Lima is the capital of Peru, serves as the nation’s commercial and industrial hub. Positioned at an elevation of 512 feet (156 meters) on the southern bank of the Rímac River, it lies approximately 8 miles (13 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean port of Callao, covering an area of 27 square miles (70 square km). The name “Lima” is derived from the Quechua term Rímac, translating to “Talker.” This city stands as a contemporary oasis, surrounded by the Peruvian coastal desert just a short distance to the west of the Andes Mountains. The total area is 1,506 square miles (3,900 square km), and the population of the metropolitan area was 8,472,935 in 2007.
Where is the Capital of Peru located?
Lima, the capital of Peru, is situated in the coastal desert of Peru, nestled at the base of the western slope of the central Andes. Despite the initial Spanish settlement being in the Rímac river valley within the domains of Taulli Chugo, the city has expanded across extensive desert areas and into other valleys. The main square is positioned at an elevation of 161 meters above sea level, while the district of Lurigancho reaches an altitude of 950 meters above sea level.
Lima borders the coast from Km 50 of the North Pan-American Highway, near the Ancón District on the border with the Province of Huaral, to the District of Pucusana at Km 70 of the South Pan-American Highway, bordering the Province of Cañete. This span covers a coastline and beaches extending just over 130 km. To the east, it stretches to approximately kilometer 50 of the Central Highway in the Chosica District, bordering the Province of Huarochirí.
What’s mean Lima?
According to many scholars, the name “Lima” is believed to have originated from a Quechua word given by the Incas to one of the three major rivers surrounding the region. This word was “Rimaq” river, signifying “the one who can speak” or “the river who speaks.” Over time, the term underwent linguistic shifts, eventually replacing the “R” with the “L” and omitting the final letter “Q.”
The name “Talking River” is attributed to the phenomenon where the river carries solid stones that produce a sound, akin to a whisper, upon collision. It’s important to note that this name doesn’t pertain to the residents of Lima.
During the Viceroyalty era, the city underwent a renaming as the “City of Kings.” This change was made because its foundation day coincided with the Christian holiday “Three Kings Day.” However, as time passed, the city reverted to its original name, Lima.
Absolutely! The origin of the word “Lima” is quite distinct from its common association with the fruit used in preparing Ceviche.
Physical and human geography
The character of the city
Lima’s significance to Peru is perhaps best captured by its popular nickname, “El Pulpo” or “The Octopus.” The immense size of Metropolitan Lima, constituting about one-fourth of Peru’s total population, has both resulted from and spurred the concentration of people, capital, political influence, and social innovations. Lima’s unique standing is a consequential outcome of a highly centralized, unitary state that, since the early 19th century, addressed interregional conflicts by centralizing power and prestige in the city. Positioned at the center of Peru’s Pacific coast with the port of Callao, Lima historically served as the primary point of contact between the country and the outside world.
Like many expansive and rapidly growing metropolitan centers, Lima has both critics and advocates. Those who recall the more peaceful, traditional era before the influx of millions of migrants and the advent of numerous buses and automobiles, which brought about pollution and congestion, often use another nickname for the capital: “Lima la Horrible.” This refers to the noisy, dirty, gloomy, damp, and disheartening aspects of Lima—a perception shared by both short-term visitors and long-time residents. Even though sunlight breaks through the dense coastal fog in the summer, Lima becomes unbearably hot and humid. The sunshine seemingly accentuates the grime on buildings and the lack of greenery in the central city.
Lima, the capital of Peru, is situated in the northern portion of the western South American coast, precisely at the midpoint of the coastal desert of Peru. It rests at the base of the western slope of the central Andes, approximately 13 km (8 miles) inland from the Pacific Ocean at the Callao port. Positioned at around sea level with an elevation of 156 meters (512 ft) and near 12 degrees latitude, Lima is located on the south bank of the Rimac River. Although the original settlement was in the Rímac river valley, the city has expanded extensively over a vast desert region, encompassing various valleys. Lima is positioned in an area rich with plateaus, peaks, and valleys.
Interestingly, Lima holds the distinction of being the world’s second-largest desert city, following Cairo in Egypt! Moreover, Lima’s elevation gradually increases as one moves away from the coast towards mountains exceeding 5000 feet. For instance, the Plaza de Armas is situated approximately 15 kilometers from the coast, standing at an elevation of over 161 meters above sea level. The highest district in the city is Lurigancho, positioned at about 950 meters above sea level. Furthermore, the altitude contrast becomes palpable when traveling from Lima to Machu Picchu by bus, transitioning from the coastal region to the Sierra. Truly fascinating!.
Weather in Lima Perú
The weather in Lima, Peru, is notably unique given its geographical context. It combines a near absence of rainfall with a remarkably high level of atmospheric humidity and persistent cloud cover. This peculiar climate is surprising, considering Lima’s location in a tropical zone at 12 degrees south latitude and almost at sea level. The Peruvian central coast exhibits a range of atypical microclimates influenced by the cold Humboldt Current originating from Antarctica, the proximity of the mountain range, and its tropical position. Consequently, Lima experiences a climate that is simultaneously subtropical, desert-like, and humid.
