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Region capital
City of Arequipa
Cathedral of Arequipa
Plaza de Armas, Arequipa 2005 - panoramio.jpg
Santa Catalina Convent
Arequipa Yanahuara.jpg
Partial view of the city
From top: Cathedral; Main square; Misti volcano; Santa Catalina Monastery; Yanahuara overlook; partial view of the city.
Flag of Arequipa
Coat of arms of Arequipa
Coat of arms
La Ciudad Blanca (The White City)
Arequipa is located in Peru
Location in Peru
Coordinates: 16°23′S 71°32′W / 16.383°S 71.533°W / -16.383; -71.533Coordinates: 16°23′S 71°32′W / 16.383°S 71.533°W / -16.383; -71.533
Established15 August 1540
Founded byGarcí Manuel de Carbajal
 • MayorOmar Julio Candia Aguilar
 • Region capital69 km2 (27 sq mi)
 • Metro
2,923.53 km2 (1,128.78 sq mi)
2,335 m (7,661 ft)
 • Region capital1,008,290
 • Estimate 
 • Density15,000/km2 (38,000/sq mi)
 • Metro
Time zoneUTC-5 (PET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−5 (PET)
Postal code
Area code(s)54
CriteriaCultural: i, iv
Inscription2000 (24th Session)

Arequipa (Spanish pronunciation: [aɾeˈkipa]) is a city located in the province and the eponymous department of Peru. It is the seat of the Constitutional Court of Peru and often dubbed "legal capital of Peru." [1] It is the second most populated city in Peru, after Lima, with an urban population of 1,008,290 inhabitants according to the 2017 national census.[2]

Its metropolitan area integrates twenty-one districts, including the foundational central area, which it is the seat of the city government. The city has a Nominal GDP of 9,445 million (USD) and a nominal GDP per capita of 10,277 USD, which represents a GDP per capita PPP of 18,610 USD in the period 2015, being the second city with the highest economic activity in Peru.[3]

Arequipa is also an important industrial and commercial center of Peru,[4] and is considered as the second industrial city of the country. Within its industrial activity the manufactured products and the textile production of wool of camelids. The town maintains close commercial links with Chile, Bolivia, and Brazil and with the cities connected the South trainway, as well as with the port of Matarani.[5]

The city was founded on August 15, 1540, under the name of "Beautiful Villa of Our Lady of the Assumption" in the name of Marquis Francisco Pizarro. The September 22 of 1541, the monarch Carlos V orders that it should be called «City of Arequipa.» In the viceregal period, it acquired importance for its outstanding economic role,[4] and is characterized by the fidelismo towards the Spanish Crown,[6] receiving titles such as "Very Noble and Very Loyal" and "Very Loyal" by the crown.[7] In the Republican history of Peru, the city has been the focus of popular, civic and democratic rebellions, it has also been the cradle of outstanding intellectual, political and religious figures of the country.[8] In the Republican era, it is awarded the title of "Heroic city of the freedom people of Arequipa."[9]

Its historical center extends over an area of 332 hectares [10] and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[11] Historical heritage and monumental that it houses and its diverse scenic and cultural spaces turn it into a host city of national and international tourism, in its historical center it highlights the religious architecture viceregal and republican product of mixture of Spanish and autochthonous characteristics,[12] that constituted an own stylistic school called «Arequipeña School» [13] whose influence arrived in Potosí (Bolivia).[14][15]


A local tradition states that Inca Mayta Capac received a petition from his subjects to reach the valley of the River Chili. They asked him for permission to stay in the region as they were impressed by the beauty of the landscape and the mild climate. The Inca answered "Ari qhipay" (Quechua: "Yes, stay").[16] However, another similar tale states that when the first Europeans arrived to the valley, they pointed at the ground and asked for the name of the land. the local chief, not understanding the question, assumed they were asking for a permission to sit down and gave a positive answer, which sounded like "Arequipa".[17]

Chroniclers Blas Valera and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega suggested that the name of the city came from an ancient Aymara phrase, "ari qquepan", supposedly meaning "trumpet sound", in reference to the sound produced from blowing into an empty conch-like seashell.[18]

Another possible origin of the city's name comes from the Aymara language phrase "qhipaya ari" or "Ari qipa" (from 'ari': acute, sharp or pointed; and 'qhipaya': behind), which translates to "behind the peak," referring to the nearby volcano, Misti.[19]


The early inhabitants of the Arequipa City area were nomadic people who relied on activities such as hunting, fishing and gathering for survival. Later, pre-Inca cultures domesticated llamas and became sedentary with the development of agriculture.[20] During this time, major irrigation channels were built within the valley of the Chili river, which allowed the development of agriculture by means of terraces built on both sides of the valley. The Yarabaya and Chimbe tribes settled in the city's current location, and together with the Cabana and Collagua tribes they developed an agrarian economy in the valley.[20]

When the Inca Mayta Capac arrived in the valley of the Chili river, he didn't build cities; instead, he gave orders to his mitimae (settlers from lands within the Inca empire) to settle in the valley to gain control of the existing population, perform intelligence tasks and strengthen border enclaves as a way to control the unconquered villages.[21] A Hispanic version of the events, detailed by chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, which has been described as historically inaccurate,[22] suggests that around 1170 Huayna Capac stopped with his army in the valley of the Chili River, which he called Ari qepay – an expression meaning "let's stay here". Lands were then distributed among three thousand families who founded the towns of Yanahuara, Cayma, Tiabaya, Socabaya, Characato and others, towns that still exist nowadays.[23]

