Peru is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. 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. The Spanish Empire conquered the country in the 16th century and established a Viceroyalty, which included most of its South American colonies. After achieving independence in 1821, Peru has undergone periods of political unrest and fiscal crisis as well as periods of stability and economic upswing. Peru is a presidential representative democratic republic divided into 25 regions. Its geography varies from the arid plains of the Pacific coast to the peaks of the Andes mountains and the tropical forests of the Amazon Basin. It is a developing country with a medium Human Development Index score and a poverty level around 40%. Its main economic activities include agriculture, fishing, mining, and manufacturing of products such as textiles. The Peruvian population, estimated at 28 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Europeans, Africans and Asians. The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua or other native languages.
Qoyllur Rit'i is a religious festival held annually in honor of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i (Spanish: Señor de Qoyllur Rit'i) at the Sinakara Valley in the Cusco Region of Peru. According to local traditions, the celebration originated in 1780, when a young native herder called Mariano Mayta befriended a mestizo boy, called Manuel on Mount Colquepunku. Thanks to Manuel, Mariano's herd prospered so his father sent him to buy clothes for the two boys in Cusco. Upon hearing the story, the archbishop sent a party to investigate but when they tried to grab Manuel, he became a bush with an image of Christ hanging from it. Thinking they had harmed his friend, Mariano died on the spot and was buried under a rock. An image of Christ painted over this boulder became known as the Lord of Qoyllur Rit'i.
The Qoyllur Rit'i festival attracts a large number of peasants from the surrounding regions divided in two moieties. Paucartambo groups Quechuas from the agricultural regions to the northwest of the sanctuary while Quispicanchis includes Aymaras from the pastoral regions to the southeast. Both moieties make an annual pilgrimage to the feast bringing large troupes of dancers and musicians in four main styles: ch'unchu, qolla, ukuku and machula. Besides peasant pilgrims, attendants include middle class Peruvians and foreign tourists. The festival takes place in late May or early June, one week before the Christian feast of Corpus Christi. (more...)
The Battle of (or Massacre at) Cajamarca (November 16, 1532) was a surprise attack on the Inca royal entourage orchestrated by Francisco Pizarro. Sprung in the evening in the great plaza of Cajamarca, the ambush claimed the lives of thousands of Incas and achieved the goal of capturing Emperor Atahualpa. The confrontation at Cajamarca was the culmination of a months-long struggle involving espionage, subterfuge, and diplomacy between Pizarro and the Inca via their respective envoys. Atahualpa had received the invaders from a position of immense strength. Encamped along the heights of Cajamarca with legions of battle-tested troops fresh from their victories in the civil war against his half-brother Huascar, the Inca felt they had little to fear from Pizarro's tiny army, however exotic its dress and weaponry. In a calculated show of goodwill, Atahualpa had lured the adventurers deep into the heart of his mountain empire where any potential threat could be met with a show of force. (more...)
- May 2, 1866 - In the Battle of Callao during the Chincha Islands War a Spanish Fleet took on an alliance of Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador.
- May 20, 1929 - The Peruvian Air Force was created by merging the aviation divisions of the Army and the Navy.
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