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Lima

Geography and Landscape

Geography

Peru (officially: República del Perú) is a republic in South America. The total area of Peru is 1,285,216 km2, including 4997 km2 of the Peruvian part of Lake Titicaca and excluding 95 km2 of the islands in the Pacific Ocean. Peru ranks third in South America in size, behind Brazil and Argentina.

Peru is located along the Pacific coast (2400 km long coastline) and is bordered by Colombia (1496 km) and Ecuador (1420 km) to the north, Brazil (1560 km) to the east and Bolivia (900 km) and Chile (160 km) in the south.

Peru Satellite Image Photo:Public domain

Landscape

Three areas can be distinguished from west to east: the Costa, the Sierra and the Selva.

The Costa comprises the mainly desert-like area along the steep coast between the Pacific Ocean and the western mountain slopes of the Andes (about 11% of the total area of Peru). This 2400 km long coastline is one of the driest areas on earth; in some areas it only rains once every two years. Together with the Atacama Desert in Chile, it forms one of the largest desert areas in the world. The coastal plain is only in the north (sandy desert of Sechura) up to 160 kilometers wide; southward the width varies from 30 to 100 km. The landscape consists partly of plains and sand dunes, partly of hilly land that gradually flows into the Andes mountains.

Deserts of Peru
Afbeelding:Hookery CCommons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The Sierra comprises the Andean region, consisting of two large chains running from north to south, the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental. The mountains cover about a third of the country and the width varies from 150 to 400 kilometers. In the north of the country these chains are close together, but in southern Peru this distance is great and here is the Altiplano, a large plateau that slopes down to Lake Titicaca and has an average height of about 4000 meters. The plateau continues to southern Bolivia and west of the lake the Cordillera Marítima descends to the coast, with high volcanoes such as the Misti (5822 meters) near Arequipa.

The Cordillera Occidental is an almost continuous chain. The highest part reaches this chain in the Cordillera Blanca, an uninterrupted and highly glazed chain with 29 mountains above 6000 meters, of which Huascarán Sur at 6768 meters is the highest mountain in Peru. In the Cordillera Blanca is also Peru's second mountain, the 6655 meter high Huascarán Norte. The Cordillera Oriental is interrupted by a number of large transverse valleys called quebradas.

Huascarán Sur, highest mountain in PeruPhoto:ZiaLater in the public domain

The discovery of fossils and shells at an altitude of 5000 meters proves that the Andes was once at sea level. The collision of the continental plates created the Andes, and this process is still ongoing. As a result, a lot of volcanic activity can still be observed and earthquakes still occur regularly. Active volcanism only occurs in the vicinity of Arequipa and further south. In the north and center of the Peruvian Andes all volcanoes have been extinguished. Northwest of Arequipa is the Cañón del Colca, with a depth of 3,182 meters, one of the deepest ravines in the world.

The ten highest mountains in Peru:

nameheightMountain range
Huascarán Sur6768 mCordillera Blanca
Huascarán Norte6655 mCordillera Blanca
Yerupajá Grande6634 mCordillera Huayhuash
Yerupajá Sur6515 mCordillera Huayhuash
Coropuna6425 mCordillera Chila
Huantsan6395 mCordillera Blanca
Huandoy Norte6395 mCordillera Blanca
Ausangate6372 mCordillera Vilcanota
Siula Grande6356 mCordillera Huayhuash
Huanday Oeste6356 mCordillera Blanca

The Selva encompasses the area east of the Andes mountains, and can be divided into the Selva Alta (High Selva) or Montaña, the eastern very sharply cut Andean slopes, creating a landscape of sharp ridges between deep valleys, and the Selva Baja ( Low Selva), the Amazon Plain. This tropical lowland covers more than half of the Peruvian territory.

Peru's location on the edge of a tectonically active region is the cause of volcanic phenomena and earthquakes.

A few volcanoes are still active in southern Peru, including El Misti (5835 m). The worst earthquake for centuries occurred in central Peru on May 31, 1970, wreaking havoc in the Río Santa Valley (Huaylas Valley) and wiping out the cities of Huaráz and Yungay.

Rivers and lakes

Lake Titicata PeruPhoto:bobistravelling Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The mighty Amazon River originates in Peru, although its exact origin is still disputed. Measured from Peru to the mouth, the length of the Amazon is approximately 6400 kilometers. The catchment area extends over an area of six million square kilometers. More than five hundred rivers meander through Peru's tropical lowlands (selva), all of which flow into the Amazon River.

Important are the large source branches of the Amazon, which arise high between the Andean chains, the Río Marañón, Río Huallaga and Río Ucayali with Río Apurímac and Río Urubamba. In southern Peru, the east slope of the Cordillera Oriental gives rise to the Madre de Dios, which flows eastwards via the Madeira to the Amazon. The rivers on the west coast, with the exception of the Río Santa, are of little importance as they only contain water for part of the year.

Río Marañón, Peru
Photo: Gato Montes CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The south-flowing Río Ramis is the main source river of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world at 3812 m, of which 4996 km2 (total 8300 km2) belongs to Peru. The water of the lake also comes from many rivers that bring rain and melt water from the Andes. The border with Bolivia runs straight through the lake.

Some more information:

Climate and Landscape

The lowlands lie entirely in the area of the tropical rain climate. Temperatures and rainfall are high everywhere, especially in the northeast. For example, Iquitos has an average temperature of 32 °C and there is almost 3000 mm of rainfall per year. Peru's wettest places are on the eastern slopes.

The rainy season lasts from January to April, and floods and landslides are not uncommon. During the dry season (May-October) it sometimes does not rain for weeks on end.

In the southern rainforests, unexpected cold fronts from the south occur, called "friajes". They cause windy, rainy days with daytime temperatures of 13° -18 °C and night temperatures of up to 10 °C.

Climate table Juliaca, Southern Peru
Image:Maksim CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The climate in the mountains and on the Altiplano, the plateau, is completely different. Here, depending on the altitude and location, there is a moderate to even an Arctic climate. The temperate regions are sometimes rainy, sometimes dry. The driest time in the mountains is between May and October, but from June to August there are occasional "nevadas", with snowfall on the summits and hail or rain in the valleys. At around 4,700 meters, temperatures vary from 20 °C during the day to -15 °C at night.

In the rainy season (October-April) the eastern slopes still receive a lot of precipitation under the influence of the trade. However, the plateau and the longitudinal valleys are in the rain shadow of the high Cordilleras. Significant temperature differences between day and night occur on the southern high plains and a tundra climate seems to prevail here.

The snow line in the Cordillera Blanca is usually slightly below 5000 meters. In parts of the Andes further south and further inland, it slides up to 6000 meters.

Besneeuwde Cordillera Blanca, peru
Photo:Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada CC Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The west coast is dry. The southeast trade wind here blows from south to north parallel to the coast, but under the influence of the cold Peru or Humboldt current and the fierce tropical sun it has a low humidity, so that when rising off the coast only mist and drizzle (garúa or camanchaca) are formed. Due to the cold Peru Current, with water from the Antarctic, the temperatures on the coast are about 5 °C lower than those at the same altitude on the Atlantic coast of South America. Especially the capital Lima has a lot of problems in the months of April-November. August then has temperatures between 13-17 °C, while the temperature normally fluctuates between 20 ° -26 °C. The annual rainfall in Lima is on average 34 mm; often there is no precipitation for years on end.

The dry season is interrupted once every few years by El Niño, a warm current from the equator. Usually this happens in the month of December and in 1998 El Niño caused a lot of damage, especially in Northern Peru. Numerous villages suffered severe flooding and mudslides. In the 1982/1983 El Niño season, Lima received more than 1000 mm of rainfall!

