The Inca Empire dominated western South America from the southern boundary of modern Colombia, to the northern regions of Chile and Argentina. In fact, only the emperor was called “Inca," which meant a "God on Earth".
The empire originated from a tribe based in Cusco, which became the capital. Pachacutec was the first ruler to considerably expand the boundaries of the Cusco state. His offspring later ruled an empire by both violent and peaceful conquest. In Cusco, the royal city was created to resemble a puma; the head, the main royal structure, formed what is now known as Sacsayhuaman.
The empire was divided into four regions: Chinchasuyu, Antisuyu, Contisuyu and Collasuyu. For example, Inti, the Sun God, was to be worshipped as one of the most important gods of the empire. Many strange and interesting customs were observed, for example the extravagant feast of Inti Raymi in which the habitants gave thanks to Sun god, and the young women who comprised the Virgins of the Sun, sacrificed virgins devoted to the sun god, Inti. The empire, for being so large, also had an impressive transportation system of roads to all points of the empire called the Inca Trail, and Chasquis, message carriers who relayed information from anywhere in the empire to Cusco, and vice versa.
The Inca empire was defeated by Spanish conquistador's superior firepower, and their greed for gold. Francisco Pizarro landed on the Peruvian coast in 1531 at an opportune moment, since the Incan Empire was in the middle of a civil war. Two brothers, Huáscar and Atahualpa, were engaged in a struggle for power for their recently deceased father's empire. Pizarro's forces captured Atahualpa and held him ransom, demanding a room full of gold for his release. But after his followers complied, Pizarro murdered Atahualpa by garroting him. In 1535, Pizarro established the new capital, Lima, which became the Viceroyalty of Peru, royal seat of power for Spanish South America for two centuries.
The Viceroyalty was a major source of gold and silver for the Spanish Empire. Lima was one of the two most important cities in Spain's empire in America, the other being Mexico City. It is said that the country received its name from a Spaniard pronunciation of the Viru River.
INDEPENDENCE OF PERU
Peru declared its independence from Spain on July 28, 1821 thanks to an alliance between the Army of José de San Martín, and the Army of Simón Bolívar. Its first elected president, however, was not in power until 1827.
In 1828 Peru fought a war against Gran Colombia over control of Jaén and Maynas territory called the Gran Colombia-Peru War. Peru was victorious and retained control over the territory. This was its first international conflict as a new nation.
From 1836 to 1839 Peru and Bolivia were united in the Peru-Bolivian Confederacy lead by Andrés de Santa Cruz. The confederation dissolved due to internal conflicts and finally in a war with Chile with the support of Peruvian expatriates. Between these years, political unrest continued, and the Army was an important political force.
In 1864, Spain organized a so-called naval science expedition, whose main objective was to recover control of its former colonies. Spain started occupying the Chincha Islands and arresting Peruvian citizens in 1864, claiming that Spaniards were mistreated on Peruvian ground. After that, the Spaniard Fleet destroyed the Chilean harbor of Valparaiso. Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru signed an alliance to defeat Spain by the end of December 1865. The Spanish Fleet tried to destroy the harbors of Callao, but failed. Main naval battles were fought, the Battle of Papudo in 1865, Battle of Abtao and Battle of Callao in 1866. In 1879 Peru entered the War of the Pacific which lasted until 1884. Bolivia invoked its alliance with Peru against Chile.
The Peruvian Government tried to mediate the dispute by sending a diplomatic team to negotiate with the Chilean Government, but the committee concluded that a war was inevitable. Chile declared war on April 5, 1879. Almost five years of war ended with the loss of the department of Tarapacá and the provinces of Tacna and Arica, in the Atacama region.
After the war, an extraordinary effort of reconstruction began in our country. Political stability was achieved only in the early 1900s. In 1929 Peru and Chile signed a final peace treaty, (Treaty of Ancon) in which Tacna returned to Peru and Peru yielded permanently the rich provinces of Arica and Tarapaca, but kept certain rights to the port activities in Arica and decisions of what Chile can do on those territories. During World War II, Peru was the first South American nation to align with the United States and its allies against Germany and Japan.
