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Arequipa (ärākēˈpä) [key], city (1993 pop. 713,206), alt. c.7,550 ft (2,300 m), capital of Arequipa dept., S Peru, on the Chili River. One of Peru's largest cities, it is the commercial center of S Peru and N Bolivia. Alpaca wool, the city's chief product, is graded, sorted, and shipped out through the port of Mollendo. Founded in 1540 on the site of an Inca town, Arequipa stands on an oasis in an arid plain and grows crops for local consumption. In a region prone to earthquakes, the city was almost totally destroyed by one in 1868, but its lovely examples of Spanish colonial architecture were restored. The most recent major earthquake occurred in 2001. The light-colored building stone, sillar, has given Arequipa the name "white city." It has a university and several other institutions of higher education.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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