Lima, Peru: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. Lima has several nicknames, viz. La Ciudad de Los Reyes which means The City of the Kings, La Tres Veces Coronada Villa which means The Three Times Crowned Villa, La Perla del Pacífico which means The Pacific Pearl and Lima La Gris which means Lima The Grey.
Lima overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is located in the central coastal part of the country in the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers valleys. It forms a contiguous urban area that is known as the Lima Metropolitan Area with the seaport of Callao. Lima is the second largest city in the Americas and also the most populous metropolitan area of Peru.
The languages and the food have also been strongly influenced by the mix of cultures resulting from the colonization, immigration, and indigenous influences of the European, Andean, African and Asian cultures. The cuisine in Lima is a mix of Spanish, Andean and Asian culinary traditions. Due to its mixed heritage, the architecture in Lima is also a mix of various styles. Balconies were a major feature of Lima's architecture during the colonial period.
The Historic Center of Lima has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as Ciudad de los Reyes. It became the capital and most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. Following the Peruvian War of Independence, it became the capital of the Republic of Peru. Today, around one-third of the Peruvian population lives in the metropolitan area.
The National University of San Marcos that was founded on 12th of May 1551 and is based in Lima has the honour of being the oldest higher learning institution in the New World.
Lima hosted the Miss Universe 1982 pageant, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit 2008, the 2014 United Nations Climate Change Conference as well as the Latin American, the Caribbean and the European Union Summit. Lima has also been chosen to host the Pan American Games that are to be hosted in 2019.
In the pre-Columbian era, several Amerindian groups inhabited the place before it was incorporated into the Inca Empire in the 15th century. Historical findings suggest that Lima was initially called Itchyma which later changed to Limaq, then to Ciudad de los Reyes meaning City of the Kings and finally to its current name. During the Spanish rule, the Rímac valley was chosen as the capital which is why Lima was known as Ciudad de los Reyes. Pachacamac was an important religious center before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors.
Lima was regarded as a prestigious site after it was designated as the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and it also flourished as a central point in an extensive trade network that integrated the Viceroyalty with the rest of the Americas, Europe and the Far East.
After independence, Lima became the capital of the Republic of Peru but economic stagnation and political upheavals brought urban development to a halt. Increased public and private revenues from guano exports brought about a rapid development of the city.
The urban area of Lima is mostly located on flat terrain in the Peruvian coastal plain within the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers. The city is based along mountain slopes starting from the height of almost 5,090 feet (1,550 meters) above sea level to the shores of the Pacific Ocean.
There are isolated hills within the city that are not connected to the surrounding hill chains like El Agustino, San Cosme, El Pino, La Milla, Muleria and Pro hills.
The climate of Lima keeps changing frequently between mild and warm even though it is located in a tropical desert due to its proximity to the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean. It is neither too cold nor too hot throughout the entire year. The summer season is between December to April and June to October are the winter months. May and November are usually the transition months.
Summers are warm, humid, and relatively sunny with temperatures between 18 °C (64 °F) to 29 °C (84 °F). Sunsets in the summer are very colorful with shades of orange, pink and red that make the sky look breathtakingly beautiful around 7:00 pm. There are occasional coastal fogs in the mornings and high clouds in the afternoons and evenings.
Winters are characterized by grey skies, breezy conditions, high humidity and cool temperatures. Occasionally, a persistent drizzle occurs from June through September in the mornings. Temperatures in winter vary between 14 °C (57 °F) to maximum 20 °C (68 °F).
Rainfall is very low and this impacts the water supply in the city which is largely dependent on wells and rivers that flow from the Andes. However, El Niño events severely disrupt the climate in Lima.
Lima which is the industrial and financial center of Peru is also one of the most important financial centers in Latin America. Lima has around 7000 factories and accounts for more than two thirds of the industrial production and most of the national companies of Peru are based in Lima. Most of the industrial activity takes place in the western downtown area stretching to the airport in Callao.
The well developed routes and highways in the city, cheap infrastructure and the easily available workforce contribute to the industrial development in Lima. The main products include clothing, processed food, fish, oil derivatives, chemicals and leather. Lima has the largest export industry in South America, and is a regional hub for the cargo industry.
The financial district is in San Isidro and the Callao seaport is one of the main fishing and commerce ports in South America, exporting commodities like oil, steel, silver, zinc, cotton, sugar and coffee.
Most foreign companies operating in Peru have settled in Lima and most of the major banks like Banco de Crédito del Perú, Scotiabank Perú, Interbank, Bank of the Nation, Banco Continental, MiBanco, Banco Interamericano de Finanzas, Banco Finaciero, Banco de Comercio, and CrediScotia have their headquarters in Lima.