Politics of Peru takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Peru is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Congress. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative.
PERU ADMINISTRATION DIVISIONS
Peru's territory is divided successively into regions (25), provinces (180) and districts (1747). The Lima Province is located in the central coast of the country, is unique in that it doesn't belong to any of the twenty-five regions.
The city of Lima is located in this province, which is also known as Lima Metropolitan area. Until 2002, Peru was divided into 24 departments, plus one constitutional province (Callao), and many people still use this term when referring to today's regions, although it is now obsolete.
Current Peruvian regions are: Amazonas - Ancash - Arequipa - Apurimac - Ayacucho - Cajamarca - Callao (Constitutional Province) - Cusco - Huancavelica - Huánuco - Ica - Junín - La Libertad - Lambayeque - Lima - Loreto - Madre de Dios - Moquegua - Pasco - Piura - Puno - San Martín - Tacna - Tumbes - Ucayali.
Peru's territory has an area of 1,285,216 km². It is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia on the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, and finally Chile and Bolivia to the south. To the west lies the Pacific Ocean.
Its population has more than 26 millions of inhabitants that speak Spanish, Quechua, Aymara and others native languages. Eastern Peru consists mostly of the most tropical jungles of the Amazon Rain Forest, the largest on Earth. In the southeast along the border with Bolivia lies the Titicaca Lake— the highest navigable lake in the world. The Altiplano plateau is a dry basin located along the slopes of the Andes in southeastern Peru.
Along the border with Chile, the Atacama Desert is the driest place on the planet. The Peruvian Sea is home to a large amount and variety of fish life. The Sechura Desert is located in northwestern Peru along the Pacific coastline. The main rivers of Peru include the Ucayali, Marañón, Amazon (which is formed by the confluence of the Marañón and the Ucayali), Putumayo, Pastaza, Napo, Jurua, and the Purus.
Peru is divided in 24 departments and one constitutional province.
PERU PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS
When the Spanish arrived, they divided Peru (because of political reasons) in three main regions: the Coastal region, that is bounded by the Pacific Ocean; the Highlands, that is located on the Andean Heights, and the Jungle, that is located on the Amazonian Jungle. But Javier Pulgar Vidal, a geographer who studied the biogeographic reality of the Peruvian territory for a long time, proposed the creation of eight Natural Regions. In 1941, the III General Assembly of the Pan-American Institute of Geography and History aprove this motion. These eight Peruvian regions are: Chala or Coast (subtropical dry and tropical savanna) - Yunga - Quechua - Suni or Jalca - Puna - Janca - Rupa Rupa or High Jungle - Omagua or Low Jungle.
Growth up to the year 2005 has been driven by construction, investment, domestic demand, and now exports to different world regions. Peru's economy is one of the market more generously handled of Latin America. Attracting both the domestic and foreign investment in tourism, agriculture, mining, construction, industry, petroleum and natural gas and power industries was thought and hoped to heavily increase after 2005. In April 2006, Peru signed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, becoming the second country in South America to sign it; now both countries wait for the approval of the terms by their respective congresses. Peru is negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Chile, Mexico, Singapore and India. Peru currently has free trade agreements with the Andean Community, which is composed by Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela.
It also holds Free Trade Agreements with many of the countries of the Mercosur as well as Thailand, and during the recent APEC summit, Peru voiced intentions to sign Free Trade Agreements with China, Japan and South Korea. It is also pushing for a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. All these negotiations will broadly expand the markets in which the Peruvian products are traded. Peru has a great export potential in agricultural products, textiles, clothing, shoes, petroleum derivatives, natural gas, minerals, as well as fish and seafood products, tourism, and manufacturing. In 2005 Peruvian exports reached US$ 17.1 billion (an increase of 34.6% compared to 2004) and it is expected to grow 35% for this year reaching US$23.5 billion at the end of 2006. Also, the economy has shown a healthy grow in all its sectors (energy, construction, commerce, fishing, manufacturing, tourism, etc) in 2005 growing over 6.67% (one the fastest growth rates in South America) and it is projected to grow a strong 7% for 2006 considering that commodity prices, which Peru is a great producer, will have an estimated increment of 25% on average.