The Spanish foundation of Arequipa was performed on 15 August 1540 by Garci Manuel de Carbajal in the valley of the Chili river as "Villa de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora del Valle Hermoso de Arequipa" in an area occupied by some Native American villages.[24] At the time of its foundation, Arequipa had already a city council, because the foundation of the town occurred in part as a relocation of Villa Hermosa de Camana, a coastal city. The name was partially conserved as Villa Hermosa de Arequipa.[25] Charles V of Germany and I of Spain gave the town a status of 'city' by Royal Decree on 22 September 1541.[26] The relocation efforts were led by Garci Manuel de Carbajal, who was selected as the political authority for the foundation of the new town.[27] Among the first public works carried out in the city are the Main Church, the City Hall, the bridge on the Chili River and the monastery of Nuestra Señora de Gracia.[28]

Siege of Arequipa, 1856, Marshal Ramon Castilla enters Arequipa to gain back control of the city from the armies of General Vivanco.
Siege of Arequipa, 1856, Marshal Ramon Castilla enters Arequipa to gain back control of the city from the armies of General Vivanco

Since its Spanish founding and over three centuries, the population of the city was mostly of Spanish origin, which represented a strong following of Spain.[29] One aspect that distinguished Arequipa from the rest of the country was the particularly explicit and public commitment of the city to the Spanish Crown, a phenomenon called fidelismo. Among its most remarkable defenders were Francisco de Paula Quiroz, Mariano de Rivero, Nicolás Fernández, and José Miguel de Lastarria.[30] As a result, the Spanish Monarchy gave the city the title of Faithful by Royal Charter in 1805.[31] Also, because of its distance from other Peruvian cities, Arequipa was not heavily influenced by libertarian movements[29] Although those libertarian movements (like the one commanded by Pumacahua) and pro-independence military troops entered Arequipa, the city remained under Spaniard control until the Battle of Ayacucho (1824), due to struggles for local political power.[32]

Its privileged location at the crossroads of the trade route of silver during colonial times and, after independence, the wool trade route, allowed Arequipa to accumulate administrative, commercial and industrial power.[4] Moreover, from the early 1820s until the end of that decade, society in Arequipa, as well as in the rest of Peru, was in a transitional period right after its independence from Spain.[33] Thus, Arequipa not only became the birthplace of significant political figures in Peru,[34] but also the scene of several important political movements that achieved national prominence[35] which played a role in the defense of the legal and economic stability of the city;[36] thus establishing the importance of Arequipa as the country's second city, and in frequent rivalry with Lima.[37]

In 1835, president General Orbegoso moved his government from Lima to Arequipa by presidential decree on 13 January 1835.[38] Meanwhile, in Lima, General Felipe Santiago Salaverry named himself Supreme Chief of the Republic, arguing that the country was leaderless, as Orbegoso was outside the capital.[39] Orbegoso then sought support from then Bolivian President Andrés de Santa Cruz against the claims of Salaverry. Battles were held in Uchumayo, near the city of Arequipa, on 4 February 1836 where Salaverry won a victory, and Socabaya, three days later, where Santa Cruz defeated the Army of reunification under Salaverry, who gave up his sword under terms of surrender[40] However, on 18 February 1836, Salaverry and his 9 officers were shot in the main square of the city.[41]

After expressing their rejection of the Peru–Bolivian Confederation, the Chilean government sent a military expedition that reached Arequipa on 12 October 1837.[42] To avoid a battle, negotiations allowed the signing of a peace treaty in Paucarpata, a small town near Arequipa on 17 November 1837.[43] In the following years the city was the scene of uprisings and successive military coups, which ended in the victory of the forces commanded by Miguel de San Román against the army of Manuel Ignacio de Vivanco in the battle of Paucarpata on 29 June 1857.[44] It was around this time that Arequipa gained prominence as a center of business and trade,[45] focused in agricultural products and the production of wool, sometimes by means of exploitation of peasants.[46][47]

Opening ceremony of the first railway in Arequipa. 1871.

After the occupation of Lima during the War of the Pacific, President Lizardo Montero arrived in Arequipa on 31 August 1882, declaring it the capital of Peru.[48] Also, Montero installed a National Congress on 22 April 1883[49] which was located at the Independence College, also counting with military support from a local army[50][51] and important financial support from quotas and taxes coming from the economic elite and the southern agricultural districts.[50] However, on 25 October 1883, a popular uprising overthrew the government of president Montero, who managed to escape to La Paz; then, Chilean troops occupied Arequipa on 29 October, supported by authorities of the city, until August 1884.[48]

The republican era brought many improvements to the city's infrastructure. The economic development of Arequipa was boosted by the Southern Railroad built by Henry Meiggs, which connected Arequipa with the port city of Mollendo (1871) and with Cuzco and Juliaca (1876).[52] The first telegraph system in the region of Arequipa, which connected Mollendo, Arequipa and Vitor, was established in 1908. The first drinking water supply system for the city and an aqueduct were built in 1914. In 1940 the city's international airport, Alfredo Rodriguez Ballon, was opened.

