Chimbote is an important fishing port of 300,000, and during the early to mid 1980s, when Peru was the world?s leading fishing nation, Chimbote was considered the most important fishing port in the world. The El Niño current of 1986 devastated the fishing industry, however, and although Chimbote has recovered, and is once again an important fishing town, it has not regained its status completely.
In addition to being an important fishing port, Chimbote also competes for the title of the most unpleasant city in Peru, and has a good chance of winning. Entering the city is rather like putting your head inside a rotting fish, with the stench of the fishmeal factories hitting you head on. The stink is not necessarily constant, as it is dependent on the production at the factories, but it is rather normal. Even when travelling up the north coast, where fishmeal is the predominant odour, Chimbote comes as a shock.
Not only is Chimbote the most foul-smelling city in Peru, it is also rather ugly and dangerous, especially after dark. The police have improved things in recent years, and during the day there is a notable presence. However, when the police disappear at night time, it is strongly advisable not to wander round the centre.
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