Article: Peru

República del Perú
Republic of Peru
8074-125px-flag-of-peru--28state-29-svg-peru-.png 8075-110px-escudo-nacional-del-per-c3-ba-peru-.png
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: None
Anthem: Somos libres, seámoslo siempre
"We are free, let's always be"
Capital Lima
12°2.6′S 77°1.7′W
Largest city Lima
Official language(s) Spanish1
Government Constitutional republic
 - President Alejandro Toledo Manrique
 - Prime Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
Independence from Spain 
 - Declared 28 July 1821 
 - Total 1,285,220 km² (20th)
  496,226 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 8.80%
 - July 2005 est. 27,968,000 (41st)
 - 2005 census 26,152,266
 - Density 21.7/km² (183rd)
56.2/sq mi 
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $168.9 billion (50th)
 - Per capita $6,424 (97th)
HDI (2003) 0.762 (79th) â€“ medium
Currency Nuevo Sol (PEN)
Time zone (UTC-5)
Internet TLD .pe
Calling code +51
1.) Quechua, Aymara and other regional languages are also official in the areas where they are predominant.

Peru, officially the Republic of Peru (Spanish: Perú or República del Perú pron. IPA [re'pu.βli.ka del pe'ɾu], Quechua: Piruw), is a country in western South America, bordering Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, Bolivia to the south-east, Chile to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

In addition to being known as the cradle of the Inca empire, Peru harbors many indigenous ethnic groups, making it a major historical and cultural site.


Sunset at Machu Picchu, Cuzco
Main article: History of Peru

Ancient Cultures

The actual territory of Peru was not only the main center of the Tahuantinsuyo, but also the center of the powerful Inca Empire, and after the Spanish conquest, the biggest Spanish Viceroyalty in America.

Hunters and collectors have inhabited Peru for 20,000 years, according to some lithic rests found in the caves of Piquimachay (Ayacucho), Chivateros, Lauricocha, Paijan, and Toquepala. The oldest primitive cultures appeared in 6000 BCE: in the coast (in the provinces of Chilca and Paracas) and in the highlands (in the province of Callejon de Huaylas). 3000 years later, people became sedentary (Kotosh, Huaca Prieta) so they began to cultivate plants like corn and cotton (Gossypium Barbadense) and to tame some animals too. A few years later, they continue with the spinning and knitting of cotton and wool. They also began to do some basketry and they made the first potteries.

The map of the Tahuantinsuyo

The first and more developed Andean civilizations appeared in 900 BCE. They were:

  • Caral
  • Chavin – The Peruvian Mother Culture, according to Julio C. Tello
  • Paracas
  • Mochica
  • Nazca
  • Tiahuanaco
  • Wari
  • Chimu

Minor civilizations on the edge of the eastern Andes that were essentially integrated into the Inca empire include:

  • Malbecs
  • Hu-Tyus
  • Punos
  • Mari-Tiu-Tie
  • Olbraqeus

These cultures developed excellent techniques of cultivation, gold and silver work, pottery, metallurgy and knitting. They also made social organizations that later (around the 700 BCE) became the great Inca civilization.

The Incas

Main article Inca Empire

The Incas created the most vast and powerful Empire of the Pre-Columbian America. Their administrative, political and military center was located in Cuzco. The Tahuantinsuyo reached its greatest extension at the beginning of XVI century. It dominated a territory that included from north to south, the actual territory of Ecuador and part of Colombia to the center of Chile and the north-east of Argentina, and from west to east, from Bolivia to the Amazonian forests. The Tahuantinsuyo was organized in “señoríos” (dominions) with a stratified society, in which the ruler was the Inca. It was also supported by an economy based on the collective property of the land. In fact, the Inca Empire was conceived like an ambitious and audacious civilizing project, based on a mythical thought, in which the harmony of the relationships between the human being, nature and Gods was truly essential.

The Inca, ruler of the Tahuantinsuyo

“Inca," means a "god on Earth". The empire originated from a tribe based in Cuzco, which became the capital. Pachacuti was the first ruler to considerably expand the boundaries of the Cuzco state. His offspring later ruled an empire by violent and peaceful conquest. In Cuzco, 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 quarters: Chinchasuyu, Antisuyu, Contisuyu and Collasuyu.

From the European rationalist perspective, the Inca Empire has been seen like the utopia concretion. And its spectacular collapse under a group of Spanish soldiers has been seen as a logical consequence of the Spanish technological superiority, that took advantage of the Inca civil war triggered off by two pretenders to the throne. Nevertheless, this pragmatic interpretation tends to forget the destructive effects that the haughty collision between two antithetic Weltanschauungs produced in the harmony of the Inca Weltanschauung.

Quechua (Quichia) was the official language, imposed on the citizens. It was the language of a tribe neighbouring the original tribe of the empire. Conquered populations – tribes, kingdoms, states and cities – were allowed to practice their own religions and lifestyles, but had to recognize Inca cultural practices as superior to their own. 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 which gave thanks to Inti, and the young women who comprised the Virgins of the Sun, sacrificial 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 Cuzco.

Colonial Peru (Spanish rule)

Main article The Viceroyalty of Peru

Francisco Pizarro and his brothers were attracted by the news of a rich and fabulous kingdom. In 1531, they arrived in the country, which they called Peru. According to Porras Barrenechea, Peru is not a Quechuan nor Caribbean word, but Indo-Hispanic or hybrid. At that moment, the Inca Empire was sunk in a five years war between two princes, Huáscar and Atahualpa. Taking advantage of this, Pizarro carried out a “coup d’état”. On November 16, 1532, while the natives were in a celebration in Cajamarca, the Spanish took the Inca Atahualpa prisoner by surprise, causing a great consternation among the natives and conditioning the future course of the fight. When Huascar was murdered, the Spanish tried and convicted Atahualpa of the crime, executing him by strangulation.

