History of Lima

History of Lima

The history of Lima, the capital of Peru, began with its foundation by Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535. The city was established on the valley of the Rímac River in an area populated by the Ychsma polity. It became the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and site of a "Real Audiencia" in 1543. In the 17th century, the city prospered as the center of an extensive trade network despite damage from earthquakes and the threat of pirates. However, prosperity came to an end in the 18th century due to an economic downturn and the Bourbon Reforms.

The population of Lima played an ambivalent role in the 1821–1824 Peruvian War of Independence; the city suffered exactions from Royalist and Patriot armies alike. After independence, Lima became the capital of the Republic of Peru. It enjoyed a short period of prosperity in the mid-19th century until the 1879–1883 War of the Pacific when it was occupied and looted by Chilean troops. After the war, the city went through a period of demographic expansion and urban renewal. Population growth accelerated in the 1940s spurred by immigration from the Andean regions of Peru. This gave rise to the proliferation of shanty towns as public services failed to keep up with the city expansion.


In the pre-Columbian era, the location of what is now the city of Lima was inhabited by several amerindian groups. Prior to the arrival of the Inca Empire, the valleys of the Rímac and Lurín rivers were grouped under the Ychsma polity. [Conlee et al, "Late Prehispanic sociopolitical complexity", p. 218.] Their presence left a mark in the form of some 40 pyramids associated to the irrigation system of the valleys. [Conlee et al, "Late Prehispanic sociopolitical complexity", pp. 220–221.] In the 15th century, the Incas conquered the region and erected their own public buildings in places such as Pachacamac.

In 1532, a group of Spanish "conquistadors" led by Francisco Pizarro defeated the Inca ruler Atahualpa and soon took over his Empire. As Pizarro had been named governor of the lands he conquered by the Spanish Crown, [Hemming, "The conquest", p. 28.] he searched for a suitable place to establish his capital. His first choice was the city of Jauja, located amid the Andes, however this location was regarded as inconvenient for its high altitude and being far from the sea. [Hemming, "The conquest", pp. 140, 145.] Spanish scouts reported about a better site in the valley of the Rímac, which was close to the Pacific Ocean, had ample water and wood provisions, extensive fields and fair weather. There, Pizarro founded his new capital on January 18, 1535 as "Ciudad de los Reyes" (City of the Kings). [Klarén, "Peru", p. 39.]

In August 1536, the new city was besieged by the troops of Manco Inca, the leader of an Inca rebellion against Spanish rule. The Spaniards and their native allies, headed by Pizarro himself, defeated the rebels after heavy fighting in the city streets and its surroundings. [Hemming, "The conquest", p. 203–206.] On November 3, 1536, the Spanish Crown confirmed the founding and, on December 7, 1537, emperor Charles V granted a coat of arms to the city.

Colonial period

Over the next few years, Lima shared the turmoil caused by struggles between different factions of Spaniards. At the same time it gained prestige as it was designated capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and site of a "Real Audiencia" in 1543. [Klarén, "Peru", p. 87.] Its first university, Saint Mark University was established in 1551 and its first printing press in 1584. Lima also became an important religious center, a Roman Catholic diocese was established in 1541 and converted to an archdiocese five years later. [Klarén, "Peru", p. 56.]

Lima flourished during the 17th century as the center of an extensive trade network which integrated the Viceroyalty of Peru with the Americas, Europe and the Far East. [Andrien, "Crisis and decline", pp. 11–13.] Its merchants channeled Peruvian silver through the nearby port of Callao and exchanged it for imported goods at the trade fair of Portobelo in modern day Panama. [Andrien, "Crisis and decline", p. 16.] This practice was sanctioned by law as all trade from the Viceroyalty was required to go through Callao on its way to and from overseas markets. The resulting economic prosperity of the city was reflected in its rapid growth, population expanded from about 25,000 in 1619 to an estimated 80,000 in 1687. [Andrien, "Crisis and decline", p. 30.]

However, Lima was not free from dangers. On October 20 and December 2, 1687, powerful earthquakes destroyed most of the city and its surroundings. [Andrien, "Crisis and decline", p. 26.] The outbreaks of disease and food shortages which followed the disaster caused a reduction of the population to under 40,000 by 1692. [Andrien, "Crisis and decline", p. 27.] A second threat was the presence of pirates and privateers in the Pacific Ocean. A Dutch naval expedition attacked the port of Callao in 1624 but was repelled by Viceroy Diego Fernández de Córdoba. [Clayton, "Local initiative and finance", p. 288–290.] In the 1680s, English buccaneers proliferated in the waters of the Pacific until they were routed by Lima merchants in 1690. [Clayton, "Local initiative and finance", p. 294–299.] As a precautionary measure, Viceroy Melchor de Navarra y Rocafull built the Lima City Walls between 1684 and 1687. [Higgings, "Lima", p. 45.]

