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Small Town Series: Peru

Good Morning!

Here is another installment of the Small Town series. Today's country is Peru. All of these small towns have 50,000 inhabitants or less. I will be covering 5 different towns in today's post. I have included as much as I can about each small town.

Population numbers come from


Moyobamba- 44,276 inhabitants

Moyobamba is the capital city of the San Martín Region in northern Peru. Called "Santiago of eight valleys of Moyobamba" or "Maynas capital". Some 3,500 species of orchids are native to the area, which has led to the city's nickname ofThe City of Orchids. The city is the capital of both Moyobamba Province and Moyobamba District. The first colonies were from the Chachapoyas culture, but the modern city of Moyobamba was established by Juan Pérez de Guevara on 25 July 1540, who named it Santiago de los Ocho Valles de Moyobamba (Santiago of the eight Moyobamba Valleys). It was founded on the site of an Inca settlement and was the first city founded by the Spanish in the Peruvian Amazon. It is the second oldest Spanish town east of the Andes.

During the Spanish Conquest, Moyobamba was a base from which incursions were made into the surrounding areas. The city was the seat of the first religious missions established in the region. The Roman Catholic Church used the city as a base, where it began the task of converting the natives to Christianity. It was an important commercial center during the colonial era (1533–1821) and it was given city status in 1857. The historic "Puerto de Tahuishco" was once a vibrant port along the Mayo River, but has since become one of the last waning vestiges of the river trade route.


La Oroya- 33, 345 inhabitants

La Oroya is a city on the River Mantaro in central Peru. It is situated on the Andes some 176 km east-north-east of the national capital,Lima, and is capital of the Yauli Province. La Oroya is the location of a smelting operation that earned the town a place on the Blacksmith Institute's 2007 report, "The World's Worst Polluted Places". In 1533, the Spanish established a small settlement and started small-scale mining for precious metals in the area, but isolation and transport difficulties hindered extraction. At the time of the War of Independence, the area's strategic position made it a center of guerrilla activity; one of the decisive battles of the war, Chacamarca (Junin), took place nearby, and Simón Bolívar passed through the town after the battle. In 1861, the settlement was named San Jeronímo de Callapampa and in 1893 it became La Oroya. In 1925, La Oroya was designated the capital of the Yauli province and finally, in 1942, it was elevated to city status.

Mining in the area developed gradually, and did not greatly expand until the Ferrocarril Central Andino railway from Lima was completed in 1893. The railway, an extraordinary feat of engineering, was planned by the Polish railway builder Ernest Malinowski, and crosses the Ticlio Pass, where it reaches an altitude of 4781 meters. Until the recent completion of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway it was the highest standard gauge railway in the world. The smelter, now the city's main employer, was established in 1922 by the American Cerro de Pasco Corporation, who ran it until 1974 when Cerro was nationalized and became part of the state owned Empresa Minera del Centro del Peru S A, otherwise known as Centromin. In 1993, the Peruvian government decided to privatize Centromin. In 1997, 99.97% of the La Oroya smelter was acquired by Doe Run Peru, a subsidiary (now an affiliate) of the Renco Group, for approximately US$247 million. The acquisition consisted of a capital contribution to Centromin's Metaloroya of US$126.5 million and a purchase price payment of US$120.5 million. Doe Run Peru also bought the Cobriza copper mine for US$7.5 million to maintain concentrate supplies to the copper smelter.


Pacasmayo- 29,165 inhabitants

Pacasmayo is a city in Northern Peru, in the Pacasmayo province,La Libertad Region. Pacasmayo has been inhabited for over 10,000 years by groups of people collecting their food from the sea. Since before anyone can remember, the beaches of "El Lorito", "El Techito" and "La Peña Larga" have provided food sources to populate Pacasmayo. With the available food from the sea and the forests in the arid mountains (close to the river Jequetepeque) which provides carob trees (or locust beans), wool, and diverse species of animals; Pacasmayo (or Pacasca Mayo in Quechuan) was chosen as a settling place for small tribal groups.