Nazca Lines. Aerial photo of a drawing of a hummingbird.
Pizarro and his followers in Lima in 1535

For a period, Pizarro maintained the authority of the Inca, recognizing Tupac Huallpa as the Inca after Atahualpa's death. But the conqueror’s abuses made this fiction all too apparent. Spanish domination consolidated itself as successive indigenous rebellions were bloodily repressed. The situation was complicated by a power struggle between the Pizarro family and Diego de Almagro. A long civil war developed, from which Pizarros emerged victorious. Despite this, the Spaniards did not neglect the colonizing process. Its most significant act was the foundation of Lima in January, 1535, from which the political and administrative institutions were organized. The necessity of consolidating Spanish royal authority over these territories, led to the creation of a Real Audiencia (Royal Audience). In 1542, the Spanish created the Viceroyalty of New Castilla, that shortly after would be called Viceroyalty of Peru. Nevertheless, the Viceroyalty of Peru was not organized until the arrival of the Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572. Toledo ended the indigenous state of Vilcabamba, executing the Inca Tupac Amaru. He also promoted economic development from the commercial monopoly and mineral extraction, mainly from argentiferous mines of Potosí. He took advantage of the Inca institution called “mita” to put the native communities under a cruel economic enslavement.

The Viceroyalty of Peru became the richest and most powerful Spanish Viceroyalty of America in the XVIII century. The creation of the Viceroyalties of New Granada and Rio de la Plata (at the expense of its territory), the commerce exemptions that moved the commercial center from Lima to Caracas and Buenos Aires, and the fall of the mining and textile production determined the progressive decay of the Viceroyalty of Peru. These events created a favorable climate so that the emancipating ideas had an effect on the Creoles.


Main article Independence of Peru

The economic crisis favored the indigenous rebellion from 1780 to 1781. This rebellion was headed by Tupac Amaru II. At this time, the Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula and the degradation of the Royal power took place. The Creole rebellion of Huánuco arose in 1812 and the rebellion of Cuzco arose between 1814 and 1816. These rebellions defended the liberal principles sanctioned by the Constitution of Cadiz of 1812.

Don Jose de San Martin proclaimed the independence of Peru on July 28, 1821.

Supported by the power of the Creole oligarchy, the Viceroyalty of Peru became the last redoubt of the Spanish dominion in South America. This Viceroyalty succumbed after the decisive continental campaigns of Simón Bolivar and Jose de San Martin. San Martin, who had displaced the realists of Chile after the magnificent battle of the Andes, and who had disembarked in Paracas in 1819, proclaimed the independence of Peru in Lima on July 28, 1821. Three years later, the Spanish dominion was eliminated definitively after the battles of Junín and Ayacucho. Its first elected president, however, was not in power until 1827.

The conflict of interests that faced different sectors of the Creole society and the particular ambitions of the caudillos, made the organization of the country excessively difficult. Only three civilians: Manuel Pardo, Nicolás de Piérola and Francisco García Calderón could accede to the presidency in the first seventy-five years of independent life.

After the splitting of the Alto Peru in 1815, the Republic of Bolivia was created. 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. In 1837, the Peru-Bolivian Confederation was also created but, it was dissolved two years later due to the Chilean military intervention. The Peru-Bolivian Confederation was lead by Andrés de Santa Cruz. Between these years, political unrest continued, and the Army was an important political force. Peru initiated a period of political and economic stability in the middle of the XIX century, under the General Ramon Castilla's caudillista hegemony. The complete depletion of the guano, main foreign currency source, and the war of the Pacific with Chile because of the dispute of the saltpeter deposits of Tarapacá, caused the economic bankruptcy and activated the social and political agitation of the country.

In 1864, Spain organised a so-called naval science expedition, whose main objective was to recover control of its former colonies. Spain started occupying the Chinchas Islands and arresting Peruvian citizens in 1864, claiming that Spaniards were mistreated on Peruvian ground. After that, the Spaniard Fleet destroyed the Chilean harbour 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 harbour of Callao, but failed. Main naval battles fought were 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 war was inevitable. Chile declared war on April 5, 1879.

The civilist movement headed by Nicolas de Piérola opposed the military caudillismo that arose from the warlike defeat and the economic collapse. He arrived to the power with the 1895 revolution. The reformist character of Pierola’s dictatorship had continuity in Augusto B. Leguía’s. During Leguia’s government periods (1908-1912 and 1919-1930, this last one was well-known as “the Oncenio” – The eleventh), the entrance of American capitals became general and the bourgeoisie was favored. This politics along with the increase of the foreign capital dependency, contributed to generate opposition focuses between the landowner oligarchy as much as the most progressive sectors of the Peruvian society. Between these last ones, it should be underlined the constitution of the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA). This is a nationalistic movement, populist and anti-imperialist headed by Victor Raul Haya de la Torre in 1924. The communist party was created four years later and it was led by Jose C. Mariategui.

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. Political stability was achieved only in the early 1900s. In 1929 Peru and Chile signed a final peace treaty, (Treaty of Ancon) by 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.

After the world-wide crisis of 1929, numerous brief governments followed one another. The APRA party had the opportunity to cause system reforms by means of political actions, but it was not successful. By this time, it begins a sudden population growth and an urbanization increase. The general Manuel A. Odría implants a dictatorial government that lasted for eight years (1948-1956) and ended in the middle of incessant agrarian rebellions. These and the increasing summit of the leftist guerrilla -in 1963 approximately- were unsalvable obstacles for the reformist attempt of Fernando Belaunde Terry’s first government. In similar circumstances, in 1968, the general Juan Velasco Alvarado’s coup d'etat took place. The populist and nationalist character that Velasco printed in his government finished in a conflict with the interests of the foreign capital and the local oligarchy, that promoted general Francisco Morales Bermúdez’s coup d’etat in 1975. From then, the crisis caused by the unstoppable increase of the external debt conditioned the action of the successive Peruvian governments, who were impotent to stop the progressive impoverishment of the population as well as the increase of the drug trafficking operations, the terrorist actions of the Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. Neither Belaunde Terry, between 1980 and 1985, nor Alan Garcia, between 1985 and 1900, were successful with their economic and social plans. In a climate of generalized chaos and violence, the electoral victory of Alberto Fujimori took place in 1990. Once he was in the power, he closed the Congress and convene to a referendum for elaborating a new Constitution (1992). With the support of the Army and international financial organisations, he imposed a rigorous plan of economic readjustment, simultaneously he fought with effectiveness the drug trafficking and the terrorism. His achievements in these aspects allow him to be reelected in 1995.


