In 1524, Pedro de Alvarado became the first Spanish conquistador in Guatemala. As they subdued ingenious people for control, Spanish colonies were established. They collectively evolved into the Captaincy General and later the Kingdom of Guatemala. This administration division of the Spanish Empire covered most of Central America before it ended in 1821. Starting in 1543, their third successive capital became Santiago de los Caballeros. The colonial city flourished as the population swelled to over 60,000 people. Lavish municipal and religious buildings were constructed for over two hundred years. Then several earthquakes struck in the 18th century until nearly everything was reduced to rubble during the Santa Marta Earthquakes of 1773. Within three years, the capital was moved, the city was largely vacated and renamed Antigua Guatemala meaning old.