The fifth largest city in Latin America with a population of more than 8 million, Lima constitutes both a province and metropolitan area, much like a city/county arrangement in the U.S., e.g., Los Angeles. Sprawling across three river valleys on Peru's central coast and consisting of 30 districts, it was founded by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535 as la Ciudad de los Reyes — the “City of Kings.” The name (chosen because the founding occurred on the Christian Epiphany) quickly fell into disuse, locals preferring the name Lima, which is believed by scholars to have been derived from the Quechua name for a well-known oracle, Limaq, located in one of the river valleys. (The Quechua people preceded the Incas in the valleys, and in the 15th century their remnants were incorporated into the Inca nation.) The oracle was later destroyed by the Spanish and replaced with a church, but its name persisted. Following the Peruvian War of Independence in 1821, Lima became the capital of the new republic.
Today, Lima is a principal financial and business center for South America (vying with São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and Caracas), accounting for two-thirds of Peru's industrial output. This is made possible by a large, high-quality workforce that either turns out or processes textiles, finished clothing and foodstuff (including fish) in more than 7,000 factories within the city, feeding one of the largest export trades on the continent from its seaport and Jorge Chavez Airport, itself a regional cargo hub. As is the case with many Latin American cities, despite this vibrant economy, Lima continues to reflect considerable poverty.
Lima's architecture is notable, as might be expected in a multicultural settlement in its sixth century, varying from Spanish colonial to ultra-modern themes. In addition to numerous museums and other cultural attractions, Lima claims to host more institutions of higher learning than any other city on the continent. This includes San Marcos University, the oldest continuously operating university in the Western Hemisphere, founded in 1551.
So if your visit permits, exercise the usual precautions on the street, and take a walk back into history. BCA
By David Esler firstname.lastname@example.org
City at a Glance: Lima
Country: Republic of Peru
Status: Peruvian capital and largest city as well as a major financial center
Country visa requirement: Yes, for business. Crew members including cabin attendants require visas only if traveling within the country (i.e., on multiple flights to points in-country).