|est. 31 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
| Peru 30,135,875
current population estimate
|Canada||10,000 - 19,000|
|Languages of Peru, Peruvian Coast Spanish, Quechua|
|Christian (Catholicism, Evangelical), minorities of other religions.|
Peru is a multiethnic country formed by the combination of different groups over five centuries, so people in Peru usually treat their nationality as a citizenship rather than an ethnicity. Amerindians inhabited Peruvian territory for several millennia before Spanish Conquest in the 16th century; according to historian David N. Cook their population decreased from an estimated 5–9 million in the 1520s to around 600,000 in 1620 mainly because of infectious diseases. Spaniards and Africans arrived in large numbers under colonial rule, mixing widely with each other and with indigenous peoples.
With about 29.5 million inhabitants, Peru is the fourth most populous country in South America. Its demographic growth rate declined from 2.6% to 1.6% between 1950 and 2000; population is expected to reach approximately 42 million in 2050. As of 2007, 75.9% lived in urban areas and 24.1% in rural areas. Major cities include Lima, home to over 8 million people, Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura, Iquitos, Cusco, Chimbote, and Huancayo, all of which reported more than 250,000 inhabitants in the 2007 census.
The largest expatriate Peruvian communities are in the United States (Peruvian Americans), South America (Argentina, Chile, Venezuela and Brazil), Europe (Spain, United Kingdom and France), Japan, Australia and Canada.
Ethnic structure of Peru
The Peruvian census does not contain information about ethnicity so only rough estimates are available. Some international reliable references, estimates it to be composed of Mestizos: 47%, Amerindians: 30%, European: 18%, Asians: 4%, Afro-Peruvians: 1%.
According to the National Continuous Survey (Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática or INEI 2006) (limitedly reliable, being a self-identification survey), 59,5% self-identified as Mestizos, 22.7% as Quechuas, 2.7% as Aymaras, 1.8% as Amazonians (Yanesha people), 1.6% as Black/Mulatto, 4.9% as White and 6.7% as Others (Chinese, Japanese, others). Amerindians are found in the southern Andes, though a large portion, also to be found in the southern and central coast due to the massive internal labor migration from remote Andean regions to coastal cities, during the past four decades.
Mestizos compose about 47% to 59.5% of the total population. The term traditionally denotes Amerindian and European ancestry (mostly Spaniard ancestry and to a lesser degree, Italian). This term, was part of the cast classification during colonial times, whereby people of exclusive Spanish descend but born in the colonies were called criollos, people of mixed Amerindian and Spanish descend were called mestizos, those of African and Spanish descend were called mulatos and those of Amerindian and African descend were called zambos. Nowadays, these terms have racist connotations.
Most Peruvian mestizos are of Amerindian and European descent, but other ethnic backgrounds (such as Asian, Middle Eastern and African) are also present, in varying degrees, in some segments of the mestizo population. Most mestizos are urban dwellers and show stronger European inheritance in regions like Lima Region, La Libertad Region, Callao Region, Pasco Region, Cajamarca Region, Piura Region, Lambayeque Region, and Arequipa Region.
Amerindians constitute around 30%-32% of the total population. The two major indigenous or ethnic groups are the Quechuas (belonging to various cultural subgroups), followed by the Aymaras, mostly found in the extreme southern Andes. A large proportion of the indigenous population who live in the Andean highlands still speak Quechua or Aymara, and have vibrant cultural traditions, some of which were part of the Inca Empire, arguably the most advanced agricultural civilization in the world during its time.
Dozens of indigenous cultures are also dispersed throughout the country beyond the Andes Mountains in the Amazon basin. This region is rapidly becoming urbanized. Important urban centers include Iquitos, Nauta, Puerto Maldonado, Pucallpa and Yurimaguas. This region is home to numerous indigenous peoples, though they do not constitute a large proportion of the total population. Examples of indigenous peoples residing in eastern Peru include the Shipibo, Urarina, Cocama, and Aguaruna, to name just a few.
European descendants range from 4.9% (according to self-identification survey INEI 2006) to an estimate of 18.5% (according international references), of the total population. They are descendants of the Spanish colonizers and other Europeans such as Italians, British, French, Germans and Croatians (see also Croats) who arrived in the 19th and 20th centuries. The majority of them live also in the largest cities, usually in the North and Center cities of Peru: Lima, Trujillo, Chiclayo, and Piura.
The only southern city with a significant white population is Arequipa. Also Oxapampa and Pozuzo in the Pasco Region, and through all Northwest (mainly the highlands of the Coast Regions, Cajamarca Region and part of the San Martin Region), a considerable white population can be found, mostly descendants of Spanish, German and Italian settlers. Recently, Peru has seen a migration of American retirees and businessmen come to settle in the country, due to lower cost of living and economic booms from the year 2000 to present.
There is also a large presence of Asian Peruvians, primarily east Asian Chinese and Japanese along with recent arrived Koreans and other Asian immigrants, that constitutes 3% of the population, which in proportion to the overall population is the second largest of any Latin American nation, after Panama. Peru has the second largest population of people of Japanese descent in Latin America after Brazil and the largest population of Chinese descent in Latin America. Historic communities inhabited by people of Chinese descent are found throughout the Peruvian upper Amazon, including cities such as Yurimaguas, Nauta, Iquitos and the north central coast (Lambayeque and Trujillo).