In 2000, the historic centre of Arequipa was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.[53] However, an 8.4-magnitude earthquake, on 23 June 2001, damaged several of the historical buildings.[54][55]

City symbols[edit]

King Charles I of Spain elevated Arequipa to the rank of city by royal decree on 22 December 1540, awarding it a coat of arms on which a mythical animal carries a banner with the inscription Karlos V or Del Rey.[18]

The origin of the crimson flag of the city has been a subject of debate among historians. By 1940, several historians, most notably Francisco Mostajo and Victor M. Barriga, firmly confirmed the royal origin of the crimson color of the flag, contrary to the blue banner proposed as the original by historian Victor Benavente. This matches the color used in sports activities in the city.[56] On 2 September 1940, Francisco Mostajo sent a letter to the Mayor of the City to explain his views regarding the color of the Banner of Arequipa, basing his claims on the 'Act of the oath of King Carlos III " of 11 August 1788. On 23 September of the same year, Father Victor M. Barriga also published an important document in the Catholic newspaper El Deber that contains a description of the royal standard of Arequipa found in the "Act of 3 September 1789".[57]

The anthem of the city is called the Fourth Centenary Anthem. It was written by Emilio Pardo Valle with music by Aurelio Diaz Espinoza, who won a contest organized by the city council in 1939 for the creation of the music and lyrics of the anthem. The award was given in 1940 and the hymn has been sung ever since at all important civic events held in the city.



The city is located at an average elevation of 2,328 metres (7,638 ft) above sea level, with the lowest part of the city at 2,041 metres (6,696 ft) above sea level in the area called Huayco Uchumayo while the highest is located at 2,810 metres (9,220 ft) above sea level.

The central part of the city is crossed by the Chili River from north to south; to the north and east of Arequipa are the Andes mountains, while to the south and west there are minor mountain ranges associated to the Andes. The valley of Arequipa, open toward the coast, plays a key role in allowing Arequipa to be a city that strategically links the coastal and highland regions of southern Peru.[58]

A series of volcanic cones dominates the city skyline: Misti, and the extinct volcanic groups Pichu Pichu and Chachani. The western slopes of the Andes in the region feature thick layers of volcanic lava that cover large areas.[59]


Partial view of Arequipa, with Misti volcano in the left.

The climate of the city is predominantly dry in winter, autumn and spring due to the low atmospheric moisture and an effective precipitation corresponding to that of a desert climate (BWk, according to the Köppen climate classification). Arequipa has also 300 days of sunshine a year on average. Throughout the year, temperatures do not exceed 25 °C (77 °F) and rarely drop below 5 °C (41 °F). The wet season lasts from December to March and is marked by the presence of clouds in the afternoon and low rainfall. In winter (June, July), weather gets a little cooler and the low temperature drops to an average of 6 °C (43 °F).

The average relative humidity is 46%, with an average high of 70% in the summer season and a minimum average of 27% during autumn, winter and spring, according to data from the weather station at Goyeneche Hospital.[60]

The winds are influenced by a system of local winds and the passage of frontal systems of low atmospheric pressure, which are conditioned by the topographical surrounding the valley where the city is. These winds occur mainly in the evening and early morning; mountain breezes flow in a north-east direction and in the course of the day valley breezes dominate with a South-West direction. The wind velocity along the day fluctuates between 1.5 m / s and 2.5 m / s.[60]

Climate data for Arequipa (1961–1990, extremes 1892–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 29.5
Average high °C (°F) 21.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 15.3
Average low °C (°F) 8.5
Record low °C (°F) 0.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 27.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 4.8 5.6 4.5 0.4 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.2 1.6 17.7
Average relative humidity (%) 52 59 58 48 41 45 44 43 42 39 39 43 46
Mean monthly sunshine hours 223.2 189.3 244.9 294.0 288.3 291.0 291.4 310.0 297.0 303.8 309.0 291.4 3,333.3
Mean daily sunshine hours 7.2 6.7 7.9 9.8 9.3 9.7 9.4 10.0 9.9 9.8 10.3 9.4 9.1
Source #1: NOAA,[61]
Source #2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (mean temperatures 1949–1956, humidity 1951–1969, precipitation days 1970–1990, and sun 1931–1958),[62] Meteo Climat (record high and record low)[63]

Solar radiation[edit]

The global solar radiation recorded in the city ranges from 850–950 W / m 2 (watts / square meter), considered one of the highest levels of radiation in South America and the highest recorded in Peru. This phenomenon is due to its proximity to the area of influence of the Atacama Desert and pollution at every stage.[64]


French type architecture in Arequipa.
High rise apartments in Arequipa.

On 15 August 1540, the Spanish founders of Arequipa designed the city plan as resembling a checkerboard made of fifty-six blocks, each one of "400 Castilian feet' (111.40 meters) per side.[25] Each block comprised four or eight land lots, which were distributed according to the status of the new owners. As the time passed, some religious institutions came to occupy an entire block as were the cases of the Convent of Santa Catalina and the San Francisco Monastery.[65]

The urban area grew at the expense of the countryside, a process that has worsened in recent decades. Arequipa expanded east of the historic centre, new avenues like Parra Boulevard and Siglo Veinte Avenue were built to communicate the historic centre with the new neighborhoods, such as Vallecito (created in the 1940s)[66] or with already existing towns like Yanahuara, which were being absorbed by the city expansion. Shantytowns began to appear in the districts of Miraflores, Barrio Obrero and Jacinto Ibanez. New urban improvements were built as the city grew. A permanent marketplace was built in a vacant lot previously occupied by theSan Camilo Monastery. The Goyeneche Hospital was built between 1905 and 1910. Two theaters (Municipal and Ateneo), a hotel (Hotel de Turistas), a public library and the campus of San Agustin university were also part of the city improvements built in the early twentieth century. Housing projects and new neighborhoods were also built, like Cuarto Centenario and Selva Alegre.[67]

