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PERU: Culture

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HISTORY

Peru was home to various Pre-Inca cultures and later, to the Inca Empire. Francisco Pizarro landed on the Peruvian coast in 1532, and by the end of the 1530s Peru became a Viceroyalty and a major source of gold and silver for the Spanish Empire. Peru declared its independence from Spain on July 28, 1821 thanks to an alliance between the Argentine army of José de San Martín, and the Neogranadine Army of Simón Bolívar. Its first elected president, however, was not in power until 1827.

From 1836 to 1839 Peru and Bolivia were united in the Peru-Bolivian Confederacy, dissolved only after an internal conflict. Between these years, political unrest did not fade away, with the Army as an important political force. In 1879, Chile declared war against Bolivia in response to the fact that Bolivia had changed the tax rules regarding Chilean business activities in the Bolivian province of Antofagasta. Since Peru had made a secret political alliance with Bolivia prior to this conflict, Peru was obliged to declare war against Chile. This was referred to as the War of the Pacific which lasted from 1879 until 1883 with Chile's victory.

The war ended with the loss of the department of Tarapacá and the provinces of Tacna and Arica. After the Chilean occupation ended, Peru was engulfed by internal political strife and civil war. Political stability was achieved only during the early years of the 1900s. In 1929 Peru and Chile signed a peace treaty (Treaty of Ancon) by which Tacna was to be returned to Peru and Peru yielded permanently the rich province of Arica, although keeping certain rights to the port activities in Arica. It is said that the country received its name from a Spanish pronunciation of the Belu River.

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