Peru History

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History[edit | edit source]

The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century and established a Viceroyalty that encompassed most of its South American colonies, with its capital in Lima. Peru formally proclaimed independence in 1821, and following the military campaigns of José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar, and the decisive battle of Ayacucho, Peru secured independence in 1824. In the ensuing years, the country enjoyed relative economic and political stability, which ended shortly before the War of the Pacific with Chile.

Throughout the 20th century, Peru endured armed territorial disputes, coups, social unrest, and internal conflicts, as well as periods of stability and economic upswing. Alberto Fujimori was elected to the presidency in 1990; his government was credited with economically stabilizing Peru and successfully ending the Shining Path insurgency, though he was widely accused of human rights violations and suppression of political dissent

The sovereign state of Peru is a representative democratic republic divided into 25 regions. It is classified as an emerging market with a high level of human development and an upper middle income level with a poverty rate around 19 percent. It is one of the region's most prosperous economies with an average growth rate of 5.9% and it has one of the world's fastest industrial growth rates at an average of 9.6%. Its main economic activities include mining, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing; along with other growing sectors such as telecommunications and biotechnology. The country forms part of The Pacific Pumas, a political and economic grouping of countries along Latin America's Pacific coast that share common trends of positive growth, stable macroeconomic foundations, improved governance and an openness to global integration

Peru has a population of 32 million, which includes Amerindians, Europeans, Africans and Asians. The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua or other native languages. This mixture of cultural traditions has resulted in a wide diversity of expressions in fields such as art, cuisine, literature, and music.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1524 - The Supreme Council of the West Indies was created
1532 - The Spanish conquered Peru
1535 - Lima was founded by Pizarro. The colonial governor was established
1538 - The earliest existing parish registers began
1551 - Dominican friars founded the University of San Marcos at Lima. The Council of Lima set rules for record keeping
1564 - A papal bull required the keeping of parish registers
1568 - The Jesuits arrived in Peru
1570 - The Court of Holy Office of the Inquisition was founded in Lima
1718 - The smallpox epidemic struck Peru. 1798 - Chile attained complete autonomy. 1821 - Peru declared independence from Spain, but it was not until 1826 that the Spanish Royal forces were finally defeated. The Department of Lima was created
1822 - The old districts became provinces, and almost all the parishes became districts

The Family History Library has a few published histories for Peru. You can find histories in the FamilySearch Catalog under one of the following:




Books with film numbers can be ordered through local family history centers. Some may be found in major research libraries. The following are only a few of the many historical sources that are available:

  • Alisky, Marvin. Historical Dictionary of Peru. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1979. (FHL book 985 H26a.)
  • Prescott, William H. History of the Conquest of Peru. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1947. (FHL book 985 H2p; film number 0908188 items 1–2.)

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Some of the most valuable sources for family history research are local histories. They describe the settlement of an area and the founding of churches, schools, and businesses. You can also find lists of early settlers, soldiers, and civil officials. Even if your ancestor is not listed, information on other relatives may be included that will provide important clues for locating your ancestor. A local history may also provide clues for finding other records to search.

In addition, you should study local histories for the background information they can provide about your family’s lifestyle, community, and environment.

The Family History Library has some local histories for towns in Peru. Similar histories are often available at major public and university libraries and archives.

A helpful bibliography of local histories is:

  • Valle Goicochea, Luis. Bibliografía de obras y artículos por M.R.P. Fr. Victor M. Barriga (Bibliography of the Works and Articles of Victor M. Barriga). Arequipa, Perú: [s.n.], 1947. (FHL book 985 A1 no.4.)

Bibliographies can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog under:





Calendar Changes[edit | edit source]

The Gregorian calendar, the calendar in common use today, is a correction of the Julian calendar, which had been in use since A.D. 46. Leap years had been miscalculated in the Julian calendar. By 1582, the calendar was 10 days behind the solar year.

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull, modifying the calendar to correct the problem. He declared that the day following 4 October 1582 would become 15 October. Other adjustments were made in the calendar to prevent future leap year miscalculations.

Spain adopted the new system in 1582, and the Spanish territories in the New World rapidly followed Spain’s example. Peru accepted the new calendar in 1584.

Wiki articlse describing online collections are found at: