Who are the people of Peru? What influences have shaped their culture?
A Brief History of Peru
Between 1200 BCE and 200 CE people began to settle in villages and began creating more "permanent" crafts, such as ceramics and weavings. Temples and pyramids began to be constructed of carved stone. These special buildings were used for the worship of their gods.
The Inca Empire was established by the year 1200 CE. This rich culture unified the people of the coast with the fertile lowlands. Cuzco, as the capital became the center of commerce and trade for the empire. Public buildings and temples were expanded. The Incas also developed a series of canals and roads. At its height, the Inca Empire reached from Columbia to northern Chile.
As in the time of the Inca Empire, the three geographical regions of Peru still strongly influence how people live. The coastal desert lies along the western edge of Peru, on the Pacific Ocean. Although the lack of water makes it difficult to grow crops, sea life provides a plentiful source of food. Along the region of the Andes, the hills and high mountains make for cold, and often snowy, winters. Food must be grown on hillsides and stored for months when little can be grown. In the northern rainforest, the year is divided into wet and dry seasons that are almost always warm. Animals and plants are harvested as needed from the forest as well as from the Amazon River and its tributaries.
Spanish is the official language of Peru, but many people in the country use dialects and even other languages for their day-to-day conversations. In the Andes, it is common to hear people speaking Quechua, a variation of the language spoken by the Incas. Many of the words in Quechua are used in other languages, including English. These words include puma, llama and condor. Other people in the Andes speak Aymara.
People living in the rainforests may speak any of over 30 different languages. Different tribes -- each of which inhabits a different section of the forest -- may speak a different language.
You can learn more about the regions of Peru and how people have adapted to the climate and geography by clicking to other pages in this section.