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Peru History

Peru history generally begins with traces of human presence dating as far back as 11000 BC. The Chico civilization is known to represent one of the oldest cultures know to mankind, and they occupied territory along the Pacific coast from approximately 3000-1800 BC. Around the year 1250 BC, civilizations moving in from the north began to establish settlements near the ocean in the dry, desert region of Peru. These civilizations would be known as cultures including the Chavin, Mochica (Moche), Nazca and Chimu. Around the northern Peru cities of Trujillo and Chiclayo, the Moche ruins that have resulted from this civilization surely provide insight into early Peruvian history, and if you are traveling in northern Peru, they are a recommended visit. After the Moche, the Chimu came to inhabit the Moche Valley, near Trujillo. Their adobe city of Chan Chan, the biggest adobe city in the world, is among the top archaeological sites in the country, and it also begs a visit if you are in the area. In terms of the pre-Columbian groups that figure into the history of Peru, the Chimu were most capable of stopping the Inca. However, the Inca, who rose from just a small tribe, would conquer the Chimu on their way to establishing the largest pre-Columbian empire in the Americas.

The Inca, whose cities produced some of the most identifiable of all Peru attractions, started out small, but grew exponentially in under 400 years. The Inca civilization begins with a myth as to the origins of its founder. According to this myth, the first Inca king, Manco Capac, emerged from an island in Lake Titicaca. Born with his sister, Mama Ocllo, by the sun god, Inti, he would go on to establish the Inca Kingdom of Cusco. Cusco would become their first city-state, and it would remain the capital of their empire until the coming of the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century. The actual Inca Empire was not officially founded until the Inca ruler, Pachacutec, began to rapidly expand the Inca civilization in the year 1438. It was during the rule of Pachacutec that the fortresses ofPisac and Ollantaytambo were built, as well as Qoricancha in Cusco, and the venerable Machu Picchu. The Sacred Valley near Cusco is the best place to see Inca ruins, and many visitors come here every year to hike the Inca Trail. In the Peruvian Highlands you can still hear descendants of the Inca speaking the Inca Quechua language to this day, and it remains a large part of the culture of Peru.

The Inca, like every other concurrent native culture in Latin America, would eventually see the Spanish invasion essentially bring a permanent end to their empire. Francisco Pizarro, a conquistador of importance, first arrived with his men in Peru around 1529. After scouting about and returning to Spain, he returned in 1532 with permission to conquer the Inca and establish a Spanish hold. The most notable battle between the Spanish and the Inca occurred in that same year. The Battle of Cajamarca saw the Spanish capture, imprison and kill the last great Inca ruler, Atahualpa. Just a decade later, the Viceroyalty of Peru was created by the Spanish Crown. This viceroyalty was the most powerful in the Americas. The Spanish would convert the majority of the native peoples to Catholicism and begin to erect their notable Spanish colonial architecture. Most Peru cities, like Lima, Cusco, Arequipa and so on, have plenty in the way of beautiful Spanish colonial architecture. Lima became the capital of Peru in 1535, and was founded by Pizarro as the Ciudad de los Reyes (City of the Kings). By the late 1700"s, the native peoples of Peru began to grow tired of Spanish rule. The 1780 revolt led by Inca Tupac Amaru (José Gabriel Condorcanqui), saw some 60,000 natives rise up against the Spanish Crown, and though unsuccessful, the seeds of revolution were being planted. The one-time Argentine soldier, José de San Martín, led an invasion on Spanish Lima on July 12, 1821. 16 days later, on July 28, Peru would proclaim its independence. Later struggles would see the Venezuelan-bornSimón Bolívar continue to fight the Spanish.

The first years of independence were marked by the economic growth, but also by conflicts with the neighboring countries, also recently being liberated from the Spanish Crown. Peru was defeated by Chile in the 1879–1883 War of the Pacific, losing part of Southern Peru to Chile. The modern Peru history is a mix of economic successes, financial downfall and internal struggles. Especially during the 1980s, Peru faced a considerable external debt, ever-growing inflation, provoking a surge in drug trafficking, and massive political violence. In 1990 Alberto Fujimori was elected president (wining the elections from 2010 Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa) and the country started to recover; however in his second presidency, accusations of authoritarianism, corruption, and human rights violations forced his resignation after the controversial 2000 elections.  Since the end of the Fujimori regime, Peru has tried to fight corruption while sustaining economic growth; since 2006 the president is Alan García. 2011 is a presidential election year and the main candidates were; Alejandro Toledo (Peruvian Ex President), Luis Castañeda (Ex mayor of Lima), Ollanta Humala (Nationalistic ex military), Keiko Fujimori (daughter of Ex president Alberto Fujimori) and Pedro Pablo Kuzcinsky (Ex first minister under Toledo). The first round was won by Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori, who will be disputing the presidency in the second round in June this year.    

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Also want to read about the weather in Machu Picchu?