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Useful Notes: Peru
"Llamas!"
First thing that most people say whenever they think of Peru, or...
"Cuzco, Machu Picchu".
"Ahh, Peru".
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 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.

     History 

Precolumbine Period

Its territory was home to various ancient cultures like the Norte Chico civilization, most known as Caral, the most ancient city in the American Continent (About 5000 years old), and various others; the Precolumbine history is studied in six stages:

  • Initial Period: Ranges from the prehistory, covers the Caral civilization and diverse foundings as Toquepala and the temple of the crossed hands.
  • The Early Horizon: Covers the time of the Chavin hegemony upon other cultures, such as the Paracas and its decadence.
  • 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 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.

Colonial Period

Classically, it is said that the Inca Empire peacefully died right the moment Atahualpa was killed, which is a BIG misconception, the truth is that after his death, his other generals continued the fight against the Spaniards, however, they were aided by various indigenous people who saw in them a chance to free themselves from the Tawantinsuyu and, ironically, the Inca elite who were enemies of Atahualpa. Eventually, this would lead to the coronations as puppet rulers first of Túpac Hualpa as a who died three months after his coronation, and then Manco Inca who, like Túpac Hualpa and Atahualpa, was a son of Huayna Cápac.

However, Manco Inca realised that the small contingent of Pizarro was nothing more than the screening for the Spanish Army and they intended to conquer the country, this lead to his flight from Cuzco to the city of Vilcabamba near the jungle, from where he and other three rebel Incas would lead a war against the Spaniard conquistadores, these four are known as the Incas of Vilcabamba and their war lasted between the years 1537 and 1572.

The situation amongst the conquistadores was not harmonic on the other hand, the rivalry between Pizarro and Diego de Almagro over the city of Cuzco (and later the new capital, Lima) ended in what is known as the Wars of the Conquistadores amongst the two and all who supported either of them, this war was carried on by the brothers of Pizarro and of Almagro and lasted between 1537 and 1546.

Meanwhile, Charles the First of Spain was not amused with the actions of the conquistadores, who made themselves warlords and dukes of the conquered territory and literally worked to death the indigenous population, as well as the execution of Atahualpa by a lesser man, which was an outrage amongst the court, eventually, and, by the aid of Bartolome de las Casas, who was horrified by the abuse of the conquistadores towards the indigenous people, promulgated the New Laws (Leyes Nuevas) which put an end to the system of Encomiendas, which were hereditary territorial possessions of the conquistadores, and paved the way to the Vice-royalty system.

Needless to sat that the conquistadores were not going to accept

What followed was an open rebellion against the Spanish crowd led by Gonzalo Pizarro (Francisco Pizarro's brother and successor) who managed to capture and execute the first viceroy, Blasco Nuñez Vela, but were eventually defeated by Vela's successor, Pedro de la Gasca which marked the end of the encomiendas and the beginning of the Vice-royalty of Peru

Viceroy Francisco de Toledo is credited as the real "founder" of the viceroyalty, he broke the power of the encomenderos, reorganized the native population in reductions, strengthened the presence of the Catholic Church, established the Inquisition and fortified the coasts against the attacks of pirates.

During the next centuries, the vice-royalty of Peru expanded its borders encompassing all of South America minus Brazil, it's capital, Lima, became along with Mexico City in the largest and wealthiest city of the New World mainly thanks to the exports of silver from Potosi and Pasco, although under the mantle of opulence, it lied a deeply segregated society ruled by the Spanish nobility and high clergy.

Following the rise of the Bourbon Dynasty in Spain (1713) the Vice-royalty experienced a series of reforms,the most important where the creation of the Vice-royalties of Bogota (Colombia) and Rio de la Plata (Argentina), the expulsion of the Jesuit order and confiscation of their lands and the appointment of criollos (descendants of Spaniards born in America) to the government

Despite this reforms, the eighteen century saw the decline of the Vice-royalty power, the rebellions of Tupac Amaru II, Jose Santos Atahualpa and Mateo Pumacahua led to the implementation of increasingly strict rules regarding the indean population that only got worst during the Napoleonic Wars when several cities refused to recognize spanish authority and established it's own juntas. Interestingly, during this period, Lima remained a strong royalist bastion, thanks to the fact that the city held a privileged position in the colonies, with its own nobility and merchant society that relied on strong commercial ties with the metropolis

Republican Period

The first decade of the 19th century saw the rising of several separatists groups in Peru, mainly formed by students from the universities and colleges of Lima, Cuzco and Trujillo but, because of the aforementioned royalist presence in Lima and the increasingly militaristic governments of the Viceroys Jose Fernando de Abascal and Joaquin de la Pezuela, those movements didn't enjoyed the same grade of success than the ones from Bogota and Rio de la Plata

The newly independent republics of South America saw in the Spanish presence in Peru a threat to their own independence, hence the two main powers, Argentina and Gran Colombia, organized separately and invasion force to the Vice-royalty.

The southern army, led by Jose de San Maritn, managed to occupy Lima and declared the independence in July 28th 1821, and was achieved three years later after the northern army, led by Simon Bolivar, defeated Jose de la Serna, the last viceroy in the battles of Junin and Ayacucho. Its identity started to form once the Peruvians refused Bolivia's (and Simon Bolivar's) plans for a Latin American Confederation and, later, a union between these two states.

The first years of the new Republic of Peru were marked by political and economical instability, alternating between wars with it's neighbors and coup d'etats, it wouldn't be until the government of Ramon Castilla around the 1850's that the country achieved a lengthy period of stability.

Following the Chincha Islands War that pitched Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia against Spain, the country entered their golden age also called the Age of Guano, the mass production and exportation of this product launched Peru into an economic boom that saw the rise of a new upper class, the modernization of the country and the influx of immigrants, mainly from China, Japan, Italy and Germany.

The Age of Guano came to and end with the War of the Pacific (1879-1883) between Peru, Bolivia and Chile, not only Peru lost the war and was forced to cede it's saltpeter rich southern provinces of Arica, Tacna and Tarapaca but most of its army and infrastructure were destroy followed the occupation of most of the country (including Lima) by the Chilean troops

Following the war, the country entered the period of Reconstruction which was plagued by civil wars between former war generals that ended with Nicolás de Pierola's victory

The beginning of the twentieth century was marked by the rule of the Peruvian Upper Class in a period known as the Aristocratic Republic where the presidents were chosen by and amongst a group formed by the wealthiest citizens. This period gained its peak during the eleven year government of Agusto B. Leguia. Leguia's government saw the modernization of the largest cities at the price of neglect of the Andean provinces and the countryside. In reaction to his government, two political parties appeared that would affect the future development of the country, the APRA and the Peruvian Communist Party (PCP), the increasingly discontent with the government plus the economic crash of 1929 led to the deposition of Leguia. The following years would witness the alternation between military dictatorships and democratic governments

In 1968, the Armed Forces, led by General Juan Velasco Alvarado, staged a coup against president Fernando Belaunde. In 1975, the general was deposed and the regime started to become a democracy again. Following a period of instability in the 80s and early 90 characterized by a general inflation and the surgent of guerrillas in the countryside, the country finally gained a political stability in the 2000s. From here, it had its usual problems of political violence and drug trafficking, coupled with a sustaining economic growth.


The Peruvian flag
The tradition says that the Libertador San Martín dreamed the first flag of Perú after seeing the flamingos of the coast, the red hoist and fly stripes symbolize the blood of Peru's fallen freedom fighters, and the white central stripe represents peace.

ParaguayImageSource/MapsPhilippines
EcuadorUsefulNotes/Latin AmericaArgentina

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