Casa de Pizarro, Peru's Government Palace in Lima
More information on politics and government of Peru can be found at the Politics and government of Peru series.

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 legislature.

Administrative divisions

Main article: Subdivisions of Peru
Map of Peru

Peru's territory is divided successively into regions (25) (Spanish: regiones; singular: región), 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 Metropolitana (Lima Metropolitan Area).

Until 2002, Peru was divided into 24 departments (departamentos) 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
  • Apurímac
  • Arequipa
  • 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


Peruvian Amazon Basin
Main article: Geography of Peru

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 27 million inhabitants that speak Spanish, with others bilingual in Quechua or Aymara and other native languages.

Eastern Peru consists mostly of the moist tropical jungles of the Amazon Rain Forest, the largest on Earth. In the southeast along the border with Bolivia lies Lake Titicaca — 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.

Valle del Colca, Arequipa

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.

View of the beach in Punta Sal

Peru is divided in 24 departments and one constitutional province.

The largest main cities include:

  • Lima (the capital and the economic and cultural centre)
  • Arequipa
  • Trujillo
  • Chiclayo
  • Callao (the contitutional province)
  • Cusco (the capital of the ancient Inca Empire)
  • Piura
  • Tacna
  • Ica, Puno, Chimbote, Huancayo, Cajamarca, Pucallpa, and Iquitos.

Physiographic regions

When the Spanish arrived, they divided Peru (because of political reasons) into three main regions: the Coastal region, which is bounded by the Pacific Ocean; the Highlands, that is located in the Andean Heights, and the Jungle, which is located on the Amazonian Jungle. These words are still used in Peru. However, 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 approved this motion.

Peruvian Physiographic Regions

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

Natural and cultural Peruvian heritage

The Peruvian Constitution of 1993 recognised the natural resources and ecosystem variety of its country as a heritage. In 1900, the National System of Natural Areas that are protected by the Peruvian Government (SINANPE) was created. This entity depends on the National Institute of Natural Resources (INRENA). They also created a map of protection and preservation of historical - cultural heritage and nature.

This map has 49 Natural Areas (10% of the country surface) that are preserved by the Government: 8 National Parks, 8 National Reservations, 6 National Sanctuaries, 3 Historical Sanctuaries, 4 National Forests, 6 Protection Forests, 1 Communal Reservation, 2 Hunting enclosed lands and 11 Reserved Zones.

National Parks are places where the wild flora and fauna are protected and preserved. Natural resources exploitation and human settlements are forbidden.

The National Parks are:

A guacharo in the National Park of Tingo Maria, Peru.
  • Cutervo It is the oldest Peruvian National Park. It was created in 1961 and is located in Cajamarca. There are many caves in this park such as San Andres Cave, where the guacharo lives - a bird in danger of extinction.
  • Tingo Maria It is located in Huanuco. Its principal attraction is the Cueva de las Lechuzas (Owl Cave) where the guacharos live.
  • Manu It is located in Madre de Dios and Cuzco. Its the most representative area of the Amazon biodiversity. In 1977, UNESCO recognised it as a Reserve of Biosphere and in 1987, it was pronounced as Natural Heritage of Humanity.
  • Huascaran It is located in Ancash. It was also pronounced as Natural Heritage of Humanity and recognised as Reserve of Biosphere Core. The highest snow-covered mountain is here (which name is also Huascaran and has 6 000 m.). This park is the habitat of the Puya Raimondi, the American panther or puma, the jaguar, the llama, the guanaco, the Marsh Deer, the Peruvian tapir, the Peruvian Piedtail, a hummingbird species, and many kinds of ducks.
  • Cerros de Amotape (Amotape Hills) It is located in Piura and Tumbes. It has a lot of dry-climate forests and some endangered species like the American Crocodile.
  • Abiseo River It is located in San Martín. UNESCO pronounced it as Natural and Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • Yanachaga-Chemillen It is located in Pasco. It is a preservation zone of tropical forests that are at 4 800 m. The Palcazu river, Huancabamba river, Pozuzo river and their affluents flows through this National Park. Some native communities still live in here. There are also some archaeological fields from the Inca and Yanesha cultures.
  • Bahuaja-Sonene It is located in Madre de Dios. It has the tropical forests of Puno, the Heath Pampas and a part from the Reservation Zone Tambopata-Candamo.

The National Reservations and Protection and Spreading Areas of wild fauna are:

The National Reservation of the Lomas de Lachay, Lima, Peru.
  • Pampa Galeras – Barbara D’Achille It is located in Ayacucho and it is the habitat of the vicuña.
  • Junin It is located in Junin. One of its main purposes is to protect the ecosystem and biodiversity of Junin lake.
  • Paracas It is located in Ica. Its main purpose is to preserve the sea ecosystem and protect the historical - cultural heritage.
  • Lachay It is located in Lima. Its main purpose is to restore and protect the ecosystem of the Lomas de Lachay (Lachay hills).

Pacaya-Samiria It is located in Loreto. Its main purpose is to preserve the ecosystems of the Omagua Region and to promote the indigenous towns.

  • Salinas and Aguada Blanca They are located in Arequipa and Moquegua. Their main purpose is to preserve the flora, fauna and the landscapes formation.
  • Calipuy It is located in La Libertad. Its main purpose is to protect the guanaco’s populations.
  • Titicaca It is located in Puno. Its main purpose is to preserve the ecosystems and landscapes of the Titicaca lake.


Main article: Economy of Peru
Buildings in San Isidro, Lima's largest financial district
Aerial view of La Punta, Callao

Since 1990, the Peruvian economy has undergone considerable free market reforms, from legalizing parts of the informal sector to significant privatizations in the mining, electric/power, and telecommunications industries. Aided by foreign investment and cooperation between the former Fujimori administration, the IMF, and the World Bank, economic growth was rapid in 1994–97 and inflation was kept low.

