Immigration to Peru started with the arrival of Spanish settlers during the Colonial Period. Peru is a multiethnic nation formed by the combination of different groups over five centuries. Amerindians inhabited Peruvian territory for several millennia before Spanish Conquest in the 16th century. Spaniards and Africans arrived in large numbers under colonial rule. Many people from European backgrounds mixed with the Amerindians or Asians creating an entirely new demographic group called "mestizos". After independence (1821), there has been a gradual European immigration from Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK (i.e. England and Scotland), the majority settled in the coasts and urban areas like Lima.Chinese arrived in the 1850s as a replacement for slave workers and have since become a major influence in Peruvian society. Other immigrant groups include Arabs (esp. Palestinians) and Japanese who arrived in Peru as miners and railroad workers since the late 19th century.