Destination guide: Lima, Peru
Lima is the capital of Peru and is on the country’s central Pacific coast. Lima is also known as the “City of the Kings” and was formally the richest viceroyalty in South America. This important metropolis still has a beautiful colonial architecture that surprises visitors, as well as offering world-class cusine.
Purchase your flights to Lima and discover tourist attractions sich as the Pachacamac ruins, the Paracas National Reserve, the Nazca Lines and the Lima mountain range, among others.
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Lima - History Overview
Lima has survived endless cycles of destruction and rebirth. The rise and fall of civilizations have resulted in a city that is as ancient as it is new. In pre-Hispanic times, the area served, at one time or another, as an urban center for the Lima, Wari, Ichsma and even the Inca cultures. When Francisco Pizarro sketched out the boundaries of his ‘City of Kings’ in January of 1535, there were roughly 200,000 indigenous people living in the area.
By the 18th century, the Spaniards’ tumbledown village of adobe and wood had given way to a viceregal capital, where fleets of ships arrived to transport the conquest’s golden spoils back to Europe. In 1746, a disastrous earthquake wiped out much of the city, but the rebuilding was rapid and streets were soon lined with baroque churches and ample casonas (mansions). The city’s importance began to fade after independence in 1821, when other urban centers were crowned capitals of newly independent states.
The war was followed by another period of expansion, and by the 1920s Lima was crisscrossed by a network of broad boulevards inspired by Parisian urban design. Once again, however, a devastating earthquake struck, this time in 1940, and the city again had to be rebuilt.
By the mid-1900s the number of inhabitants began to grow exponentially. An influx of rural poor took the metro area population from 661,000 in 1940 to 8.5 million by 2007. The migration was particularly intense during the 1980s, when the conflict between the military and assorted guerilla groups in the Andes sent victims of the violence flocking to the capital. Shantytowns mushroomed, crime soared and the city fell into a period of steep decay. In 1992, the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) detonated deadly truck bombs in middle-class Miraflores, marking one of Lima’s darkest hours.
But the city has again dusted itself off and rebuilt – to an astonishing degree. A robust economy and a vast array of municipal improvement efforts have led to repaved streets, refurbished parks, and cleaner and safer public areas, not to mention a thriving cultural and culinary life.