Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as Ciudad de los Reyes (City of the Kings). It became the capital and most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Perú. Following the Perúvian War of Independence, it became the capital of the Republic of Perú.
Located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central coastal part of Perú, Lima overlooks the Pacific Ocean and is the capital and the largest city of the country. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima Metropolitan Area.
With a population of more than 10 million people, Lima is the most populous metropolitan area of Perú and the third-largest city in the Americas; home to one of the oldest higher-learning institutions in the New World. The National University of San Marcos, founded on May 12, 1551 during the Spanish colonial regime, is the oldest continuously functioning university in the Americas. Lima is the country's industrial and financial centre and one of Latin America's most important financial centers, home to many national companies and hotels. It accounts for more than two thirds of Perú's industrial production and most of its tertiary sector.
Lima Population Profile
Area: 3,900 sq km (1,506 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: Approximately 15% white; 37% mestizo (Indian-European mix); 45% indigenous people of Peru; and small numbers of Asians and blacks
World population rank 1: 26
Average yearly growth rate: 2.2%
Lima is the leading industrial, financial, and retail center in the nation. With nearly 30 percent of the country's population, the city dictates the national economy and accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP). Most of the country's imports and exports pass through the port of Callao. Almost all of the country's heavy industry is located in and around Lima. Despite its economic importance, Lima is not flushed with jobs. The national government has been a traditional leading employer, but the privatization of state companies left thousands of people out of work during the mid-1990s. The city suffers from severe unemployment and underemployment, and many people who work just barely manage to feed their families. Lima's economy grew rapidly during the mid 1990s, but a severe two-year recession that started in 1997 left one out of two Peruvians living in poverty. (Source: Encyclopedia.com)
Most children attend school in Lima, but illiteracy rates have remained high. About 52 percent of students are in primary schools, and 33 percent attend secondary schools. Lima is home to some fine universities, including the National University of San Marcos, the oldest university in the Americas (1551), La Molina National Agrarian University, and the National Engineering University. The city has several private universities. Among them are the University of Lima, Pontifical Catholic University of Perú, Ricardo Palma University, University of San Martín de Porres, Women's University of the Sacred Heart, and University of the Pacific. A university degree remains out of reach for most young Limeños. (Source: Encyclopedia.com)
Lima is an important port of call. In 1998, 819,530 visitors from other nations came to Peru, and about 483,000 of them stopped in Lima. The average visitor to Peru stays 13.5 days, and spends about $1,100. In 1998, tourists spent more than $900 million.