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Arequipa City

AREQUIPA CITY, a city of southern Peru, capital of the department of the same name, about 90 m. N.E. by N. of its seaport Mollendo (107 m. by rail), and near the south-west foot of the volcano Misti which rises to a height of 19,029 ft. above sea-level. The population was estimated at 35,000 in 1896. The city is provided with a tram line, and is connected with the coast at Mollendo (Islay) by a railway 107 m. long, and with Puno, on Lake Titicaca, by an extension of the same line 218 m. long. The city occupies a green, fertile valley of the Rio Chile, 7753 ft. above the sea, surrounded by an arid, barren desert. It is built on the usual rectangular plan and the streets are wide and well paved. The edifices in general are low, and are massively built with thick walls and domed ceilings to resist earthquakes, and lessen the danger from falling masonry. The material used is a soft, porous magnesian limestone, which is well adapted to the purpose in view. Arequipa is the seat of a bishopric created in 1609-1612, and possesses a comparatively modern cathedral, its predecessor having been destroyed by fire in 1849. It has several large churches, and formerly possessed five monasteries and three nunneries, which have been closed and their edifices devoted to educational and other public purposes. The religious element has always been a dominating factor in the life of the city. A university, founded in 1825, three colleges, one of them dating from colonial times, a medical school, and a public library, founded in 1821, are distinguishing features of the city, which has always taken high rank in Peru for its learning and liberalism, as well as for its political restlessness. The city's water-supply is derived from the Chile river and is considered dangerous to new arrivals because of the quantity of saline and organic matter contained. The climate is temperate and healthy, and the fertile valley (10 m. long by 5 m. wide) surrounding the city produces an abundance of cereals, fruits and vegetables common to both hot and temperate regions. Pears and strawberries grow side by side with oranges and granadillas, and are noted for their size and flavour. The trade of the city is principally in Bolivian products - mineral ores, alpaca wool, etc. - but it also receives and exports the products of the neighbouring Peruvian provinces, and the output of the borax deposits in the neighbourhood. Arequipa was founded by Pizarro in 1540, and has been the scene of many events of importance in the history of Peru. It was greatly damaged in the earthquakes of 1582, 1609, 1784 and 1868, particularly in the last. It was captured by the Chileans in 1883, near the close of the war between Chile and Peru.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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