Climate table Lima, Peru
Afbeelding: onbekend CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedno changes made

Iquitos (north / 126 meters above sea level)

rainfall per month in mm

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
280215270282267210191157197228261295

average daytime temperature in °C

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
26,526,526,426,225,925,525,326,026,426,526,526,6

Piura (northwest / 55 meters above sea level)
rainfall per month in mm

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
32035307000112

average daytime temperature in °C

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
26,827,727,726,724,523,021,921,821,922,323,625,3

Chachapoyas (northeast / 2,435 meters above sea level)
rainfall per month in mm

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
79981028350192120589110569

average daytime temperature in °C

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
15,215,215,215,515,415,214,414,615,215,616,015,8

Trujillo (west / 26 meters above sea level)
rainfall per month in mm

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
323100000003

average daytime temperature in °C

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
21,222,122,020,819,118,317,816,816,917,318,219,8

Lima (west / 30 meters above sea level)
rainfall per month in mm

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
111111111101

average daytime temperature in °C

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
22,122,722,220,618,817,516,716,216,417,318,720,7

Cuzco (south-inland / 3249 meters above sea level)
rainfall per month in mm

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
153128107449248224779120

average daytime temperature in °C

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
12,912,712,812,712,011,410,811,512,613,613,913,2

Arequipa (south coast / 2506 meters above sea level)
rainfall per month in mm

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
264021300000018

average daytime temperature in °C

janfebmaraprmayjunjulaugsepoctnovdec
15,815,115,415,115,014,414,314,615,716,216,216,1

Plants

The desert-like coastline is practically barren in some places, in other places the vegetation consists only of a few shrubs and low, thorny trees such as the algorrobo, an acacia species. A little further inland, the vegetation increases with many cacti, succulents and epyphites that attach themselves to rocks and other plants. Some examples are bromeliads, orchids and tillandsias.
When the sea mist hangs over the coast for a few months, the desert vegetation revives and bulbous plants such as lilies and begonias can be seen for a short time. Mangrove forests are found in the far north of the Peruvian coastal area.

Prosopis pallida 'algarrobo'
Photo: Forest & Kim Starr Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

In the fairly dry valleys of the Andes, agaves, bromeliads and cacti, such as the candlestick cactus and the melon cactus, grow among others. The moister valleys have a varied vegetation, including different types of orchids and bromeliads. The rare giant bromeliad Puya raimondi grows at an altitude of 4500 meters, with a record stalk of up to ten meters on which some 20,000 flowers bloom once, before dying. One of the highest growing trees, the qeñoa or polylepis tree, can be found up to 5000 meters, along with large lupines and the rimarina, a protected ranunculus. Also special are the yaretas, mosses that grow close together in spherical structures, including the rare azorella cushions.

Puya Raimondi, Provincie Huaraz, Peru
Photo:Vane59 CCAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Many types of corn and potatoes can also be found in the Andes. We know 49 varieties of maize, hundreds of wild and cultivated varieties are known of the potato. The tree line in Peru is around 3500 to 4000 meters. The vegetation between the tree and snow line is called paramo or puna, depending on the amount of precipitation. Punavegatatie consists of grasses, (lichen) mosses and some herbs and shrubs.In the wet north of the Peruvian Andes the paramovegetations grow, besides grasses also mosses, ferns, herbs and shrubs grow here. Well-known plants here are the mountain bromeliads or puyas.

The dense cloud forests lie on the steep and humid slopes on the east side of the Andes. In this "Ceja de la Montaña it is often misty and a lot of rainfall. Many types of mosses, ferns, orchids and bromeliads grow on the trees of the cloud forest; long bearded mosses hang from the branches. Fuchsias, begonias, bomareas and slipper plants grow on the ground. In between there are meter-high tree ferns and mountain bamboo.

Rainforest in Satipo province, Peru
Photo:Mr AndrewHolmes CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The cloud forest slowly changes into the tropical rainforests of the Amazon region. Here, among other things, about 2500 species of deciduous trees will be found, including 80 types of palms. The largest trees reach a height of 60-70 meters and often have enormous plank roots to support themselves. The crowns of these trees can be up to 30 meters in diameter, and often consist of small, thick, leathery leaves. Lianas, epyphites and parasites grow against the trunks of these forest giants. Under the trees grow many shrubs, ferns and foliage plants such as the striking heliconia, arum and wild ginger. Orchids often grow just below the canopy of tall trees.

Some typical cultivated crops for the Andes are the yuca and the rubber tree. Peru's national tree is the medicinal cinchona, which provides the raw material for quinine and is featured in the flag of Peru.

Kinaboom, nationaal symbool Peru
Photo:James Steakley CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Animals

MAMMELS

The red howler monkey is a very noisy inhabitant of the Peruvian rainforest, living in groups of about 15 specimens up in the trees. The black spider monkey moves at great speed through the canopy of the jungle. Capuchin monkeys are highly intelligent; there are two species, the brown capuchin and the white-headed capuchin. Large groups of small squirrel monkeys also often live near the capuchin monkeys, often in the lowest layer of the vegetation.
Wool monkeys are often hunted because of the meat; the most common species in Peru is the gray wool monkey. The night monkey is the only nocturnal animal among South American monkeys. The little claw or dwarf monkeys often weigh no more than half a kilo, including marmosets, marmosets and lion monkeys. The saddlebacktamarins are most common in Peru, including the brown-mantled tamarin.

Brownmantled tamarin, subspecies of the saddleback tamarinsondersoort van de zadelrugtamarin
Photo:D. Gordon E. Robertson CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The toothless mammals are among the most characteristic of South America. Armadillos protect themselves from predators by their bony shield. The giant armadillo lives in the rainforests of the lowlands. The three Latin American anteaters are all found in Peru. The most common is the tamandua, rare are the giant anteater and the dwarf anteater. In the canopy live the slow two-toed sloth and the three-toed sloth hanging upside down from branches.

Giant armadillo
Photo:David J. Stang CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The most inaccessible forests and swamps are home to South America's most famous and largest feline, the jaguar. The cougar or mountain lion occurs to a very great height. Other Peruvian felines include the jaguaroundi, the ocelot, the tiger cat and the margay. The pampas cat is a typical animal of the mountain valleys, the Andean cat is very rare and only occurs in the southern highlands. The giant otter can reach almost 2 meters long, including a 70 cm long tail. There are only a few dozen copies left in Peru.
The black spectacled bear, the only bear species in South America, is very rare and is only found on the eastern slopes of the Andes. The skunk can be found up to 4100 meters, from the coast to the cloud forest on the east side of the Andes. The Andean fox is found throughout the Andean region and is slightly taller on the legs than its European and American counterparts. The Andean weasel attacks prey animals twice its size.

Margay
Photo: Clément Bardot Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Of the four species of camelids, only the vicuña and the guanaco still live in the wild; the llama and alpaca were domesticated by the highland Indians of Peru thousands of years ago. The vicuña, the national animal of Peru, lives to a very great extent in southern Peru; the guanaco is now rare in the Peruvian highlands.

Rodents include the agouti, the mountain vizcacha (large chinchilla species) and the paca, after the capybara or water boar, the largest rodent in the world. A common animal is the wild guinea pig or "cuy". Ungulates include bristles such as the frilled peccary and white-lipped peccary, as well as the South American tapir, Peru's largest mammal. Typical forest animals are coatis or tejón. The Santuario Nacional de las Pampas del Heath reserve along the Bolivian border is the only place in Peru where the swamp deer roam. Two other deer species are quite common, the white-tailed deer and the "taruka", almost extinct and living at extreme altitudes. Two small species of deer live in the cloud forest, the dwarf spiked deer and the red-colored Pudua humilis.

Laaglandtapir
Photo:Jean-Marc Rosier from http://www.rosier.pro Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

BIRDS

There are about 1800 bird species in Peru. The most impressive bird of prey in Peru, and also the largest bird of prey on earth, is the Andean condor with the largest wing area of all flying birds and with a wingspan of about three meters. Relatives of this giant are the black vulture, the king vulture and the turkey vulture. A striking bird of prey is the mountain caracara, a black and white bird with a red, bald face. The swallow-tailed kite is found from the Andean region up to the high mountains.

Andean condor
Photo:Eric Kilby from USA CC Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Genericno changes made

Peru's national bird is the red cock-of-the-rock, which lives in the cloud forests on the slopes of the Andes.

Red cock-of-the-rock, national bird of Peru
Photo:Ricardo Sánchez Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Other inhabitants of the cloud forest are the green jay, the collared jay, the fat bird and the Andean shakohoen, a large forest bird that mainly lives in the trees.

Two large toucan species are the Cuvier's toucan and the emerald arasaris. The largest parrots in Peru are the many types of macaws, including the blue-and-yellow macaw, the red-green macaw, the scarlet macaw, the red macaw and the green-wing macaw. Smaller parrots include the blue-headed parrot, Amazon, and white-eyed parrot.

