Huancayo, province in the central highlands of Peru encompassing primarily the area of the fertile Mantaro Valley. Its capital city, also named Huancayo (1990 population 252,000), developed into an important commercial center in the mid-nineteenth century. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, the Huancas, an ethnic group initially hostile to Incan expansion, inhabited the area. Just north of today's Huancayo province, Francisco Pizarro founded the town of Jauja as the initial center of his Peruvian conquests, but later opted for the city of Lima on the coast for defensive purposes. The city of Huancayo was founded in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century the city hosted the Constitutional Congress of 1839 and the declaration of the abolition of slavery. During the War of the Pacific it was a center of the resistance led by General Andrés Avelino Cáceres against the Chilean occupation.
The major productive activities of the region are agriculture (potatoes, cereals), livestock, and light manufacturing (in the city). A variety of produce is sold in the city of Huancayo in picturesque weekly fairs, which were originally a way of exchanging regional rural products for manufactures and cash. A branch of the central highland railway system arrived in Huancayo in 1908 to enhance the city's commercial character. The main communication route with Lima today is the Central Highway, which displaced the railway in importance in the 1930s and 1940s.
See alsoCáceres, Andrés Avelino .
Florencia Mallon, The Defense of Community in Peru's Central Highlands (1983).
Fiona Wilson, "The Conflict Between Indigenous and Immigrant Commercial Systems in the Peruvian Central Sierra, 1900–1940," in Region and Class in Modern Peruvian History, edited by Rory Miller (1987).
Peñaloza J., José. Huancayo: Historia, familia y región. Lima: Instituto Riva-Agüero, 1995.
Alfonso W. Quiroz