Location: Southwest of Peru
Extension: 63,345 km2
Mínimum: 9 masl (Punta de Bombón)
Máximum: 4525 masl (San Antonio de Chuca)
Arequipa, the 'White City,' is also a modern city that offers everything necessary to have an unforgettable trip. Its districts and towns show great contrast between Spanish heritage and Indian influence that has mysterious and majestic monuments, unique in the world, and an exceptional geography, with wonderful green landscapes, luminous valleys and impressive geological areas, that along with the artistic and cultural traditions of the settlers of the different districts in Arequipa, enable us to enjoy beautiful architecture, exciting excursions and delicious gastronomy.
Arequipa have been inhabited since between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago (Paleolithic Era) and much archaeological evidence such as rupestrian paintings and stones with carved drawings have been found. Best-known sites are the petroglyphics at Toro Muerto in the Valley of Majes, and the ones discovered in the caves of Sumbay, in Yura at 4,127 m.a.s.l.
Later on, Arequipa was the homeland of Collagua, Cabana and Aruni civilizations, which were incorporated into the Inca Empire toward the middle of the 16th century. During the Inca occupation of Arequipa, this territory hosted highly developed agriculture, demonstrated by the still-visible remains of irrigation systems and farming terraces built in the mountains.
The Spanish conquest and consequent creation of the actual Arequipa city, on August 15, 1540, meant a sudden change for the lifestyles of all local civilizations. Despite the natural scarcity of water resources, agriculture remained the principal economic activity in these fertile valleys. Some European crops were successfully acclimatized to this land and within a few years, a flourishing production of wine, liquors and olive oil had been established.
Arequipa today is the economical heart of Peru's southern region and one of its most important milk producers. Commerce and agriculture are the predominant industries, and thus the city is developing a peculiar urban appearance.
The fast urban growth has been accomplished mostly by refurbishing old houses and manors into hotels, banks and restaurants. For example, the Compania de Jesus monastery cloisters now house a shopping center. The Banco Central de Reserva del Peru and Banco Continental refurbished the Goyeneche and Ricketts manorial houses, which are now their branch offices. The Banco Industrial did the same with del Moral House, and the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín updated the Irriberry and Arrospide houses to hold the Centro Cultural Chávez de la Rosa.