In 1998, El Niño's impact on agriculture, the financial crisis in Asia, and instability in Brazilian markets undercut growth. 1999 was another lean year for Peru, with the aftermath of El Niño and the Asian financial crisis having an avdersely effect on the market economy. Lima did manage to complete negotiations for an Extended Fund Facility with the IMF in June 1999, although it subsequently had to renegotiate the targets. Pressure on spending grew in the run-up to the 2000 elections.

Growth up to the year 2005 has been realized by construction, investment, domestic demand and exports. Peru's economy has become one of the most liberal market economies in Latin America. The country's petroleum, natural gas and power industries are expected to increase due to relatively high domestic and foreign influx of capital in the tourism, agriculture, mining and contruction sectors since 1995.

In April 2006, Peru signed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, becoming the second country in the Andean Community of Nations (Comunidad Andina de Naciones,CAN) to sign it. As of June 2006, Peru's Congress has already approved the agreement and the FTA awaits approval by the U.S. Congress. Peru is currently negotiating free trade agreements with Chile, Mexico, Singapore and India.

Peru has free trade agreements with the Andean Community, which is composed of Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela. It also has free trade agreements with many of the countries in Mercosur as well as Thailand, and during the recent APEC summit, Peru declared intentions to sign free trade agreements with China, Japan, and South Korea.

Peru is also seeking a free trade agreement with the European Union. These negotiations will greatly expand the markets in which the Peruvian products are traded. Peru has potential to export agricultural products, textiles, clothing, shoes, petroleum derivatives, natural gas, minerals, as well as fish and seafood products, tourism, and manufactured goods.

In 2005 Peruvian exports were worth 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. The markets of Peru have grown in all sectors (energy, construction, commerce, fishing, manufacturing, tourism, etc) in 2005 growing over 6.67% (one the fastest growth rates of market economies in South America) and it is projected to grow 7% for 2006.

For the next five years (until 2010) the Peruvian government has registered more than US$ 10 billion in private investment (both domestic and foreign) in the 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 annually at levels of 5% or more.

Poverty in Peru is high, with a poverty threshold level of 51.2% of the total population. However, the level is reducing slowly and it is expected to diminish to 20% of the population within 10 years.


Peruvian Armed Forces
8094-divisionblindada-peru-.jpg T-55 Tanks from the Armored Division
Military manpower
Military age 18 years of age for non-compulsory military service (1999)
Availability males age 18-49: 6,647,874
females age 18-49: 6,544,408 (2005 est.)
Fit for military service males age 18-49: 4,938,417
females age 18-49: 5,278,511 (2005 est.)
Reaching military age annually males: 277,105
females: 269,799 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures
Dollar figure $829.3 million (2003 est.)
Percent of GDP 1.4% (2003 est.)

The Military branches of the Republic of Peru are as follows:

  • Ejército del Perú (Peruvian Army)
  • Marina de Guerra del Perú (Peruvian Navy, includes Naval Air, Naval Infantry and Coast Guard)
  • Fuerza Aérea del Perú (Peruvian Air Force)

The Peruvian Armed Forces was the second most powerful army of South America[1]. In the last years social stability has brought the army back to its original objectives which are the control of the national sovereignty on the sea, land and air, as well as protect the people, economy, and infraestructure from inside and outside of the country dangers.

Peruvian Army

Main article: Peruvian Army

Headquartered in Lima, it has a strength of 75 thousand troops divided in four military regions with headquarters in Piura, Lima, Arequipa and Iquitos. Every military region assigned several brigades of which there are different types, including infantry, cavalry and armored. There are also several groups and batallions which operate independently.

The equipment of the Peruvian Army includes several types of tanks (T-55 and AMX-13),armoured personnel carriers (M-113, UR-416), artillery (D30 howitzer, M101 howitzer, M109 howitzer, M114 howitzer), antiaircraft systems (ZSU-23-4 Shilka) and helicopters (Mil Mi-2, Mil Mi-17).

Peruvian Navy

Main article: Peruvian Navy
De Ruyter class cruiser Almirante Grau (CLM 81) firing its Bofors 152/53 mm guns.

Peruvian Navy (Marina de Guerra del Perú) is organized in five naval zones headquartered in Piura, Lima, Arequipa, Iquitos and Pucallpa. It has a strength of around 25 thousand troops divided between the Pacific Operations and the Amazon Operations General Commands and the Coast Guard.

The Pacific fleet flagship is the cruiser BAP Almirante Grau (CLM-81), named for the XIX-century Peruvian Admiral which fought in the War of the Pacific (1879-1883). The fleet also includes 8 Lupo class frigates (two of which were built in Peru during the 80's), 1 Daring class destroyer, 6 PR-72 class corvettes, 4 Terrebonne Parish class landing ships, 6 Type 209/1200 class German-built diesel submarines (the biggest submarine force in South America), as well as patrol vessels, tankers and cargo ships.

Peruvian Navy has also a naval aviation force, several naval infantry batallions and special forces units.

Peruvian Air Force

Main article: Peruvian Air Force

On May 20, 1929, the aviation divisions of the Peruvian army and navy were merged into the Peruvian Aviation Corps (CAP, Cuerpo de Aviación del Peru). In 1950, the corps was reorganized again and became the Peruvian Air Force (FAP, Fuerza Aerea del Peru).

The Peruvian Air Force (Fuerza Aerea del Peru - FAP) is divided into 6 wing areas, headquartered in Piura, Chiclayo, Lima, Arequipa, Rioja and Iquitos. With a strong of 35 thousand troops, the FAP counts in its arsenal with MiG-29, MiG-25, Mirage 2000, Mirage M5 and SU-22 supersonic aircraft.

Also, it counts with SU-25 antitank aircraft, as well as MI-24 antitank helicopters, MI-8, MI-17 transport helicopters, and Aermacchi, A-37 Cessna and SuperTucano Embraer subsonic aircraft.

In 1995, the FAP took part in the Cenepa War against Ecuador covering operations by the army and navy. After the war, the FAP began acquiring new material, especially MiG-29 fighters and Su-25 attack fighters which are, along with the Mirage 2000 fighters, the main combat elements of the FAP.


