Peru History

Peru History

Native American civilizations

Archaeological finds point to human settlement in the area of ​​what is now Peru from around 12,000 BC. there. At first, people only lived as hunters and gatherers moving around, later on agriculture and cattle breeding and a sedentary way of life were added. From around 1500 BC until the 16th century AD various Indian civilizations developed on Peruvian soil (and beyond). The so-called Chav¨ªn culture was one of the first, with the monumental pilgrimage site Chav¨ªn de Hu¨¢ntar as the center. Animals such as the jaguar were worshiped as gods. Around the same time the Paracas culture developed (around 700-200 BC), later the Nazca culture (around 200 BC to 600 AD). The area around Lake Titicaca belonged to the empire Tiahuanacu (about 100 BC to AD 1200), the center of which was in Bolivia. In the north it developed from around 1000 AD. Chim¨² culture as a powerful empire with the capital Chanchan (north of today’s Trujillo).

  • COUNTRYAAH: See current national flag of Peru. Download high definition image, and learn flag meanings as well as the history of Peru flags.

From around 1200, the culture of the Incas developed in the area around Cuzco, whose empire in the heyday around 1500 encompassed almost the entire area of ​​today’s Andean countries (southern Colombia, Ecuador, Bolvien, northern and central Chile). This strictly hierarchical empire, whose population at times made up around twelve million people, was ruled centrally by a priest-king (Sapa Inka), who was considered the son of the sun god. Beneath him stood the nobility and the priestly caste. The most famous remains of the Inca culture include ruined cities such as Machu Picchu, which is located about 100 km northwest of Cuzco.

Spanish colonization

In 1532 the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro landed on the north coast of Peru with around 180 men. Within a few months he conquered the area of ​​today’s Peru and in 1533 destroyed the Inca capital, Cuzco. The Spanish viceroyalty of Peru with the capital Lima was founded in 1543, which ruled almost all of South America until the 18th century. By this time, a large part of the indigenous Indians had been exterminated or enslaved. The last Inca king (Tupac Amaru) was defeated and executed in 1572.

According to AbbreviationFinder, Peru was for a long time the richest Spanish colony in South America due to silver and mercury deposits, and Lima came to Europe as an important trading port. The decline of the colony began around 1700. The precious metal deposits were exhausted and new Spanish viceroys were founded on the continent: 1717 New Granada (today Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama) and 1776 La Plata (today Paraguay, Uruguay, Northern Argentina and Bolivia).

Peru’s independence

In 1780, under the leadership of Jos¨¦ Gabriel Condorcanqui, the people’s first great uprising against the Spanish colonialists and the large landowners took place. The resistance movement against the Spaniards also increased in the other South American countries. In 1821, the Argentine general Jos¨¦ de San Mart¨ªn defeated the Spanish army with his troops and drove the Spaniards first from Argentina, then from Chile and Peru. Around the same time, the triumphal march of Venezuelan Sim¨®n Bol¨ªvar against the Spaniards began. In 1821, General Jos¨¦ de San Mart¨ªn proclaimed the country’s independence under his protectorate in the Peruvian capital Lima. In 1824, a general from Sim¨°n Bol¨ªvar succeeded in driving the Spanish troops out of Peru and Upper Peru at the Battle of Ayacucho,

From 1845, the partially anarchic domestic political situation stabilized under the leadership of General Ram¨®n Castilla as Peruvian head of state (until 1862). He abolished slavery and expanded the economy by trading in guano fertilizers and saltpetre. In the following years, around 100,000 Asians were brought to Peru to replace the slaves. Castilla is now considered the real founder of Peru.

In 1864 and 1879, the Spaniards made unsuccessful attempts to subjugate the country again. After the so-called “Saltpetre War” between Chile and Bolivia (1879-83), in which Peru was drawn in, the country lost its resource-rich provinces Arica, Tacna (until 1929) and Tarapac¨¢ to Chile. As a result, the economy stagnated and Peruvian companies and businesses increasingly fell into foreign hands.

The 20th century

A recovery began around the turn of the century when larger copper deposits were discovered in Peru and rubber was getting better and better prices on the world market. The broad mass of the population, however, had no part in the improved conditions. In 1924, the “Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana” (APRA) was founded under Victor Ra¨²l Haya de la Torre, a socialist movement that advocated social justice, the political unity of Latin America and against the influence of US capital. As a result, there were frequent conflicts between the APRA and the Peruvian military.