In the late 1950s the city rapidly grew, especially the peripheral areas.[68] Around this time, industrial activities located in areas of Barrio del Solar and Barrio Obrero,[69] near the city center, moved outwards to the industrial zone (Parque Industrial), causing the former industrial areas to become commercial zones.[70] Also some educational institutions that previously were located in the city center, such as the National University of San Agustin, moved to bigger land lots in peripheral areas in 1962 to accommodate their increasing facilities; residential sectors also became established in peripheral suburbs, leaving the city centre as a tourist and business district.[68]

Administrative division[edit]

The metropolitan area of Arequipa consists of 19 districts,[71] with a total extension of 305,798 acres (123,752 hectares) of which 10,142 acres (4,104 ha) are distinctly urban.[72]

No. District No. District
1 Downtown 7 Paucarpata
2 Cayma 8 Jacobo Hunter
3 Cerro Colorado 9 Miraflores
4 Sachaca 10 Tiabaya
5 Yanahuara 11 JL Bustamante y Rivero
6 Alto Selva Alegre 12 Mariano Melgar
7 Sabandía 14 Socabaya
Source: National Institute of Statistics and Informatics


Downtown scenery at Mercaderes street.

According to the census of 2007, the city of Arequipa, concentrates 70% of the total population of the region of Arequipa and 90% of urban population of the region.

One of the first population census in the city date back to 1796 where there were 37,241 inhabitants which corresponded to 22 207 Spaniards, 5929 Native Americans, 4908 mestizos, 2487 castizos, and 1710 slaves.[73] At the end of the first half of the twentieth century, the effects of the city improvements around 1940 were clearly shown by the annual population growth from 1.1% for the period 1876 – 1917 to 3.3% for the period 1940 – 1960.[74]

In the twentieth century the city's population would increase from 80,000 in 1940 to 158,000 in 1961 in an unprecedented population growth process, whose possible reasons have to do with the establishment of the first industrial companies, some of them involved in the transformation of agricultural products.[74] The demographic trend was substantially supported by two factors: the earthquake of 1958 and the drought in the Altiplano, which accelerated migration, urbanization, and peripheral city growth (suburbs and shantytowns) that lasts until today.[68] The population growth was boosted by the rearrangement an improvement of urban space after the earthquakes which caused Arequipa's population to grow twofold in a decade.[75] The 158 000 inhabitants in 1961, would be 309 000 in 1972 and almost 500,000 in 1983. The expansion of the urban area to previous rural areas incorporated subsistence farming actively into the urban cycle.[76]

Evolution of the population of Arequipa in the period between 1796 and 2017

Population (City of Arequipa)
Year Population Source
1796 37241
1804 37148 Population Census 1804 (Gil de Toboada)[65]
1812 34478 Viceroyalty of Peru in 1812
1876 30932 Census of inhabitants of Peru (1876)
1917 44209 Census of the City of Arequipa in 1917[77]
1940 80947 INEI[78]
1961 158685 INEI[78]
1972 309094 INEI[78]
1981 446942 INEI[78]
1993 619156 INEI[78]
2007 749291 INEI[78]
2017 1008290 INEI 2012 population estimate[79]

Sources: Population Census 1804 (Gil de Toboada)[65] Viceroyalty of Peru in 1812, Census of inhabitants of Peru (1876), Census of the City of Arequipa in 1917[77] INEI,[78] INEI 2012 population estimate[79]


74.2% of the GDP of the Department of Arequipa is generated by the city of Arequipa, according to studies by the National University of San Agustin.[citation needed] The GDP of Arequipa Department is the second highest in Peru, after the Department of Lima. In the period 2003–2008 was the "City with greatest economic growth in Latin America", according to the report in 2009 of "America Economia" presenting a percentage change in GDP per capita of 66.1%. Also in 2007–2008 was the city with the highest percentage change in GDP in Latin America with a variation of 9.59%.[80]

Economic Indicators – City of Arequipa
Population (MM) GDP 2010 (millions U.S. $) GDP per capita 2010 (U.S. $) % Unemployment 2011 No. investment banks
 0–9 10,587 12,188 5,0 1
Source: American Journal Economics. Special Cities[81]
Modern buildings in Arequipa.

According to a government survey, Arequipa has the largest amount of "workforce" within the country amounting to 625 547 people, and an economically active population (PEA) which amounts to 376 764 people having a same employment rate as in the national average with an average monthly income of 928 soles.[82] The main economic sectors for the economically active population are manufacturing (12.9%), trade (23%) and non-personal services (36.6%).[83] A metropolitan level unemployment level reaches the level of 8%,[71] in contrast to 5% unemployment in the city.[81]

In Arequipa, tourism is an important boost for the local economy, as the city is the third most visited city in the country after Cusco and Lima.[5] In 2010, Arequipa received a total of 1.395 million visitors according to the Ministry of Commerce and Tourism.[84]

Since the past century, in the city many factories related to the primary sector, especially textiles and agricultural, have emerged. Thus making Arequipa an important commercial and industrial hub in the southern Andes, serving as a link between the coast and the mountains.[85]

Large-scale mining, also contributes to the city's economy; as is the case of Cerro Verde,[86] a mining site established in 1993 near the Arequipa valley.[87]

The city's industrial sector has the largest nationwide diversification[88] and is the second most industrialized city of Peru.[5] After two major earthquakes, in 1958 and 1960, with the law of the "Rehabilitation and Development Board of Arequipa" an industrial complex was built with one of the first factories being the Yura cement factory (Cementos Yura).[88]

Partial view of the industrial zone of Arequipa (Parque Industrial de Arequipa) located in the southern part of the city.

