Latin American Road Trip

Stops 3 and 4: Lima and Mexico City

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Location

Lima, Peru


Absolute location: 12.0433° S, 77.0283° W


Relative location: Lima is on the west central coast of Peru on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and south bank of the Rímac River. It is located on mostly flat terrain in the Peruvian coastal plain, within the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers. The valley is surrounded by an extremely arid, coastal desert (with no name) a short distance west of the Andes Mountains.

Area: 1,506 sq. miles

Population: 8,472,935


Physical Features

Rimac River – disgorging precipitously from the high Andes, the Rimac has formed a flat-topped alluvial cone on which the early Spanish colonists formed a settlement.

Nevado Siula Chico – the highest mountain in Lima and 7th highest mountain in Peru. Located near Oyon and reaching 20,912 feet.

Pacific Ocean

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Human Features

Port of Callao – chief seaport on the Pacific Ocean for Peru, vital for trade into and out of Peru.



Catedral de Lima (Basilica Cathedral) – built in 1535 by the conquering Spaniards, the Greater Altar is gold-plated and has images of the colonial era. Within the cathedral are Francisco Pizarro’s ashes, the founder of Lima. Every moth, patriotism is celebrated at a mass for the independence of Peru from Spain.

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Modification to the Environment

Terraced farming – the Incas needed fields in the Andes Mountains in which to grow crops. They carved terraces out of the steep sides of the Andes and built irrigation channels to bring water to the terraces.
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Accommodation to the Environment

Hydropower from glaciers in the Andes – the Palacio de Justicia uses hydropower for its electrical energy.
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How People Depend on the Government

The Peruvian Miracle – In 2007, the Peruvian economy grew 9%, the largest growth rate in all South America. The Lima Stock Exchange grew 185.24% in 2006 and 168.3% in 2007, making it the most profitable in the world. Lima’s unemployment rate is 6.5%. Today, the people depend on the government to continue pro-market policies enacted by President Fujimoro. The government has signed a number of free trade agreements and is expected to improve exports for the country.

Examples of Movement

Migration after Earthquake in 1940 – rural people from the Andean regions moved to Lima for work and Education, growing the population by 4.2 million.


Main highways – Pan American Highway runs north and south along the coast. Central Highway runs east to west and connects Lima with highlands.

9 Traits of Culture

Relationships - Ethnic groups

Lima ranks as the 27th most populous “agglomeration” in the world.

About 70% Mestizo (mixed European – mostly Spanish and Italians - and indigenous Indians)

About 15% Whites

About 10% Amerindians

About 5% Asians and Blacks

Education

Peruvian residents must choose between costly private national and international schools or government funded public schools.

Public schools drastically lack all sorts of resources

  • 2.3% of Metropolitan Lima's population older than 15 years has no education

  • 11.8% of Metropolitan Lima's population older than 15 years has primary education

  • 42.9% of Metropolitan Lima's population older than 15 years has secondary education

  • 43.0% of Metropolitan Lima's population older than 15 years has higher education

Universities in Lima:

There are numerous recognized public and private universities. Lima is home to the oldest university in the Americas - the National University of San Marcos (1551).

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Food

Lima is known as the “Gastronomical Capital of the Americas.” It was recognized by The Economist as :one of the 12 most exquisite cuisines on the planet: and boasts two of the “best restaurants” in the world. Its food is a mix of Spanish, Andean, and Asian cuisine.
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History of Lima

From 200 BCE to 600 CE, the Moche culture lived in the Lima region. They were skilled engineers who built canals that irrigated the fertile valleys. This civilization ended with a famine caused by El Niño.

The Incas flourished from 1438 until the Spanish arrived in 1533. The Incas altered and modernized buildings and complexes left by other civilizations and merged them into their own. The Incas were conquered by Francisco Pizarro and left weakened by smallpox.


Lima was founded in 1535 by Spanish conquistadores, including Francisco Pizarro, who named it Cuidad de los Reyes – City of the Kings. Pizarro became viceroy (governor) of the lands he conquered. Lima flourished as the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru and built an extensive trade network along the Pacific Ocean.


In 1746, an earthquake damaged Lima and destroyed the port in Callao, forcing massive rebuilding. During Peru’s war of independence until the 1890s, Lima stagnated economically with little urban development. Beginning in the 19th century, Peru brought in Asian contract laborers mainly to work on Lima’s coastal plantations. From the 1890s to the 1920s, Lima experienced urban renewal and expansion. It was destroyed by another earthquake in 1940, followed by a massive migration of 4.2 million Andean workers into the city. The huge influx of migrants caused slums to crop up in downtown Lima, today called pueblos jovenes.

Today, Lima is a melting pot of cultures from Europe, the Andes, Africa, and Asia, due to colonization, immigration, and indigenous influences. The Historic Centre of Lima was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

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Location: Final Destination - Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico

19° 26´ N, 99° 7´ W

Relative location:

Mexico City lies across the Tropic of Cancer and is located in the Valle de Mexico, a large valley in the high plateaus at the center of Mexico, sometimes called the Basin of Mexico or the Valley of Anáhuac ( Valley of the Damned). This valley is located in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in the high plateaus of south-central Mexico. It was originally built on a lake called Texcoco.

Area: 1,485 km2 (573 sq mi)

Population: 8,851,080

Physical Features

1. Valley of Anahuac – also known as the Valley of the Damned, Valley of Mexico, and Basin of Mexico, this geographic feature has no outlet to the sea, making it a basin and not a valley. It looks like a giant bowl gouged out of the Earth, ringed by mountains and active volcanoes. It covers about 7,000 sq. kilometers and is a closed hydrological system, making it one of the richest, most productive ecological zones in Mesoamerica.