Hummingbirds are only found on the American continents. About 50 species live in Peru, living both in the lowlands and on the highest peaks of the Andes. The oasis hummingbird lives in the oases along the coast, the collared Inca lives in the cloud forest area.

Oasis hummingbird
Photo:Ccelislagos CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Large waders such as the great egret, white-necked heron, cow heron, gray-headed stork, pink spoonbill and the large but rare jabiru live in the lagoons and along rivers. Deep in the forest along the waterfront live five species of kingfishers, including the large ringed kingfisher and the small pygmy kingfisher.

The songbird order of Peru consists of more than twenty families and hundreds of species, such as nuthatches, oven birds, ant birds, mannequins, flycatchers, swallows, jays, wrens, mocking birds, blackbirds, weaver birds, tangars, finches and sparrows.

The scarlet blackbird lives around the mountain lakes and in the swampy valleys and at an altitude of 4000 meters there are, among others, the giant Andean coot, blue-billed ducks, grebes, gray herons, Andean gulls, the dark puna ibis and black Andean geese. The ant-eating ground woodpecker lives on the treeless puna's.

Andean goose, Peru
Photo: Dick Daniels CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Oropendula's are troopials, which are common throughout the tropical lowlands and up to 2000 meters in the cloud forest. The special hoatzin is a large hen-like. The coastal desert is home to specialized fauna, including an owlet nesting in burrows in the ground.

Notable Amazon birds include the golden-headed quetzal, paradise thong, white-winged trumpet bird, jacana, harpy, pied-crested eagle, black-necked scotinga, tiger bittern, wire man, and American jassana.

REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS

Peru's largest snake is the anaconda, which can grow up to eight meters long. Another large choke snake is the boa constrictor. The Peruvian poisonous snakes can roughly be divided into pit vipers such as the lance point snake or fer-de-lance and the colorful venomous coral snakes.

The most common crocodilian in Peru is the spectacled caiman and the twice the size but rare black caiman.The arrau is Peru's largest river turtle and the terekay is a smaller variety. There are many species of frogs in Peru, of which the colorful poison dart frogs are the most striking.

Black caiman, Peru
Photo: Rigelus Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedno changes made

INSECTS

Hundreds of thousands of insect species live in the jungle of Peru. Most notable are stick insects, stick insects, lantern flies, termites and parasol ants.

FISHES

One of the largest fish of the Amazon is the Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum from the family of antennae traps. Piranhas are predatory fish that can be dangerous even to humans. The freshwater dolphins are harmless but curious. The "paiche" is a primitive fish that can reach a length of two meters and a weight of more than 80 kilos.

Pseudoplatystoma fasciatum from the family of antennae traps
Photo: Chrumps CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

SPECIAL NATURE RESERVE

The Reserva Natural Paracas, which consists of a peninsula along the desert coast, is located near the western Peruvian city of Pisco. Off the coast are the Islas Ballestas, which is home to many sea birds, such as the brown pelican, the Humboldt penguin, the gray gull, the American oystercatcher, the black oystercatcher, the Inca tern, the frigate bird, the red-legged cormorant, the Humboldt booby and the Humboldt cormorant. The Chilean flamingo can be found here in May and June. Furthermore, around 25,000 sea lions and sea bears live here.

Reserva Natural Paracas, Peru
Photo: Josue Hermoza CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedno changes made

In 1988, Peruvian scientists reported a new whale species, Mesplodon peruvianus, one of the smallest members of the whale family, measuring up to four meters in length.

History

Prehistory

Pre-Columbian cultures arose in Peru from 10,000 years before the beginning of our era. The remains of this can be found in the coastal strip, the Andes mountains and in the Amazon region. On the other hand, there are still many uncertainties about the most recent pre-Columbian cultures.

The first inhabitants of the entire continent of America most probably crossed a narrow ice bridge from Asia to North America at the end of the last ice age, about 12,000 years ago.

In a few centuries these nomadic tribes have migrated from north to south, to Tierra del Fuego in the very south of South America. Another theory is that these people did not sail by land, but by sea, along the coasts of North and South America. Finds in various places in North and South America, suggest that people lived there much earlier. Finds in Brazil date back to more than 40,000 years ago.

 Maps depicting each phase of our three-step colonization model for the peopling of the Americas
image: Buzzzsherman, CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

Traces in Peru, especially in the Andean region, date back at least about 10,000 years ago. They have been found around Ayacucho and Lake Titicaca. They were hunters and gatherers who lived in caves, where they left drawings on the rock walls and stone utensils.

Around 6000 BC. the first settlements were built and forms of agriculture and animal husbandry began. For example, the wild guanaco was tamed, which later resulted in the llama and the alpaca.

Around 3000 BC. The first large buildings were erected along the northern coast and in the mountains and the first forms of social organization arose. Due to the introduction of irrigation techniques, more and more people moved inland to build a life there. Due to the breeding of maize, the communities grew bigger and bigger.

Different Indian cultures

An important source of information about pre-Columbian cultures is the ceramics, which date from around 1800 BC, and from 1500 BC. was used throughout Peru. There are images of gods and other mythical figures, but also scenes from daily life can be found on this pottery. Furthermore, large differences can be observed in the shape: in the north people often made pottery with flat bottoms in the shape of animals or people, in the south the pottery had round bottoms, often with two spouts.

The Chavín culture (1400-400 BC) was the first major society in Peru, with great achievements in architecture and sculpture. They also ensured that maize could be cultivated to a great height. The Chavín de Huántar temple was the religious center during this period. Around 400 BC. this culture disappeared, but a number of ruins can still be admired.

Artefact Chavin-culture
Photo: Dtarazona CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Paracas culture (800-100 BC) originated in the desert region on the south coast of Peru, and expanded after 200 BC. out to the valleys of the Piso and the Chincha. They built small villages and lived mainly from agriculture. Noteworthy in this culture was the deliberate skull deformation in newborns and skull repanations were also used. Many mummies of this culture have been found and these people were unsurpassed in the field of weaving.

Skulls of the Paracas culture from the Andes. They illustrate the flattening of the head, as was common among the elite of this culture
Photo: Robrrb at English Wikipedia CC Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

After 100 BC. this culture disappeared and was succeeded in about the same area by the Nazca culture (100 BC-600 AD). The Nazca lived on the edge of the desert and built houses, temples and cemeteries. They irrigated the land and grew corn, of course, along with cassava and lima beans. The most beautiful earthenware objects were made in this period by the Nazca potters. A special phenomenon are the so-called Nazca lines, geoglyphs of hundreds of meters that were made in the desert floor and depict animals and plants. They are probably an astronomical calendar, but they are also attributed to alien visitors. The last period of the Nazca is characterized by the transition to the Wari culture.

Nazca culture mummies and skulls cemetry in Peru
Photo: Peter van der Sluijs CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

At the same time as the Nazca culture, the Moche culture (100 BC-700 AD) also existed all along the north coast of Peru. The Moche were also artists in the field of ceramics. They were the first to use molds, dies and stamps, resulting in somewhat industrial production. They were also masters of gold processing and developed a technique of making drawings on a white background.

Habitat Moche-culture
Photo: Joel Takv CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The great Tiwanaku culture emerged on the southern shores of Lake Titicaca. The Tiwanaku were farmers who used advanced techniques, but also built an extensive trade network. In a number of ways there is a clear affinity with the Chavin and Nasca culture. The Tiwanaku used building techniques that were later adopted by the Kolla and Inca culture.

Tiwanaku: spiritual and political center of the Tiwanaku culture
Photo: Francesco Bandarin CC Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGOno changes made

The Wari (500-900) established the First Empire, subjugating almost all existing cultures in the mountain regions and on the coast. Clearly, they were a belligerent people who were not very cultured and copied many styles and knowledge from other peoples. Bronze was discovered and used for the first time by the Wari.

Monolith of the Wari culture
Photo: Fer121 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedno changes made

The Chimú culture (1000-1480) developed in the same area where the Moche culture once thrived. Important was the royal city of Chan Chan, then the largest city in the world with about 30,000 inhabitants. They enlarged the pyramids built by the Moche and also adopted much of the Moche and Wari traditions. Because ceramic art had become too common, this people indulged themselves more in goldsmithing. Much of the gold treasures stolen by the Spaniards from the Incas belonged to the Chimú. They conquered Lambayeque in the north and Chancay in the south, but were themselves defeated by the Incas led by Tupac Yupanqui in the late 15th century.

