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El Callao
Mozaico Callao
Mozaico Callao
Flag of Callao
Coat of arms of Callao
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Pearl from the Pacífic,[1]
El Primer Puerto (The First Harbor).
Callao is located in Peru
Location within Peru
Coordinates: Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
Country  Peru
Region Callao
Provinces Constitutional Province of Callao
Founded 1537
 • Mayor Félix Moreno
 • City 146.98 km2 (56.75 sq mi)
Population (2011 est)[2]
 • City 999,976
 • Urban 876,877
 • Urban density 5,690.4/km2 (14,738/sq mi)
 • Metro 9,367,587
 • Demonym chalaco/a
Time zone PET (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 14

El Callao (/kɑːˈj/; Spanish pronunciation: [kaˈʎa.o] or [kaˈʝa.o]) is the chief seaport of Peru. The city is also called Provincia Constitucional (Constitutional Province), the only province of the Callao Region. The Historic Centre of Callao is located 15 km (9.3 mi) west of Historic Centre of Lima , the country's capital, and is part of the Lima Metropolitan Area. Callao borders Lima Province on the north, east and south, and the Pacific Ocean on the west.


El Callao was founded by Spanish colonists in 1537, just two years after Lima (1535). It soon became the main port for Spanish commerce in the Pacific. The origin of its name is unknown; both Indian (particularly Yunga, or Coastal Peruvian) and Spanish sources are credited, but it is certain that it was known by that name since 1550. Other sources point to the similarity with the Portuguese word calhau [pebble], having a similar sound.

At the height of the Viceroyalty, virtually all goods produced in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina were carried over the Andes by mule to Callao, to be shipped to Panama, carried overland, and then transported on to Spain via Cuba.

On 20 August 1836, during the Peru-Bolivian Confederacy, President Andrés de Santa Cruz mandated the creation of the Callao Littoral Province (Provincia Litoral del Callao), which had political autonomy in its internal affairs. During the government of President Ramón Castilla, Callao was given the name of Constitutional Province (Provincia Constitucional), on 22 April 1857; before that, Callao had the name of Littoral Province. All of the other Peruvian provinces had been given their names by law, while Callao was given it by constitutional mandate.

Callao was never part of the Lima Department nor of any other departments.

The province's first mayor was Col. Manuel Cipriano Dulanto.

By 1949, Callao was known as one of the biggest centers of coca-based products and cocaine traffic in the world.[3]

Notable events

City highlights

Callao is built on and around a peninsula, the district of La Punta, a wealthy residential neighborhood. A historical fortress, the Castillo de Real Felipe (site of "Rodil's Last Stand"), stands on the promontory overlooking the harbor.

A large naval base is sited in Callao. Its prison holds Abimael Guzmán, the leader of the Shining Path terrorist organization, and Vladimiro Montesinos, the ex-director of internal security during the Fujimori regime.

Jorge Chávez International Airport is located in Callao.

On a bluff overlooking the harbor sits Colegio Militar Leoncio Prado, the military high school. The city also has a university, the National University of Callao.

The main Naval Hospital, Centro Medico Naval is located on Avenida Venezuela in Bellavista. It contains the U.S. Navy command Naval Medical Research Unit Six.

Callao has several islands: San Lorenzo (currently a military base), El Frontón (a former high security prison), the Cavinzas, and the Palominos, where numerous sea lions and sea birds live in a virtually untouched ecosystem. There are proposed plans to build a huge naval, terrestrial, and air port on San Lorenzo Island. This project is called the San Lorenzo Megaport Project.

Residents of Callao are known as chalacos.

Callao's professional football teams are Sport Boys and Atlético Chalaco.



Jorge Chávez International Airport (IATA: LIM, ICAO: SPIM), known as Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chávez in Spanish, is Peru's main international and domestic airport. It is located in Callao, 12 km (7.5 mi) from the Historic Centre of Lima and 19 km (12 mi) from Miraflores. Callao is the port city now fully integrated with Lima, the nation's capital. In 2008, the airport handled 8,288,506 passengers and 98,733 aircraft movements.

For many years it was the hub for now defunct Aeroperú and Compañía de Aviación Faucett, one of the oldest airlines in Latin America. Now it serves as a hub for many aviation companies such as TACA Perú and LAN Perú.


Local government affairs are divided into two levels. Regional matters are handled by the Regional Government of Callao (Gobierno Regional del Callao), which is located in the Bellavista District. Affairs such as city cleaning, promoting of sports and basic services are handled by the Provincial Municipality of Callao, which is headquartered in the Callao District. Also, each of the six districts has its own Municipality which handles matters in their respective jurisdictional areas.


Callao is divided into seven districts, (Spanish: distritos; singular: distrito), each of which is headed by a mayor (alcalde).

  1. Bellavista
  2. Callao (downtown)
  3. Carmen de la Legua Reynoso
  4. La Perla
  5. La Punta
  6. Mi Perú
  7. Ventanilla

* The rest of Callao Region is composed of the islands of San Lorenzo, El Frontón and Cavinzas, which all together have an area of 17.63 square kilometres (6.81 sq mi).


The port is served by the Ferrocarril Central Andino railway, which in 2006 is to be modernised from narrow gauge of 3 feet (914 mm) to the world standard gauge of 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm).

In popular culture

  • Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa attended the military school and referred to it in his first novel, La Ciudad y los Perros (1962) (published in English as The Time of the Hero in 1963). The book was adapted as a film entitled The City and the Dogs (1985). It featured exterior shots of the school.
  • Callao is the refuge place for the subjects of the Rudyard Kipling poem The Broken Men.
  • Footballer Claudio Pizarro was born in Callao; he is recognized as one of the best Peruvian football players. His nickname, the "Andean Bomber", refers to his provenance in the Andean region and was given to him by Gerd Müller. He is the all-time leading non-German top scorer of the German Bundesliga.[citation needed] Pizzaro currently plays with Bayern Munich.
  • Callao was featured in Prisoners of the Sun, part of The Adventures of Tintin.


  1. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  2. INEI– Censo INEI (2005) Archived 27 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  3. "The White Goddess", TIME Magazine, 11 April 1949

External links