Main article: Demographics of Peru

Cultural Diversity

El Señor de los Milagros Procession
Uros people on Lake Titicaca

Peru is one of only three countries in Latin America which has its largest population segment consisting of indigenous Amerindians. The country's plurality, some 45% of all Peruvians, are classified as Amerindian, and most are found in the southern Andes, though a large portion is also found in the southern and central coast due to the massive internal immigrations from remote Andean reagions to coastal cities, especially Lima.

The two major indigenous ethnic groups are the various Quechua-speaking populations, followed closely by the Aymará, as well as literally dozens of indigenous cultures dispersed throughout the country beyond the Andes Mountains and in the Amazon basin.

Urarina shaman, 1988

A large proportion of Peru's indigenous peoples who live in the Andean highlands still speak Quechua or Aymara, and have vibrant cultural traditions, some which were part of the Inca Empire, arguably the most advanced agricultural civilisation in the world. In the tropical Andes and lowlands of the Amazon, which represents nearly 60% of Peruvian national territory, one notes some of the planet's greatest cultural and biological diversity. Peruvian Amazonia is rapidly becoming urbanized. Important urban centers include Iquitos, Puerto Maldonado, Pucallpa and Yurimaguas. In Peruvian Amazonia is home to numerous indigenous peoples, including the Urarina, Cocama, and Aguaruna, to name just a few.

At the national level, mestizos constitute a large minority of the population, comprising some 37% of the population. The term denotes people of mixed ancestry be it European with indigenous, African or Asian.

Some 15% of the population is classified as "white" European, mostly the descendants of relatively unmiscegenated Spanish colonizers (called criollos), though other smaller immigrant communities are also present, including Italians, Germans, Eastern Europeans, Chinese, Japanese and North Americans. The majority of them live in Peru's largest cities and those found along or relatively close to the coast, such as Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura, Lima, Cajamarca, and Arequipa .

Between 2% to 3% of Peruvians are classified as "black" (Afro-Peruvian), most of them live in coastal cities found south of Lima such as that of the Ica Region, cities like Cañete, Chincha, Ica, Nazca and Acari.

Peru has the second largest population of people of Japanese descent in Latin America after Brazil. Many of them traveled to Japan in the 80's as the economic situation in Peru got worse. Many came back after the Japanese Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori developed the economy. A large community of people of Chinese descent live in Lima, where Chinese restaurants (chifas) are commonplace. In contrast to the Japanese, the Chinese intermarried much more. "Unmixed" Asians make up 3% of the population of Peru; the largest percentage of any Latin American nation.


Peru has two official languages - Spanish and the foremost indigenous language, Quechua. Spanish is understood by most Peruvians (over 80%), and is used by government, media, and in education and formal commerce. There had been an increasing and organised 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 which use it: for example books, newspapers, software, magazines, technical journals, etc. However, non-governmental organisations 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 Quixote 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.


Main article: Culture of Peru

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 indigenous groups, and Spanish and African colonists. This cultural mixture has been further enriched by the contributions of other immigrant groups, particularly Asians and non-Iberian Europeans.

Peruvian artistic creation

The extraordinary Peruvian cultural patrimony has its origin in its magnificent Andean civilizations. These civilizations arose in its territory before the Spaniards’ arrival. The Peruvian archaeological treasures are authentic testimonies of the existence of a powerful civilizing impulse that was developed without any contact with other extracontinental cultures.

The first artistic manifestations that reflect a higher degree of intellectual and technological evolution are the pieces found in the deposits of Chavín de Huántar and Cupisnique. These pieces are a symbolic and religious art that includes gold and silver work, ceramics, architecture and stone sculpture. They were dated between the IX and IV BC centuries.

Between the VIII BC and I AC, Paracas Cavernas and Paracas Necrópolis cultures were developed. Paracas Cavernas produced beautiful polychrome ceramics with religious representations and monochrome ceramics too. Paracas Necrópolis produced delicate and complex style fabrics.

The Pachacamac Temple. The photo was taken in 2002.

In the period between III BC and VII AC, the urban culture called Mochica was developed in Lambayeque. Nazca culture was also developed in this epoch in the valley of río Grande, in Ica. In Mochica culture, we will have to underlined the magnificent Huaca del Sol and Huaca de la Luna and the Huaca Rajada of Sipan. It is necessary to emphasize their cultivation in terraces and hydraulic engineering, as well as one of the most original ceramics, textile, pictorial and sculptural productions of the Andean scope.

The Wari civilization, between the VIII and XII centuries, was located in Ayacucho. This culture was the first one in defining a rational urban layout. Such concept was expanded to zones like Pachacamac, Cajamarquilla, Wari Willca and others. Tiahuanaco culture was developed by the borders of lake Titicaca between IX and XIII centuries. This culture introduced the lithic architecture and sculpture of a monumental type and military urbanism. This kind of architecture was made thanks to the discovery of the bronze that allowed them to make the necessary tools.

The improvement of the urban architecture was due to the Chimú town. This culture built the city of Chan Chan in the valley of the Moche river, in La Libertad, between the XIV and XV centuries. The chimú were also skillful goldsmiths and made remarkable works of hydraulic engineering.

The Inca Civilization, that incorporated a great part of the cultural legacy of the civilizations that preceded it, has left important testimonies. Some of them are cities like Cuzco, architectonic rests like Sacsahuaman and Machu Picchu, and stone pavements that united Cuzco with the four cardinal points of the Inca Empire. The arrival of the Spaniards moved, not without violence, the native artistic conceptions, although in many cases, it made some enriching mestizations too.


Peruvian architecture is a conjunction of European styles exposed to the influence of indigenous imagery. Two of the most well-known examples of the Renaissance period are the Cathedral and the church of Santa Clara of Cuzco. After this period, the mestization reached its richer expression in the Baroque. Some examples of this Baroque period are the convent of San Francisco de Lima, the church of the Compañía and the facade of the University of Cuzco and, overall, the churches of San Agustín and Santa Rosa of Arequipa, its more beautiful exponents.

The independence war left a creative emptiness that Neoclassicism of French inspiration could just fill. The XX century is characterized by the eclecticism, to which the constructive functionalism has been against. The most considerable example is San Martin Plaza in Lima.

