History of Peru

Discover the history of Peru

It would seem that there have been people living in Peru for thousands of years. There are flint tools and temple ruins which date back to 11 000 BC. There are also signs that early peoples in the region employed weaving, fishing and horticulture to sustain themselves. Eventually the Chavin culture emerged and was later flanked by the Paracas, Moche and Nazca coastal cultures. These cultures are known for their improvements in textiles and metal work and creating some of the finest pottery of the ancient world. The coastal cultures eventually disappeared due to floods and droughts but those tribes living inland in the Andes continued to thrive and became the dominant cultures. The Huari and Tiwanaku were later succeeded by the Chimor and Chachapoyas empires. Sometime afterwards, these two empires and all their city-states where conquered by the Inca who remained the dominant power until the arrival of the Spanish. The center of their civilization was Cuzco, but their power extended from Chile to Ecuador.

In 1531, the Spanish landed on the shores of the country. Francisco Pizarro went in search of Inca wealth and managed to capture and kill the Inca Emperor, thus toppling the Empire. The Spanish turned Inca Cuzco into a Spanish colonial settlement but were unable to establish a stable colonial government for quite some time due to native revolts and rogue bands of Spanish soldiers. Eventually Pizarro become governor of Peru and he used his power to give his soldiers authority over groups of native Peruvians. These natives were then expected to farm crops and raise livestock for the sake of the landlords on threat of punishment. At the same time, Christianity was being taught to the natives.

Eventually, Pizarro was assassinated and the country became engulfed in civil war. In 1542 a viceroyalty system was established over Peru. Spain sent Blasco Núñez Vela to act as the country's first Viceroy but he was murdered by Gonzalo Pizarro. Eventually, Pedro de la Gasca managed to restore order in the area. Inca cities were slowly given Spanish names and rebuilt around a plaza with a church or a cathedral. Once the Viceroyalty was established, gold and silver was used to enrich the Spanish conquerors. Lima became the seat of the new government and grew into a powerful city. All the time the Inca continued to try and fight the new government.

Eventually Peruvian landowners led the country to war against Spanish rule. Independence was declared by Spain on 28 July 1821. Spain only recognized this fact some time later in 1879 when they saw they stood no hope of regaining lost territories. After gaining their independence, Peru and its surrounding countries had disputes over the borders of their territory - most notably with Chile. Slowly country borders were formalized and wars with neighboring countries ceased. For a while there was still some inter-country strife as the ruling system in Peru was fleshed out. For a while the country lost their democratic policy due to the abuse of existing laws by those who crept their way into power. Eventually however, the democracy was fully restored. Since then the country has seen many different presidents and they are facing a new election in 2006. The people of the country now live in relative peace and the economy stabilized somewhat.


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