The 1687 earthquake marked a turning point in the history of Lima as it coincided with a recession in trade, a reduction of silver production and economic competition by other cities such as Buenos Aires. [Andrien, "Crisis and decline", p. 28.] To add to these problems, on October 28, 1746, a powerful earthquake severely damaged the city and destroyed Callao, forcing a massive rebuilding effort under Viceroy José Antonio Manso de Velasco. [Walker, "The upper classes", pp. 53–55.] This disaster led to an intense devotion for an image of Christ called The Lord of the Miracles, which has been taken out in procession every October since 1746. [Higgings, "Lima", p. 75.]

During the late colonial period, under the rule of the House of Bourbon, the ideas of the Enlightenment on public health and social control shaped the development of Lima. [Ramón, "The script", pp. 173–174.] New buildings undertaken during this period include a cockfighting coliseum and a bullring, the "Plaza de toros de Acho", as well as the General Cemetery. The first two were built to regulate these popular activities by centralizing them at a single venue, while the cemetery put an end to the practice of burials at churches which was considered unhealthy by public authorities. [Ramón, "The script", p. 174.]


During the second half of the 18th century, Lima was adversely affected by the Bourbon Reforms as it lost its monopoly on overseas trade and the important mining region of Upper Peru was transferred to the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. [Anna, "Fall of the royal government", pp. 4–5.] This economic decline made the city's elite dependent on royal and ecclesiastical appointment and thus, reluctant to advocate independence. [Anna, "Fall of the royal government", pp. 23–24.] In the 1810s, the city became a Royalist stronghold during the South American wars of independence led by a strong viceroy, José Fernando de Abascal y Sousa.

A combined expedition of Argentinian and Chilean patriots under General José de San Martín managed to land south of Lima on September 7, 1820 but did not attack the city. Faced with a naval blockade and the action of guerrillas on land, Viceroy José de la Serna was forced to evacuate the city on July 1821 to save the Royalist army. [Anna, "Fall of the royal government", pp. 176–177.] Fearing a popular uprising and lacking any means to impose order, the city council invited San Martín to enter Lima and signed a Declaration of Independence at his request. [Anna, "Fall of the royal government", pp. 178–180.] However, the war was not over; in the next two years the city changed hands several times and suffered exactions from both sides. By the time the war was decided, at the Battle of Ayacucho on December 9, 1824, Lima was considerably impoverished.

Republican period

After the war of independence, Lima became the capital of the Republic of Peru but economic stagnation and political turmoil brought its urban development to a halt. This hiatus ended in the 1850s, when increased public and private revenues from guano exports led to a rapid expansion of the city. [Klarén, "Peru", p. 169.] In the next two decades, the State funded the construction of large size public buildings to replace colonial establishments; these included the Central Market, the General Slaughterhouse, the Mental Asylum, the Penitentiary, and the Dos de Mayo Hospital. [Ramón, "The script", pp. 174–176.] There were also improvements in communications; a railroad line between Lima and Callao was completed in 1850 and an iron bridge across the Rímac River, the Balta Bridge, was opened in 1870. [Higgings, "Lima", pp. 83, 111.] The city walls were torn down in 1872 as further urban growth was expected. [Ramón, "The script", p. 177.] However, the export-led economic expansion also widened the gap between rich and poor, fostering social unrest. [Klarén, "Peru", p. 170.]

During the 1879–1883 War of the Pacific, Chilean troops occupied Lima after defeating Peruvian resistance in the battles of San Juan and Miraflores. The city suffered the depredations of the invaders, which looted public museums, libraries and educational institutions. [Higgings, "Lima", p. 107.] At the same time, angry mobs attacked wealthy citizens and the Asian population; sacking their properties and businesses. [Klarén, "Peru", p. 192.]

After the war, the city underwent a process of urban renewal and expansion from the 1890s up to the 1920s. As downtown Lima had become overcrowded, the La Victoria residential area was established in 1896 as a working class neighborhood. [Ramón, "The script", p. 180.] During this period the urban layout was modified by the construction of big avenues which crisscrossed the city and connected it with neighboring towns such as Miraflores. [Ramón, "The script", pp. 180–182.] In the 1920s and 1930s, several buildings of the historic centre were rebuilt including the Government Palace and the Municipal Palace.