Sculpture and Painting

Cathedral of Lima facing the Plaza de Armas

Peruvian sculpture and painting began to define themselves from the ateliers founded by monks, who were strongly influenced by the Sevillian Baroque School. In this background, the stalls of the Cathedral choir, the fountain of the Main Square of Lima and great part of the colonial production were registered.

The artistic crossbreeding was more intense in the pictorial creation. This crossbreeding gathered, without ambages, the native heritage and materialized, without incisions, the historical continuity. You are able to see this in the portrait of prisoner Atahualpa, from Diego de Mora, or in the linens of the Italians Mateo Pérez de Alesio and Angelino Medoro, the Spanish Francisco Bejarano and J. de Illescas and the Creole J. Rodriguez.

During XVII and XVIII centuries, the Baroque also dominated the field of plastic arts. In the XIX century, the French neoclassic and romantic currents found his best representatives in L. Montero, the Ignacio Merino and Francisco Masias.

In the XX century, the establishment of the Fine Arts School of Lima (1919) printed the decisive impulse on Peruvian sculpture and painting. In sculpture, we have some remarkable names like Luis Agurto, L. Valdettaro, Joaquin Roca Rey, J. Piqueras, Alberto Guzmán, Victor Delfín and F. Sánchez. Between the painters, we have Daniel Hernández, R. Grau, Cesar Quispez Asin and Jose Sabogal. Sabogal headed the indigenous movement. This movemevent was one of the props of the Peruvian contemporary painting, which more representative names are Fernando de Szyszlo, Alberto Davila, Armando Villegas, Sabino Springett, Victor Humareda, M. A. Cuadros, Angel Chavez, Milner Cajahuaringa, Arturo Kubotta, Venancio Shinki, Alberto Quintanilla, G. Chavez, Tilsa Tsuchiya, David Herskowitz, Oscar Allain and Carlos Revilla.


In the history of Peruvian literature, the oral indigenous tradition and the technical resources of writing (incorporated by Spaniards) converge in each other. From the beginning, it was possible to gather and to express the different and complex cultural realities that entered in conflict immediately after the conquest.

Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, a Peruvian writer from Cuzco

Quechua and Aymara literature was transmitted in an oral way. It was linked to religious, agrarian, affectionate, festive or funeral rites. These characteristics became into certain forms of poetry or prose, as it is observed in the first historical chronicles of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (Los comentarios reales) or Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala (la Nueva crónica y buen gobierno) and in the identification between the yaravies and the patriotic and romantic poetry. One of the most outstanding exponents here was Mariano Melgar.

Later, the hegemony of Creole oligarchy in the Peruvian society favored the abandonment of the indigenous forms in favor of the European ones. Then the [Neoclassicism|neoclassicists]] arose like Manuel Asencio y Segura and Felipe Pardo y Aliaga. They held themselves almost until the end of the XIX century. At this time, the romantic current was imposed thanked to the works of Carlos Augusto Salaverry and Jose Arnaldo Marquez, between others. The general crisis derived from the War of the Pacific gave place to the Modernism. Its best exponents were Jose Santos Chocano and José María Eguren. After them, the Avant-gardism current popped up strongly impelled by the magazines: Colónida and Amauta. Amauta magazine was founded in 1926 by José Carlos Mariátegui. Between its collaborators was César Vallejo. Meanwhile the Indigenous current in poetry was reborn thanked to Luis Fabio Xammar. The avant-gardist writers were fragmenting in different lyric proposals like the ones of Xavier Abril, Alberto Hidalgo, Sebastian Salazar Bondy, Carlos Germán Belli, and others. They were opening new and diverse expressive fields.

In the XIX century, Peruvian prose passed from the costumbrismo current: Manuel Ascensio Segura and Ricardo Palma, to the Modernism current: Manuel González Prada and José Santos Chocano. In the XX century, the indigenous prose reached some of its culminating moments with Ciro Alegría and José María Arguedas, Sebastián Salazar Bondy, Manuel Scorza and Julio Ramón Ribeyro. Without leaving the realistic approach, Mario Vargas Llosa and Alfredo Bryce Echenique incorporated new narrative techniques. Some of the most remarkable names in poetry are Emilio Adolfo Westphalen, Jorge Eduardo Eielson, Carlos Germán Belli, Antonio Cisneros, Wáshington Delgado, Marco Martos, Carmen Ollé and in narrative: Miguel Gutiérrez, Gregorio Martínez, Alonso Cueto, Guillermo Niño de Guzmán, between others.


Iglesia de la Compañía, Cuzco
The Inca stonghold of Sacsayhuaman near Cuzco

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, Huari (Wari), Nazca, Chimu, and Tiahuanaco developed high-quality pottery, textiles, jewelry, and sculpture.

Drawing upon earlier cultures, 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 Cuzco are excellent examples of Inca architectural design.

During the colonial period, Spanish baroque fused with the rich Inca tradition to produce mestizo art. The Cuzco school of largely anonymous Indian artists followed the Spanish baroque tradition with influence from the Italian, Flemish, and French schools.

Painter Francisco Fierro made a distinctive contribution to this school with his portrayals of typical events, manners, and customs of mid-19th-century Peru. Francisco Lazo, forerunner of the indigenous school of painters, also achieved fame for his portraits.

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. A subsequent reaction among Peruvian artists led to the beginning of modern Peruvian painting. Sabogal's resignation as director of the National School of Arts in 1943 coincided with the return of several Peruvian painters from Europe who revitalised "universal" and international styles of painting in Peru.

During the 1960s, Fernando de Szyszlo, an internationally recognised Peruvian artist, became the main advocate for abstract painting and pushed Peruvian art toward modernism. Peru remains an art-producing center with painters such as Fernando de Szyslo, Gerardo Chavez, José Tola, Alberto Quintanilla, and José Carlos Ramos, along with sculptor Victor Delfín, gaining international stature.

Promising young artists continue to develop now that Peru's economy allows more promotion of the arts.


Between the most spread crafts in Peru, there are the ceramics (either artistic or utilitarian), the carving, the silversmiths' work, the leather repoussage, the straw weaving, and of course the textile work, emphasizing the colorful weavings made of alpaca's wool.

