PERU: GENERAL INFORMATION
Peru is one of the major original cradles of ancient cultures, together with Mexico, Mesopotamia, India and China. During Paleolithic times, Peruvian peoples started to develop hunter-gatherer villages towards 6000 b. C. and left their first remains in settlements such as Lauricocha in Huanuco. Around 2500 B.C., agricultural settlements were formed and farming of manioc, lima beans, quinoa, potatoes, cotton and corn started. Peruvian history is divided in five stages until the arrival of Spanish conquerors:
• Early Horizon (1200 B.C. - 200 A.D.): In this period, small states were formed with elites wielding both economic and religious power. Chavin de Huantar (Ancash) belongs to this stage. It boasts a temple with internal chambers and halls, monochrome pottery and large megalithic art. Also remarkable are the urban settlements of Caral (Lima) and Sechin (Ancash).
•Early Intermediate Period (200 A.D. - 600 A.D.): At this time the large regional development centers left in the Andean world incomparable testimonies of their magnificence. Tiahuanaco (Puno) stands out for its chullpa tombs in Sillustani; Mochica and Lambayeque (La Libertad and Lambayeque) built the Lord of Sipan's Royal Tombs and the Tucume pyramids; the Nazca and Paracas (lea) peoples traced the mysterious Nazca lines in the desert and created admirable pottery and fine weavings.
•Intermediate Horizon (600 A.D. - 900 A.D.): Characterized by the expansion of the Wari culture in the Andean region. Its main vestiges are the Wari (Ayacucho), Pikillacta (Cusco) and Marca Huamachuco (La Libertad) citadels.
•Late Intermediate Period (900 A.D. - 1400 A.D.): The regional kingdoms or states developed in this time had well defined cultural features, as can be seen in their monuments, such as the coastal city of Chan Chan, belonging to the Chimu kingdom (La Libertad); the cemetery of Ventanillas de Otuzco from the Cajamarca culture, in the highlands of Cajamarca; and the Kuelap fortress, belonging to the Chachapoya state (Amazonas), in the north eastern jungle.
•Late Horizon (1400 A.D. - 1532 A.D.): This is the period of Incan domination. The Incas came from Cusco and created an empire that reached all the Andean world. Its main vestiges are the monuments of Machu Picchu and Sacsayhuaman in Cusco. This period concluded in 1532 with the Spanish conquest.
Between 1532 and 1821 the colonial period left magnificent artistic testimonies such as the paintings of the Cusco School, and buildings, such as the Saint Dominic Convent in Cusco (built over the Koricancha Incan temple) and the Saint Catherine Convent (Arequipa),and cities, manor houses and churches all over Peru.
On July 28, 1821 Independence was proclaimed and consolidated on December 9, 1824 with the South American Army's victory in the battle of Ayacucho. From then on, Peru has undergone several political and historical processes and is now an emerging country, rich in human and natural resources.
Territories and Regions of Peru
Peru is in the central and western part of South America, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean which is its natural border to the west. Peru is also bordered by Ecuador and Colombia to the north, with Chile to the south and with Brazil and Bolivia to the east.
It is the third largest country in South America and one of the largest 20 in the world, with a total surface of 1.285.2156 square kilometers, including its Pacific islands and the Lake Titicaca western islands. This area is larger than the added territories of Spain, France and Germany. Peru has sovereign right over a territory stretching 200 marine miles off its Pacific shores and is Consulting Party to the Antarctic Treaty, a continent where it has installed the Machu Picchu Scientific Station.
Peru has approximately 27 million inhabitants. The coast shelters 52% of the total population, the highlands 36% and the jungle 12%. The population is mostly mixed and urban and speaks Spanish, but there are two important minorities: Andean populations, divided in the Quechua and Aymara language families and Amazon populations divided in 14 language families and 42 ethnic groups.
You may also speak English with people working in the tourism industry, like tour guides, travel agency employees, and a staff members at 3 - 5 star hotels.