Lima: A Brief History

lima4Lima is the capital and largest city of Peru. Today the city has a population of close to ten million people, and is a thriving metropolis, being the third largest city in the Americas.

Lima city was founded on January 18, 1535, by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, and its first few years were spent in unrest as rebels tried to overturn the Spanish rule. Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived different Amerindian groups populated the area. Lima was made the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1543, once the Spanish had managed to defeat the rebels, and the Spanish Crown had confirmed the founding of the city.

Early Prosperity and the Start of Lima’s Downfall

In the following years Lima became the site of the first Latin American university, the National University of San Marcos, and it also became an important centre for the Roman Catholic Church. Later, in the 17th century the city flourished as a centre for a wide network of trade between the Americas, Europe and the Far East. This successful trade resulted in Lima gaining vast economic prosperity, which in turn paved the way for the city’s rapid growth and population expansion. In the late 17th century Lima was stunned by a horrific earthquake, which brought with it shortages in food, diseases, as well as a recession in what once was a bustling trade.

By the 18th century Lima was losing its monopoly on the overseas trade, as well as control over important mining regions. The city’s elite became more dependent on the Crown and there was huge opposition against independence.

However, by 1821, the Viceroy was forced to evacuate the city, as Chilean and Argentinian patriots descended on the Lima from land and sea. The war of independence continued to rage for another three years, before it finally ended in 1824. By this time, the city was considerably impoverished, but was still chosen to become the capital of the Republic of Peru.

A City Yet Again Blooming

lima5Sadly, peace was short lived for the new republic, and the hardships were not over for the new capital city. The War of the Pacific had Lima occupied by the Chilean army, which again leached the city of its riches. After the conclusion of the war Lima again started to expand, and by the late 19th century the city was recovering some of its wealth due to the harvesting of guano from nearby islands. The same time period also brought with it a considerate boom in population, giving rise to shantytowns all over the city.

The 21st century has seen a new blooming for Lima, with a recovery plan put in place for the UNESCO historic centre of the city, as well as developing a growing economy throughout the country. Lima is now considered a cultural and financial hub in the Americas, and has become a popular tourist destination, often for tourist exploring other parts of the country, as well. Lima’s cityscape offers of a mix of architectural styles, a true testament to its rich and varied history.