Lima, Peru, South America

Founded: Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded the city in 1535
Location: On southern bank of the Río Rímac (Rimac River), bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west and the foot of the Andes Mountains on the east, in the coastal zone of central Peru, South America.
Time Zone: Four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight Savings Time is observed from January to April.
Ethnic Composition: 15% white, 37% mestizo (Indian-European mix), 45% indigenous people of Peru, and small numbers of Asians and blacks
Elevation: 154 meters (about 500 feet)
Latitude and Longitude: 12°0'S, 77°2'W
Climate: The cool offshore Peru Current (also known as the Humboldt Current) affects the climate of the city all year long. From April to December, a cool air mass off the Pacific shrouds Lima with garúa, a dense sea mist that blots the sun and rusts exposed metal. During the summer months of January through March, Lima gets more sunshine, but humidity becomes unbearable. Humidity is high for most of the year, remaining well above 60 percent.
Temperature: Winter temperature ranges from 60° to 64°F (16° to 18°C); summer temperature ranges from 70° to 80°F (21° to 27°C).
Average Annual Precipitation: About 2 inches (50 mm) per year. Rain is often the result of condensation of the garúa.
Government: Mayor and district council. As the nation's capital, Lima is home to the President of the Republic and Congress.
Weights and Measures: Metric system
Monetary Units: The Nuevo Sol (about 3.5 soles per US dollar in January 2000). Notes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, and 100 soles. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, and 50 centimos, and 1 sol. The US dollar is widely accepted and openly traded.
Telephone Area Codes: 51 (country); 14 (city)

2. Getting There


The Pan-American Highway crosses through Lima. Buses take about 24 hours to reach both the Ecuadorian and Chilean borders.

Bus and Railroad Service

Regional buses and trains depart from Lima to all corners of the country. The Central Railway of Peru has the highest standard-gauge railway in the world. From Lima, it climbs the Andes to La Oroya. The city is connected to the port of Callao by the oldest railway line (1851) in South America.

Lima Population Profile

Population: 7,443,000
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 rank1: 26
Percentage of national population2: 29.0%
Average yearly growth rate: 2.2%
Nicknames: The name of the city is a corruption of the Quechua Indian name Rímac, which means "Talker." Many residents informally call the city el pulpo (octopus) for its tremendous size. Its residents are known as Limeños.


  1. The Lima metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of Peru's total population living in the Lima metropolitan area.


The Jorge Chávez International Airport is about 13 kilometers (eight miles) from the heart of the city, in the municipal district of Callao. Several airlines, including major U.S. carriers, travel to Lima daily.


Callao, located in the Lima metropolitan area, is home to the nation's most important port. Three floating docks have lifting capacities between 1,724 and 4,082 metric tons (1,900 and 4,500 tons). It also hosts more than 40 workshops for marine and industrial repair work.

3. Getting Around

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Lima is a megalopolis that is difficult to navigate. The city only has one highway and has not invested in large-scale transportation systems, like underground metro or light rail. There are dozens of bus lines that connect different parts of the city, but buses are often crowded and uncomfortable. Roads are often clogged with traffic.


While in Lima, visitors will want to see the Church and monastery of San Francisco, the Palacio De Gobiernor, San Martin Square, and the Gold Museum of Peru. Other sites rich in Peruvian history and culture include the Rafael Larco Herrera Museum, the National Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, the National Museum of the Republic, the Museum of Peruvian Culture, and the Museum of the Inquisition. Parque Central is a relaxing out-door spot for visitors in the suburb of Miraflores.

11. Shopping

Lima is not known for its shopping scene. The city's wealthier neighborhoods and districts have the same types of stores found in the United States, including modern shopping malls.

13. Health Care

Health is a matter of class. Wealth-ier residents can afford good health care, and many of them often travel abroad for treatment. Millions of Limeños have little access to health care. There are 119 hospitals in the metropolitan area, with 2.7 physicians per 1,000 residents. Unhealthy conditions have led to cholera outbreaks. Tuberculosis is common among the poorest Limeños.

15. Sports

Soccer (futból) is by far the most popular sport in Lima. Professional teams are closely followed by Limeños, especially the home teams of Alianza Lima and Universitaria. The game transcends class, and neighborhood matches are found in just about any available open space.

17. Performing Arts

The symphony plays at the Lima's municipal theater, which also hosts ballet, opera, and theater performances. The city also has many peñas, nightclubs that feature folk music.

19. Tourism

While Peru's social problems have hampered tourism, thousands of people still come to this fascinating South American country. 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.

20. Holidays and Festivals

New Year's Day

Independence Day

Lord of the Earthquakes

22. For Further Study


University of Texas' Latin American Network Information Center. [Online] Available (accessed February 1, 2000).

Peru's Chamber of Commerce. [Online] Available (accessed February 1, 2000).

Peru's National Institute of Statistics and Information. [Online] Available (accessed February 1, 2000).

Government Offices

Peruvian Embassy
1700 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Washington D.C. 20008

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

Camara Nacional del Turismo
Santander 170, Lima 18, Peru
[Online] Available (accessed February 1, 2000).


La Republica. [Online] Available (accessed February 1, 2000).

El Comercio. [Online] Available (accessed February 1, 2000).

Gestion. [Online] Available (accessed February 1, 2000).


Andrien, Kenneth J. Crisis and Decline: The Vice-royalty of Peru in the Seventeenth Century. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1985.

Cameron, Ian. The Kingdom of the Sun God: A History of the Andes and Their People. New York: Facts on File, 1990.

Dietz, Henry A. Poverty and Problem-Solving under Military Rule: The Urban Poor in Lima, Peru. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980.

Lobo, Susan. A House of My Own: Social Organization in the Squatter Settlements of Lima, Peru. Tempe: University of Arizona Press, 1982.

Starn, Orin, Robin Kirk, & Carlos I. Degregori (eds). The Peru Reader. Duke University Press, 1995.

Stern, Steve J . Peru's Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999.

Wachtel, Nathan. The Vision of the Vanquished: The Spanish Conquest of Peru Through Indian Eyes. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1977.