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Peruvians


Ethnography

Peru is one of only five countries in Latin America whom have large segments of pure Amerindians -where almost 35% of all Peruvians are Amerindian. Most of the Amerindian communities are found the southern Andes yet there is a large portion found in the southern and central coast due to the massive immigration of farmers from the southern Andean cities to Lima (this ocurred 50 years ago due to terrorism. Cities with pure Amerindian communities are mainly those in the southern Andes such as Puno, Cusco, Apurimac, Ayacucho, Andahuaylas and Cerro de Pasco. There are also Amazonīs native Amerindian communities yet they are very small compared to the rest of the population. Most of the northern coastīs natives such as the tallanes, mochicas, chimues, tumpis and chachapoyas, whom where not Andean but originated from tribes that migrated from the Amazon, the llano and central America, ha

Mestizos constitute most of the people at 45% of the whole peruvian population. The term denotes people of mixed ancestry be it European with Amerindian blood (most of peruvians) or that of a mixture with certain African ancestry added. Most of the mestizos resulting from Spanish-Amerindian mixture are found in the central and northern coast.The other large portion is found in two specific Andean regions, Cajamarca and Arequipa. We must remember that in the mestizo category (around 45% of the total peruvian population) there is also a considerable portion composed of Zambos or the Mixture of Amerindian with blacks found most commonly in Ica and Morropon, and that of Mulatos or the Mixture of whites/creoles with blacks whome are most common in Lima, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Lambayeque, Piura and Tumbes.

Around 17% of the population is of unmixed European ancestry (including many the descendants of Spaniards), they are called criollos or creoles. There are also descendants of Italians, German, Lebanese etc. The majority of them live in Peru's largest cities and those found in nothern coast such as Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura and Lima. Others live in Cajamarca, San Martin, Iquitos and Huanuco. In the south only Arequipa has an important proportion of Spanish descendants and other creole populations.

Around 2% of Peruvians are of pure African ancestry and most of them live in coastal cities found south of Lima such as that of the Ica Region, cities like Caņete, Chincha, Ica, Nazca and Acari. The other large portion of the Afro-Peruvians communities are concentrated in the estarn edges of the northern coast of Piura and Lambayeque, especially in cities like Morropon, Chulucanas, Zaņa and Capote. Few black Peruvians identify themsleves as black, most common term is moreno.

Peru has the second largest population of people of Japanese descent in Latin America after Brazil. Many of them traveled to Japan in the 80's as the economic situation in Peru got worse. Many came back after the Japanese Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori developed the economy. A large community of people of Chinese descent live in Lima, where Chinese restaurants (chifas) are commonplace. In contrast to the Japanese, the Chinese intermarried much more. Unmixed Asians make up 3% of the population of Peru; the largest percentage of any Latin American nation.

The two major indigenous ethnic groups are the various Quechua-speaking populations, followed closely by the Aymara, as well as several dozen small Amerindian ethnic tribes scattered throughout the country beyond the Andes Mountains and in the Amazon basin.

A large proportion of Amerindians who live in the Andean highlands still speak Quechua or Aymara, and have a rich culture which was part of the Inca Empire, the most advanced agricultural civilisation in the world. In the low lands of the Amazon Jungle there are thousands of indigenous Amazonians dispersed over thousands of square miles of inexpugnable jungles in towns and 3 large cities (Iquitos, Puerto Maldonado, and Pucallpa) with a population of more than one million and an area larger than the US states of Texas and Virginia combined.

Language

Peru has two official languages - Spanish and the foremost indigenous language, Quechua. Spanish is used by all coastal Peruvians, the government, the media, and in education and formal commerce; although there is an increasing and organised effort to teach Quechua in public schools.

The major obstacle to a more widespread use of the Quechua language is the lack of modern media which use it: for example books, newspapers, software, magazines, technical journals, etc. However, non-governmental organisations as well as state sponsored groups are involved in projects to edit and translate major works into the Quechua language; for instance, in late 2005 a superb version of Don Quixote was presented in Quechua.

Despite this work an even more fundamental problem remains: most of the native speakers of Quechua are illiterate. Thus, Quechua, along with Aymara and the minor indigenous languages, remains essentially an oral language. Until more work is done in terms of teaching written Quechua, it is unlikely to rival Spanish as the major language of the country.





 
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