Folkloric expressions

Pre-Hispanic Peruvian Andean cultures were especially bound to musical artistic expressions. In fact, almost all agricultural communal works were accompanied by music and singings (generically called in Quechua language: taqui). The ethnic diversity of ancient Peru made diverse traditions and customs coexist across the time. They were strongly determinants of the rich development of Post-Hispanic Peruvian folklore.

At the present time, different musical expressions (dances and songs), folkloric festivities (religious or not), arts and crafts, gastronomy and other activities (that varies according to different regions) are important expressions of Peruvian and Latin-American cultural heritage.


Main article: Music of Peru
The quena is a Peruvian wind instrument, mostly used by Andean musicians

Like its geography (28 of 32 world climates), its cuisine and its various ethnicities, 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.

The Pre-Hispanic Andean musicians mostly used wind instruments such as the quena, the pinkillo, the erke, the antara or siku (also called zampoña), the pututo or pototo, etc. They also used diverse membranophone instruments such as the tinya (hand drum), the wankar, instrument of big dimensions, the pomatinyas - made of puma's skin-, and the runatinyas - made of human's skin-. The runatinya was also used in battles.

With the Spanish conquest, new instruments arrived like harps, guitars, vihuelas, bandurrias, lutes, etc. Due to these instruments, new crossbred Andean instruments appeared. These crossbred instruments are still in used nowadays: the Andean harp and the charango. The sounding box of the charango is made of the armadillo's shell.

The cultural crossbreeding did not limit itself to the contact of Indigenous and European cultures. The African slaves' contribution was demonstrated in rhythms and percussion instruments. This influence is visible in musical forms like festejo, zamacueca, etc.

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.

Andean Peruvian music

Andean music is rooted in the traditional native music, the Spanish orquestal and European Church musicals. The southern Andean region is famous for the Huayno, a mestizo happy 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 is played on creole and even Spanish guitar, adding to its feel an even a more soulful and romantic expression.

Cusco, Puno and Apurimac have a more pure native feel to their music whom even incorporate violins. Famous tuens are the Muliza and Valicha Cusqueña, whom are also very romantic and melancolic. Other Andean rhythms involve a fusion of European Church music and Huaynos such as the known song "El Cóndor Pasa", a traditional Peruvian song popularized in the United States by the folk duo Simon & Garfunkel and featured in the movie "The Graduate". The original composition consists of a Yaraví, followed by an Inca "Pasacalle" and a Huayno fugue, three traditional Inca rhythms.

Jorge Bravo de Rueda's famous "Vírgenes del Sol" was popularized in 1951 by Yma Súmac.

Arequipa is region that probably that resembles best the mixing of the Spanish and the Andean cultures. Arequipa city is the proud creator of the famous Yaraví, a melancholy style that involves Spanish or creole guitar that is sung A Capella. It has been popularized to the rest of the Andean comunities after the Pacific War in honor of Mariano Melgar (local hero). The music evokes to the solitude of the mountains, the miners and the Andean farmer. It is a mix of gypsy Zards and Huayno.

The Huaylas of the central Andes, by contrast, is a cheery, rhythmic style mostly popular around Cerro de Pasco, Huanuco Huaraz.

Coastal Peruvian music

Aerial view of Costa Verde, Miraflores

The coast has a different feel to its music than its Andean counterpart. It is called musica criolla and its rooted in a fusion that evokes to traditional Spanish, Gypsy (Roma People) and African influence.

It combines traditional European rhythms, strong gypsy emotional flair deriving from Flamenco and eastern European Zards, and also African based chorus and percussion.

This mixture is rooted especially in the central and northern coast, and has provided the wide range of dance and musical styles we hear today. Lima for example, is most well known musical style Peruvian Waltz known elsewhere as valse peruano and valsesito peruano. The rhythm involves a singer, a chorus, creole Guitarr, Peruvian Cajón and spoon players. It is widely popularised by the great Chabuca Granda, who is considered the most important composer of coastal creole music, with such songs as La Flor de La Canela, Fina Estampa, and José Antonio. Other commonly known peruvian valse tunes are Alma Corazon y Vida, Odiame, Propiedad Privada, El Plebeyo, and El Rosario de Mi Madre, some of these songs are twisted to Bolero or Salsa version by Caribbean artists.

Afro Peruvian music is commonly performed by duos of creole guitars, the Cajon, Cajita and the peculiar Quijada de Burro.

Examples of these dances are the Festejo and Landó, which are common to Afro-Peruvian communities of the southern coast. Susana Baca is a renowned singer and composer of Afro Peruvian music. She won a Grammy award in 2002 for her album Lamento Negro.

The Marinera or Zamacueca of the central coast Lima is the current National Dance of Peru, named in honour of the marines who fought against the Chilean military in the War of the Pacific. Among Peruvians of the coast, it is considered as traditional and representative as the Tango is to Argentina. The dance evokes from a mixture of Eastern European gypsy, flamenco and the elegance of the Peruvian Paso Horse. Many people take classes and look forward to the annual Marinera Festival held in the city of Trujillo every July, with thousands in attendance.

In the northern coast especially Lambayeque and Piura, the people are most famous for the Cumananas and the Tondero dance. These are the oldest and most mestizo expressions of Peruvian music and derive from the encounterd mixture of the Gypsies, Africans slaves and migrant Andean cultures.

Peruvian coastal music has in its rich structure the participation of a local instrument called the cajón. This instrument has been mistaken very frequently with an Spanish origin (the cajon was introduced in Spain around the 1980's by Paco de Lucia, but the truth is that the cajon has been utilized in Peruvian music since the colonial times. Although it might also have gypsy influence it has been prooved that the instrument is stricktly of Peruvian origin since it is rooted in the Tondero, the Zamacueca, the Resabalosa and Peruvian coastal creole rythms before any other expressions.


Marinera Norteña, the most representative dance in the coast of Peru.

Between Dances of Native origin, there are the ones that are related to the agricultural work, hunting and war. Some choreographies show certain Christian influence. Two of the most representative Andean dances are the kashua and the wayno or huayno. The kashua has a communal character and it is usually danced in groups in the country or open spaces. The huayno is a "salon ball". It is danced in couples and in closed spaces. The yaravi and the triste have also an Andean origin. They are usually songs with very emotional lyrics.