Stirrup-spout vessel, Chimú culture, Peru, late 15th-early 16th century, black pottery
Photo: Hiart Creative Commons CC0 1.0Universal Public Domain Dedication

South of the Chimú Empire, the Chancay culture (1000-1400) arose, and the Ica culture (900-1550) flourished in the Nazca area. The Ica culture, which also produced high-quality pottery, was incorporated by the Incas in 1470.

Chancay culture artifacts at the museum, El Castillo, Chancay, Peru
Photo: Haroldarmitage CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Kuelap, who were hunted by the Wari and later by the Incas, retreated to remote mountain areas and made a living from agriculture. Initially, they also built very large defenses, such as the Keulap Fort in the mountains northeast of Cajamarca.

Eastern facade of the wall surrounding Kuelap fortress
Photo: Martin St-Amant (S23678) CC Attribution 3.0 Unportedno changes made

The Qulla (900-1300) lived west of Lake Titicaca and were farmers, but fiercely opposed the armies of the Incas. The Kollas were also renowned stone workers, who, among other things, built impressive tombs.

Pre-Hispanic funeral towers overlooking Lake Umayo at the Sillustani Archaeological Site northwest of Puno
Photo: David Stanley from Nanaimo, Canada CC Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The Inca Empire

From the capital Cusco in Peru Bolivia, among others, came under the rule of the Incas (1200-1500 AD). The language of the Incas, Quechua, had to be spoken by every subject and is still one of the official languages of Peru today. The Inca Empire was divided into four areas of which Collasuyo included a large part of Peru, all of Chile, some northern Argentina and present-day Bolivia.

Inca army, Peru
Photo: Miguel Vera León from Santiago, Chile CC Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

The Incas built roads and aqueducts, terraces, fortresses and temples. Large cities also sprang up in the plains. Ultimately, as many as 43 different peoples would be subjugated by the Incas. Around 1520, the Inca Empire slowly crumbled due to, among other things, internal conflicts and the arrival of the Europeans. All in all, the peak of Inca culture had lasted less than a hundred years.

The arrival of the Europeans

In 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered a number of islands in the Caribbean and named the islanders Indians. After all, he thought he had sailed a short route to Southeast Asia and arrived in India. At the beginning of the 16th century it was soon discovered that a whole "New world" had been discovered. It was the explorer Amerigo Vespucci who sailed along the east coast of the American continent and thus discovered Argentina and Tierra del Fuego. Some years earlier, the world to be discovered had been divided into two parts by Pope Alexander VI. With a view to the evangelization of all foreign peoples, the Spaniards were ordered to occupy all areas west of the Cape Verde meridian; the Portuguese to the east of it.

Vasco Nuñez de Balboa
Photo: F.E.Wright CC 4.0 International no changes made

The Pacific Ocean was discovered in 1513 by the Spaniard Vasco Nuñez de Balboa. He did this by crossing the Isthmus of Panama. Later he was also the first to see the Peruvian coast, but did not go ashore yet. In the first half of the 16th century, the Spaniards took control of almost the entire Caribbean and from there many expeditions were held that led to large parts of Central and South America being conquered. This conquest, begun by Hernán Cortez, was called the "conquista" and the people who took part in it the conquistadors.

 Equestrian statue of Francisco Pizarro in Trujillo, Cáceres, Spain
Photo: Carlos Delgado CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Spain no changes made

The first conquistador to enter Peruvian territory was Francisco Pizarro, in 1525 at Tumbes, in northern Peru. Initially it remained that, despite the fact that it was told about the mighty Inca empire where there was much to be gained for the Spaniards. Only a few years later did he receive permission to return to Peru, now accompanied by a considerable army. At that time, a battle was already raging between the two king's sons Atahualpa and Huascar, among whom the Inca Empire was divided. Despite the fact that the Inca Empire was already in a state of disrepair, Pizarro and his co-captain Diego de Almagro needed a ruse to defeat the Inca. The Spaniards were invited as "friends" by the Inca king Atahualpa, but once there they unexpectedly launched the attack and captured the king. Six months later Atahualpa was killed by the Spaniards.

Atahualpa (app. 1502 - 1533) was the 13th ruler of the Inca Empire.
Photo: Carlos Delgado CC 4.0 International no changes made

They then entered into negotiations with Atahualpa's brother, Manco II. He wanted to succeed Atahualpa and asked the Spaniards for support. He got it, so the Spaniards could go their own way and plunder all the Inca cities, and ship ships full of gold and other valuables to Spain. It will come as no surprise that thousands of Incas lost their lives. Throughout the conquista on the American continents, millions of Indians were killed, not only by acts of war but also by new diseases brought by the Europeans.

In Peru, meanwhile, a power struggle broke out between Pizarro and Almagro, and the Incas led by Manco II were also active and fought for their freedom. In 1538 Almagro was executed by Pizarro and three years later Pizarro himself was murdered by Almagro's followers. In 1548 the new viceroy of Peru arrived in the person of Pedro de la Gasca. He suppressed another revolt of the conquistadors under Pizarro's brother Gonzalo, who was beheaded.

Manco II 'Inca'
Photo: Juan Bravo CC 3.0 Unportedno changes made

The Indians were used as slaves by the Spaniards and treated as an inferior race. The system was structured in such a way that every Spaniard who settled in South America automatically had the right to lease a specific area or village, a so-called "encomienda". The Spanish tenants did have the duty to convert Indians to Christianity.

However, as early as 1550, the "Leyes Nuevas" came into force, officially abolishing slavery, at least as far as the Indians are concerned. In reality, the Indians were treated like slaves for centuries, to which the blacks brought from West Africa were added later. Furthermore, the Spaniards tried hard to change the indigenous religions and cultural expressions to Spanish standards. Furthermore, gold and silver artifacts were melted down or shipped to Europe and gold and silver mines were looted. With all these valuables the many Spanish wars were paid for and the economies of the European countries received an enormous boost. Expeditions are still being organized to find supposedly enormous gold treasures.

The Lambayeque funerary mask is a characteristic piece of Lambayeque or Sicán art, a pre-Columbian culture that developed in northern Peru between the 8th and 15th centuries
Photo: Manuel González Olaechea y Franco
CC Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

Peru independent

In 1739 the vice-kingdom of New Granada (Colombia, Venezuela and Panama) and in 1776 that of Río de la Plata (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay) was separated from the vice-kingdom of Peru.

Map of Viceroyalty Peru
Photo: Arab Hafez at English Wikipedia CC Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

At the end of the 18th century, another major revolt against the Spaniards broke out. This revolt was led by Tupac Amarú II, whose proper name was José Gabriel Condorcanqui. He was a descendant of the Incas who also got a lot of the Creoles and the Mestizos behind him, because like all of Spanish America Peru too suffered greatly from the monopoly of trade and industry of the motherland.

At first he was on the winning side, but eventually the Spaniards managed to defeat him and in 1781 he was barbarically executed along with the other rebel leaders; Tupac Amarú's tongue was cut out, among other things.

The struggle for independence in the United States was closely followed by the upper classes in the South American colonies. When the United States did indeed break away from England, it was the signal for the South American freedom fighters to take action. Meanwhile, it was important that Spain's position in Europe was becoming less and less important.

Statue Tupac Amaru II
Photo: Fmurillo26 CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedno changes made

In 1805 the Spanish fleet was completely destroyed at the Battle of Trafalgar and in 1808 the Spanish King Charles IV was forced to resign by Napoleon. In 1812 Spain became a parliamentary democracy, which was changed again in 1814 by the absolutist Spanish King Ferdinand VII. In short, Spain, once the most powerful country in the world, was rapidly losing its leadership position. A landing of revolutionaries from Argentina and Chile under José de San Martín (1820) finally made the declaration of independence possible (July 28, 1821).

This was followed by a battle with the Spaniards, who had withdrawn to the south. Only after the help provided by Simón Bolívar could independence be confirmed; in 1824 the Spaniards were defeated at Ayacucho.

José de San Martín was a Spanish-Argentine general and the principal southern leader of the South American independence struggle Photo: bastique from San Francisco, United States CC Alike 2.0 Generic no changes made

The Spanish royalists did not surrender without a fight and fled into the mountains to fight against the insurgents from there. This battle lasted until 1826, but after that it was over with the Spanish in Peru.

