In 1532, the Spanish conquistadores arrived in Peru. As they began to conquer the country, their culture and influence spread throughout the nation. Not only did their ideology spread, their population did as well. Over the period of the Peruvian colonial era, hundreds of thousands of Spanish immigrants flooded into Peruvian ports. These Spanish-born immigrants, called Peninsulares, caused much friction between themselves and the locally born Spanish criollos or creoles. The peninsulares had a distinctly higher social rank than the criollos even though their only difference was their place of birth. The peninsulares were given the highest governing positions, while the criollos, although much more wealthy than the mestizos and amerindians, did not receive all of the privileges given to the Spain-born Spanish. This would eventually lead to the independence movement in the early 19th century. During the colonial period, the Spanish crown disallowed the immigration of other Europeans to Peru. For this reason, throughout the entire colonial period, up until independence, the European population in Peru was made up solely of Spaniards. Around the time of independence the rate of immigration was low and not many Europeans were entering the country. The nation was, in essence, in a state of chaos, for the reason that the government was still in the process of deciding how it would rule the newly independent country. At this time, many caudillos, or dictators, attempted to assume control of the nation. Some of these attempts, such as that of Simón Bolívar, were met with approval from the public, while others were not. Spanish immigration did not resume until the 1840s at the beginning of the Guano era, one of Peru's most prosperous time periods. During this era, immigration from Spain greatly increased and the economy was booming and standard of living was high. This era ended in 1866 with the Spanish-Peruvian War in which Peru emerged victorious. After the war, immigration decreased although the influx of immigrants remained steady until the 1930s. During the Spanish Civil War, thousands of Spaniards fled from Spain to Peru. Over the course of General Francisco Franco's dictatorship many thousands more fled in fear of the regime. The Spanish republicans fled Franco's regime as well, seeking to escape retribution from the new government. World War II brought the end of Spanish immigration to Peru. Many Spanish Peruvians left the nation in 1960s and 1970s to flee from excessive poverty and dictatorship of Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado and most of these moved to United States and Spain, while most of the rest to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and United Kingdom. The second wave of Spanish and other white Peruvians left during the Alan Garcia regime (a Hispanic descendant) that led Peru to extreme poverty and hyperinflation. Nevertheless immigration from Spain began again in considerable numbers throughout the 20th century due to many Spanish tourists settling in Peru.
The regions from which most Spanish immigrants originated were those of Extremadura, Castile, Galicia, Catalonia and Andalucía. Most of the colonial immigrants, in consequence, went from the southern regions of Spain to what now is considered the coastal Peruvian region.[clarification needed] These immigrants generally departed from the ports of Cadiz or Sevilla and arrived in the ports of Callao, Mollendo and Pimentel. Many of these immigrants made a stopover in a Caribbean port before arriving in Peru. Before the development of the Panama Canal ships would forced to go around Cape Horn to reach Peruvian ports. Although not many, a few travelers made their way from Europe to Peru via the Amazon River. These immigrants would seek passage on the many commercial ships going to retrieve rubber in Peru to bring back to Europe. These immigrants would arrive at the river port of Iquitos. Almost all of them stayed there. These immigrants numbered no more than a few thousand.
There are also a group of Hebrew origin (Sephardim), although most emigrated in the Colonial era. The Sephardim who emigrated to different countries to late nineteenth and twentieth centuries were came from North Africa, Anatolia and the Balkans, and not from Spain or Portugal. As a result of Alhambra Decree and the conversions due to the Inquisition in Spain, Portugal and its respective colonies since late fifteenth century until early nineteenth, mostly emigrated to North Africa, regions of the Ottoman Empire and to a lesser extent Italy, although also to the Netherlands, England and its colonies. Many also migrated to the Spanish and/or Portuguese colonies in the Americas in Colonial times. Currently their descendents are mixed people with local population and profess Christianity, especially Catholicism.
Around 44% of Peruvians are mestizos (people of mixed white and native Peruvian descent), more than 7% are mulattoes, making a total of 51% mixed segment, This intermixing began since when the Spaniards invasion of the Americas was militarily in style, which brought only men, unlike the Anglo-Saxon invasion of the Americas that brought women and families as well. The Spaniards raped native women and intermarried voluntarily and involuntarily some of them, thus mestizo children appeared. During the colonial period, the Spaniards started bringing some women, slowing down some of the mixing. Even though the mix started during the invasion, the mix between the races intensified heavily during and after the independence movements. This happened due to the fact that lots of native people who fought for the war gained their freedom and married natives or mestizos or at lesser extent white woman. Many free men changed the last names that they were given from Spanish plantation owners (Like Hernandez, Perez, etc.) to Quispe (also known as Xispe, Qispe), among others, which means freedom in Quechua. Many Spanish Peruvians were against independence because they had a lot to lose (land, servants, etc.), but some were convinced to switch sides once the Hispanic freedom fighters Bolivar and San Martin convinced that they were not going to lose a lot but did have to compromise. Thus the feudal/hacienda system still occurred until the 1960s. The interracial mix became heavier during the agrarian reforms of the 60s and 70s, where native and mestizo Peruvians had their own land, that was taken away from foreign owners (sadly at the cost of the landowner).The new mestizos hoped they would be proud of their native heritage, instead of their Hispanic heritage; but, they turn out to be people who discriminated people who clung to native traditions, clothing or language.
Most white people in Peru descends from Spaniards, followed by other groups like Italians (second most common), German, British, French and Polish. Some white Peruvians have tended to bring ideas of equality to Peru and help the native Peruvians and other native advocates in their struggle for cultural rights, human rights, cultural equality (i.e. teaching Quechua in classes), and ethnic identity pride, in the Peruvian society, where mestizos and whites are dominant groups.
Spanish Peruvian institutions and associations