Did you know that Lima is one of the five largest cities in all of the Americas? So after moving to Lima, you will find yourself with almost ten million new neighbors. Of these, a lot are expats, and it won’t be long until you feel right at home amongst the city’s diverse residents.
What you will probably first notice after moving to Lima is the eclectic mix of ethnicities in all parts of the city. People of various backgrounds have been a feature of the Peruvian capital for hundreds of years. The majority of limeños (the name for the people living in Lima) are Mestizos, so a mix between indigenous and European descent (predominantly Spanish and Italian). European Peruvians compose the city’s second largest ethnicity. Once again, Spanish and Italian heritage are the most common, but Peruvian Germans are also fairly popular, as well as limeños of French, Austrian, and Croatian descent.
Other noticeable ethnicities in Lima are Chinese and Japanese. In fact, the city has the largest Chinese community in all of Latin America by a significant margin. And second to Brazil, Peru has the largest Japanese community in Latin America. Chinese Peruvians are known as Tusan. Lima is home to a bustling Chinatown (Barrio chino). The city also has substantial Amerindian and Afro-Peruvian minorities.
Given that Lima was founded in 1535 by the Spanish, it is unsurprising that the national language is Spanish. Despite this, you might find it hard to recognize any European version of the language. Peruvian Coastal Spanish, as Lima’s dialect is known, is modeled on the historical version of the language which originated from Castile.
As an expat, the best you can do before moving to Lima is ensure you have a good grasp of Spanish. Once you have established yourself in the city, you can then begin to modulate your speech with the regional inflections. It is crucial, though, that you do know some Spanish, as the citizens of Lima do not often speak English, especially outside of the country’s upper classes. Also, many administrative and governmental websites and services are only available in Spanish.
Stemming from the melting pot of ethnicities in the city, Lima’s culture is also mixed. After moving to Lima, you will be able to recognize the colonial Spanish architecture of the Monastery of San Francisco, the Cathedral of Lima, and the Torre Tagle Palace. Indeed, the historic center of Lima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, away from such major monuments the Spanish influence is hard to detect.
This is especially true of the city’s cuisine, which is something you must sample after moving to Lima. Known as the “Gastronomical Capital of the Americas”, you will experience a fusion of tastes originating in Andean, Asian, and Spanish culinary traditions. Limeños take food very seriously. It is a way of expressing the city’s mixed heritage and vibrant multiculturalism. Case in point: the government of Lima has turned a traditional farmers’ market into a Boulevard of Gastronomy. It is a place to stroll, to smell, and to taste, all while appreciating the ingredients that compose Peruvian cuisine.
Moving to Lima will inevitably be a feast of new flavors. No matter where in Lima you find yourself, there is no avoiding ceviche, the official protagonist of Peru’s food scene. At its most basic, ceviche is raw fish that is “cooked” in lime juice and seasoned with onions and hot chili peppers. Lima’s top cevicherias are crowded along Avenida La Mar in Miraflores.
Whether you prefer peaceful relaxation or exciting night life, moving to Lima will not disappoint you. The beaches in the north and south of the city are always packed when the weather allows it, and they are lined with a myriad of restaurants and clubs. Be warned though — the water is ice cold, even if the temperature outside is not!
If this isn’t for you, try taking walks in the surrounding hill chains. These are the extremes of the Andean mountain chain, the very end of which is actually the San Cristobal hill in the downtown Rimac district. You will be greeted by beautiful views which might be hard to see within the confines of foggy Lima. Moving to Lima certainly comes with some pretty enviable landscapes.
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