Bolívar had big plans and wanted to make all of South America one big independent state. However, this endeavor had little chance because the differences between the individual areas were far too great for that. Initially he managed to forge a 'Greater Colombia', but secession movements soon sprang up everywhere and in 1827 Peru broke away from this construction and became definitively independent.

The Republic of Peru

The situation remained virtually the same for the peasants and workers: poverty remained. In fact, Peru remained in the hands of a few powerful families. At that time, exports consisted of, among other things, silver, sugar, oil, coffee, cotton, rubber (since around 1850) and guano, a valuable bird fertilizer. The money that was earned with this went largely to the owners of the lands and foreign investors from England and the United States in particular. In 1864, one of the Peruvian guano islands was occupied by the Spanish and war broke out as a result. Peru received help from Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia, and the Spanish were defeated in 1866. In 1879 Spain finally recognized the independent status of the republic of Peru.

View on Chincha, a Guano-island of Peru
Photo: Manuel González Olaechea y Franco CC Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

After this, the republics of Peru and Bolivia briefly opted for joint administration, but eventually split again into two separate republics. The boundaries were then drawn in such a way that Bolivia was assigned the Atamaca Desert with the port city of Antofogasta, a large part of present-day Chile. Chile invaded the coastal strip in 1879 and occupied the desert, where there was much precious salt available for the taking. In the so-called Nitric War or "Guerra del Pacifico", Peru got help from Bolivia. Sea battles were held, bombardments were carried out and tens of thousands of soldiers were also killed by trench warfare. Peru and Bolivia suffered a terrible defeat and had to pay for it politically.

Grenzen van Bolivia, Chili en Peru vóór de Pacific Oorlog
Photo: Haylli (assumed CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

In 1883 a pact was agreed with Chile whereby Peru had to cede the southern provinces of Tarapacá and Arica to Chile. The war also had disastrous consequences for the economy because in 1890 Peru was in fact declared bankrupt and the country actually came under the control of foreign companies, which managed the ports, rail traffic and the lucrative excavation of guano. Working conditions, especially in rural areas, did not improve either, and people lived in isolation and poverty.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the military dictatorships of General Nicolás de Piérola Villena and the presidents Manuel Pardo (first civilian president) and Augusto Leguía y Salcedo succeeded each other in rapid succession. The economy recovered somewhat in the period up to the First World War, but the external debt increased tenfold.

Augusto Bernardino Leguía y Salcedo was a Peruvian politician and twice President of the country, from 1908 to 1912 and from 1919 to 1930
Photo: Fernando murillo gallegos CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Interwar period

After World War I, North American companies also invested in the copper and zinc industries, but even now the revenues went to a small elite. This met with much discontent among the workers and disaffected workers of sugar cane plantations near Trujillo founded the first workers' movement, the Alianza Popular Revolucionario Americana (APRA) in 1924. This movement was led by Haya de la Torre. A communist party, the PCP, was also founded. In 1933, a workers' revolt was crushed by the then dictator Luis Miguel Sánchez Cerro. His successor Óscar R. Benavides (1933-1939) restored powerful authority and quite successfully steered his country through the worldwide depression of the 1930s, which also affected Peru.

Óscar Raymundo Benavides Larrea (March 15, 1876 – July 2, 1945) was a prominent Peruvian field marshal, diplomat, and politician who served as the 45th (1914 – 1915, by a coup d'etat) and 49th (1933 – 1939) President of Peru
Photo: Fernando murillo gallegos CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Although Peru was not directly involved in the two world wars, war was regularly waged with Ecuador over border disputes and over land. In 1942, Ecuador, enshrined in the Protocol of Rio de Janeiro, lost approximately 42% of its territory. This still causes regular tensions between the two countries, most recently in 1995.

Post-war years

The post-war years were characterized by the comings and goings of democratic governments and dictatorships. Immediately after the Second World War, the elections were won by left-wing and liberal parties. The first head of government after the war became José Luis Bustamante and under his leadership liberal reforms were implemented, such as freedom of the press and the establishment of civil rights in the constitution. Bustamante was deposed by General Manuel Odría in 1948 and educational reforms were implemented under his dictatorial rule.

 José Luis Bustamante y Rivero, writer, jurist and President of Peru from 1945-1948
Photo: Montonero86 CC 4.0 International no changes made

Under his successor Prado (1956-1962), the economy gradually improved despite high inflation figures. The big cities benefited most from the growing economy, which led to many people moving from rural areas to cities.

The 1962 elections had no winner, but power was claimed by General Ricardo Pío Pérez Godoy, who was succeeded by a military junta after only a year. A few months later, a civilian, Fernando Belaúnde Terry of the Acción Popular (AP) took over the helm.

Military rule 1968-1978

On October 3, 1968, a military coup was staged by General Juan Velasco Alvarado. The first thing he did for the people was to give back the land and nationalize the big companies, including the IPC. He could do this by overriding the constitution, but this created a tense relationship with the Americans. In 1970 the guerrilla movement Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) was founded, led by Abimael Guzmán. From 1980 onwards this movement became increasingly violent in an effort to bring about the social changes so ardently desired by the population.

Manuel Rubén Abimael Guzmán Reynoso is the former leader of the Shining Path during the Maoist insurrection in Peru
Photo: altemark CC Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Important for the economy of Peru was the foundation in Lima of the ANCOM, an economic union of which the Andean countries Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador also became members.

The next coup took place in 1975, this time by General Francisco Morales Bermudez. The elections he promised and a return to bourgeois democracy were held in 1980, and Belaúnde Terry of the Acción Popular became the new democratically elected president. He was fortunate that the military-backed APRA leader Haya de la Torre died in August 1979.

The economic position remained precarious under Fernando Belaúnde Terry's liberal economic policy, as unemployment and inflation increased rapidly.

Fernando Belaúnde Terry was a Peruvian politician who twice served as President of Peru (1963–1968 and 1980–1985)
Photo: Nando M. G. CC Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Civil administration again

In January 1981, the old territorial dispute with Ecuador over part of the Amazon region turned into a brief border war. A more serious threat to political stability was the increase in the illegal cocaine trade and the armed struggle carried out by the Maoist guerrilla movement Sendero Luminoso ('Shining Path') from 1980 onwards. The popular dissatisfaction with President Belaúnde's policies led to a growing support for the APRA and the IU (Izquierda Unida = United Left).

In April 1985, Belaúnde Terry was succeeded by APRA's Alan García Pérez, who had won the election. He quickly became popular with the poor by suspending huge foreign debt and pledging to defeat terrorism. Initially the economy revived, but in 1988 it collapsed completely. He could also not keep his other promises and that ended his great popularity. In 1985 a new guerilla movement was founded, the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA).

The group Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru (MRTA ) was an underground movement in Peru that arose in 1984. The name goes back to the last Inca ruler Túpac Amaru , who was captured and executed by the Spaniards in 1572Photo: Yuyanapaq Lum CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

This movement was responsible for many terrorist attacks, especially in the big cities. Police and army acted harshly and tens of thousands of victims were killed in the period between 1980 and 1992. In 1988, the situation was exacerbated by right-wing death squads who carried out one assassination attempt after another, after which García Peréz resigned early.

Period Fujimori

The famous writer Mario Vargas Llosa was more or less the mouthpiece of the troubled Peruvians and immediately ran for the right-wing liberal party FREDEMO in the 1990 presidential elections. However, an unexpected winner came out, namely Alberto Fujimori of the new and independent party Cambio '90. He received the support of the APRA and the left-wing parties. Fujimori was a professor and a descendant of Japanese immigrants. However, living conditions continued to deteriorate, causing half of the population, mostly Indians, to be below the absolute poverty line in 1991.

Alberto Ken'ya Fujimori (Lima, 28 July 1938) is a Peruvian politician and President of Peru in the 1990s.
Photo: Congreso de la República del Perú CC Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Fujimori soon took almost all power by dismantling the National Congress and the Chamber of Deputies in 1992. The intention was to reduce corruption and bureaucracy. The economy was boosted somewhat by financial support from Japan and a wave of privatization in which many companies were sold to foreign investors. There was actually a success; inflation had fallen to "only" 15% in 1994. In 1992 the leaders of Sendero Luminoso, Guzmán and Campos, were arrested. They were sentenced to life imprisonment and their organizations practically shut down for the ensuing period. The 1992 parliamentary elections were won by Fujimori's party.

