Evidence of Settlement in Peru Dates
Back Thousands of Years but, Except for Some Scattered
Ruins, Little is Known of These Early People. In about
1250 BC Groups Such as the Chavín, Chimú, Nazca, and
Tiahuanaco Migrated into the Region From the North. The
Chimú Built the City of Chan Chan About 1000 A-D, Ruins
Which Remain Today.
The Incas, Sometimes Called People of the Sun, were
Originally a Warlike Tribe Living in a Semiarid Region
of the Southern Sierra. From 1100 to 1300 the Inca Moved
North into the Fertile Cusco Valley. From There They
Overran the Neighboring Lands. By 1500 the Inca Empire
Stretched From the Pacific Ocean East to the Sources of
Paraguay and theAmazon River and From the Region of
Modern Quito in Ecuador South to the Maule River in
Chile. This Vast Empire was a Theocracy, Organized Along
Socialistic Lines and Ruled by an Inca, or Emperor, Who
was Worshiped as a Divinity. Because the Incas Realms
Contained Extensive Deposits of Gold and Silver, it
Became in the Early 16th Century a Target of Spanish
Imperial Ambitions in the New Continent.
In November 1995 Anthropologists Announced the Discovery
of 500 Year Old Remains of Two Inca Women and One Inca
Man Frozen in the Snow on a Mountain Peak in Peru.
Scientists Concluded that the Trio was Part of a Human
Sacrifice Ritual on Ampato, a Sacred Peak in the Andes
Mountain Range. Artifacts From the Find Unveiled New
Information About the Inca and Indicated the Use of
Poles and Tents Rather Than Traditional Stone Structures.
The Arrangement of Doll-Size Statuettes Dressed in
Feathers and Fine Woolens Provided Clues About Inca
Religious and Sacrificial Practices.
In 1532 the Spanish Soldier and Adventurer Francisco
Pizarro Landed in Peru with a Force of About 180 Men.
Conditions were Favorable to Conquer, Because theEmpire
was Debilitated by a Just-Concluded Civil War Between
the Inheritors to the Inca Throne, Atahualpa and Huascar,
Each of Whom was Seeking to Control the Empire. This
Internal Dissension, Plus the Terror Inspired by Spanish
Guns and Horses—Unknown to the Native People Until then
Made it Relatively Easy for Only a Handful of Spaniards
to Conquer This Vast Empire.
The Spaniards Met Atahualpa, the Victorious Brother in
the Civil War, and His Army at a Prearranged Conference
at Cajamarca in 1532. When Atahualpa Arrived, the
Spaniards Ambushed and Seized Him, and Killed Thousands
of his Followers. Although Atahualpa Paid the Most
Fabulous Ransom Known to History—a Room Full of Gold and
Another Full of Silver—for his Freedom, the Spaniards
Murdered him in 1533.
The Spanish Destroyed Many of the Irrigation Projects
and the North-South Roads That had Knit the Empire
Together, Speeding the Disintegration of the Empire. By
November 1533 Cuzco had Fallen with Little Resistance.
In addition, the Native Population Declined Rapidly as a
Result of new Diseases Brought by the Spaniards,
Diseases to Which the Natives had no Immunity. Members
of the Inca Dynasty Took Refuge in the Mountains and
were Able to Resist the Spaniards for About Four Decades.
However, by 1572 the Spaniards had Executed the Last
Inca Ruler, Tupac Amaru, Along with his Advisers and his
In 1535 Pizarro Founded on the banks of the Rímac River
the Peruvian Capital City of Ciudad de los Reyes (Spanish
for "City of the Kings"; Present-Day Lima). Subsequently,
Disputes Over Jurisdictional Powers Broke Out Among the
Spanish Conquerors, and in 1541 a Member of One of the
Conflicting Spanish Factions Assassinated Pizarro in
The Inca civilization Had Unified What are Now Peru,
Ecuador, and Bolivia and Created an Integrated Society.
The Spanish, Whose Main Aims Were Plundering and the
Conversion of Native Tribes to Christianity Stopped the
Development of the Native Civilization. The Spaniards
Treated the Inca Ruthlessly, Using Their Labor to
Produce the Minerals Needed in Spain. The Result was the
Creation of aMental and Physical Gap Between the Inca
and the European Population, a Gap that has Endured for
More Than 400 Years.
The Spanish Introduced a System of Land possession
Consisting of European Landlords and Native Workers.
This system Succeeded in Solidly Establishing a
Privileged and Wealthy-Landed Aristocracy Early in the
Colonial Period. Little was Done to Educate the Masses
of People. As a Result, Colonial Peru Was a Divided
Society, Consisting of a Small Class That Owned the Land
and Controlled Education, Political, Military, and
Religious Power, and of a Large, Mostly NativeClass
(About 90 Percent of the Total Population) That Remained
Landless, Illiterate, and Exploited.
In 1542 a Spanish Imperial Council Promulgated Statutes
Called New Laws for the Indies, Which Were Designed to
Put a Stop to Cruelties Inflicted on the Native
Americans. In the Same Year Spain Created the
Viceroyalty of Peru, Which Involved all Spanish South
America and Panama, Except What Now is Venezuela.
