The history of Peru (before the Inca era) as we know it today has been uncovered, in large part, through large archaeological excavation endeavors. Historical artifacts including ceramics, textiles and cave drawings have been collected, sorted and displayed throughout Peru’s archaeological museums — a collection of clues as to the lives of Peruvian inhabitants who lived and worked nearly 20,000 years ago. Advanced hunting tools and well-planned irrigation systems lead many to believe that these early colonies were cutting-edge, organized and well-established.
The Incan empire ruled from around 1400 – 1500 and is widely considered one of the largest dynasties in American history before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. This small tribe of peoples were based out of Cusco, which served as the country’s capital city throughout Inca rule. Machu Picchu is one of the most well-preserved ruins left behind by the Incan peoples, and thousands of tourists flock to visit the historical site’s peak each year. The Incas grew to be one of the largest and most powerful forces in South America and had a complex and interesting society that is well studied to this day.
Spanish soldiers arrived in the South American land in 1532 and began plotting to take over rule of the fertile and bountiful country. These European soldiers brought smallpox and other illnesses into Peru, killing thousands of “New World” inhabitants including Huayna Capac who served as the 11th Inca or King. Capac’s sons were each given half of his kingdom and a civil war which began between the brothers helped to quicken the downfall of the Incan empire. Spanish rulers changed the capital of Peru from the land-locked Cuzco to coastal Lima to accommodate arriving soldiers and facilitate trade.
Peru’s Independence Wars were fought from 1810 until 1824 when a battle led by General Antonio Jose de Sucre secured freedom from Spanish rule. Peru continued to fight for freedom throughout the 1800’s and 1900’s — defeating Spanish rulers in 1866 and losing a large piece of land to Chile in a war that spanned from 1879 to 1883. A war with Ecuador in 1941 over borders wasn’t resolved until 1998 when Peru agreed to allow Ecuador access to the Amazon rainforest in exchange for keeping control over the land.
In 2001 Peru elected its first Native Indian President, Alejandro Toledo. The country has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of South America and thousands of tourists visit to hike, swim, shop and to learn more about Peruvian history first hand through the exploration of archaeological sites and artifacts each year.