Perú's history is a long tradition of centenary civilizations that began on the high Andean plateaus more than ten millennia ago.
The Incas, who built the lost city of Machu Picchu and designed the most incredible hydraulic and agricultural engineering works for that time, were hunter-gathers and the first country inhabitants. Ruins such as Pikimachay (Ayacucho), Lauricocha (Huánuco) and Toquepala (Tacna) have been able to unravel the mystery of the Peruvian civilization birth.
Later, they descended to the western Pacific valleys, crossed the coastal hills and finally reached the sea, where they quickly became fishermen and shellfish collectors.
Following this were civilizations such as the Caral, which marked the culmination of an early cultural process called the Initial Period, Chavín, the Paracas, around 700 B.C. and the Mochica, whose rule encompassed almost the entire northern coast of Perú, or the Wari, that would later become Tahuantinsuyo, appeared in Perú. The disappearance of the Wari, around 1200 AD, marked the beginning of the Late Intermediate period, when regional developments and several cultures, such as Ichma, the Chincha, the Chimú and the Lambayeque stand out.
The decline of the Inca Empire started after Francisco Pizarro captured the Inca Atahualpa in 1532 and they confronted the Hispanic culture. Years later, the Viceroyalty of Perú was created under the Spanish crown control. It also comprised a large part of South America and it remained under Spanish control for almost 200 years. Consequently, the exploitation of mining wealth affected the colonized Peruvian Indians who saw their rights restricted and their culture oppressed.
The reforms of the 18th century created great disagreement and rebellions broke out. The most important one was led by Tupac Amaru II, who also started the "Creole" movement that made Latin America independent in the 19th century.
In 1821, Don José de San Martín declared Perú an independent country, and Simón Bolívar culminated the liberation process with the wars of independence in 1824. However, around 1879 the country was involved in another war, this time against Chile, in which it was defeated.
A century later, during the 70s, Perú was ruled by a military dictatorship led by General Juan Velasco. The military government nationalized oil, the media and reformed the agricultural foundations. The democratic government didn't return until the 80s, although the country was then plunged into a big economic crisis with severe hyperinflation.
Years later, the country re-joined the world economic system, from which it had retired in the previous decade due to its decision not to pay its external debt.
Since 2000, Perú has been under democratic governments, with Alejandro Toledo, Alan Garcia, Ollanta Humala Tasso, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and Martín Vizcarra Cornejo as first ministers. Nowadays, the country is in the middle of a period of economic development, with growth rates never previously achieved and overcoming the crises of the past decades.
In the pre-Columbian era, Amerindian groups occupied the location of what is now Lima under. Later on, Spanish conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro (c.1478–1541), conquered the Incas, defeated the Inca ruler Atahualpa and took over their empire, founding the city of Lima in 1535. Nevertheless, he never got to enjoy the wealth he had stolen from the Incas, nor did he spend much time in the new city.
He arrived in what is now Perú under propitious circumstances. The flourishing Inca Empire, which dominated an area that extended from Quito (in present-day Ecuador) to central Chile, it had been weakened by internal conflict.
After taking Cuzco, Pizarro began to consolidate his empire. He founded the city of Lima on January 6th 1535. The city was in a convenient place, next to a major river that provided plenty of fresh water and only a few kilometres from the Pacific Coast, where the Spaniards could develop the Port of Callao, which became the main transfer point.
Years later, an earthquake devastated Lima in 1746. Yet, with the wealth generated by thousands of indigenous people who mined for silver and gold under horrible work conditions, the Spanish were able to rebuild the city with more exquisite architecture.
In 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte's forces invaded Spain and their colonies in the Americas took advantage of the favourable political turn and fought for independence. Thanks to the Argentinean General José de San Martín, the Spanish troops were forced to retreat into the mountains and later on, Simón Bolívar, the other great South American liberator, moved in from the north to finish the job. Therefore, Perú became the last mainland colony to declare its independence in July 1821.
During the War of the Pacific (1879–83), Lima was occupied by Chilean soldiers and the government was forced into the highlands and was allowed to return only after signing a favourable treaty to Chile.
A century later, in the 80s, Lima mirrored the nation's massive social problems and several violent leftist guerrilla movements such as Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), and Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).
Nowadays, Lima is the country's industrial and financial centre and one of Latin America's most important financial centres. It is the leading industrial, financial and retail centre in the nation, it is home to many national companies and hotels, and it accounts for more than two thirds of Perú's industrial production and most of its tertiary sector.
With almost 30% of the country's population, the city dictates the national economy and accounts for more than two-thirds of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP).
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