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Spanish Town

city, southeastern central Jamaica. It is situated along the Rio Cobre, 10 miles (16 km) west of Kingston. Probably laid out by Diego Columbus (c. 1523), it was originally called Santiago de la Vega (St. James of the Plain), and it was Jamaica's capital from 1692 until 1872. It is now a commercial and processing centre for produce of the irrigated Liguanea Plain (bananas, sugarcane, annatto, breadfruit, coffee, cacao, and citrus fruit). The most striking historical buildings of Spanish Town include St. Catherine's Cathedral (1655), the Rodney Memorial, the House of Assembly, the Court House, and the 17th-century Eagle House. The ruined Old King's House (1762) was the official residence of Jamaica's governors until 1870; it was destroyed by fire in 1925. The new National Repository contains documents going back as far as the early years of English settlement. The Jamaica School of Agriculture was founded in Spanish Town in 1910. Much of the city, including the historic centre, is dilapidated; renovation efforts began in the early 2000s. Hurricane Ivan caused extensive damage to the city in 2004. Pop. (2001) urban area, 131,510.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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