In contrast to the Japanese community in Peru, the Chinese appear to have intermarried much more since they came to work in the rice fields during the Viceroyalty and to replace the African slaves, during the abolition of slavery itself. Despite the presence of Peruvians of Asian heritage being quite recent, in the past decade they have made significant advancements in business and political fields; a past president (Alberto Fujimori), several past cabinet members, and one member of the Peruvian congress are of Japanese or Chinese origin. Small numbers of Arab Peruvians, mostly of Lebanese and Syrian origin, and Palestinians also reside, as well a small Hindustani and Pakistani community.
The remaining is constituted by Afro-Peruvians, which are around 1.6% a legacy of Peru's history as an importer of slaves during the colonial period. Today also mulattos (mixed African and European) and zambos (mixed African and Amerindian) constitute an important part of the population as well, especially in Piura, Tumbes, Lambayeque, Lima and Ica regions. The Afro-Peruvian population is concentrated mostly in coastal cities south of Lima, such as that of those found in the Ica Region, in cities like Cañete, Chincha, Ica, Nazca and Acarí in the border with the Arequipa Region.
Another large but poorly promoted segment of Afro-Peruvian presence is in the Yunga regions (west and just below the Andean chain of northern Peru), (i.e., Piura and Lambayeque), where sugarcane, lemon, and mango production are still of importance. Important communities are found all over the Morropón Province, such as in the city of Chulucanas. One of them is Yapatera, a community in the same city, as well as smaller farming communities like Pabur or La Matanza and even in the mountainous region near Canchaque. Further south, the colonial city of Zaña or farming towns like Capote and Tuman in Lambayeque are also important regions with Afro-Peruvian presence.
Immigration after independence
Polynesians also came to the country lured to work in the Guano islands during the boom years of this commodity around the 1860s. Chinese arrived in the 1850s as a replacement for slave workers in the sugar plantations of the north coast and have since become a major influence in Peruvian society. Other immigrant groups include Arabs, South Asians, Japanese and Americans from the United States.
Spanish, the first language of 83.9% of Peruvians aged five and older in 2007, is the primary language of the country. It coexists with several indigenous languages, the most common of which is Quechua, spoken by 13.2% of the population. Other native and foreign languages were spoken at that time by 2.7% and 0.1% of Peruvians, respectively. Literacy was estimated at 92.9% in 2007; this rate is lower in rural areas (80.3%) than in urban areas (96.3%). Primary and secondary education are compulsory and free in public schools.
In the 2007 census, 81.3% of the population over 12 years old described themselves as Catholic, 12.5% as Evangelical, 3.3% as of other denominations including Seventh-day Adventist, and 2.9% as non-religious. Lord of Miracles is a mural painted by a black slave in the 17th century of Jesus Christ that is venerated in Lima and the main Catholic festivity in Peru and one of the biggest processions around the world.
Every year, in October, hundreds of thousands of faithful from all races and economic backgrounds dresses in purple to celebrate the also known "Black Christ" in a religious procession through the streets of Lima. Without doubt the earthquakes by Lima during the 17th and 18th Centuries, which destroyed most of the city leaving only that mural standing up, contributed to the growth and the solidification of devoted veneration to the mural known as "Christ of Pachacamilla".
Peruvian culture is primarily rooted in Amerindian and Spanish traditions, though it has also been influenced by various African, Asian, and European ethnic groups. Peruvian artistic traditions date back to the elaborate pottery, textiles, jewelry, and sculpture of Pre-Inca cultures. The Incas maintained these crafts and made architectural achievements including the construction of Machu Picchu. Baroque dominated colonial art, though modified by native traditions. During this period, most art focused on religious subjects; the numerous churches of the era and the paintings of the Cuzco School are representative. Arts stagnated after independence until the emergence of Indigenismo in the early 20th century. Since the 1950s, Peruvian art has been eclectic and shaped by both foreign and local art currents.
Peruvian literature has its roots in the oral traditions of pre-Columbian civilizations. Spaniards introduced writing in the 16th century; colonial literary expression included chronicles and religious literature. After independence, Costumbrism and Romanticism became the most common literary genres, as exemplified in the works of Ricardo Palma. In the early 20th century, the Indigenismo movement produced such writers as Ciro Alegría, José María Arguedas, and César Vallejo. During the second half of the century, Peruvian literature became more widely known because of authors such as Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, a leading member of the Latin American Boom. María Jesús Alvarado Rivera was a Peruvian rebel feminist, educator, journalist, writer and social activist who was noted by the National Council of Women of Peru in 1969 as the "first modern champion of women's rights in Peru".
Peruvian cuisine is a blend of Amerindian and Spanish food with strong influences from African, Arab, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese cooking. Common dishes include anticuchos, ceviche and pachamanca. Because of the variety of climates within Peru, a wide range of plants and animals are available for cooking. Peruvian cuisine has recently received acclaim due to its diversity of ingredients and techniques.
Peruvian music has Andean, Spanish and African roots. In pre-Hispanic times, musical expressions varied widely from region to region; the quena and the tinya were two common instruments. Spanish conquest brought the introduction of new instruments such as the guitar and the harp, as well as the development of crossbred instruments like the charango. African contributions to Peruvian music include its rhythms and the cajón, a percussion instrument. Peruvian folk dances include marinera, tondero and huayno.
Peruvian women in Iquitos.
Children choir from El Agustino
At the Trujillo Spring Festival
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