On May 24, 1940, an earthquake destroyed most of the city, which at that time was mostly built out of adobe and "quincha". In the 1940s, Lima started a period of rapid growth spurred by immigration from the Andean regions of Peru. Population, estimated at 0.6 million in 1940, reached 1.9M by 1960 and 4.8M by 1980.es icon Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática, [http://www.inei.gob.pe/biblioineipub/bancopub/Est/LIb0002/cap0101.htm "Lima Metropolitana perfil socio-demográfico"] . Retrieved on August 12, 2007] At the start of this period, the urban area was confined to a triangular area bounded by the city's historic center, Callao and Chorrillos; in the following decades settlements spread to the north, beyond the Rímac River, to the east, along the Central Highway, and to the south. [Dietz, "Poverty and problem-solving", p. 35.] Immigrants, at first confined to slums in downtown Lima, led this expansion through large-scale land invasions which gave rise to the proliferation of shanty towns, known as "pueblos jóvenes". [Dietz, "Poverty and problem-solving", p. 36.] Major public works were carried out throughout this period, mainly under the governments of Manuel A. Odría (1948–1956) and Juan Velasco Alvarado (1968–1975). Brutalism dominated in the 1970s as exemplified in the massive headquarters built for PETROPERU, the state-owned petroleum company. [Higgings, "Lima", p. 181.] According to the 1993 census, the city population had reached 6.4M; 28.4% of the total population of Peru compared to just 9.4% in 1940.

ee also

* Historic Centre of Lima
* History of Peru
* List of mayors of Lima



* Andrien, Kenneth. "Crisis and decline: the Viceroyalty of Peru in the seventeenth century". Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8263-0791-4
* Anna, Timothy. "The fall of the royal government in Peru". Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979. ISBN 0-8032-1004-3
* Clayton, Lawrence. "Local initiative and finance in defense of the Viceroyalty of Peru: the development of self-reliance". "Hispanic American Historical Review" 54 (2): 284–304 (May 1974). [http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2512570 DOI 10.2307/2512570]
* Conlee, Christina, Jalh Dulanto, Carol Mackay and Charles Stanish. "Late Prehispanic sociopolitical complexity". In Helaine Silverman (ed.), "Andean archaeology". Malden: Blackwell, 2004, pp. 209–236. ISBN 0-631-23400-4
* Dietz, Henry. "Poverty and problem-solving under military rule: the urban poor in Lima, Peru". Austin : University of Texas Press, 1980. ISBN 0-292-76460-X
* Hemming, John. "The conquest of the Incas". London: Macmillan, 1993. ISBN 0-333-51794-6
* Higgings, James. "Lima. A cultural history". Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-517891-2
* Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática. [http://www.inei.gob.pe/biblioineipub/bancopub/Est/LIb0002/indice.htm "Lima Metropolitana perfil socio-demográfico"] . Lima: INEI, 1996.
* Klarén, Peter. "Peru: society and nationhood in the Andes". New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-19-506928-5
* Ramón, Gabriel. "The script of urban surgery: Lima, 1850–1940". In Arturo Almandoz (ed.), "Planning Latin America's capital cities, 1850–1950". New York: Routledge, 2002, pp. 170–192. ISBN 0-415-27265-3
* Walker, Charles. "The upper classes and their upper stories: architecture and the aftermath of the Lima earthquake of 1746". "Hispanic American Historical Review" 83 (1): 53–82 (February 2003).

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lima (town), New York — Lima is a town in Livingston County, New York, U.S. The population was 4,541 at the 2000 census.The Town of Lima is in the northeast part of the county, south of Rochester, NY. The Village of Lima is located within the town.HistoryThe Town of… …   Wikipedia

  • LIMA — LIMA, ancient capital of the Peruvian viceroyalty and capital of peru ; population more than 8,866,160 (2005). Ninety eight percent of Peru s Jewish population of about 2,700 live in the city. The discovery of Peru and its enormous mining… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Lima, Ohio — City of Lima   City   Public Square in downtown Lima …   Wikipedia

  • Lima — This article is about the capital of Peru. For other uses, see Lima (disambiguation). Lima View of Lima District from the San Cristobal hill …   Wikipedia

  • Lima — Para otros usos de este término, véase Lima (desambiguación). Lima Bandera …   Wikipedia Español

  • Lima Metro — Info Locale Lima Transit type Metro Number of lines …   Wikipedia

  • History of Bolivia — This article is part of a series Overview …   Wikipedia

  • Lima Locomotive Works — was an American firm that manufactured railroad locomotives from the 1870s through the 1950s. The company took the most distinctive part of its name from its main shops location in Lima, Ohio. The shops were located between the Baltimore Ohio s… …   Wikipedia

  • History of Somalia — Ancient Laas Geel Culture Kingdom of Punt Malaoites  · Oponeans …   Wikipedia

  • Lima Azimi — Lima Azimi, born in 1981 or 1982, is an Afghan athlete.Azimi attracted international attention by representing her country at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Paris. [ [http://www.eurosport.fr/athletisme/paris/2003/le journal de saint …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.