By order of Virrey Teodoro de Croix in the year 1775, the Spanish conquistadors founded Pacasmayo. Since that time it became an important landing for the Spanish crown. The year of 1871 began the construction of the Pacasmayo dock or "muelle de Pacasmayo" and the train Pacasmayo-Chilete, which turned into an important Peruvian coastal port. This work of engineering began the golden age of Pacasmayo which lasted until 1967, the year when the railway stopped running. Since that time, the commercial activity has decreased to the point where now the dock, just as the railway station, are historic monuments. They are evidence of a glorious past that brought with it an economic boom to the city.

The company “Cementos Pacasmayo SA” (Pacasmayo Concrete Inc.), which began in 1959, quickly became the new axis upon which the economy of the city developed. Its presence promoted the development of many economic services such as businesses that transport heavy loads, banks, and commercial stores. All depended on this central industry. Since the end of the 20th century, the breakwater area, El Faro (The Lighthouse), dominated as the “largest, most navigable wave in the world” and has gained popularity among water-sport fans. At that beach, one can practice surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and paddle-boarding which promotes the growth of foreign visitors who arrive from diverse parts of the world to enjoy these waves.


Monsefú- 25,707 inhabitants

Monsefú is a town in Northern Peru, capital of the Monsefú district in the Chiclayo Province that is part of the Lambayeque Region. Monsefú was elevated to the category of "city" on October 26, 1888. Before the arrival of the Spanish, Monsefú would have been part of the chieftainship of Cinto, with the name of Chuspo, whose main center have been located in the vicinity of the hill San Bartolo. Early in the second half of the sixteenth century, they would have been reduced in Callanca, heavy rains and floods in 1578, blighted the crops and affected the population composed of "huacotoledistas". In 1612, the population of Callanca were attacked by a disease. The population was reduced by the disease and survivors after a few years were located in what is now Monsefú.

The headquarters of the Chilean army during the occupation of Peru (1879-1893) was located in Monsefú. Chilean troops entered Monsefú without shooting a single bullet. The commander in chief of the invader, Gen. Patricio Lynch, acted as a major of the city. During his tenure, he improved the sanitation system, organized a garbage collection service, built the first sewage system and reorganized the whole administration. Historians concur that Gen. Lynch was probably the best authority of Monsefú at that time. The town of Monsefú was created at the time of Independence by the Liberator Simon Bolivar.


Oxapampa- 12,000 inhabitants

Oxapampa is a town in Peru on the eastern side of the department of the Pasco Region. A ranching and coffee centre, it was founded by Austro-German settlers in the 19th century. In 1853, as living conditions in Central Europe were poor due to wars and famine, baron Damian Freiherr von Schütz-Holzhausen signed a contract with the Peruvian government to send 10,000 colonists to the virgin area of Alto Huallaga. In March 1857, a group of 300 Tyrolean and Prussian settlers, consisting mainly of poor peasant families and couples who weren't allowed to marry in their home countries, boarded the “Norton” to go to Peru. Before starting the journey, the couples were married. After 4 months, the settlers arrived at Callao port in Lima. After two days of quarantine, the settlers took a ship to the port of Huacho, where their belongings were put on mules and men had to continue the journey on foot while women and children were given donkeys to ride on.

The journey went from Huancho to Cerro de Pasco, Acobamba and Santa Cruz. On the way, some of the settlers left the group. In 1858, the male settlers travelled from Santa Cruz to Pozuzo to partition the lands and sow enough so they would be able to live off their crops once their families arrived. Finally, in 1859 a group of 170 people moved permanently to Pozuzo. In 1891, when things were better, a group of colonists from Pozuzo founded the city of Oxapampa (now the capital of the province of same name) and then the town of Villa Rica (both South of Pozuzo).


Hope you enjoyed today's post. I decided to make it a little shorter than the original 10 towns as there was just not a lot of information on some of the small towns.


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