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The city of El Callao is the port of Lima, Peru. It was founded in 1537, just two years after Lima (1535), and soon became the main port for Spanish commerce in the Pacific. At the height of the Viceroyalty, virtually all goods produced in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina were carried over the Andes by mule to Callao, to be shipped to Panama, carried overland, and then transported on to Spain via Cuba.
In 1746, an earthquake caused a tsunami which destroyed the entire port.
In the naval Battle of Callao, the Spanish fleet tried to reconquer independent Peru.
An historical fortress, the Castillo de Real Felipe, still stands on the promontory. There is also a large naval base in Callao, in which the leader of Sendero Luminoso rebel movement, Abimael Guzmán, and Vladimiro Montesinos, the ex-director of internal security during the Fujimori regime are imprisoned.
On a bluff overlooking the ocean sits Colegio Militar Leoncio Prado, the military high school Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa attended and made famous in his first novel, La Ciudad y los Perros (1962) (published in English as The Time of the Hero in 1963). The book was later filmed as The City and the Dogs and featured exterior shots of the school.
Callao, although contiguous with urban Lima, is a separate department within the province of Lima. It features a peninsula where it used to be the old high class Italians immigrants neighborhood, the district of La Punta. El Callao also has a few islands near that peninsula, and they are called La Isla San Lorenzo, a military base nowadays and former jail of Abimael Guzmán; Isla EL Frontón, a former high security prison; Islas Cavinzas and Islas Palomino (Palomino Islands), where a large number of sea lions and sea birds live in a virtually untouched ecosystem.
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This city is also known as: Callao.