The city was declared the national capital in 1852. Previously, the capital alternated between the cities of León and Granada. The 1972 Nicaragua earthquake and years of civil war in the 1980s severely disrupted and stunted Managua's growth. It was not until the mid-1990s that Managua began to see a resurgence.
There are two possible origins for the name "Managua". It may have originated from the term Mana-ahuac, which in the indigenous Nahuatl language translates to "adjacent to the water" or site "surrounded by water". Or, it may have come from the Mangue language, where the word managua was said to mean "place of the big man" or "chief". Residents of the city are called managuas, managüenses, or capitalinos.