Page:Nicaraguan Antiquities (1886).djvu/12

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to be marked out by nature itself to become one of the centres of mankind's civilization. By its smiling valleys, fertile plains, and thinner, but shadowy forests, by its splendid lakes, gently flowing rivers, and verdant mountains the country appears well able to tempt even the most exacting people to settle in it. Indeed the country, on the arrival of the Spaniards, was found to be very densely populated, and divided amongst a great number of small sovereignities, which could however be referred to two separate stocks, differing in language and character. One of these, the third one of those stocks from which has sprung the population of Nicaragua, was los Choroteganos or Mangues. They occupied the territory between the two large lakes and all the fertile level country west and north of Lake Managua down to the Pacific and Bahia de Fonseca. Oviedo asserts that they were the aborigines and ancient masters of the country, without being able however to state any proofs in support of his opinion. Of los Choroteganos four groups are usually distinguished: 1:0) Los Cholutecas on the shores of Bahia de Fonseca; their principal town was the present Choluteca. 2:0) Los Nagrandanos between Lake Managua and the Pacific; their capital was Subtiaba, near the present Leon. 3:0) Los Dirianos between the lakes Managua and Nicaragua and down to the coast of the Pacific. Their largest town was Salteba near the present Granada and 4:0 Los Orotinas far separated from their relations, inhabiting the peninsula of Nicoya and the territory of Guanacaste, which comprises the north-eastern part of the republic of Costa Rica. Opinions vary, however, with regard to these groups, several authors being inclined to regard los Cholutecas as a detached branch of los Pipiles in El Salvador; they would then be of Toltecan origin. Certainly there is a number of local names within their district which seem to corroborate this opinion. Other writers are disposed