This first industrial complex named Parque Industrial de Arequipa now has a great diversity of factories ranging from consumer related industries (food and beverages) and construction (PVC, cement and steel) to chemical and export products (textile companies).[88] Among the most important companies are Alicorp SAA, Processed Foods SA, Laive, La Iberica, Manuel Muñoz Najar, Bin Pan SA, Consorcio Industrial Arequipa SA, Omniagro, Backus & Johnston, Corporación Aceros Arequipa, Francky and Ricky, Michell & Cia. and IncaTops.[88] Moreover, the city's industrial sector has expanded and other industrial complexes have emerged such as Parque Industrial APIMA (developed for small businesses),[89] Parque Industrial Rio Seco and industrial areas in the Alfonso Ugarte Ave, Uchumayo Road and the northern part of the city.[90]

On 15 August 1959, the first television transmission in the city of Arequipa was performed at the Cultural Hall of the National University of San Agustin. It was an initiative of businessman Jack Dwyre through his new company Televisora Sur Peruana in partnership with San Agustin National University as Channel 2 (now TV UNSA).[91] The aforementioned university became one of the first in South America to operate a public TV station from inside its campus.[91] Since then, two other public television stations began to operate in Arequipa: Radio Television Continental (Channel 6) in 1962 and Compañía de Radiodifusión Arequipa (Channel 8) in 1987 (broadcasting as ATV Sur since 2012).[92]

Among the newspapers that are printed in the city, El Pueblo is the oldest in Arequipa (active since 1 January 1905) and the second oldest in the country. Writers like Percy Gibson and Alberto Hidalgo, and politicians like Hector Cornejo Chavez, Mario Polar Ugarteche and Alfonso Montesinos started their careers in this newspaper.[93]


Primary and secondary education[edit]

In 2007, the city of Arequipa had 20,595 students at initial level schools or kindergartens, 143,543 students at elementary schools and 219,305 at high schools. Among the oldest and most prestigious schools in the city are: Independencia Americana School, San Francisco de Asis School, Don Bosco School, La Salle School and San Jose School.

Colegio Max Uhle is a German international school in Arequipa.

Higher education[edit]

Auditorium of San Agustin National University

Arequipa has more than 15 universities. Nine of them with headquarters in the city; one of them being public (Universidad Nacional San Agustin). The other six are local branches of private and public universities of Peru and Chile. In 2007, a total of 70,894 students were enrolled in universities and 56 087 students were enrolled in colleges or technical institutes.

Two institutions of higher education in Arequipa were founded more than a century ago. Seminario de San Jeronimo, a centre of religious formation, is in operation since 1622.[94] While, San Agustin National University (Universidad Nacional San Agustin) was founded on 11 November 1828[95] it can trace its origins back to the Academia Lauretana de Artes y Sciencias, a college founded in 1821.[96]

The first private university established in the city was Universidad Catolica Santa Maria, the establishment of this university was followed by Universidad Católica San Pablo and Universidad San Francisco.[97] Additionally, important local branches from universities outside the region, such as Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Universidad Tecnologica del Peru, Universidad Los Angeles de Chimbote and Universidad del Mar (Chile) among others, are located in the city.

University Installation Undergraduates[100] Main Campus
Universidad Nacional San Agustin de Arequipa 1828 24188 Arequipa
Universidad Catolica Santa Maria 1963 12268 Arequipa
Universidad Catolica San Pablo 2004 4769 Arequipa
Universidad San Francisco 2010 Arequipa
Universidad La Salle Maestría en Ingeniería del Software Aplicada Arequipa
Universidad Privada de Ciencias de la Salud Maestría en Ingeniería del Software Aplicada Arequipa
Universidad Privada Autonoma del Sur Maestría en Ingeniería del Software Aplicada Arequipa
Universidad Javier Prado[101] Maestría en Ingeniería del Software Aplicada Arequipa
Universidad San Francisco Javier 2010 Arequipa
Universidad Alas Peruanas[102] 2004 9743 Lima
Universidad José Carlos Mariátegui[103] Maestría en Ingeniería del Software Aplicada Lima
Universidad Néstor Cáceres Velásquez[104] 2006 1038 Puno
Universidad Tecnologica del Peru[105] 2007 1201 Lima
Universidad Privada San Pedro 2010 Chimbote
Universidad Los Angeles de Chimbote 2009 344 Chimbote
Universidad del Mar[106] 2009 Chile
Source: Second National Census of Universities (2010)



Arequipa, unlike other big Peruvian cities with mestizo and indigenous features, has been labeled as a "Spanish island in an indigenous sea", because of its regional cultural features more clearly defined than in the rest of Peru, described as a cultural and natural oasis.[107] Culture in Arequipa is marked by the regionalism of its inhabitants; in fact, unlike other regional sentiments within Peru, Arequipa's regionalism was connected to the fight against centralism. This proud regionalism, expressed in numerous insurrections or revolutions have earned the city the nickname "Ciudad Caudillo" (Warlord City) or better explained by Peruvian historian Jorge Basadre: "Arequipa is a gun pointed at the heart of Lima", when making a reference to the antagonism between the cities.[108]


An element of culture in Arequipa City is its Spanish dialect which incorporates a distinctive rhythmic way of speaking, which usually elongates the last vowel of the final word in each sentence. A distinctive feature of this dialect is the "voseo",[109][110] that is, the use in Spanish language of the pronoun 'vos' to replace the use of 'tú' or 'usted' (all corresponding to the English 'you'). In Peru, the voseo is sometimes heard only in rural areas except in Arequipa, where that way of speaking is heard in both rural and urban areas.[111] Another dialect from the city surroundings, called loncco, has been largely lost due to migration from other provinces and the standardization of Spanish language by the media. However, there are contests in schools which promote the writing of poems in the loncco dialect.