Dances of Ritual character are the achocallo, the pinkillada, the llamerada (dance that imitates the llama's walk), the kullawada (the spinners' dance), etc. Between the Hunting dances, it can be mentioned: the llipi-puli and choq'elas. They are dances from the altiplano related to the vicuña's hunting.

There are some Dances of War like the chiriguano that has an Aymara origin; the chatripuli that satirizes the Spanish Realist soldiers, and the kenakenas that is about the Chilean soldiers who occupied Peru during the War of the Pacific (1879). There are also Carnival Dances. A Carnival is a western holiday that, in the Peruvian Andes, is celebrated simultaneously with the crops time. Many rural communities celebrate the youths' initiation during these holidays with ancestral rites and crossbred dances. New couples might be established.

The most attractive and internationally known Love Dance in Peru is the Marinera Norteña. This dance represents a man's courting to a young woman. There are local variants of this dance in Lima and the other regions of the country.

Popular Celebrations

Popular Celebrations are the product of every town's traditions and legends. These celebrations gather music, dances, meals and typical drinks. In addition to the religious celebrations like Christmas, Corpus Christi or Holy Week, there are others that express the syncretism of the indigenous believes with the Christians'. An example of this kind of celebration is the Alasitas (an Aymara word that, according to some studious people, would mean «buy me») that combines a crafts and miniatures fair with dances, meals and a mass. Another example is the peregrination of the Q'oyllor-riti (Cusco Region|Cuzco), that gathers the ancient cult to the apus (tutelary divinities of the mountains) with a peregrination to a Christian Sanctuary in a long trek to the top of a mountain, of more than 5000 m. at sea level, that is covered with snow.


Main article: Peruvian cuisine

There is a big variety of food, like maize, tomato, potatoes, uchu or ají (Capsicum pubescens), oca, ulluco, avocado, fruits like cherimoya, lúcuma and pineapple (anana), and animals like taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis) (similar to the little red brocket), llama and Guinea pig. After the combination of the American, European and Moorish culinary traditions, appeared new meals and ways of preparing them. The successive arrivals of the Africans and the Chineses also influenced in the development of the Creole cuisine, that is so diverse and succulent nowadays.

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 also make it possible to grow a wide range of crops. There are the dozens of 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.

Between the most typical dishes of the Peruvian cuisine, we have the cebiche, which is also spelled "ceviche" (fish and shellfish marinated in lemon juice), the chupe de camarones (a soup made of shrimps (Cryphiops caementarius)), the anticuchos (a beef's heart roasted in brochettes), the olluco con charqui (a casserole dish made of ulluco and charqui), the Andean pachamanca (meats, tubers and broad beans cooked in a stone oven), the lomo saltado (cuisine) (meat fried lightly with tomato and onion, served with French fries and rice) that has a Chinese influence, and the picante de cuy (a casserole dish made of fried guinea pig with some spices). Peruvian food can be accompanied by typical drinks like the chicha de jora (it's a chicha made of tender corn dried by the sun). This drink has a very low alcoholic graduation. There are also chichas made of purple corn or peanut. They are very refreshing and do not have any alcoholic content.

The most popular 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, etc. Other typical food include staples from the Andes; humitas (tamales), roasted cuy guinea pig, papa a la Huancaina, Jalea de Mar, Chilcano, Sudado, Aguadito, Tallarin Saltado, Aji de Gallina, Arroz con Pollo, Seco de Res, Chicharrones, Tacu Tacu, Carapulcra (Dry potato), choncholi, Salchipapas, Mondonguito a la Italiana, Chanfainita, Ocopa, different Chifa dishes (Chinese food made with Peruvian ingredients), Estofado, Bistec a la Pobre, Arroz con Pato, 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. Also Crema Chantilly in very popular in cakes. 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. Peru's most well known beverage is the Pisco which originated in the Peruvian department of Ica.


A llama overlooking Machu Picchu, Peru

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Chess: Julio Granda is the most famous Peruvian Chess player. His epic battle in 1998 with Jorge Useche was one of Peru's most riveting chess matches.

Football: The most popular Peruvian sport is football (soccer) (World Cup appearances: 1930,1970(quarterfinalists),1978(quarterfinalists),1982 and two Copa America trophies). Most of the population of Peru follow the World Cup tournament on television. Soccer legends from Peru include Hugo Sotil, Cesar Cueto, Roberto Challe, and Teofilo Cubillas, Peru's best striker in the World Cup Finals with 10 goals. Current renowned players include midfielder Nolberto Solano (Newcastle United), and strikers Claudio Pizarro, Jose Paolo Guerrero (SV Hamburg) and Jefferson Farfán (PSV Eindhoven). Universitario de Deportes, Alianza Lima, Sporting Cristal, and Cienciano are the biggest teams in Peru. In 2003, Cienciano won the Copa Sudamericana.

Volleyball: Other popular sport is Women’s Volleyball (Silver medal in Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, Runners-up in World Championship in 1982 and 12 times South American champion).

Surfing: Felipe Pomar, 2nd World Surfing Championship, Peru 1965, Sofia Mulanovich, Women’s World Surf Champion in 2004 and 2005.

Sailing: Peru is the only country of the region that has won for six consecutive years the world Cup in the Sunfish Class. In addition, Peru has won the Central American, South American & Caribbean Championships for the same category. In the Optimist Class, it was three times World Champion in Team-Racing in 1997, 1998, and 1999.

Shooting: Peruvian shooters have won 3 of Peru's 4 Olympic medals. Edwin Vásquez won Peru's only gold medal in London 1948 Olympic Games, while Francisco Boza (Los Angeles 1984), and Juan Giha (Barcelona 1992) both won silver medals.

Tennis: Luis Horna and Jaime Yzaga are the most famous Peruvian tennis players. Tennis Hall of Famer and Davis Cup and Wimbledon winner Alejandro Olmedo was born in Peru but he played for the United States.

International rankings

  • Reporters without borders world-wide press freedom index: Rank 116 out of 167 countries (2005)
  • UN Human Development Index 2005: Ranked 79 out of 177 countries. Up 6 places from 85 in 2004.

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