The climate in Lima, Peru, can be described as warm, lacking excessive tropical heat or extreme cold that necessitates home heating, except for very few winters. The average annual temperature ranges from 18.5 to 19 °C, with an annual maximum of around 29 °C. During the summers, from December to April, temperatures fluctuate between 28 and 21 °C. It’s worth noting that during a El Niño event, temperatures in summer can exceed 31 °C. Winters, spanning from June to September, see temperatures between 19 and 12 °C, with the historically proven lowest temperature being 5 °C. The months of spring and autumn (September, October, and May) bring mild temperatures ranging between 23 and 17 °C.
Conversely, the relative humidity in Lima is exceedingly high, reaching up to 100%, leading to persistent fog from June to December until the onset of summer when the clouds descend. Summers (December-April) are characterized by sunny, humid, and hot conditions, while winters (June to September) bring cloudy and temperate weather. Rainfall is nearly negligible, with an annual average of 7 mm reported at the airport, marking the smallest amount in a metropolitan area worldwide. Lima experiences only 1284 hours of sunshine per year, with exceptionally low values for latitude, including 28.6 hours in July and 179.1 hours in January.
The combination of climatic phenomena is presented as follows:
|Lima Peru Weather
|Summer (January – March)
|Fall (April – June)
|Winter (July – September)
|Spring (October – December)
Lima City of the Kings
Lima boasts a rich series of urban landscapes shaped by its extensive history. The heart of old Lima, planned by Spanish colonists in the 16th century and partially enclosed by defensive walls in the 17th century, maintains its original checkerboard street layout. Bordered by the Rímac to the north and expansive avenues to the east, south, and west, old Lima features a mix of restored colonial structures like the Torre Tagle Palace, the cathedral, and the Archbishop’s Palace, alongside buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of the latter were constructed on sites where colonial residences had collapsed during major earthquakes that struck the city. Although the old walls were demolished in the mid-19th century, the two main squares (Plaza de Armas and Plaza Bolívar) remain focal points of architectural interest in central Lima. The enclosed wooden balconies, characteristic of the colonial city, are now considered features to be preserved or restored. Notable structures like the Presidential Palace, built on the site of Pizarro’s house, and others reflect the past influence of the French Empire style. On the north side of the Rímac, the old colonial suburb, bearing the same name, preserves relics of its history in its curved, narrow streets lined with single-story houses, and its Alameda de los Descalzos (“Boulevard of the Barefoot Monks”).
The former residential area of central Lima has experienced significant transformations, particularly since the 1930s. Many of the once spacious mansions have been subdivided to house as many as 50 families each. These inner-city slums, known as tugurios, corralones, and callejones, have become home to immigrants from rural areas seeking opportunities in the urban economy and society. Unfortunately, sanitary conditions in these zones are often quite poor.
Various sections of old Lima have witnessed demolition and subsequent reconstruction. Residential areas have been replaced by banks, insurance offices, law firms, and government offices. Efforts have been made to instill pride in El Cercado, the formerly walled enclosure, although some Limeños view it as a pass-through area rather than a place to preserve and enhance. Lima shows limited signs of gentrification compared to other Latin American capitals and even some cities within Peru. The central area of Lima, in particular, lacks a significant number of noteworthy architectural features.
Lima’s expansion beyond the walls of the old city was relatively limited until the construction of railways and tramlines in the mid-19th century. Over the next 75 years, growth remained steady, and distinct characters emerged along the axes of urban development from old Lima. The area westward to Callao evolved into an industrial corridor, the bay frontage to the south from Barranco to Magdalena transformed into a preferred residential zone, and eastward towards Vitarte saw the emergence of a mix of industrial and lower-class suburbs.
In the 1930s, as urban expansion accelerated, small communities formed in the open country between Lima and the coast, gradually coalescing into urban districts like La Victoria, Lince, San Isidro, and Breña. The spaces between suburbs and barren, dry land, initially occupied by numerous farms and small cultivated tracts, also underwent urbanization as immigrants from the interior settled in these areas.
By the 1950s, Lima gained recognition for its barriadas, squatter camps consisting of shanties, which, as they became more permanent, were renamed pueblos jóvenes or “young towns.” These communities now house one-third of the population of metropolitan Lima. The older pueblos jóvenes, such as Comas, have become challenging to distinguish from the “established” sections of the city, as the initial constructions of cardboard, tin cans, and wicker matting have long been replaced by bricks, cement blocks, and well-maintained gardens.
Lima’s modern urban landscapes present such stark contrasts that it’s easy to overlook the fact that the affluent and the impoverished coexist in the same society. Within a few blocks, one can transition from opulence to abject poverty. The downtown area of Lima, often heavily congested with traffic, led to the selection of suburban locations for many new businesses, factories, and shopping centers.
In certain areas, traditional corner stores operated by Chinese and Japanese immigrants and their descendants are facing tough competition from large, hygienic supermarkets. Conversely, in other locations, open-air markets and the presence of ambulantes (street vendors) are the prevailing features.