Callao (käyou´), city (1993 pop. 376,165), 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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