Lima is the biggest city and also the capital of Peru. Lima is situated in the valleys of the Lurín, Chillon and the Rimac rivers. It covers an area of a little over a square mile and is part of a contiguous metropolitan area with the port of Callao. It is the fifth biggest city in Latin America, with Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro taking the first four spots. The area on which Lima was founded was inhabited by several Indian groups which were merged into the Incan Empire in the fifteenth century. During the sixteenth century, Francisco Pizarro led a group of Spanish conquistadors in defeating the Incan king Atahualpa and seized his empire. Francisco Pizarro then became the governor of the area and selected the Rimac Valley to erect his capital in 1535.
Over the course of several years, Lima gained fame as the designated capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru. It would then thrive as the hub of an extensive trade network that linked the Viceroyalty with Asia, Europe and the Americas. But, the city was not safe from the natural disasters and internal strife that affect most fledgeling cities. In 1687, a powerful earthquake damaged the majority of the city. Also during that year, the city was attacked on a regular basis from pirates, thus requiring the city to erect walls. In 1746, the city would once again be struck by a major earthquake and a major rebuilding project had to be undertaken.
In the nineteenth century, Argentine and Chilean patriots landed south of Lima and set up a guerrilla force. Faced with the possible naval blockade and guerrilla insurgents, Viceroy Jose de la Serna left the city. The city council invited San Martín into the city and signed a Declaration of Independence. After the war of independance, the city became the capital of Peru. Though the political control of the city exchanged hands, this did not help the economy which grinded to a halt. This downturn would be reversed by the middle of the nineteenth century, however, and the city began to grow again as exports increased in the city. During the War of the Pacific, Chilean forces invaded the city and looted public institutions. When the war ended, the city began renovation and expansion of its infrastructure, activity which lasted until the 1920s. During the 1930s till the present day, the city experienced a significant increase in industrial production.
Today, the city is the financial and industrial center of the country. It is home to many large corporations and the city accounts for more than two thirds of the countries industrial production. Lima has a large number of chemical companies, textile industries and clothing production industries. Callao port is one of the major commerce seaports in South America and accounts for over seventy-five percent of Peru’s imports and twenty-five percent of its exports. The main exports of Peru include silver, steel, zinc, coffee, sugar, oil and cotton. Since Lima is a financial center of Peru, many banks are headquartered here including Banco Interamericano de Finanzas, Protecta, Banco de Credito del Peru, Banco de Comercio, Bank of the Nation, MiBanco, Banco Continental, Credi Scotia and Banco Finaciero. The city has also seen significant increases in the service and technology industries. The service industry has gotten a big boost in the past few years thanks to the city’s many popular tourist attractions.
A popular tourist attraction in Lima, Peru is the Museum of Italian Art. The Museum of Italian Art was a gift that was given to the city by the Italian community of Peru in recognition of the one hundredth anniversary of Peru’s independence. In November of 1923 it opened its doors to the public. The museum was designed by Gaetano Moretti and has remained open since its initial inauguration. It features a huge open area, parking lots and six exhibition galleries. The entire design of the building and its contents represent elements taken from ancient Italian art. The permanent collection of the museum includes over two hundred original works of art. These include drawings, paintings, sculptures and prints.
Another popular attraction is Larco Museum. Larco Museum is a museum of pre-Columbian art that is privately owned and situated in the Pueblo Libre District of the city. The museum is within an eighteenth century Viceroy mansion which is placed over a seventh century pre-Columbian pyramid. It contains galleries that outline the four thousand year history of Peruvian pre-Columbian civilization. There are many pieces done by the Nazca, Incan, Chimu and Moche peoples. It was founded in 1925, when Rafael Larco Herrera received a collection of over six hundred archaeological pieces from his brother-in-law Alfredo Hoyle. The main galleries of the museum include the Gold and Silver Gallery, Erotic Gallery and the Cultures Gallery. The Gold and Silver Gallery contains the largest collection of jewelry used by the rulers of pre-Columbian Peru. It contains a collection of nose ornaments, masks, crowns and earrings. The Erotic Gallery holds the world’s largest collection of erotic ceramics and has become one of the more popular exhibits. The Cultures Gallery details the history of the pre-Columbian peoples of Peru.
Other popular attractions in Lima include Plaza Mayor of Lima, Lima’s City Walls Park, Lima’s Art Center, Palace of Justice, National Museum of the Archaeology-Anthropology and History of Peru, Governor’s House, University Park, Torre Tagle Palace, Presbítero Maestro cemetery, Saint Lorenzo Church, Rosa Nautica Restaurant, Perez Aranibar Children House, Museum of the Nation, Acho Plaza, Lima Cathedral, Desamparados Train Station, National Culture Institute, Naval Heroes Park, Ricardo Palma House-Museum, Congress of the Republic, Saint Rose of Lima Church, Rimac Building, San Martin Plaza and the Segura Theater. There are also many beaches and waterfront districts in the city which include Agua Dulce, Punta Hermosa, Las Cascadas, Los Pavos, Barranquito and Cerro Azul. The city of Lima is also home to a number of fine restaurants, cafes and hotels.