In 1995, Fujimori was re-elected president by a large majority (64% of the votes) and Fujimori's party won an absolute majority in the parliamentary elections. The traditional parties, such as the APRA and the Acción Popular, were not involved.

Fujimori had to deal with the Tupac Amarú Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in late 1996. In early 1997, urban guerrillas in the residence of the Japanese ambassador held high-ranking officials hostage for four months, demanded to be exchanged for hundreds of captured Tupac Amarú fighters. The Fujimori government refused to comply and elite soldiers relieved the hostages in a lightning strike.

Fujimori's autocratic style of government also claimed several victims in 1997. Three judges of the Constitutional Court were fired for opposing Parliament's interpretation of the Constitution in favor of Fujimori's third term. In 1997, doubts arose about the country of birth of the president. According to the constitution, he must have been born in Peru.

The social contrasts in Peru are poignant and that only worsened under Fujimori. The Indian majority of the population lives in very poor conditions and crime has also increased rapidly. Following the murder of mine owner Luis Hochschild and the kidnapping of his son, on May 12, 1997, parliament granted President Fujimori special powers to tackle organized crime.

At the beginning of 1998, Peru was hit by the climate phenomenon El Niño, especially in the coastal departments. At least 300 people lost their lives from drowning, malaria, yellow fever and pneumonia; 30,000 houses and many roads were destroyed. The government declared a state of emergency in 15 of the 24 departments.

21st century

In late December, President Alberto Fujimori announced his candidacy for the 2000 presidential election, and if he won, he would rule the country for a third consecutive time. However, this was prohibited by constitution and the opposition parties reacted furiously. Under a constitutional amendment introduced by Fujimori during his first term in office, a president may only be re-elected once. Fujimori defended himself by stating that the new Constitution will only apply from his second term in office.

Although Fujimori's popularity waned due to poor economic developments, he continued to have the support of most politicians. Because of his authoritarian style of government and the controversial system of justice, criticism from abroad became increasingly sharper.

On April 9, 2000, the presidential elections were held in which Fujimori, like his rival of Native American descent Alejandro Toledo, surprisingly failed to obtain a majority, necessitating a second round. May 28 was the second round of elections with Fujimori as the sole candidate, as Toledo had withdrawn due to electoral fraud. Fujimori won, of course, but the United States did not recognize the election results. A bribery scandal came to light involving the head of the security forces, as well as Fujimori's side advisor, Vladimiros Montesinos.

This scandal led to the fall of President Fujimori, and after an interim government led by Valentin Paniagua, Alejandro Toledo won the spring 2001 elections. It was a neck-and-neck race with Alan García, but eventually Toledo took the stage. July 28, 2001 as president. The improvements that the Toledo government wants to implement are: reform of the judiciary and of the electoral system, improvement of respect for fundamental rights, freedom of the press and curbing the political influence of intelligence services and armed forces.

In September, the Supreme Court in Peru will issue an international arrest warrant for Fujimori, who is currently in a self-chosen exile in Japan. Since June 2004, Toledo has no longer seen himself supported by a majority in Congress. His party Peru Posible won 45 of the 120 seats and has therefore formed a (occasional) coalition with FIM (Frente Independiente Moralizador). The government appears ineffective and Peru Posible is ravaged by infighting. A number of corruption scandals involving top civil servants have caused his popularity to decline even further. Numerous cabinet changes followed each other and in July 2004 the Presidency of Parliament went to the opposition, with the election of Antero Flores Aráoz, of the PPC. In 2006 he was succeeded by moderate ex-president Alan García of the Partido Aprista Peruano. In December 2007, Fujimori is on trial for abuse of power. He is sentenced to six years in prison. He is appealing, but that was rejected in April 2008.

In July 2009 there have been massive protests from the trade unions against the government's free trade policy. President Garcia appoints a new prime minister, Javier Velasquez Quesquen, and is shifting much of the cabinet in an effort to regain confidence. In January 2010, the court sentenced Fujimori to 25 years in prison.

In July 28, 2011, Ollanta Humala Tasso has been elected President and Prime Minister of Peru. In November 2012, the last artifacts brought back from Machu Picchu by American archaeologist Hiram Bingham are returned as agreed. In June 2013, Florindo Flores, one of the original leaders of the Shining Path, is sentenced to life imprisonment. In January, the sea border between Chile and Peru will be established by the United Nations. In July 2014, Ana Jara becomes the new prime minister, the sixth in a three-year period. In June 2016, Pedro Kuczynsky will become the new president and Fernando Zavala prime minister. Fujimori will be released on medical grounds in December 2017. Vice-President Vizcarra was sworn in as head of state in March 2018 after the resignation of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski amid allegations of corruption. President Vizcarra is expected to serve out Mr Kuczynski's term, which ends in 2021.

Francisco Sagasti, since 17 november 2020 president of Peru
Photo: Ministerio de Defensa del Perú CC Attribution 2.0 Genericno changes made

Population

Composition and distribution

It is estimated that in 2017 the Peruvian population consists of 45% pure-bred Indians, 37% mestizos and 15% Caucasians, mainly of Hispanic descent; 3% is of Asian, African or other origin. Most Indians live in the Andes and the Amazon region, while whites and mestizos often live on the coast, and especially in large cities such as Lima, Arequipa and Trujillo. Whites are still on the highest rung on the social ladder, followed by the mestizos and far below the Indians. After Bolivia, Peru is the South American country with the largest percentage of Indians.

The blacks are descended from slaves from Africa who were deployed on the haciendas; It is estimated that more than 800,000 arrived in Peru by 1810. Most blacks live in the Chincha area, south of Lima, because large sugar plantations used to be located there.

The Chinese and Japanese came to Peru between 1850 and 1920 as manpower for the construction of railways. Fujimori was the first president of Japanese descent. Between 1876 and 1920, many immigrants from Europe also settled in Peru: Italians, Spaniards, French, English and Germans.

The Indians of the mountain regions, also called highland Indians, belong mainly to the Quechuas, in the region around Lake Titicaca mainly live Aymarás. The Quechuas can be divided into different groups, which differ from each other in costume, customs and the region where they live.

A unique group of Aymará Indians are the Uros, who live in the bay of Puno on floating islands made of totora reeds. In recent decades, their culture has been seriously affected by increasing tourism and mixed marriages with Aymarás.

Several small tribes live in the Amazon, each with its own language and customs and customs. These rainforest Indians are the indigenous people of the Amazon lowlands. The lifestyles of some tribes have changed radically through contact with Western people. Other tribes avoid almost any contact with Western humans.

Yahua’s and Shipibo’s live in the vicinity of Iquitos; the central part of the rainforest is home to the Asháninkas and Machiguengas; Yora's live in the vicinity of Manu National Park.

Two tribes that are only known to exist are called Mashco Piro and Kogapacori and live in the southeastern jungle. The Lamas Indians live in the vicinity of Tarapoto.

In the past all these tribes led a semi-nomadic existence, now they often live in a fixed place through the use of modern means of transport. The main livelihoods are still agriculture and hunting. Some tribes earn a little extra with crafts for tourists. On the other hand, tourism in particular poses a serious threat to the real nature peoples. Their hunting grounds are being disrupted and their social life and traditions are under severe strain.

Today there are approximately 200,000 Amazon Indians living in Peru, divided into 53 ethnic groups, who speak languages from 12 different linguistic families. Some groups, such as the Toyeri, consist of only a few dozen people. Others, such as the Machiguenga, the Yahua and the Campa, have a population of several (ten) thousands.

Demographic data

The annual population growth amounted to 2.1% per year in the period 1985-1995 and declined to around 1% in the 21st century (2017: 0.95%); the population has increased from 10.3 million in 1961 to 23.8 million in 1995 and in 2017 it rose to more than 31 million. The population density is approximately 24 inhabitants per km2.

Birth and death rates were 17.8 and 6.1 per thousand in 2017 respectively; the infant mortality rate was 18 per 1,000 live births. The average life expectancy at birth is 76.1 years for women and 71.9 years for men. Approximately 78% of the population lives in cities (46% in 1960).

