Sister City Relationship Established 1962 - Charlotte's First Sister City
Arequipa is located in Peru's southwest region at 7,660 ft above sea level. It has over 784,000 residents and the main language is Spanish with a few dialects from the surrounding areas. Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru and the most important of the Andean region. It is know as the La Ciudad Blanca (The White City) because of its many beautiful buildings made of silar (volcanic stone) and ashlar (petrified volcanic ash), both of which come from the nearby Chachani volcano.
Arequipa is nestled between the sea and the mountains in the foothills of three volcanoes -- Chachani, Pichu Pichu and Misti. The city has a mild climate where the sun shines most of the year.
The population of the region reflects Arequipa's rich heritage with its mixture of white, mestizo, and aboriginal peoples. The economy is predominantly tourist-related because of the geographical diversity and historical importance of the region. Arequipa also functions as a critical center for communications, economic growth, and cultural and political leadership in Perú. Other products of the region include textiles, agrarian goods, and metallurgical products. Arequipa has been working progressively to create international markets for these goods.
Arequipa's history dates back as far as 5000-6000 BC, as recorded in cave paintings and some 400 archaeological monuments. Conquered by the Incas in the 15th century, Arequipa served as an important supplier of agrarian products to the Inca Empire. In 1537, the first group of Spanish conquerors came to Arequipa and founded the "Villa Hermosa de Arequipa" in the old district of San Lazaro.
Arequipa remained relatively isolated from colonial times until 1870, when the rail system arrived to create a link with the other cities of the coast and the highlands. Arequipa served as a bastion of Perú's independence in the early 19th century and has extended that tradition into the 20th and 21st centuries as Arequipanians continue to play major roles in the country's political and cultural circles.
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White City Stories