[key], city, capital of the constitutional prov. of Callao, W Peru, on
Callao Bay of the Pacific Ocean. It is Peru's major seaport. The harbor is
sheltered by an island and a small peninsula. Its main exports are metals,
minerals, and fish products; imports include wheat, lumber, and machinery.
Callao was founded in 1537, at the same time that Francisco Pizarro founded Lima. As the gateway to
Lima it was frequently attacked. The English navigator Sir Francis Drake
sacked the city in 1578. It was held by Spanish loyalists until 1826, even
though Peru achieved independence in 1821. During the War of the Pacific
(see Pacific, War of
the), Callao was occupied (1881–83) by Chile.
Subjected to earthquakes and tsunamis, the city was completely destroyed in
1746 and was severely damaged in 1940. Several landmarks from the colonial
period survive. An airport, a university, and Peru's military and naval
schools are in Callao.
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