Cartography in Lima, Peru: A young pioneer’s dream come true

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In 1970, the 21 year-old Swiss citizen Oliver Perrottet emigrates from his native country searching for new horizons. He finds them in Lima, Peru - a place he chose from the map for its isolated location: The Pacific ocean to the west, the chain of the Andean mountains to the east, and a thousand kilometres of desert to either North and South.
Perrottet does not speak the language, nor does he know anybody in his new habitat, but that is exactly what he wanted: to start from scratch, like a real pioneer. Once established, and motivated by the desire he felt for mapping his surroundings since he was a child, he starts out to create the first ever public transportation map for Lima, whose 2.7 million inhabitants at that time had 280 bus lines to choose from, but no information at all about the byzantine transportation network.
During four months and for eight hours every day, he travels on buses from one final stop to the other, taking notes of every turn of the routes, and of the distinctive colours the vehicles of each line are painted with. In the evenings, he adds the information of the day to a giant map of assembled pieces of paper that covers a whole wall in his modest rented room. At last, he reaches his goal: the design of a pocket size map which shows all the information he has gathered.
In 1975, he publishes the Gu­a de Transportes de Lima Metropolitana, which quickly finds its users among the now more than 4 million residents of the metropolis which is growing at a rate of one thousand people per day, and the authorities who in the past had to issue official licenses for operating the transportation routes almost 'blindly', gratefully acknowledge his work.
But Perrottet has not yet finished his job. He feels that now he knows the rapidly expanding city well enough to tackle an even greater task: A complete street map of Metropolitan Lima, which is to include for the first time hundreds of emerging marginal settlements (officially called 'Pueblos Jvenes') within and around the city.
After two years of hard work, assisted only by an old friend from childhood who came to visit and finally stayed, the final draft of the new map is ready. Completing it has involved tantalizing tasks like placing one by one over 20,000 tiny pieces of film with street names. Perrottet forms his own company which he calls Editorial LIMA2000, envisioning the turn of the millennium that still lies over two decades ahead, and through which he publishes and distributes his first street guide and mural map of Greater Lima.
Barely managing to keep up with the high rhythm of urban growth, the new enterprise in 1982 starts publishing a giant wall map of the city. In 1987, LIMA2000 presents its first road map of Peru, and a traveler's guide to the former Inca town of Cusco and surroundings, including the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. In the same year, the company moves to its new quarters at Avenida Arequipa, Lima's main axis, where it still is located today.
During the nineties, and following the latest developments of computer science, LIMA2000 implements GIS (Geographic Information System) technology, which allows the user to store huge amounts of geographical data for performing analysis and modelling, and for generating cartography. The new technology makes updating and preparing maps much easier, and opens the door to more publications of the growing company, like the now world wide selling Inka Trail, Colca Canyon and Cordillera Blanca maps, or the 'Plano Metro' series of Peru's secondary metropolitan areas like Arequipa, Cusco, Trujillo and Chiclayo.
What once started as the delirious project of a barely adult newcomer, has now materialized as the leading cartographic editorial company of Peru. The former immigrant has become a citizen - and hopes to continue publishing quality maps of one of the most fascinating countries of the Americas. For more information, please refer to

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