In 1930, the liberal president Augusto Bernardino Legu¨ªa was overthrown during the global economic crisis. APRA was banned under his successor Oscar Raimundo Benavides (until 1939). Until the 1950s, elected governments and military juntas alternated at the top of Peru. In 1941 there were border disputes between Peru and Ecuador, a peace treaty a year later meant that Ecuador had to give up part of its territory to Peru, which led to tensions between the two countries for a long time.

After the end of the Second World War, the industry in Peru was further expanded with the help of foreign investors. In 1962, APRA’s leader Victor Ra¨²l Haya de la Torre became the new head of state in Peru and continued the reforms begun by his predecessor Manuel Prado. In military elections just a year later, APRA was no longer allowed to run; Fernando Belaunde Terry became the new head of state (initially until 1968, again from 1980-85). In 1968 General Juan Velasco Alvarado came to power through a new military coup. He initiated the nationalization of some of the industrial operations, the nationalization of companies that had previously been owned by the United States, and an agricultural reform. His successor General Morales Bermudes reigned somewhat more moderately, who took power in 1975 through a coup. In 1979 the country received a new democratic constitution and free elections were held for the first time since 1963. For the second time after 1963, the moderate left Fernando Belaunde Terry became the head of state of Peru. His liberal economic program included measures such as the re-privatization of industrial companies and an opening of the Peruvian market.

From the beginning of the 1980s, the terrorist attacks of the communist guerrilla organization “Shining Path” (Sendero Luminoso) increased in the country, so that in May 1983 the president had to declare a state of emergency over the country. In 1985, the social democrat Alan Garc¨ªa P¨¦rez took over the government. His economic policy was characterized by rigorous debt policies and hyperinflation.

The Fujimori regime

In the 1990 presidential election, Alberto Kenya Fujimori, a Japanese-born agricultural scientist, won the “Cambio 90” citizens’ movement. When he announced a rigorous austerity program to reduce high levels of public debt, there were riots across the country for poor peasants and farm workers. In 1992 Fujimori dissolved the parliament and temporarily suspended the constitution. Opposition politicians were sometimes placed under house arrest. The November 1992 new elections were boycotted by the opposition parties APRA (Alianza Popular Revolucinonaria Americana) and AP (Acci¨®n Popular). In the same year, the leader of the guerrilla organization “Shining Path” was arrested, whereupon his organization started a new wave of terror.

In a constitutional amendment in October 1993, the position of the President in Peru was laid down with far-reaching powers, as was the possibility of direct re-election. In 1995 Fujimori again received the majority of votes and began his second term as President of Peru. The reason for his re-election despite the autocratic leadership style was not only the success in the fight against terrorism, but also the stabilization of the economy, which had led to growth rates of 12% and a drastic reduction in the inflation rate. Nevertheless, around 70% of the population still lived in poverty.

Fujimori also ran for the presidential election in April 2000 (contrary to the constitutional provisions), which was accompanied by national unrest. Fujumori missed the majority. The alliance of government parties (“Per¨² 2000”) lost the majority of seats in the parliamentary elections. Fujimori’s opponent Alejandro Toledo did not run for the decisive runoff for the presidency a month later and called for a boycott. Persistent unrest and strikes led to Fujimori resigning in November 2000 and new elections scheduled. Fujimori was sentenced to six years in prison and a $ 8.3 million fine in September 2009 for bribing MPs and for illegal phone surveillance.

Democratic new start

In the April 2001 elections, Alejandro Toledo of the “Per¨² Posible” party and the former President Alan Garc¨ªa P¨¦rez (1985-90) competed against each other, again there was a runoff election that Toledo won (June 2001). Alan Garc¨ªa P¨¦rez was re-elected president in 2006. His declared goal was to fight poverty. In contrast to his previous term in office, he successfully continued the market-oriented course pursued by his predecessor. However, since the economic upswing did not reach the poor population, protests, blockades and strikes occurred, and since 2008 they have been increasingly directed against the food crisis and the rising food prices. In May 2008, Peru founded the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) along with the other eleven independent states of South America, modeled on the European Union. In February 2010, Peru and the EU signed a free trade agreement.

In 2009, the government passed laws on the use of natural resources. The indigenous people react with protests. The government then imposed a state of emergency over two regions in the northeast of the country for two months. After bloody clashes, the government withdrew the controversial laws. Left-wing politician Ollanta Humala has been president since July 2011. He prevailed in the runoff election against Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of the former president.

Peru President