Mario Vargas Llosa (Arequipa, Peru, 28 March 1936). Nobel Prize in Literature 2010


Literature in Arequipa has a long tradition and many of the city's writers have gained recognition in Peru and internationally. During the Spanish colonial period only the works of Lorenzo de Llamosas have survived.[112] In the nineteenth century, the poetry and fables of Mariano Melgar are a good reference of the regional literature at the time, with both patriotic and romantic themes. Other notable writers of Arequipa in that century are: Benito Bonifaz, Jorge Polar and Maria Nieves y Bustamante, among others. In the twentieth century, Mario Vargas Llosa is the most recognized of the Arequipan writers in Peru and abroad, winner of Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010; author of novels like The Green House (1966), Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977), among others. Other writers of the past century who took part of the cultural life of the city were the poets Percy Gibson, Cesar Rodriguez Atahualpa and Oswaldo Reynoso.

Art and photography[edit]

Some of the most detailed photographic records of 19th- and 20th-century Peru are to be found in the works of the Vargas Brothers Art Studio. Open from 1912 to 1958, the studio captured more diversity of Peruvian culture than any other photography studio at the time.[113] Most known for their nocturnals and portrait photography of women, their photographic archive, which is privately held by descendants of the brothers Carlos and Miguel Vargas, who founded and operated the studio, have been restored and digitized.[114] Many international showings of their works, have brought recognition to the studio and the way of life their images have preserved.[113]

One of the halls of Arequipa's Museum of Contemporary Art


Arequipa's rich history and art, which UNESCO recognized by designating the city as a world heritage site, are showcased in its many museums. These include: the Museum of the Cathedral;[115] the Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo) which is devoted to painting and photography collections from 1900 onwards, especially works by Peruvian artists like Carlos Vargas, Martin Chambi, Fernando de Szyszlo, Venancio Shinki and many others;[116] the Regional Museum of the Central Reserve Bank (Museo Regional del Banco Central de Reserva) which houses pre-Columbian and colonial art pieces, plus a collection of colonial and republican coins and banknotes;[117] the Santa Maria University Museum of Archaeology and the Andean Sanctuaries Museum (Museo Santuarios Andinos), both belonging to Santa Maria Catholic University, have an important collection of archaeological pieces mainly from local pre-Columbian cultures (especially the latter, which houses Inca mummies);[118][119] the San Agustin University Museum of Archaeology;[120] the Municipal Museum of Arequipa;[121] and others.

Pedro Paulet, scientist born in Arequipa in 1874, was one of the first to experiment with rocket propulsion.

Research, academic and cultural institutions[edit]

Among the scientists who were born and/or developed their research in Arequipa are: Pedro Paulet (a pioneer scientist on rocket propulsion) and Mariano de Rivero (geologist and politician). One of the most important research facilities in the city was the Astronomical Observatory of Carmen Alto, which was operated by Harvard University between 1891 and 1927, when the university moved its astronomical operations to South Africa.[122]

Cultural events and activities are mostly organized by the main universities of the city: San Agustin National University and Santa Maria Catholic University,[123] and also by cultural organizations such as the Alliance Française,[124] the Peruvian Center for German Culture[125] and the Peruvian North American Cultural Center.[126] Since the 1990s banking institutions showed great interest in promoting and managing cultural activities; while private companies joined this movement by sponsoring various projects.[120]


Association football is the most popular sport in Arequipa, with a popular local team being FBC Melgar of the Peruvian First Division, winning its first national championship in 1981.[127]

City rivals' FBC White Star's women's football department of the club won the national league in 2009.

Other teams in the city are Sportivo Huracán, FBC Aurora, FBC Piérola, Senati FBC, IDUNSA and the now-defunct Total Clean FBC.

The main stadiums in the city (also used for other events) are: Virgen de Chapi Stadium (property of San Agustin National University), Mariano Melgar Stadium, Los Palitos Stadium and Umacollo Stadium.


Music is also an important part of cultural life in Arequipa. Since the last years of the Spanish colonial period, there were important academic composers like Mariano Melgar (who was best known as a poet), Pedro Jiménez Tirado April and Florentino Diaz, all of them placing Arequipa as one of the Peruvian cities with a renowned musical scene.[128] The Symphonic Orchestra of Arequipa, created in 1939, contributes to keep classical and vernacular music as part of the city's culture.[129] As in the rest of the country, in Arequipa, many traditional music styles like vals criollo (or Peruvian waltz), yaravi (or harawi) and huayno are still performed.


Regional cuisine shows a great diversity with as many as 194 typical dishes.[130] The cuisine of the city mixes recipes from European and Andean cultures,[131] because many dishes were created to satisfy the taste of the Spanish settlers in Arequipa.[132] As a curiosity, many restaurants feature a special main course according to each day of the week: chaque on Mondays, chairo on Tuesdays, chochoca on Wednesdays, chupe colorado on Thursdays, chupe de viernes on Fridays, puchero or timpusca on Saturdays and caldo blanco or pebre de lomos on Sundays.[133] Among the most popular local dishes are chupe de camarones (shrimp soup), ocopa arequipeña, rocoto relleno, cuy chactado (fried guinea pig), locro de pecho, etc.; while typical desserts are: queso helado (ice cream made of milk, cinnamon and coconut), buñuelos, dulces de convento and chocolates. Besides local wines and beers, two typical beverages are chicha de jora and anisado (anise liqueur).[134]


Arequipa, as the capital of the province, is governed by the Provincial Municipality of Arequipa that has jurisdiction over the entire territory of the province. The district municipalities within the province also have jurisdiction over matters relating to their own districts. The city, as the regional capital, is home to the Regional Government of Arequipa. It is also headquarters of the different regional offices of ministries that make up the Civil Government of Peru.

