Lima has had several boom and bust cycles. It was a major center of the Spanish trade empire with Asia until a major earthquake in 1687 and competition from other South American cities led to its economic downturn. Peru remained loyal to the Spanish crown so it took armies from Argentina and Chile to "liberate" it. The next big boom was fueled by guano (see 1493) and lasted roughly from 1850 to 1879 when Peru lost the War of the Pacific (1879-1883) to Chile and Lima was sacked.
Several ups and downs and earthquakes have determined Lima's growth but, especially since the Shining Path guerilla movement of the 1980's, population growth has exploded.
Lima has not enjoyed the same tourist boom as have the more popular destinations of Macchu Picchu and Amazonia, but in 1988 UNESCO declared the historic center of Lima a World Heritage Site for its originality and high concentration of historic monuments constructed in the time of the Spanish presence. In my book, it's certainly worth a couple of days and some of the next postings will demonstrate why I think so.
We start with a slide show of the Plaza de Armas, the center of colonial Lima.