History of Peru

Peru, Cusco, Plaza de Armas

Peru is best known as the heart of the Inca empire, but it was home to many diverse indigenous cultures long before the Incas arrived.

The history of Peru spans several millennia, Peruvian territory was home to the Norte Chico civilization, one of the oldest in the world, and to the Inca Empire, the largest state in Pre-Columbian America. It was conquered by the Spanish Empire in the 16th-century, who established a Viceroyalty with jurisdiction over most of its South American domains.

The period of the Conquest was traumatic and difficult, as much for the indigenous natives as the new European governors. It signified a radical change the in the composition of the society and the beliefs of the inhabitants of Peru. In this period, the Vice Regency dominated Peru and politically organized the management and the governance, always under the authority of the Spain.

This was the era of the great campaigns of evangelization and doctrinisation which in the end made Peru an authentic Spanish colony. There were several rebellions, with the biggest led by the Indian chief Tupac Amaru II, who brought together people of all races and social classes against the Spanish crown. However, he was finally defeated. Given the crisis within the Vice Regency, one social class, especially the criollos (the children of the Spanish, born in Peru), were the principal managers of the future Independence of Peru.

Peru's independence movement was led by Jose de San Martin of Argentina and Simon Bolivar of Venezuela. San Martin proclaimed Peruvian independence from Spain on July 28 1821. Emancipation was completed in December 1824 when General Antonio Jose de Sucre defeated the Spanish troops at Ayacucho ending Spanish rule in South America. Spain made futile attempts to regain its former colonies but in 1879 it finally recognized Peru's independence.

After independence Peru and its neighbors engaged in intermittent territorial disputes. Chile's victory over Peru and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific (1879-83) resulted in a territorial settlement. Following a clash between Peru and Ecuador in 1941 the Rio Protocol of which the United States is one of four guarantors sought to establish the boundary between the two countries. Continuing boundary disagreement led to brief armed conflicts in early 1981 and early 1995. In November 1999, Peru and Chile settled their last long-standing territorial dispute over the important trade bottleneck of Arica.

The world watched the April 2000 elections intently as Alejandro Toledo, an Andean Indian from a poor family who became a World Bank economist, gave two-time President Alberto Fujimori the election run of his life. One week before the country headed to the polls for a second time, Toledo filed a formal letter with the National Election Board to further call attention to election corruption, a move that bought a response from the Organization of American States (OAS). It announced that the National Election Office needed more time to correct 'deficiencies' in the voting process. Toledo instructed his followers to write 'No To Fraud' across their ballots and ultimately withdrew from the runoff.

Fujimori emerged victorious in that controversial and rigged election. However, he resigned from his third presidential term in November and fled to Japan following charges of human rights violations and corruption that were made against his intelligence adviser, Vladimiro Montesinos.


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