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Lima

Lima, city, capital of Peru. It is the country’s commercial and industrial centre. Central Lima is located at an elevation of 156 metres on the south bank of the Rímac River, about 13 km inland from the Pacific Ocean port of Callao, and has an area of 70 square km.

Its name is a corruption of the Quechua name Rímac, meaning “Talker.” The city forms a modern oasis, surrounded by the Peruvian coastal desert a short distance west of the Andes Mountains. Area 3,900 square km. Population in 2007 metro. area, 8,472,935.

Lima was named by natives in the agricultural region known by native Peruvians as Limaq. It became the capital and most important city in the Viceroyalty of Peru. Following the Peruvian War of Independence, it became the capital of the Republic of Peru (República del Perú). Around one-third of the national population lives in the metropolitan area.

Lima is home to one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the New World. The National University of San Marcos, founded on 12 May 1551, during the Spanish colonial empire, is the first officially established and the oldest continuously functioning university in the Americas.In the pre-Columbian era, what is now Lima was inhabited by indigenous groups under the Ychsma policy, which was incorporated into the Inca Empire in the 15th century.

In 1532 a group of Spanish conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro, defeated the Inca ruler Atahualpa and took over his empire.The Spanish city of Lima was founded by Pizarro on Jan. 18, 1535, as the Ciudad de los Reyes (“City of the Kings”). Although the name never stuck, Lima soon became the capital of the new Viceroyalty of Peru, chosen over the old Inca capital of Cuzco to the southeast because the coastal location facilitated communication with Spain.

Lima developed into the centre of wealth and power for the entire viceroyalty: as the seat of the audiencia (high court), it administered royal justice; and, being the headquarters in the viceroyalty of the Inquisition, it pronounced on religious and moral matters. It also became the site of Peru’s most prestigious associations and centres of learning, including the University of San Marcos (1551), the Peruvian Academy of Letters (1887), the National University of Engineering (1896), and the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (1917). José Hipólito Unnúe founded a medical school there in 1808.

From the late 17th to the mid-19th century, however, Lima grew extremely slowly in both area and population. The city was devastated by a powerful earthquake in 1746. Although it was rebuilt in grandiose fashion, influenced heavily by the European Enlightenment, it remained politically conservative and socially stratified. Lima maintained its loyalty during the struggles for Latin American independence in the early 19th century, with Peru becoming the last mainland colony to declare its independence from Spain (July 1821).

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