City administration[edit]

The Provincial Municipality of Arequipa regulates important citywide, metropolitan and provincial issues like urban planning, transport, municipal tax collection, management of road safety (jointly with the local police), the maintenance of public roads and urban greenery, etc. It is also responsible for the construction of municipal facilities such as sports centers, libraries and social service centers.[135]

Constitutional Court[edit]

The Constitutional Court is the highest authority regarding control and interpretation of the Constitution. It is autonomous and independent of other constitutional bodies. Subject only to the Constitution and the Organic Law, the court has seven judges elected by the Congress with the favorable vote of at least two thirds of the legal number of members for a period of five years.

The city is the "Legal Capital of Peru" and "Official Headquarters of the Constitutional Court",[136] as a result of a decentralizing project. Due to the military coup that occurred in Peru at the end of the 1960s, the initiative was abandoned. Then, it was retaken after the election of the Constituent Assembly in 1978. This time, the initiative did not succeed due to the high opposition, but later concluded that Arequipa would host the then "Constitutional Court", as stated in Article 304 º of the Constitution of Peru, 1979: "The Constitutional Court is based in the city of Arequipa ".[137]

Later, by the Constitution of 1993, the "Constitutional Court" was created, which, according to its Charter, is based in Arequipa.[138]

Sights and attractions[edit]

Map of the old town of Arequipa

The Old Town[edit]

In its 332 hectares[10] has 5817 properties[139] of which 500 are categorized as heritage properties, generally have been built in the nineteenth century, on the site of earlier colonial buildings destroyed by the earthquake of 1868. The houses, usually made in ashlar, are characterized by semi-circular arches and vaulted ceilings. Ashlar structures always have thick walls: 1 to 1.5 meters for rooms, 2 meters for churches. Through the use of lime mortar, the walls are shown homogeneous image that is reinforced with brick vaults or ashlar that are justified in the rarity of the wood.[140]

In the city is a stylistic school called "School Arequipa" of crucial importance in the region and whose influence reached Potosi. This school is characterized by profuse decoration planiform textilográfica and the open spaces and the design and size of their covers, which differ in these aspects of Cuzco and Lima covers.[141]

The architecture in the historic center is characterized by the prominence of ashlar, the use of which begins in the last third of the 16th-century. This volcanic stone, white or pink exceptionally soft, lightweight, and weatherproof, emerged as a seismic structural solution. The ashlar was unable to take the early years, except for the covers of the main church and some houses. The original city was built with adobe, masonry, sticks and straw roofs or mud pie. Houses of this type were made until the nineteenth century and were common in the eighteenth century, some remain in the original district of San Lazaro. Later came the brick and tile houses with tile found in the Monastery of Santa Catalina. The cataclysm of 1582 settled these systems and raised the earthquake reconstruction. Then came the ashlar as prime structural solution.[142]

Major earthquakes mark milestones in the formation of Arequipa architecture. Five significant periods are:

  • Founding and village (1540–1582),
  • Splendor of Baroque (1582–1784),
  • Rococo and Neoclassical Reviews (1784–1868),
  • Empiricism and modernizing
  • Evocations neo colonial (1868–1960) and
  • Contemporary.

Religious monuments[edit]

Church of the Jesuits

In historical existence is accounted for 14 churches or temples, four chapels, five convents and 3 monasteries,[143] among the monuments of this type include:

It is the most important neoclassical ediicio Peru, product reconstruction started in 1844 and finished three years later and led by architect Lucas Poblete.[144] Its interior is faced with trs ships with one of the side walls of the main square which fills a side façade is divided by Corinthian columns.[145]

  • Church of the Company

It is the monument maximum Arequipeña School,[13] is one of the most splendid creations of Peruvian Baroque and starting point of this school,[146] in its façade has an inscription inscribed with the year 1698 which shows that the beginning of the eighteenth century this regional art had reached its peak, therein lies a more exaggerated baroque altar.[147]

Street and arches on the main square.

Civil-public monuments[edit]

There are 10 buildings that origin were engaged in civic purposes, such as Phoenix theaters. and the Municipal Theatre, the Goyeneche Hospital and the Hospital of Priests of St. Peter, bridges Bolognesi and Grau, the Instituto Chavez de la Rosa, Railway Station, Mercado San Camilo and the convento de Santa Catalina.[143]

Military monuments[edit]

The historic center of Arequipa lacked a wall as we had the city of Lima, they persist despite military monuments as Twentieth Century Prison and Penal Fundo El Fierro women.[148]

Civil-domestic monuments[edit]

Within the historic center there are 246 houses that are declared monument households.[143] This type of construction is characterized by thick solid walls, with arches and domes similar to those built in the temples and religious monasteries giving the same robustness and monumentality to these constructions built from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and generally used for housing.[142]

