Lima ranks as the 16th most populated city in the world. The population of Lima's 43 districts was counted at the last census in 2007 at 7,605,742 citizens living on an area of only 2672.2 km².
In 1535 Lima had only around 250 citizens
In 1750 Lima had around 50,000 inhabitants; Callao, Lima's harbor and gateway to the world, Magdalena, Miraflores, Barranco and Chorrillos were independent small cities "far away" from the capital.
In 1940 Lima was home to more than half a million people. The city expanded towards the Pacific Ocean swallowing large green areas and haciendas.
In 1970 Lima had over 2.5 million inhabitants. Former distant cities like Callao, Miraflores or Chorrillos were absorbed by the growing capital and the last haciendas and farms had to make room for even more people.
Today Lima has around 8 million citizens. Limited to the east by the foothills of the Andes mountains and to the west by the Pacific Ocean, the Peruvian capital now expands to the north and south.
Most of us just see these deterrent numbers, but never ask how the once so beautiful colonial City of the Kings could become such an uncontrolled grown metropolis.
In 1535, when Francisco Pizarro founded Lima the first settlement was only made up of a little over 100 city blocks that surrounded today's Plaza de Armas in the historical city center. Around the colonial city of Lima you could initially only find numerous adobe pyramids, fields, small settlements, plantations and lots of green. In the following 400 years the city grew steadily, but in a quite orderly manner. The city itself grew, but also the surrounding areas were "colonized". Fertile areas were given to the aristocracy which built their haciendas on them and cultivated the land. Slaves, natives and immigrants were brought to the capital to either serve the conquerors or work on the haciendas.
Small settlements along the coast, like Miraflores, Chorrillos or Barranco were populated and grew into fancy beach resort and spas. And of course the port of Callao, until today always an independent city, was developed to serve as Lima's and Peru's gateway to the world. While you had one year after Lima's foundation in 1536 a population of around 250 inhabitants, the population grew until 1614 to 26,400, until 1791 to 56,600. One year before Peru's independence in 1820 the city had 64,000 citizens. In 1861 Lima's population reached for the first time the 100,000 mark.
Lima's foundation in 1535 by Francisco Pizarro
In 1877 Lima was a beautiful and organized colonial city surrounded by lots of green.
The Torre Taggle Palace in Lima in 1924
Aerial view of Lima in the 1930s. Still visible as separate cities are Miraflores and Barranco.
And even in the mid 20th century the today crowded intersection of Av. Javier Prado with the Paseo de la Republica looks really "empty" and unpopulated.
At the beginning of the 20th century Lima went through a process of urban renewal and more rapid expansion. Industrialization began in Lima and many fabrics were built. Migrants from the Peruvian Andes flocked into the capital to get their piece of the cake. Growth took place mostly towards the south of today's Historical City Center, where for example the district of La Victoria emerged as a fast-growing worker's neighborhood. Some of Lima's surrounding haciendas and small farms were soon divided into plots and sold as building sites.
In 1925 Lima's population had grown to 260,000 inhabitants, which more than doubled until 1940 to over 533,600. After World War II thousands of poor Andeans moved to Lima hoping for a better future and started a period of rapid growth. Increasing industrialization and modernizing led to an extraordinary migration movement from the country side to Lima and to a demographic explosion. Also many foreign immigrants found their way to the Peruvian coast.
In 1951 Lima's population reached 835,000. In the middle of the 20th century the old colonial and magnificent city changed dramatically. Due to extreme poverty and natural disasters even more Peruvians migrated to Lima. Throughout the city huge "pueblos jóvenes" (shanty towns) without proper infrastructure developed quickly.
View from Chorrillos towards Barranco and Miraflores in the late 1960s
In the 1980s and 1990s uncontrolled growing shantytowns developed at Lima's outskirts.
Along the Pan American Highway at Lima's southern outskirts you find numerous so called pueblos jovenes (shantytowns)
Lima's financial and business district San Isidro today
What a view!
The population in 1961 was already 1,262,100. Soon the former distant cities of Miraflores, Barranco, Chorrillos, Magdalena and the port of Callao were absorbed by the growing metropolis. The last haciendas and farms were either squatted by migrant families or broken up by an agrarian reform. In the following years hundreds of thousands poor Peruvians came to Lima to escape their living conditions. In 1981 the population was already 3,573,227 and after the years of terror in the 1980s it reached nearly 6,000,000 until 1997.
Today Metropolitan Lima is home to more than 8 Mio people. That is around one third of Peru's total population.
In the following overview we have listed the 43 districts belonging to Metropolitan Lima. The columns contain the following information: Area (size of the district in km²), total population living in that particular district in 2005 and 2007 (Pop 05 & Pop 07) and the population density for the years 2005 and 2007 by citizens per km² (Den 05 & Den 07).
The below list cointains the population details of the 6 districts belonging to the Callao Province. The columns contain the following information: Area (size of the district in km²), total population living in that particular district in 2005 and 2007 (Pop 05 & Pop 07) and the population density for the years 2005 and 2007 by citizens per km² (Den 05 & Den 07).