Urban Lima covers about 310mi2 of desert coastal plain, between the Pacific Ocean to the beginning of the Andean hillsides and mountain slopes as high as 1,600ft. It's the second-largest desert city in the world, after Egypt's Cairo. The territory of Lima includes the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín Rivers; the vital Rímac provides drinking water and electricity (through hydroelectric dams) to the city.
A popular excursion is a boat trip from the Port of Callao, from where one can visit the Palomino Islands, home to more than 60,000 sea lions and hundreds of Humboldt Penguins. Marcahuasi Plateau (House of the Mountain), about 48 miles inland, is a popular camping and hiking site due to the natural beauty of its huge rock formations.
Despite being a subtropical desert, Lima has a mild and comfortable climate thanks to the cooling effects such as the Pacific Ocean and Humboldt Current. Temperatures rarely exceed 84Ã‚Â°F or dip below 54Ã‚Â°F. Summers (December through April) are sunny, warm, and humid with persistent morning fogs. Winters (June through September) are gray, cool, and breezy with morning with frequent morning drizzle. Rainfall is mainly limited to the winter months and is severely low despite the high humidity, with 2.4in per year in inland districts and 1.2in in coastal districts.
The first major empire along the coast was that of the Huari. During their rein they constructed many important sites such as the Cajarmarquilla ceremonial center. After their decline, other cultures arose, such as the Chancay and ChimÃƒÂº. The area now known as Lima became the state of Itchyma, named after the area inhabitants after the fall of the Huari Empire, but the name was replaced by Limaq after a famous oracle that rose to prominence some time before the Inca conquered this area in the 15th century and integrated it into their empire. During this time a great variety of huacas, pre-Columbian religious shrines which in this region were mainly pyramids, popped up throughout the territory of Lima and served multiple civilizations. These include the pyramids and cemetery of Pachacámac (200AD), once home to the coast's preeminent oracle, and Pucllana Temple (500AD), a striking sight in Miraflores thanks to the creative night lighting of one of the only pre-Columbian temples in Lima that is not fenced-off.
The Spanish Conquistadores, led by Francisco Pizzaro and allied with indigenous groups subjugated by the Inca, effectively defeated the Inca Empire in 1532 when Inca leader Atahualpa, who had just defeated his brother in an Inca civil war, was murdered in captivity. Pizarro founded the Lima as the new capital of Peru three years later, as The City of Kings, although this name fell into disuse. It was located on fertile ground with a fresh climate, strategically close enough to a coast favorable for the construction of a port, but distant enough to provide the city with some protection from maritime threats.
In the early years of the Viceroyalty, there were various frustrated indigenous uprisings, the most serious being the 1536 rebellion led by Manco Inca, which besieged Lima but was ultimately repelled by the Spaniards and their native allies.
Lima quickly gained prestige upon being designated capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1543, becoming the most important Spanish colonial city in South America. Throughout the following century, it prospered as the center of the extensive commercial network between South America and Europe. However, the city was not free from dangers; pirates and privateers necessitated the building of the Lima city walls between 1684 and 1687. A violent earthquake in 1687 destroyed most of the city buildings and marked a turning point in the history of Lima as it coincided with a recession in trade and growing economic competition with other cities such as Buenos Aires.
During the 18th century the Fortress of Royal Felipe was constructed on the Port of Callao to deal with the pirate issue. It would later play an important role in the Wars of Independence and provide refuge for the fledging republican government during the first years of Independence.
A combined expedition of Argentine and Chilean under General JosÃƒÂ© de San Martín landing south of Lima in 1820, through a naval blockade and inland guerilla fighting, forced the Viceroy to evacutate Lima on July 1821 to save the Royalist army. Amid fears of a popular uprising and the lack of any means to impose order, San Martín was allowed to enter Lima and declared the Independence of Peru, although fighting between royalists and Peruvian and other South American freedom fighters would continue throughout the country until the decisive battle of Ayacucho in 1824.
Lima became the capital of the Republic of Peru and passed through periods of economic stagnation and booms, such as that based on guano exportation, through periods of peace and the uprisings of regions such as Arequipa determined to become the seat of government. The city walls were demolished in 1868 and, during the War of the Pacific (1879-1883), the Chileans managed to occupy Lima, forcing major reconstruction after their retreat.