2. Peaks of Iztaccihuatl and Popocatépetl


Iztaccihuatl – elevation 17,160 feet. The name means “white woman” in Nahuatl, referencing four individual snow-capped peaks that depict a sleeping female’s head, chest, knees and feet when seen from the east or west. It is a dormant volcano visible from Mexico City to the northwest.


Popocatépetl – elevation 17,802 feet, the second highest peak in Mexico and an active volcano. It is just southeast of Mexico City and contains a glacier.


In Aztec mythology, a princess, Iztaccíhuatl, fell in love with one of her father's warriors, Popocatépetl. The emperor sent Popocatépetl to war in Oaxaca, promising him Iztaccíhuatl as his wife when he returned. Iztaccíhuatl was falsely told Popocatépetl had died in battle, and believing the news, she died of grief. When Popocatépetl returned to find his love dead, he took her body to a spot outside Tenochtitlan and kneeled by her grave. The gods covered them with snow and changed them into mountains. Popocatépetl became an active volcano, raining fire on Earth in blind rage at the loss of his beloved.

Human Features

Modification to the Environment: Water Control in the Valley of Mexico

For 2000 years, humans have modified and altered the lakes in the Valley. The Aztecs built dikes for flood control and to separate fresh water from saline water. Drainage canals were built in the 1600s to divert flood waters from the Cuautitlán River to the Tula River. In the early 1900s, Mexico City began to sink rapidly, so pumps were installed on the Grand Canal, which was also expanded. The Grand Canal carries 2,4 million gallons per minute out of the valley. The Emisor Central canal was built to carry wastewater and is considered the most important pipe in all of Mexico. It protects the historic center, airport and east-side boroughs from flooding during the rainy season, but has not been maintained. Another drainage project is planned at a cost of $1.3 billion USD.
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Accommodation to the Environment: ProAire, Air Pollution Reduction

The amount of pollution that is released into the air is trapped because of the geography of Mexico City. It is located in a bowl-shaped valley, surrounded by mountains. This holds in the pollution rather than allowing it to dissipate. In the past 50 years, Mexico City went from one of the cleanest cities in the world to the most polluted because it did not accommodate to the environment. Today, the government has placed strict restrictions on 36,000 polluting factories and industries as well as on the 3.5 million cars. The government is forcing the residents to accommodate to the location so they can improve air quality.
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How the People Depend on the Government

Mexico City is governed by the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District. Representatives are elected for 6-year periods without the possibility of reelection. They are considered more liberal than the rest of the country. The nearly 9 million residents of Mexico City depend on the government to fix its major issues, particularly air pollution. They have passed comprehensive environmental laws and have created many public transport improvements. The government shut down polluting factories, phased out diesel buses and mandated emission controls on new cars. The government has also passed human rights laws, such as legalizing same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

Examples of Movement

Rural to Urban Migration

About 500,000 Mexica people, later known as the Aztecs, built an island on the center of the Valley of Mexico lake. They replaced the Toltecs as the premier Mesoamerican power. They had migrated to the Valley after the fall of the Toltec Empire. The Spanish conquerors arrived, razed the city of Tenochtitlan, then rebuilt it as Mexico City. It became the capital of New Spain, and people from Spain migrated for power, land, wealth, and a new life. They create the Camino Real for silver trade, and the road connected Mexico City to Santa Fe and other international trading hubs. When Mexico City introduced a railroad system, the population grew from 471,000 residents in 1910 to 1.5 million in 1940 as rural refugees flooded the city. Today, nearly 350,000 migrate to Mexico City each year.

Sistema de Transporte Colectivo

This 140-mile metro system is the largest in Latin America and is used by more than 4.5 million people every day. It covers about half the urban area of Mexico City. Heavily subsidized, it has some of the lowest fares in the world.
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Food

Mexico introduced chocolate, peanuts, vanilla, beans, coconuts, and tomatoes to the world. When Spain brought port, lamb, beef, wine, vinegar, and cheese to Mexico, Mexican cuisine evolved. Today, the most common ingredient used in Mexican food is corn, and it is cooked with almost every meal. Another typical ingredient is chili, which has a strong, hot flavor. Mexican desserts combine hot and sweet elements to produce unique taste sensations.
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Security/Protection

Mexico City has a high crime rate, with the greatest problem being corruption and bribery and drug trafficking. To combat this, Mexico City underwent a major security upgrade between 2009 and 2011 under Mayor Marcelo Ebrard’s direction. Today, it has one of the highest police to resident ratios in the world – one police officer for every 100 residents. 90,000 police officers work in the Federal District to maintain public order and safety. The historic district is monitored by horse-mounted tourist police, dressed in traditional uniforms, who help orient and serve tourists.
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Language

Spanish is the major language in Mexico City, spoken by about 95% of the population, and Mexico is the world’s largest Spanish-speaking country. Although the majority of Mexicans speak Spanish, the Mexican government has never legally recognized Spanish as the official language of Mexico. The Mexican Constitution protects the indigenous languages of Mexico and states that the indigenous peoples have the right to "preserve and enrich their languages.” 7.1% speak one or more of the 62 indigenous languages, making it one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world.

Religion

90.5% Roman Catholic, but declining over the last few decades

3.6% Protestants and Evangelical

1.3% Other Christian (Eastern Orthodoxy, Mormons, 7th Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses)

0.2% Jewish

0.8% Other (Islam, Buddhists,

2.9% None

0.7% Unspecified

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