Lima is the capital of Peru and has a population of over 7 million. Situated between the coast of the Pacific and the foot of the Andes, it has been called Ciudad de los Reyes, the City of Kings. It is a result of skilled artisans from the Old World working with colonial riches from the new one. The city's history goes back to the first presence of the Spanish in South America.
The conquistadors, lead by Francisco Pizarro founded Lima in 1535, just after their defeat of the Inca. The town was placed by the Rio Rimac, a fertile spot in the arid area of the Peruvian coast which the chief Taulischusco had ruled until his fall to the foreigners. Most of the city was razed in order to subjugate the peole and search for gold, but some of the old Quechua sites and names still survive. Examples of this are the sanctuary of the local god Pachacamac, and Pucllana in the Miraflores district, a huaca or administrative centre dating back to 400 AD. The name of the city is also indigenous. It either derives from the name of the river, which means that which speaks in Quechua, or from Aymara lima-lilac or limac-huayta, the name of a native yellow flower.
As Lima grew it became the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru, a region stretching across the entire South American continent from the Caribbean to La Plata. This power was reduced with the establishment of new viceroyalties in New Granada and La Plata in the 1700s.
General Jose de San Martin declared Peru's independence in 1821. The colonial rule was soon shaken off, only to be substituted with instability and many military governments. In 1881 it was occupied by troops from Chile who left as the War of the Pacific ended in 1883. Lima went on to produce eighteen presidents during the first fifty years of the 1900s - in the remaining half, it had less of them, but a junta to make up for it. The current regime is a democratic one, however.
The city concentrates most of Peru's wealth and power. Almost all government agencies and heavy industries of the country are located here, and over one fourth of all Peruvians live in or around the city. It has five universities, including the one first founded on the continent - Universidad Mayor de San Marcos. The historic centre of Lima is a world heritage site. Due to the city's situation in a seismic zone, it has been hit by several earthquakes, the major ones in 1687, 1746 and 1970. Still, enough of the old buildings have survived to make it beautiful. Of particular note are the cathedral, its foundation stone laid at the creation of the city, and the bright yellow church and convent of San Francisco. Several lavish mansions stand out, most notably Casa Aliaga which was built on the ruins of Taulichusco's own temple.
Rich treasures are gathered in the churches and in museums. The privately owned Museo de Oro exhibits beautiful gold artifacts from the ancient times. Museo Nacional de Antropologica y Arqueologica contains an extensive collection of pre-Columbian items of clay, stone, and cloth, skillfully preserved and exhibited. A whole lot of other museums display variations on the same theme. More floating and current amusements in the city are gambling in several casinos, soccer, and bullfighting.
Between May and October, Lima is shrouded in a fog they call garua. It can make the city dank and depressive or magical and mysterious. You decide.