— First thing that most people say whenever they think of Peru, or...
"Cuzco, Machu Picchu".
— The thing for which Peru is most known among tourists.
Peru, or Republic of Peru (República del Perú in Spanish) is a country in western South America, it's the third largest country in South America (after Brazil and Argentina), also, it's among the countries with most variety in natural regions and subclimates in the world. How many you ask? There are somewhere over 100 subclimates subdivided in three natural regions: the coast, formed mainly by deserts and small valleys, the Andes mountains, and the jungle (the Amazon rainforest). Its population surpasses 29 million, with its capital and largest city, Lima, encompassing 9 million inhabitants, diversified between the indigenous populations and the mestizos, with a small percentage of Blacks, Asians and Europeans. Religiously however, it is mostly Christian Catholic with a growing number of Evangelical congregations. Peru has two official languages: the Spanish, the most spoken one; and the Quechua, the most spoken of the indigenous languages. There are however, many other indigenous languages like the Aymara and the various languages of the people of the Amazon Forest.
First off: How? It is not known exactly when people started to live in the American continent and much less known is from where did these humans came from, from as early as the time of the Spanish arrival, people debated how was this continent filled with people given its geographical isolation in contrast to the continents of Europe, Asia or Africa; nevertheless, during the Nineteenth and Twentieth century it became a general concensus to argue that the start of the migration to America was done during the last Glacial period. Most known is the postulate that suggests that the first people to have arrived from the Bering land bridge, located in the northern part of America and which most likely linked it to Siberia. The Bering theory was accepted and was widely known as the explanation ot the populating process of the continent, it eventually came to be refutated or at least amended in light of various human bones or tools found in the Southern subcontinent. The simple reason as to why there was a problem with the Bering theory was the date if those human remains, which were almost as old as the time of the last glaciar period. This of course implied that humans had to somehow migrate further south in an incredibly short frame of time - and of course, they had to do this by foot since horsemanship had yet to be developed- and what was more, there was a tendency to find more and more vestiges of humans in the southern part of the continent rather than in the northern part, finally coupled with the finding of Caral (detailed bellow) that simply made it impossible for humans to have simply come from Siberia and reach to the south in a ludicrous short amount of time without leaving some remains of similar action what would be Canada and the USA today. This finally lead to the researchers to take up some off the other postulates for the origin of the first amerindians that was not the Bering theory; nowadays the Bering theory is mentioned as one of, not the only, route from which the original humans from the continent came from, the other being the Polynesian route, from which people would have used boats to hop from each of the islands of the Pacific to finally reach the southern part of America in a similar fashion to how Australia or New Zealand were populated. Precolumbine Period The territory of Perú was home to many of the ancient cultures of América like the Norte Chico civilization, which built the most ancient city in the American Continent (About 5000 years old) most known as Caral, and various others. The Precolumbine history, so called to alude the time before the arrival of Europe, is studied in six stages, with three general divisions of time. It must be noted that the term Horizon arose to denote a time when a culture had hegemony or primacy over the others contemporany to it, and therefore, set a trend amongst them. While such thing could be done by conventional conquest, they are not synonimous. One of the major discussions is the apparent lack of writing amongst the Peruvian cultures until the end of the Precolumbine period. Aside from the Quipus, which were knotted cords that served for logistics and accounting, there have been two speculated ways of writing, one of them being beanform marks found in some places and the other bein the Tocapus, symbols found in the clothes of the higher ranked members of society and which are thought to be a hieroglyphical way of writing.
- The Archaic Period:
- Initial Period: Ranges through prehistory, covering the Caral civilisation and diverse foundings such as Toquepala and Kotosh.
- The Early Horizon: Covers the time of the Chavin hegemony upon other cultures, such as the Paracas and its decadence.
- The Classical Period:
- The Early Intermediate: Ranges between the decadence of Chavin and the rise of the Wari, the Nazca, the Moche and other cultures appeared in this period.
- The Middle Horizon: Spans the rise and fall of the Wari Empire in Perú, features other cultures such as the Chachapoyas.
- The Postclassical Period:
- The Late Intermediate: Houses the time between the fall of Wari and the victory of the Inca Confederacy upon the Chancas, which would eventually lead to the Inca Empire, the cultures that appear are, amongst others, the Tiawanaco, the Chimu and The Inca Confederacy.
- The Late Horizon: Follows the rise of the Inca Empire, lead by Pachacutec, and its eventual expansion, which would be called the Tawantinsuyu and would eventually cover most of the northern territory of Chile, the coast and mountains of Perú as well as parts of the forests, Ecuador, and parts of Colombia and Bolivia; it ends with the capture of Atahualpa and his execution by Francisco Pizarro the 26th of July of 1533.
- The Habsburg Period: Also known as the Austrian period, it had the greatest parallels to the Middle Ages and even to the Roman Empire itself in its way to rule. The Habsburgs, having experiences with running empires before, used indirect rule, the influence of the Catholic Church and alliances with the local nobility to keep the Empire together, which they managed to at the cost of the Peninsular holdings being eclipsed by the American kingdoms they ruled, on the flip side, Hispanic America was left out of much of the modern changes that were happening in Europe at the time and only recieved it by hand of the Jesuit order.
- The Bourbon Period: The French period, it paved the way to the modernisation of the American Kingdoms, creating more territorial divisons to better manage the Empire such as the Viceroyalties of Rio de la Plata, Nueva Granada and the captaincies general of Cuba, Phillipines, Chile, Venezuela, Guatemala, Yucatan and others. Like its parallel in Versailles, the period marked an age of cultural and intellectual flourishment. It also started the tendency of centralisation of power that would eventually lead to various problems ahead.
- Michael Bentine. note Although born in England, comedian, author and TV presenter Bentine was a Peruvian citizen through his father. He was bilingual in Spanish and never forgot his roots in this country, fronting appeals in the UK for aid after natural disasters in Peru. He visited frequently, and, as a member of the family that founded Peru's first airline company, was familiar with the country, its strengths and weaknesses, and worked tirelessly to raise awareness of its existence outside South America.
- Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. First latinamerican writter of the world and held as the first mestizo born of America. He wrote several books of the history and events in the continent such as the Florida del Inca, his most known work however is the Comentarios Reales del Inca, which is a recopilation of the history of Peru during the Tawantinsuyu and the events of the start of the Viceroyalty.
The Peruvian flag
The tradition says that the Libertador San Martín dreamed the first flag of Perú after seeing the flamingos of the coast flying in the sky; the red hoist and fly stripes symbolize the blood of Peru's fallen freedom fighters that fought for the independence of the country and the white central stripe represents peace.