Paz, and obtained the arms of a city of the first rank.