Andes Overland

Peru

Peru general

Geography

Peru, official named: Republic of Peru, is the third largest country in South – America covering a surface of 1.285.216 km2. Peru is situated along the west coast and bordered by Colombia and Ecuador on the north side, Brazil on the east side and Boliva and Chili on the south. The most important regions of Peru are the Costa, the Sierra and the Selva’s. The Costa, one of the regions in Peru, comprises mainly desert area along the cliffs between the Pacific Ocean and the western slopes of the Andes. The Costa counts for 11% of total surface of Peru. The 2400m long littoral forms together with the Atacama-desert in Chili one of the largest and driest areas in the world; in some places along the Costa it rains only twice a year.

The Sierra in Peru contains the Andean region, consisting of two large chains going from north to south, the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental. The mountain range covers about a third of the whole country and its width varies from 240 to 400 kilometers. On the north side of the country the chains are situated close to each other however in southern Peru, this distance is a lot greater. In the south of the country lies the Altiplano which is a high plateau descending towards Lake Titicaca, with an average altitude of 4000 meters.

The area situated on the east of the Andes is referred to as the Selva and can be subdivided in the Selva Alta (High Selva) or Montaña, which contains of a landscape with sharp ridges and deep valleys and the Selva Baja (Low Selva), the Amazon low-lying plain?. This tropical lowland occupies more than half of the Peruvian territory. The location of Peru on the edge of a tectonically active area is the cause of the occurrence of volcanic phenomena and earthquakes. In Peru arises the mighty Amazon River, although the exact origin of the Amazon is still not clear. Measured from Peru to the estuary, is the length of the Amazon about 6400 kilometers. The basin area extends over an area of six million square kilometers. Through the tropical lowlands of Peru (Low Selva) flows over five hundred rivers that all come together in the Amazon River.

History

We take you on a little shortened journey through the Peruvian history. 10,000 years before the beginning of our era the pre-Columbian cultures arose in Peru. Over these thousands of years many different societies and cultures originated in Peru. The most important societies are referred to as; The Chavin – culture (1400-400 BC), The Paracas-culture (800-100 BC), The Nazca-culture (100 BC -600 AC.) The Moche-culture (100 BC .-700 AC), The Chimú-culture (1000-1480) and the Chancay-culture (1000-1400). In the Nazca region the Inca culture flourished (900-1550), which was incorporated by the Inca’s in 1470.

From the capital of Cusco in Peru, Bolivia, among others came under the authority of the Incas (1200-1500 AD.). The language of the Incas, Quechua, was spoken by every citizen and is still one of the official languages of Peru. The Inca Empire was divided into four areas Collasuyo which included a large part of Peru, Chile in its entirety, a part of northern Argentina and Bolivia as it is today. Around 1520 the Inca empire slowly decayed due to internal conflicts and the arrival of the Europeans. The first conquistador who entered Peruvian territory was Francisco Pizarro in 1525 at Tumbes in northern Peru. Initially, everything stayed the same despite the fact that he was told about the mighty Inca Empire which had a lot to offer for the Spaniards.  A few years later he returned to Peru, now accompanied by a sufficiently large army. At that time, a battle raged between the two royal sons Atahualpa and Huascar, under which the Inca Empire was divided. Despite the fact that the Inca Empire was already in a state of disrepair, Pizarro and his co-captain Diego de Almagro came up with plan to defeat the Incas. The Spaniards were invited as “friends” by the Inca king Atahualpa, but once they arrived, the Spaniards opened the unexpected attack and captured the king. Six months later, Atahualpa got killed by the Spaniards. Meanwhile in Peru infighting took place between Pizarro, Almagro and the new leader of the Inca’s Manco II, the brother of Atahualpa.

For years Peru stayed in hands of the Spaniards until 1814 when Spain, once one of the most powerful countries in the world, lost its leading position. The arrival of the revolutionaries from Argentina and Chile José de San Martín (1821) finally made the declaration of independence possible where after with the help of Simon Bolivar the Spaniards were defeated and the independency could be confirmed. (1824)

Although Peru was not directly involved in the two world wars, they were regularly in war with Ecuador due to border disputes and land. In 1942, Ecuador became enshrined in the Protocol of Rio de Janeiro and lost about 42% of its territory. This still leads to tensions between the two countries, most recently in 1995.

Since July 28, 2011 is Ollanta Humala Tasso, President and Prime Minister of Peru. In November 2012, the last artifacts that the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham took from the Machu Picchu were brought back to Peru.

Populations, language and religion

Today, the Peruvian population consists of 45% pure Indians, 37% mestizo and 15% of whites, mostly of Hispanic origin; 3% are Asian, African or from another origin. Most Indians live in the Andes and the Amazon region while whites and mestizos often live on the coast, and then particularly in large cities such as Lima, Arequipa and Trujillo. On the current social ladder whites are still on the top, followed by the mestizos and in last position the Indians. After Bolivia, Peru has the highest percentage of Indians of South – America.

Approximately 96% of the population is Roman Catholic. According to the Constitution of 1933, there is freedom of religion, but the Roman Catholic Church is propagated by the state. The Roman Catholic Church has changed significantly in recent decades and the direct influence is decreasing. However the Roman Catholic Church will be increasingly rebelling against poverty, injustice and inequality and thus still plays an important role in the social and political life.