Peru maintains a very ancient and diverse ancestral culture, as well as mysterious, brilliant and fragile. The natives of the Andes, who roam among the dense mountainous forests, still live surrounded by a wild and pleasant nature. In the mountains and on the coast they have preserved for centuries certain traces of a sweet and triumphant civilization.
Peru has experienced all forms of government: communities, confederations, a great empire, a foreign viceroyalty, and an independent republic.
A strong idolatry coupled with knowledge about the creator of the universe. Barbarism has touched an improved civilization closely.
People lived in squalor, while the government watched. Wise policies and admirable advances in the arts suddenly appeared. To this day, a veil surrounds its origin, being a mystery that could not be revealed.
History of Peru
The history of Peru begins approximately 20,000 years before Christ, when the territory began to be populated by groups of men and women hunters and gatherers. In the territories of South America, real civilizations that we call “pre-Inca” were developing. The most important were:
- On the coast: Chimú, Nazca, Paracas;
- In the mountains: Chavín, Tiahuanaco.
For Dr. Julio C. Tello, the Chavín culture was the oldest in the history of Peru: 1000 – 250 BC Its main concentration was located in Chavín de Huántar, in the Ancash region. Even before the discovery of Caral, Chavín was believed to be the first great Peruvian civilization.
Since then, the peoples of South America have developed various cultural facets: architecture, economy, religion, etc.
Around 700 BC, another fascinating culture appeared on the central coast, the first great peoples of the desert: Paracas. These peoples were skilled weavers and were noted for successfully performing cranial operations.
With their concentration in the Moche Valley, in La Libertad, the Mochica are characterized by their figurative pottery, their delicate work of goldsmithing and their efficient use of water resources.
After this first regional development, what we call the first regional empire appeared: Wari, around 550 AD. It was they who controlled and designed the great pre-Hispanic roads and laid the foundations for the social administration and territory that the Incas in Cuzco later inherited.
With the disappearance of the Wari, around 1200 AD The Late Intermediate period begins, where there are several cultures such as Ichma, which have the powerful oracle of Pachacamac. The Chincha, great maritime merchants. Especially the Chimú, great lords of the north, who built the extensive city of Chan Chan, the largest adobe building in the world.
This is also the era of the Chachapoyas, the “men of the clouds”, where they built the most incredible cities and mausoleums, which stuck to the most pointed cliffs. When these cultures reached their apogee, in the valley of the Vilcanota river in Cuzco, the Incas forged the largest empire in America.
Between the 12th and 15th centuries, the Incas created a great government connected by an efficient road network, the Qhapac Ñan, which synthesized millennia of wisdom. Today you can go through a part of the Inca Trail that reaches Machu Picchu. Far from ending the conquered cultures, the Incas assimilated the ways of life of their subjects and used the best of each people to build their incredible culture.
History of Peru: the Incas
The Inca Empire was the strongest in the region, along with the Mayan and Aztec peoples. Its antiquity dates back to approximately 1200 AD. Its greatest concentration was in the city of Cuzco, from where more than 40,000 km of roads and hundreds of conquered cities were governed.
According to the History of Peru, the Incas who ruled the empire can be classified into two dynasties: the legendary or mythical Inca Dynasty (from 1200 AD to 1410 AD) and the historic Inca Dynasty (from 1438 to 1532). Precisely, when the last two Incas, Huáscar and Atahuallpa, disputed the throne of the Empire, the Spanish conquerors appeared from Central America, in the direction of Tumbes, to Cuzco.
Today you can learn more about this culture through the Inti Raymi 2020 Tour, a live Inca culture festival.
History of Peru: the conquest
The achievement meant a radical change in the composition of society and in the worldview of the inhabitants of Peru. In 1532, the hosts of Francisco Pizarro captured the Inca Atahualpa in Cajamarca and this marked the decline of the Inca Empire.
In 1542 the viceroyalty of Peru was created, which remained for almost 200 years under various forms of control by its authorities. This is the time for the great evangelization and indoctrination campaigns to make Peru a true Spanish colony.
The viceroyalty was consolidated in the 16th century with Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, who laid the foundations of the colonial economy: a system of control of indigenous labor for mining and artisanal production. The most important indigenous revolt was led by Túpac Amaru II, with whom the Creole movement that made Latin America independent in the 19th century began to be generated, but was ultimately defeated.
When the impossibility of freedom was accepted, the criollos (children of Spaniards born in Peru) were the main managers of the future independence of Peru.
History of Peru: the Republic
This stage began in 1821, with the oath of independence in the city of Lima, capital of Peru, by the Argentine José de San Martín, who together with the Venezuelan Simón Bolívar, led military campaigns.
However, two more battles (Ayacucho and Junín) were necessary in 1824 to finally seal Independence. As a republic in formation, during the first years Peru had to face economic and military crises.
In economic terms, there is an increase in guano, cotton and sugar. Black slavery ended in the mid-19th century. Later civil governments arose with Manuel Pardo. In 1879, the country faced a war against Chile, in which it was defeated.
In the midst of bankruptcy, there was a new boom that returned to the military and civil governments. Thus began a period called the “Aristocratic Republic”, based on an economy dominated by the landed elite. During the 1970s, Peru was ruled by a military dictatorship led by General Juan Velasco. The military administration nationalized oil, the media and reformed the agrarian bases.
At the same time, there were two terrorist movements that violently shook the country for twenty years, gaining importance. In the nineties, Alberto Fujimori, after a coup in 1992, established a series of laws that culminated in the end of these terrorist groups.
Since 2000, Peru has followed clearly democratic governments, with Alejandro Toledo, Alan García, Ollanta Humala Tasso, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Martín Alberto Vizcarra Cornejo. The country is in full economic development, with growth rates never reached and overcoming the crises of recent decades.
The best tours to learn more about Peruvian history
The best routes are numerous, but none coincide with the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the most famous trek in the United States. After flying in from the capital of Peru, Lima, you will arrive in Cuzco to walk for four days. The path will be in the middle of forests and dense fog, old stone steps discovering ruins of the past, fortresses, Inca cities, enjoying majestic views all the time.
- Sacred Valley Tour
- Humantay Lagoon Tour
- 2-day tour of the Inca Trail
- Salkantay Trail to Machu Picchu 5 days
If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend that you book your Machu Picchu 2020 tickets in advance, so that you can enjoy the most popular tours in Peru without any problem.
When is the best time to visit Peru?
The best time is during the dry season, which runs from April to the end of September. In October the rains begin and Machu Picchu can be found covered in clouds. If you are traveling in June, we recommend that you book the 2020 Inti Raymi Tour, which will take place on June 24. Also take the Palcoyo Mountain Tour which is an amazing colorful mountain located in the Andes.