The First Spanish Viceroy Arrived in Peru in 1544 and
Attempted to Enforce the New Laws, but the Conquerors
Rebelled and, in 1546, Killed the Viceroy. Although the
Spanish Government Crushed the Rebellion in 1548, the
New Laws were Never Put into Effect.
In 1569 the Spanish Colonial Administrator Francisco de
Toledo Arrived in Peru. During the Uninterrupted 14
Years he Established a Highly Effective, Although
Harshly Repressive, and System of Government. Toledo’s
Method of Administration Consisted of a Government of
Spanish Officials Ruling Through Lower-Level Officials
Made up of Native Americans Who Dealt Directly with the
Native Population. This System Lasted for Almost 200
Revolts for Independence In 1780 a Force of 60,000
Native Americans Revolted Against Spanish Ruler Under
the Leadership of Peruvian Patriot José Gabriel
Condorcanqui, Who Adopted the Name of an Ancestor, the
Inca Tupac Amaru. Although Initially Successful, the
Uprising was Crushed in 1781. The Spanish Tortured and
ExecutedCondorcanqui and Thousands of his Fellow
Revolutionaries. The Spanish Suppressed Another Revolt
Subsequently, However, Opposition to Imperial Ruler Grew
Throughout Spanish South America. The Opposition was Led
Largely by Creoles, People of Spanish Descent Born in
South America. Creoles Grew to Resent the Fact That the
Spanish Government Awarded all Important Government
Positions in the Colonies to Spaniards Born in Spain,
Who were Called Peninsular.
Freedom From Spanish Ruler, However, was Imported to
Peru by Outsiders. In September 1820 the Argentine
Soldier and Patriot José de San Martín, Who had Defeated
the Spanish Forces in Chile, Landed an Invasion Army at
the Seaport of Pisco, Peru. On July 12, 1821, San
Martín’s Forces Entered Lima, Which Had Been Abandoned
by Spanish Troops. Peruvian Independence was Proclaimed
Formally on July 28, 1821. The Struggle Against the
Spanish was Continued Later by the Venezuelan
Revolutionary Hero Simon Bolívar, Who Entered Peru with
his Armies in 1822. In 1824, in the Battles of Junín on
August 6, and of Ayacucho on December 9, Bolívar’s
Forces Routed the Spanish.
A Succession of Rulers After the Independence Brought
Few Institutional Changes to Peru Aside From the
Transfer of Power. Whereas Before Independence
Peninsulares Held the Important Government Posts, After
Independence Creoles Monopolized Power. The Economic and
Social Life of the Country Continued as Before, with Two
Groups–Europeans and Native People–Living Side by Side
but Strongly Divided. In 1822The Leaders of the Colonies
Joined Together and Created a Centralized Government
Consisting of a President and a Single-Chambered
Legislature. However, Spain's Refusal to Allow
Peruvian-Born Citizens a Voice in the Colonial
Administration,Spain had Done Little to Prepare Peru for
The Following Years Independence was Extremely Chaotic.
Bolívar Left Peru in 1826, and a Series of Military
Commanders Who had Served Under Him Ruled Over the
Nation. Andrés Santa Cruz Served until 1827, When he Was
Replaced by José de La Mar, Who was in Turn Supplanted
by Agustín Gamarra in 1829. Gamarra Ruled until 1833. In
the Meantime Santa Cruz Had Become President of Bolivia,
and in 1836 he Invaded Peru, Establishing a
Confederation of the Two Countries that Lasted Three
Years. After That, Gamarra Took Power Again.
The country, However, Enjoyed no Peace Until 1845, When
Ramón Castilla, Seized the Presidency. Fortunately, he
Proved to be an Able Ruler, Who During his Two Terms in
Office (1845 to 1851 and 1855 to 1862) Initiated Many
Important Reforms, Including the Abolition of Slavery,
the Construction of Railroads and Telegraph Facilities,
and the Adoption in 1860 of a Liberal Constitution.
Castilla Also Began Exploitation of the Country’s Rich
Guano and Nitrate Deposits, Which were Highly Valued as
an Ingredient in Fertilizer. In 1864 These Deposits
Involved Peru in a War with Spain, Which had Seized the
Guano-Rich Chincha Islands. Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile
Aided Peru, Defeating the Spanish Forces in 1866. The
Resulting Treaty of 1879 Constituted the First Formal
Spanish Recognition of Peruvian Sovereignty.
In 1873 Peru Signed a Secret Defensive Alliance with
Bolivia, the Purpose of Which was to Defend Bolivia's
Nitrate Interests Against Chile. When a Quarrel Arose
Between Chile and Bolivia Over the Atacama Nitrate
Fields Along the Disputed Border of the Two Nations,
Peru was Drawn into the War of the Pacific, Fighting
Against Chile on the Side of its Ally, Bolivia.
Chile Defeated its Opponents, Occupied Lima, and, Under
the Treaty of Ancon (1884), was Awarded Peru's Nitrate
Province of Tarapacá. Chile Also Occupied the Provinces
of Tacna and Arica. A Plebiscite was Supposed to Decide
Ten Years Later Which Country Would Get These Provinces,
but the Dispute Did Not End Until 1929, with Chile
Keeping Arica and Peru Regaining Tacna.