  • Casa del Moral
  • Goyeneche Palace
  • Tristan del Pozo House
  • Mint
  • Casona Ugarte
  • House Iriberry
  • House Arrospide
  • Casa del Alferez Flowers
  • Casona del Corregidor Maldonado
  • Casa del Corregidor April and Maldonado
  • Casona Goyeneche
  • House of Pastor
  • Bronze Tambo
  • Tambo of the Loggerhead
  • Tambo de Ruelas


  • Yanahuara Villa Hermosa, located 2 kilometres (1 mile) from the city, famous for its churches built in Andalusian style alleys[149] which is Yanahuara Monumental Zone Cultural Heritage of the Nation.[150]
  • Cayma Villa, 3 miles (5 kilometres) from the centre of town. Place known for its taverns and where there is a beautiful seventeenth-century church. With a viewpoint which affords a beautiful view of Arequipa.
  • The thermal baths of Yura, 30 kilometres (19 miles). Its waters come from inside the volcano Chachani. Also, near the city are the medicinal sources of Jesus and Socosani.
  • Sabandía natural valley with most crystalline waters in the region. Here is the Sabandía mill was built and in operation since the eighteenth century.
  • The farm Sachaca or the Founder's Mansion,[151] is 12 kilometres (7 miles) from the city. Built on the river Socabaya, is a residence that belonged to different owners of historic renown in Peru but became especially known for being one of the family properties principales Goyeneche. This beautiful piece of architecture is now open to the public.

Parks and recreation[edit]

Partial view of Selva Alegre Park

Parks and squares cover 26 hectares of urban parks in and around the historic centre; among the most notable areas are:

  • Plaza de Armas
  • Plaza San Francisco
  • Parque Grau
  • Parque 28 de Febrero
  • Plaza Melgar
  • Parque Duhamel
  • Plaza 15 de Agosto
  • Plaza España
  • Plaza Santa Teresa
  • Plaza Independencia
  • Parque San Lazaro
  • Parque Selva Alegre
  • Plaza San Antonio

There are 22 hectares of countryside within this historic area.[152]

Other notable urban green areas in the city are:

  • Parque Ecològico Alto Selva Alegre. Located in the eastern part of the city, in Selva Alegre District, next to Chili River. The park and its surrounding areas occupy an area of 1008 hectares[153] of which 460 hectares covering only the ecological park.[154] A part of the park is located in the buffer zone of the National Reserve of Salinas Aguada Blanca.
  • Fundo Paraíso. Is part of Parque Selva Alegre and occupies an area of 67 hectares[154]
  • Chilina Valley countryside. Has an area of 151 hectares[154]
  • Chilpinilla Metropolitan Park. 14 hectares[155]



Honorio Delgado Regional Hospital

As the administrative and economic capital of the Arequipa Region, the city has the largest number of both public and private healthcare centers which total 680 establishments.[156] Public health institutions that are present in the city are:

  • Social Security Hospitals[157]
    • Edmundo Escomel (level I hospital)
    • Policlínico Metropolitano
    • Yanahuara (level III hospital)
    • Carlos Seguin National Hospital (level IV hospital)[158]
    • Complejo de Prestaciones Sociales
  • Ministry of Health (MINSA)[159]
    • Honorio Delgado Regional Hospital
    • Goyeneche Hospital
  • National Institute of Neoplasic Diseases (INEN):
    • Regional Institute of Neoplasic Diseases


Interchange on La Marina Avenue.

Arequipa's urban road network has a radiocentric structure with four main avenues: Avenida Ejército, Avenida Jesus, Avenida Alcides Carrion and Avenida Parra; which allow the movement of the population between the intermediate and peripheral areas and the downtown. These avenues are connected, in turn, by other avenues such as Avenida Venezuela, Avenida La Marina, Avenida Salaverry, Avenida Cáceres, among others, which almost form a ring around the downtown. Other avenues such as: Avenida Cayma, Avenida Goyeneche, and Avenida Dolores link the suburbs and nearby districts with downtown Arequipa. Interchanges such as the one at Avenida La Marina and another one at Avenida Caceres help to relieve urban traffic. A road of 40 km approximately, which goes through the district of Uchumayo, connects Arequipa to the Pan-American Highway and coastal cities; another road goes through the district of Yura, connecting Arequipa to other cities in the southern highlands like Puno and Cuzco.

Public transit in Arequipa is currently operated by small private companies.

View of the apron at Rodriguez Ballon International Airport with the Misti volcano in the background.

Arequipa's only airport is Rodríguez Ballón International Airport, which is operated by a private consortium through a concession granted by the government since 2011.[160] It is located in the district of Cerro Colorado, about 12 miles (19 kilometres) northwest of the downtown, and because of its features and facilities is considered one of the best in the country[161] There are regular flights to Peruvian destinations such as Lima, Cuzco, Tacna and Juliaca and to international destinations such as Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires.[161]

The railway network system has been operating in Arequipa since 1871, and enables communication between the coast and the mountains and different levels of progress and expansion of population centers located in its path. The system consists of the lines Cusco-Puno-Arequipa and Arequipa-Mollendo. It is of great strategic importance in the multimodal communication system in the southern macro region, since it is the most effective and economical way to transport heavy loads over long distances.

Terrapuerto Internacional Arequipa is a bus terminal located in the district of Jacobo Hunter. There, several bus companies offer land travel routes to regional and national destinations within Peru and to international destinations such as La Paz, Santiago de Chile, Mendoza and Buenos Aires.

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

The city of Arequipa is actively involved in town twinning policy reason has had throughout its history various twinning with different cities and regions. The twin cities of Arequipa are:[162]

See also[edit]


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