For the next four years (until 2010) the Peruvian government has registered over US$ 10 billion in private investment (both domestic and foreign) in mining and energy sectors, as well as investments of US$ 15 billion in other sectors such as industry, commerce, tourism, seafood and agriculture, which will keep the economy growing at efficient levels of 5% or more, annually. Unfortunately poverty in Peru is still high, with a rate of 51.2% of the total population, however the poverty rate is being reduced slowly and it is expected to be reduced to 20% of the population in 10 years.
Peru is one of only five countries of Latin America whom have large segments of pure Amerindians - where almost 35% of Peruvians, is composed of Amerindians. Mestizos, a term that denotes people of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry, constitute most of the population, the 45%. Another 15% is of unmixed European ancestry (including mostly Spaniards, but there are also descendants of Italians, German, etc.
The last 5% Peruvians are African descent, especially in coastal cities of south of Lima and Ica. Regions like Cañete, Chincha, Ica and Acari. The other portion of afro Peruvians are concentrated in the yungas of the northern coast of Piura, Morropon and Lambayeque. Few black Peruvians identify themselves as black, most common terms are Zambos (Mix Amerindian with black) and Mulatos (Mix white/criollo with black).
At one point, Peru had the second largest population of people of Japanese descent in Latin America after Brazil. Many of them traveled to Japan in the 90's as the economic situation in Peru got worse.
The large community of Chinese people descent live in Lima, where Chinese restaurants (chifas) are common places. In contrast to the Japanese, the Chinese intermarried much more. A large proportion of Amerindians who live in the Andean highlands still speak Quechua or Aymara, and have a rich culture which was part of the Inca Empire, the most advanced agricultural civilization in the world. In the low lands of the Amazon Jungle are thousands of indigenous Amazonians dispersed over thousands of square miles of inexpugnable jungles and 3 large cities (Iquitos, Puerto Maldonado, and Pucallpa) with a population of more than one million.
Peru has two official languages - Spanish and the foremost indigenous language, Quechua. Spanish is used by all coastal Peruvians, the government, the media, and in education and formal commerce; although there is an increasing and organized effort to teach Quechua in public schools.
The major obstacle to a more widespread use of the Quechua language is the lack of modern media to use it: for example books, newspapers, software, magazines, technical journals, etc. However, non-governmental organizations as well as state sponsored groups are involved in projects to edit and translate major works into the Quechua language; for instance, in late 2005 a superb version of Don Quijote was presented in Quechua.
Despite this work an even more fundamental problem remains: most of the native speakers of Quechua are illiterate.
Thus, Quechua, along with Aymara and the minor indigenous languages, remains essentially an oral language. Until more work is done in terms of teaching written Quechua, it is unlikely to rival Spanish as the major language of the country.
Like its rich national history, the popular culture of contemporary Peru is the result of a fusion of cultures, constituted primarily from the cultural legacy of the Incas and the culture of Spain. This cultural mixture has been further enriched by the contributions of so many other cultures of the world that have come to call Peru home throughout its history; from African slaves, to non-Hispanic Europeans, and even East Asians.
Together they have given rise to one of the richest and varied cultures in the world.
The art of Peru was shaped by the melting between Spanish and Amerindian cultures. During pre-Columbian times, Peru was one of the major centers of artistic expression in The Americas, where Pre-Inca cultures, such as Chavín, Moche, Paracas, Wari, Nasca, Chimu, and Tiahuanaco developed high-quality pottery, textiles, jewelry, and sculpture.
The Incas continued to maintain these crafts but made even more impressive achievements in architecture. The mountain town of Machu Picchu and the buildings at Cusco are excellent examples of Inca architectural design.
