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The river that feeds Lima is called Rímac and many people erroneously assume that this is because its original Inca name is "Talking River" (the Incas spoke a highland variety of Quechua where the word for "talker" was pronounced However, the original inhabitants of the valley were not Incas.
Modern scholars speculate that the word "Lima" originated as the Spanish pronunciation of the native name Limaq.
At the start of this period, the urban area was confined to a triangular area bounded by the city's historic centre, Callao and Chorrillos; in the following decades settlements spread to the north, beyond the Rímac River, to the east, along the Central Highway and to the south. It is located on mostly flat terrain in the Peruvian coastal plain, within the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers.
The city slopes gently from the shores of the Pacific Ocean into valleys and mountain slopes located as high as 1,550 meters (5,090 ft) above sea level.
According to early Spanish articles the Lima area was once called Itchyma, after its original inhabitants.
However, even before the Inca occupation of the area in the 15th century, a famous oracle in the Rímac valley had come to be known by visitors as Limaq (Limaq, pronounced , which means "talker" or "speaker" in the coastal Quechua that was the area's primary language before the Spanish arrival). It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central coastal part of the country, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.