The largest population concentration is formed by the capital Lima, namely 10.4 million inhabitants (1900: approx. 100,000 inhabitants).

The age distribution of the Peruvian population is as follows:

Language

In addition to Spanish, called "Castellano" in Peru, Quechua, spoken by the Indians of the central mountainous region, has also had the status of an official language since 1975; the Indians around Lake Titicaca speak Aymará and the Amazon Indians speak a multitude of unrelated languages.

Spanish is spoken by about 70% of the population. Quechua is spoken by the majority of the Native American population. Aymará is still spoken by about two million people in Peru and Bolivia. Quechua and Aymará were not written languages and still do not have an official spelling method today, so the spelling differs from place to place.

The Amazon Indians are divided into 53 ethnic groups speaking languages from 12 different linguistic families.

The glossary below clearly indicates how the three main languages in Peru differ from each other:

EnglishSpanishAymaráQuechua
oneunomayau’luc
twodospayaiscai
threetresquimsaquinsa
fivecincope(i)saphisca
tendieztuncachunca
tomorrowmañanaarumantitutamanta
sonhijoyokachuri
blacknegrochiarayana
nosenariznasasenca

Religion

About 96% of the population is Roman Catholic. According to the 1933 Constitution, there is freedom of religion, but the Roman Catholic Church is propagated by the state. The Roman Catholic Church has changed considerably in recent decades and the direct influence is waning. The Roman Catholic Church is increasingly revolting against poverty, injustice and inequality, and thus fulfills another important function in social and political life.

To reach the entire population, the masses are held not only in Spanish, but also in Quechua, Aymará and other dialects. Because pagan practices were harshly persecuted in colonial times, many of the old traditions and customs are embedded in Catholicism. Especially in the countryside, Pachamama ("Mother Earth") and Mary are worshiped side by side. The Catholic Church in Peru has 7 archdioceses with 12 dioceses, 14 free prelatures and 8 apostolic vicariates. The Catholic Church is still prominent throughout education and several Peruvian universities are in the hands of the Catholic Church.

3% of the population is Protestant. Since 1900, the influence of the Protestant churches has grown, especially Adventists, Pentecostal, Jehovah, Baptists, and Mormons.

The religion of the Andean Indians has always been mixed with pre-Columbian rituals.

Society

State structure

According to the Constitution of December 29, 1993, Peru is a presidential republic and legislative power rests with the Congress or "Congreso Constituyente Democratíco". Congress consists of a 120-member Chamber of Deputies who are elected by direct elections for a period of 5 years. 25 members are directly appointed by the House itself.

Executive power rests with the President, who is elected for a term of office of 5 years. The incumbent president was already allowed to go for a second term for a new term, in 2000 Congress approved a possible third term. If a candidate obtains 56% or more of the votes in direct elections, he is elected, with a lower vote percentage a second round of voting will follow. Since April 2001 elections have been made according to a district system. Voting is compulsory for citizens aged 18 and older (since 1980 also for illiterate people).

The president appoints the prime minister and also heads the armed forces. He also has the power to block legislation if the executive disagrees. For the current political situation see chapter history.

Administrative division

Peru is administratively divided into 25 regions and further divided into 156 provinces. The regions are governed by appointed prefects, the districts by a directly elected mayor.

overview regions:

regioncapital xitysurfacepopulation
AmazonasChachapoyas39.249 km2395.000
AncashHuaráz35.826 km21.050.000
ApurimacAbancay20.896 km2420.000
ArequipaArequipa63.345 km21.040.000
AyacuchoAyacuchu43.814 km2530.000
CajamarcaCajamarca33.247 km21.380.000
CallaoCallao147 km2740.000
CuscoCusco71.892 km21.140.000
HuancavelicaHuancavelica22.131 km2425.000
HuánucoHuánaco36.938 km2750.000
IcaIca21.328 km2635.000
JunínHuancayo44.410 km21.170.000
La LibertadTrujillo25.570 km21.450.000
LambayegueChiclayo14.231 km21.055.000
LimaLima34.802 km27.200.000
LoretoIquitos368.852 km2850.000
Madre de DiosPuerto Maldonado85.138 km280.000
MoqueguaMoquegua15.734 km2145.000
PascoCerro de Pasco25.320 km2250.000
PiuraPiura35.892 km21.550.000
PunoPuno71.999 km21.200.000
San MartínMoyobamba51.253 km2700.000
TacnaTacna16.076 km2265.000
TumbesTumbes4.669 km2185.000
UcayaliPucallpa102.411 km2400.000

Education

From 1972, education has been compulsory for children between the ages of seven and sixteen, but unfortunately the educational level in Peru is among the lowest in Latin America. Pupil dropout rate in primary school is up to 40%, and few pupils continue to secondary school. Of all six to eleven year olds, mainly outside the big cities, about 12.7% are without education. In 2000 Peru had about 50,000 educational institutions.

One third of the fifty or so universities are located in the capital Lima and about half a million students follow a university degree. Qualitatively much better is education at private universities, which, however, is reserved for only a few.

Approx. 13% of the population is illiterate, the majority of which are women. In rural areas, 45% of women cannot read, against 11% of men.

Typically Peru

NAZCA LINES

Nazca is located in the south of Peru, not far from the Pacific Ocean on the Pampa de San José. It is the place of the mysterious drawings that have given rise to the most diverse theories. The lines and figures of Nazca were protected by UNESCO as a cultural world heritage site in December 1994. The lines were discovered in 1939 by the American Paul Kosok of Long Island University.

The Nazca lines are a series of drawings of birds (including pelican, hummingbird), other animals and geometric figures such as triangles, rectangles and spirals, sometimes with a diameter of up to 300 meters and furthermore there are straight lines of ten kilometers in length.

The figures were made by excavating the desert soil about ten centimeters, revealing a less weathered and lighter colored part of the soil.

It is still unclear who made the enormous drawings. Some archaeologists think of it as an astronomical calendar, others think of copies of certain star constellations that could be used to record the exact movement of the stars. Fantasies think about runways for foreign airships! The figures are believed to have been made between 200 BC. and 600 after. Chr.

Nobel Prize for Literature

The Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa recieved the 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was awarded the prize for his striking characterization of power and resistance, the Nobel Committee reported.

Vargas Llosa considered the award of the Nobel Prize to him as a recognition of Latin American literature and literature in the Spanish language.

Economy

General

Traditionally, the economy has relied heavily on exports of agricultural, mining and fishing products. The main export products are copper, silver, sugar, fish and fishmeal, coffee, cotton, coca and, for some years now, petroleum. In 2017, 25.8% of the labor force was employed in agriculture and fishing, 17.4% in industry, construction and mining and 56.3% in the trade and services sector, which in 2017 accounted for the following percentages of the Gross National Product ( bnp) contributed: 7.6%, 32.7% and 59.9%.

After a period of relatively stable economic development in the period 1965-1980, Peru faced an economic crisis. In the 1980s GDP grew by an average of 0.4% per year; per capita GDP declined by a total of 30% between 1981 and 1991. Since then, GDP has grown again by approximately 4% per year thanks to stabilization and adjustment policies. The period 1993-1997 in particular saw high growth rates. Economic growth was 2.5% in 2017.

Inflation was very high in the 1980s and 1990s. Inflation has now been below 5% for several years. (2.8% in 2017) The unemployment rate, officially 6.9% in 2017, is in reality many times higher: 22.7% of the population lives below the poverty line.

The informal sector is particularly large in Peru, mainly caused by high unemployment. One then works, for example, as a street seller or taxi driver. Peru joined the Andean Pact in 1969, a partnership between Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. The aim of this pact is to create a sub-regional common market. A cooperation agreement has existed since 1984 between the European Union and the countries of the Andean Pact. In 1991 an agreement was reached on the establishment of a free trade zone, initially between Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. Peru concluded bilateral trade agreements with most countries in the region. Peru has access to the Atlantic Ocean through Puerto Suarez, Bolivia's river port.

Agriculture, fishing, livestock and forestry

Less than 3% of the total land area is used for arable farming, 21% is pasture land and 54% is covered with forest. Due to climatic conditions, harvesting on the Peruvian coast is possible all year round.

Almost half of the arable land is irrigated, mainly in the irrigated areas in the Costa; the Sierra comprises 60% of the agricultural area, while in the Selva (now 15% of the area) large areas can still be made suitable for agriculture.

