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The History of Lima - 2200BC to the 21st Century
The first inhabitants, who settled in the Lima area already around 10.000 years ago, were fishermen, hunter and gatherers who slowly began to discover and develop agriculture. From today's Ancón in the north to Pucusana in the south and along the valleys of the three very important rivers (even for today's Lima) Chillón, Rimac and Lurín small settlements with very simple huts arose during 8000 BC and 6000 BC. Archeological findings of stone instruments along the Chillón River can be associated with the "litico" period (approx. 7500 BC) and are so far the oldest proofs of human existence in Peru. Nevertheless, the first real communities were located in the Chilca - Pucusana - San Bartholo area in the south (around 5500 BC to 4500 BC) and in the Ancón area (north).
Limas history doesn't only start with the foundation of the colonial city by Francisco Pizarro in 1535. The area where we can find Lima City and Province today, was already inhabited many thousands years before that. The history of Lima before the Spanish colonization is full of rich and unique cultures, but also reflects a long process, where human kind develops its skills and makes the dessert stripe between Pacific Ocean and the Andes a habitable place and a green oasis...
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One of the first big settlements and ceremonial centers in the region was "El Paraíso" (The Paradise). The complex dates back to around 2200 BC. It is located north of the City of Lima about 2 km from the Pacific Ocean directly at the Chillón River and extends over 50 hectares.
The first major culture in Peru, the Chavin emerged around 1000 BC apparently in the Peruvian Andes region while some archaeological findings belonging to the Chavin even can be traced back another 1000 years earlier. While there are many theories about the Chavin, little concrete is known.
After the decline of the Chavin a new civilization arose in the area of Lima around 150 AD which brought great progress and changes to the region. The Maranga Culture or also called Lima Culture inhabited at first only the area of today's districts of Callao, La Punta, Bellavista and La Perla. Having adapted and refined the agricultural and irrigation knowledge of the Chavin, they were able to use the available resources better and cater for a bigger population.
The Wari, also known as Huari, had their origin in the Ayacucho region. Being presumably the first culture to use military force to conquer the surrounding civilizations, they soon reigned over much of the highlands and coast of modern Peru. The Wari subdued all other cultures forbidding any practice of former traditions. They settled at strategically important points of the empire, at ceremonial and administrative centers and places with natural resources.
With the breakup of the Wari Empire, the era of kingdoms and regional confederations in the Lima region began. Social groups constituted regional states (characteristic for this time period), but these changes first brought turbulent times with social agitation, political and cultural instability to the region.
The Incas, the most well-known pre-Hispanic culture in Peru, were only the last highly advanced culture in a series of great ancient Peruvian civilizations. The Incas arose in the early 13th century in the Cuzco region where they built up a small city state named Qosqo (Cuzco). They originally represented one of these small and relatively minor ethnic groups, the Quechuas. Gradually they began to expand and incorporate their neighbors.
After taking Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire, Francisco Pizarro started looking for a suitable place to establish "his" city. In the dessert stripe between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes in the fertile valley of the Rimac River (and two other rivers nearby that provided fresh water) he found the place he was looking for.
By the early 19th century Lima was slowly losing its influence. Other regions of the Spanish Empire in South America grew in importance and began to rebel against the Spanish colonization. While Spain was invaded by Napoleon and was busy defeating its borders, most Spanish colonies in South America took the advantage of these circumstances and sought independence, but Lima stayed loyal. Peru's rebellion didn't emerge from within Peru.
The peace and slow recovery of Lima was disrupted by the beginning of the "War of the Pacific" (1879 to 1883) or also known as "Saltpeter War". Originally it grew out of a dispute between Chile and Bolivia over the mineral rich territory of the Atacama dessert and Bolivia's access to the Pacific Ocean.
By the end of the 19th century the exploitation of guano on the islands off the coast and the recovering economy brought the city of Lima again decent wealth and prosperity. From the 1890s to the 1920s Lima went through a process of urban renewal and expansion.
After many years of complete deterioration Lima began to recover from its former bad image at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century. Since 1995 the municipality of Lima has been implementing a successful recovery plan for the historic center of Lima, which was declared a "Cultural Patrimony of Humanity" by the UNESCO in 1996.
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