During the colonial period, Spanish baroque fused with the rich Inca tradition to produce Mestizo art. The Cusco school of largely anonymous Indian artists followed the Spanish baroque tradition with influence from the Italian, Flemish, and French schools.
Peru has passed early 20th century brought "indigenismo," expressed in a new awareness of Indian culture. Since World War II, Peruvian writers, artists, and intellectuals such as Cesar Vallejo and José María Arguedas have participated in worldwide intellectual and artistic movements, drawing especially on U.S. and European trends. In the decade after 1932, the "indigenous school" of painting headed by José Sabogal dominated the cultural scene in Peru. Promising young artists continue to develop now that Peru's economy allows more promotion for the arts.
Peruvian music is very diverse. Much of Peru's music is derived from Andean, Andalusian Spanish and African roots. Modern Peruvian music and Amazon influenced music is also common in Peru. Typical Peruvian Andean instruments include the Andean flute, Quena, the Zampoña and the mestizo Charango, whch is a tiny guitar with a unique sound.
These instruments are most popular in the southern Andean cities of Perú, as a result of the European, Spanish and Andean mix.
Coastal music is rooted in the haciendas and the callejones of cities such as Lima, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura, Tumbes and Ica. It involves a creole version of the Spanish guitar and the famous Peruvian instrument Cajon drum.
The southern Andean region is famous for the Huayno, a mestizo chant that involves Charango guitar, beautifully-toned lamenting vocals and sometimes the Andean Harp. The Huayno Ayacuchano is probably the most famous of its styles since it was played on creole and even Spanish guitar, adding to it, its feel even more soulful and also a romantic expression.
Peruvian cuisine, for years unnoticed abroad, has recently exploded onto the world gastronomic scene. Peruvian cuisine is a blend of Amerindian and Spanish roots, but has also been influenced by other groups, including Africans, Italians, Chinese and Japanese, all of whom have added their own ingredients and traditions to the mix. Peru's many climate zones has also made possible to grow up a wide range of crops.
There are a dozens of different native potato, maize and chile pepper varieties from the Andes being Rocoto one of the most popular, to the plentiful fish and seafood from the Pacific coast, mangoes and limes from the coastal valleys, and bananas and manioc from the Amazon jungle.
One of Peru's most known dishes is the Ceviche, is a type of seafood cocktail where the fish has been marinated in lime with onions and hot peppers, but not cooked. The lime's acid precipitates the protein and hence turns the fish white, "cooking" it.
There are several types of ceviche that include fish only, mixed seafood, mussels, and a lot more variety. Other typical food include Staples from the Andes; Chicha (maize beer), and Chicha Morada (made out of purple corn), Humitas (tamales), Roasted Cuy or Roasted Guinea Pig, Papa a la Huancaina, Jalea de Mar, Chilcano, Chupe de Camarones, Sudado, Aguadito, Tallarin Saltado, Aji de Gallina, Arroz con Pollo, Seco de Res, Pachamanca, Chicharrones, Tacu Tacu, Carapulcra (Dry potato), Chunchuli, Salchipapas, Mondonguito a la Italiana, Chanfainita, Ocopa, different Chifa dishes (Chinese food made with Peruvian ingredients), Estofado, Bistec a la Pobre, Arroz con Pato, Olluquito, Anticuchos (grilled cow heart), Rocoto Relleno, Empanadas, Pollo a la Brasa, Lechon, Picante de Mariscos, Arroz con Leche, Turron de Doña Pepa.
Caramel, also known as Manjar Blanco in Peru, is a very popular dessert. Other desserts include Mazamorra Morada, Arroz con Leche, Flan, Crema Volteada, Leche Asada, Torta Helada.
The most popular soft drink is called Inca Kola, which is a yellowish cream soda, but other sodas are popular too, such as Kola Inglesa, Guarana Backus, and other very common fruit sodas like oranges, pineapple, and lemon, and also the well-know soda, Coca-Cola.
Peru's most well knowned beverage is the Pisco, this beverages are originated in the Peruvian department of Ica.