Of the products that are often grown on modern farms in the Costa, sugar cane and cotton are the most important, both products are exported; furthermore rice, grapes, tobacco, vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, onions) and fruit (especially mangoes and also passion fruit and citrus fruit). Asparagus cultivation is a real growth sector and is already the main agricultural product for export. White asparagus mainly goes to Europe, the green variety is mainly frozen and exported to the United States.

The predominantly small companies in the highly cultivated Sierra produce food crops for the domestic market such as potatoes, beans, corn, bananas, wheat, oats, barley, tubers, quinoa and more and more export crops such as coca and coffee. In the Andes, a large part of the population lives from "subsistence agriculture". The Selva mainly produces cotton, rice, beans and bananas.

Peru is an important producer of the coca leaf. Although the bulk of the production of coca leaves and cocaine is currently concentrated in Colombia, the so-called "pasta básica", an intermediate for the final production of cocaine, is also produced in Peru and shipped to Colombia. This development means that, despite the reasonably successful fight against coca cultivation, coca farmers are becoming increasingly involved in drug crime.

Cattle and pig farming mainly takes place in the coastal plains (dairy production) and on the high plains in the Sierra; in the Sierra, sheep farming is predominant, in addition to alpaca and llama.

Sea fishing is of great economic importance. Peru is the country with the largest fish catch after China. After a sharp decline in the catches of anchovy and tuna in 1972 and 1982/1983 (as a result of overfishing and changes in the Humboldt current off the coast, which temporarily disappeared the fishing grounds), the fishery continued to recover.

Anchovies and sardines are largely processed into fish meal and fish oil. Peru is the largest fishmeal producer in the world. The rest of the fish, especially mackerel, is frozen or exported as preserves.

When El Niño occurs once every few years and warm tropical water flows along the coast, all the fish is gone and the fish processing industry is in crisis. The danger of overfishing has also been present for a long time, but quotas have been set since 1986.

Only a very small part of the available wood stock is exploited and in particular the production of hardwood is insufficient for domestic needs. About 8 million m3 of wood is felled per year for the wood processing industry. Expansion of forestry is a major priority, with particular attention to the transport problem. In the Sierra, wood is mainly used as an energy source, which has led to major ecological problems due to erosion.

Mining and energy supply

The exploitation of minerals is of great importance and mining is then one of the pillars of the economy. Traditionally, this sector accounts for about half of the country's total export earnings.

Peru has always been a major silver producer (second in the world rankings), ranking sixth in copper producers, fourth in zinc, lead and tin producers, while petroleum exports are a major contributor to foreign exchange receipts.

Mining was wholly owned by North American companies between 1906 and 1974. The largest share of copper extraction provide the Toquepala and Cuajone mines. Most of the copper ore is concentrated and smelted in Peru itself, and only half refined in the country. Other important copper mines are those of Tintaya (near Yauri), La Oraya and Cerro Verde.

Also important are the extraction of bismuth, gold, cadmium, selenium and a few other rare metals, often in combination with copper and zinc; iron ore is mined at Marcona. The extraction of uranium (one of the largest deposits in South America) at Marochoca (dept. Junín) is of great importance, as is (still) that of guano on some islands off the coast. Guano is the nitrate-rich bird manure on the rocks off the coast. The Sechura Desert provides potash and is home to one of the three largest phosphate reserves in the world.

Oil extraction, processing and sale has been partly owned by the state-owned company PETROPERÚ since 1968. Peru is self-sufficient for oil, one third is exported.

Oil production is gradually declining due to the depletion of existing fields and the lack of major new exploration activities.

The enormous hydropower reserve plays a major role in the energy supply of the country; 75% of the installed electrical capacity (approx. 14 billion kWh) consists of hydroelectric power stations (Río Mantaro; Huinco). The state electricity company ELECTROPERÚ manages most of the public electricity production and distribution, yet 35% of the population is without electricity.

Industry

The processing of primary products from agriculture, mining and fishing still occupies an important place in the industry. The production of means of transport and electronics is also important. Despite industrial sector reform and nationalization since 1968, the influence of foreign capital has remained important and the influence of workers has been limited. State-owned and nationalized companies are managed by INDUPERÚ, founded in 1972, which also has the task of decentralizing industrial development.

Important industrial centers are:

CLOTHING AND TEXTILE

Textiles are the main branch of Peru's non-traditional exports, with the United States as its main export market. The success of Peruvian textiles is partly due to the very good quality of the cotton.

Trade

Today, cocaine (in the form of both powder and paste) is Peru's main export product alongside copper. The proceeds from cocaine are of course nowhere to be found in the official figures.

In addition to copper, silver, fishmeal, zinc, tin, coffee, iron and cotton are also important official exports.

The main trading partners are the United States, China, Canada, Japan and the EU, as well as neighboring countries to the Andean Pact.

Mainly raw materials, semi-finished products, machines and foodstuffs are imported.

Traffic

The geographic structure of the country causes major transportation problems. Most of the transport is by road. The length of the road network is approximately 80,000 km, of which only 15% is asphalted. The main arteries are the Carretera Panamericana (approx. 3400 km) from north to south largely along the coast, the Carretera Central Transandino, from Lima-Callao eastwards, which will connect to the Brazilian Transamazonian via La Oroya and Pucallpa in the future. highway, and the partly open to traffic, partly under construction Carretera Marginal de la Selva on the east side of the Andes mountains. Not so long ago, the Pan American's road surface was completely renewed and a toll system was introduced to pay for future maintenance.

The railway network (approx. 2500 km) consists of nine unconnected lines. Much of this is in a very bad condition and is mainly used for the transport of minerals.

Inland navigation mainly plays a role in the Amazon region (ports: Iquitos and Pucallpa) and on Lake Titicaca. Most of the imports and exports go through the seaport of Callao, about three quarters of all Peruvian imports and about a quarter of all exports; of the remaining 25 seaports of interest are Chimbote, Talara, Mollendo, Matarani, Ilo, Pisco, Salaverry, Bayóvar and Paita. The state shipping company Corporación Peruana de Vapores (CPV) has a merchant fleet of more than 600 ships, including about twenty tankers.

In addition to the international airports of Lima (Jorge Chávez), Iquitos, Artequipa and Cuzco, the country has over 300 airports and landing strips, seven of which are suitable for larger aircraft. The airline AEROPERÚ handles international air traffic and part of the domestic air traffic, the latter together with the private Faucett.

Holidays ans Sightseeing

Peru is an interesting country especially for nature lovers. Special attractions include the Andes Mountains, Lake Titicaca and the Colca Canyon.

Peru is of course also known for its important legacy of ancient cultures. One of the biggest tourist attractions is Cuzco, the old capital of the Inca Empire. The ruins of Machu Pichu are the most visited.

Machu Pichu, lost city of the Inca's
Photo: Esteban Garay H CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

The mysterious Nazca Lines in the Southern Desert are also very popular. The spectacular find of the tomb of "El Señor de Sipan" in northern Peru opened up a new attraction for tourism.

Lines of Nazca culture in Peru
Photo: Peter van der Sluijs CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The Peruvian government is expecting more than one million visitors per year in the not too distant future. The biggest stumbling block to reaching this number quickly is Peru's inadequate hotel infrastructure.

Lima has many beautiful archaeological sites, popular traditions, numerous museums, art galleries, festivals and an attractive nightlife. The city offers a wide variety of restaurants serving both local specialties and international dishes. The historic center of Lima, made up of the districts of Lima and Rimac, has the characteristic architecture of the colonial era and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988. Some examples of this historic colonial architecture include the Monastery of San Francisco, the Plaza Mayor, the Cathedral, the Monastery of Santo Domingo and the Palace of Torre Tagle. In addition to visiting archaeological sites, tourists take organized city tours to churches, monasteries, palaces, museums, and galleries.

Palace Torre Tagle, Lima, Peru
Photo: Capomo81 CC Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

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Sources

Le Grand, J.W. / Peru : mensen, politiek, economie, cultuur
Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen : Novib

Luft, A. / Peru
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Lyle, G. / Peru
Chelsea House Publishers,

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Cambium,

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Lannoo

Rensink, E. / Peru
Gottmer,

Te gast in Peru
Informatie Verre Reizen

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated August 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb