Peru Flag Colors

People of Peru

Peru is a land of great variety, not only in the landscape but also in the people themselves. Peru people come from many backgrounds.

Unlike most countries of the modern world where most of the individual tribes with their languages and customs have long been absorbed into the mainstream culture, in Peru various Indian tribes and cultures still flourish.

In most western countries, where the individual tribes were relegated to reservations and largely absorbed into a standard culture, in Peru there are a number of Amerindian tribes that maintain much of their culture, including the language.

People of Peru - Why Many Peoples?

One of the main reasons for the slow progress towards a common denominator which eventually could be called Peruvian is the difficult and remote terrain that has kept communities in the Andes mountains and in the remote jungle regions of the eastern Selva from interacting easily.

During the last half of the 20th century, however, many of the barricades separating the distinct sections of the country of Peru began to come down. 

The Peruvian People - Variety in History

Peru over the centuries was inhabited by many distinct tribal groups with their own languages and cultures. 

Under several dominating civilizations, large areas were brought under the control of one or another ruling tribe.

The Incas are the biggest example, with their territory dominating an area from what is now Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador and into the region of Colombia.

Still, there were many remote tribes, mostly in the nearly impenetrable forests of the upper Amazon jungle to the east of the Andes Mountains.

People of Peru - Partial Consolidation

One of the turning points of the history of the Peruvian people was the invasion of the Spanish conquerors led by Francisco Pizarro.

Incursions had been made over the course of the years of attempts at exploring Peru in search of gold, and the contact with the Spaniards brought diseases, which wiped out large portions of the native population, including the chief Inca.

His death came at a crucial time when Pizarro was intent on conquering the Incas, and the infighting among the Incas themselves added to the weakened and doomed empire.

With the Spanish Conquerors came slaves to run their plantations as well as other imported groups such as Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans to work mines and farms, harvest the forests, and later to build railroads and other infrastructure.

These various groups mixed with the Amerindian native population to form the Peruvian people today.

People of Peru Today - A Diverse Mixture

What is the racial breakdown of the Peruvian people today?  That's a little hard to say, as the census done by the government does not keep track of the racial differences.

By most estimates, though, the country is split mainly between  two groups:

  • The main remaining Amerindian cultures of the Andes (Quechua and Aymara).
  • The Mestizo population. Mestizo refers to people who are descended of mixed Amerindian and Spanish families with various degrees of mixture.

Peru is also inhabited by a significant number of citizens of African, Chinese, Japanese, and European descent who have immigrated for various reasons, usually economic.

Over recent history, there has been frequent intermarriage.

It is not uncommon in the cities of Peru to see blonde hair and blues eyes side by side with Afroamericans, Amerindians, and Orientals.

People of Peru - Geographical Distribution

Over half of the Peru people live in the coastal strip of Peru, about one-third in the mountains, and the remaining 10-15 percent in the vast plains and jungles east of the mountains.

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