The place was founded about 1884 by Jose Manuel Pereira after the Pacific war by a group of Italian immigrants. Before that period there were many attempts to colonize Chanchamayo's valley but were repelled by the local Ashaninkas. The Peruvian army protected the colonists with a small garrison in Kimiri in front of the actual barracks. Gradually the Ashaninkas moved down river and eventually melted with the colonists. It lies on the western bank of the Río Chanchamayo which later becomes Río Perené tributary of the Amazonas.
The city has a population of about 50 000 inhabitants.
In terms of anthropology, the Chanchamayo region is a multicultural city influenced by the local aborigal Asháninka.
Due to its proximity to Peru's capital city, Lima, and due to its pleasant weather and exotic scenery it remains a popular destination for international tourism.
The surrounding areas feature numerous waterfalls, jungle-like forests, rivers, and many other natural wonders, e.g. medical plants (wisdom of the natives), bird watching etc.
Economically, the Chanchamayo is influenced by the international prices of coffee, its main export product, and it's known for the fruits that are grown locally (papaya, orange, palta (avocado), pineapples, yuca, passion fruit and others).