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Lima, Peru is the capital and largest city in Peru, as well as the capital of Lima Province. It is located on mostly flat terrain in the Peruvian coastal plain, within the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers.
Lima's climate can be said to be quite peculiar despite being located in the Tropics and at a near sea-level elevation, temperatures are far from torrid, with maxima ranging from 26°C in February to 19°C in August, with an all-time record high temperature of 32°C.
Called Ciudad de los Reyes, City of the Kings, by the Spanish conquerors, Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro on January 18,1535 in the Rímac Valley. Lima is now the capital of the Republic of Peru, and a great metropolis with nearly 8 million residents.
The Costa region of Peru, in which Lima is located, is a narrow coastal plain consisting of large tracts of desert broken by fertile valleys. Cotton, sugar and rice plantations and most of the country's oil fields are in this area. Beyond Lima, lies the Sacred Valley, the Inca ruins and, high in the Andes, the spectacular ancient city of Machu Picchu.
Bird and marine life is abundant along Peru's desert coast, with sea lions, Humboldt penguins, Chilean flamingoes, Peruvian pelicans, and Inca terns all native to the region. This priceless wildlife is protected in a system of national parks and reserves.
Lima's climate can be divided into two seasons: wet and dry . The coast and western Andean slopes are dry most of the year, with summer occurring between December and April. During the rest of the year, the garúa coastal fog moves in, and the sun is rarely seen.
The main religion is Roman Catholicism. The indigenous people, while outwardly Catholic, often infuse Catholicism with their traditional beliefs. Annual festivals and fiestas are a blend of Catholic, Inca, Spanish, and early agricultural ceremonies. They are colorful and lively, always popular with local residents and visitors alike.
Among the indigenous people in Peru, about 70 languages are spoken, but in Lima, Spanish and English predominate.
Lima offers many opportunities to explore buildings dating back to colonial times, and museums cataloging the complete history of Peruvian archeology, art and pre-Inca structures. Yet, it is a modern and cosmopolitan city, with luxury hotels, casinos, resorts, and, a wide variety of attractions.
Laid across a broad, flat alluvial plain, Lima fans out in long, straight streets from its heart, Lima Centro. The old town is focused on the colonial Plaza Mayor and the more modern Plaza San Martin, which are separated by about five blocks of the Jirón de la Unión, Lima Centro's main shopping street. At the river end, the Plaza Mayor is bordered by the cathedral and Government Palace. Money changing facilities, large hotels and airline offices are all based in the bustling center of entrepreneurial activity around Plaza San Martin. These two landmark squares provide the key to locating everything else in the old part of town.
From Lima Centro, the city's main avenues stretch out into the sprawling suburbs. The two principal routes are Avenida Colonial, heading to the harbor area near the suburb of Callao and the airport. Perpendicular to this, the broad, tree-lined Avenida Arequipa leads to the suburb of Miraflores. Miraflores is the modern, commercial heart of Lima, where most of the city's businesses have moved during the last thirty years. This cliff- top mini metropolis has become Lima's business and shopping zone and also a popular meeting place for the wealthier sector of Lima society.
Located between Lima Centro and Miraflores is the upscale suburb of San Isidro, which boasts several excellent golf courses and is surrounded by high rise apartment buildings and ultramodern shopping complexes, as well as many square miles of simple houses in the pre-Incan style.
Farther down Avenida Arequipa to the south, is the old beach resort of Barranco. This oceanside suburb is one of the oldest and most attractive parts of the city, and is located above the steep sandy cliffs of the Costa Verde. It hosts a small but active nightlife.
In recent years, the Mayor of Lima has carried out a vigorous campaign for the restoration of the city center. Numerous buildings have been refurbished inside and out, including restoration of their grand old balconies. There have also been successful campaigns to restore order and cleanliness to the heart of the capital. Today the center of Lima is an area in which to enjoy a city tour either on foot or by bus.
Salsa is an imported form of popular music which originated in Colombia and is now heard throughout the continent. Many enjoyable evenings can be spent dancing vivaciously to this music in one of the crowded salasdromas in Lima. The hour at which night life begins is close to midnight, though most clubs open around 10pm for the "early birds." Jazz clubs, salsadromas, peñas (featuring traditional Andean music), and criollas (offering the music that is a blend of African, traditional and Spanish influences) are all in full swing throughout the weekend nights.
Jazz and rock are also favorites in Lima. The city has several excellent Latin jazz bands of its own. Two of the best known are Enrique Luna and Manonga Mujica.
Additionally, a number of casinos offer gambling and musical entertainment.
Visitors to Lima praise the quality and variety of the Peruvian cuisine that is prepared by the many restaurants throughout the city and surrounding areas. Typical dishes include: lomo saltado: chopped steak fried with onions; cebiche de corvine: white sea bass marinated in lemon, chili and onions, often served cold with a boiled potato or yam; and sopa a la criolla: a lightly spiced noodle soup with beef, egg, milk and vegetables.
For travelers who long for food from back home, the Larco Mar Mall, offers restaurant choices from Hard Rock Café to Subway and even Tony Roma's Ribs.
The museums, the breathtaking beauty of the Andes mountains, the colonial mansions, the beautiful churches, the works of art, the Inca ruins, the unique crafts, the vibrant food and music, the bullfights and festivals, the beaches and snow capped mountains: each by itself is reason enough to spend time in Lima, Peru. Together they comprise the riches that gave Lima its reputation as The Capital of the New World.