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Callao ( ) is the largest and most important port in Perumarker. The city is coterminous with the Constitutional Province of Callao, the only province of the Callao Region. Callao is located west of Limamarker, the country's capital, and is part of the Lima Metropolitan Area, a large metropolis that concentrates almost one-third of Peru's population. Callao borders Lima Province on the north, east and south, and the Pacific Ocean on the west.


Callao (pronounce as Kah.ya.oh) was founded in 1537, just two years after Lima (1535), and soon became the main port for Spanishmarker commerce in the Pacificmarker. 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.

At the height of the Viceroyalty, virtually all goods produced in Peru, Boliviamarker, and Argentinamarker were carried over the Andes by mule to Callao, to be shipped to Panamamarker, carried overland, and then transported on to Spainmarker via Cubamarker.

On August 20, 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 April 22, 1857; before that, Callao had the name of Litoral Province. All of the other Peruvian provinces had been given its name 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.

Notable events

City highlights

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

There is also a large naval base in Callao, in which the leader of the Shining Path rebel movement, Abimael Guzmán, and Vladimiro Montesinos, the ex-director of internal security during the Fujimori regime are currently imprisoned.

Lima's Jorge Chávez International Airportmarker is located in Callao.

On a bluff overlooking the harbor sits Colegio Militar Leoncio Prado, the military high school Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa attended and made famous in his first novel, La Ciudad y los Perros (1962) (published in English as The Time of the Hero in 1963). The book was later filmed as The City and the Dogs and featured exterior shots of the school. The city also has a university, the National University of Callao.

Callao also has several islands, San Lorenzomarker (currently a military base), El Frontónmarker (a former high security prison), the Cavinzas, and the Palominos, where a large number of sea lions and sea birds live in a virtually untouched ecosystem. There is currently 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 football professional team is called Sport Boys and Atletico 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, 11 km (7 miles) from the Historic Centre of Lima and 17 km (11 miles) from Miraflores. Callao is the port city now fully integrated with Limamarker, 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 like 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 district has its own Municipality which handles matters in their respective jurisdictional areas.


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

* The rest of Callao Region is composed of the islands of San Lorenzomarker, El Frontón and Cavinzas, which all together have an area of .


The port is served by the Ferrocarril Central Andino railway, which in 2006 is to be modernised from narrow gauge of to the world standard gauge of .


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