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Peru is popular as the center of the Inca Empire, but it was a home to the majority diverse indigenous cultures long before the Inca came in. Although there is a mark of human habitation in Peru as long ago as the eighth millennium Before Christ, there is little evidence of organized village life until 2500BC. About this time, peru's early inhabitants were forced to move toward the more fertile interior river valleys because of climatic changes that occurred in the coastal regions. However, Peruvian civilization developed for the following fifteen years. There were a significant number of organized cultures such as the Chavin and the Sechin, which were established. The Chavin have their stylized religious iconography that involved striking figurative depictions of different animals, and mostly the jaguar and which practiced considerable influence over the entire coastal region. The Sechin had their military hegemony than for their cultural successes. The decline of these two cultures Chavin and Sechin around the sixth century resulted into a number of significant regional cultures such as the Saliner and the Paracas, which are celebrated for artistic and technological advances like kiln-fired ceramics and advanced weaving techniques. Nazca came about as a result of Paracas, whose legacy involves the immense and cryptic Nazca lines. However, the achievements of these and other early Peruvian civilizations seem currently to pale as compared to the robust pre-Columbian civilization of the Inca (Beebe 78).
Brevity was the most significant feature of the great Inca Empire. The realm of the Inca had little more than the river valley around Cuzco in the 1430s.The Incas managed to control a vast territory of almost one million square kilometers in less than a century later through conquest and a canny policy of incorporating the best features of the societies they subjugated. This was a dominion that stretched from the northwest Argentina to southern Columbia. The Inca capital at Qosqo was known to be the wealthiest city in all of the Americans with temples literally sheathed in heavy gold plate. Despite Qosqo's architecture remaining only in fragments and foundations, the architectural achievement of the Inca's has survived intact at the astounding ceremonial centre of Machu Picchu.Inca's empire was driven by a war of succession in 1532 at the peak of its power. In recognition of one of the great tragedies of history, Francisco Pizarro and his band of Spanish conquis-tadors came in on the scene demonstrating an uncanny ability to change circumstances to his benefit.Pizarro used lies and guile so that he could gain a personal meeting with the ruler of Inca Atahualpa, whom he coldly assassinated later. During the period of resistance,Pizarro and his group seized Cuzco and sacked the city and although the Incas proceeded with fighting for the next many years that followed, their empire had ended and Spanish rule had begun.
The population of Peru of about twenty three million is separated almost equally between the highlands and the population centers of the coast and the division marks a sharp cultural as well as geographical divide. The inland regions are well noticed for their extreme poverty and subsistence agriculture, whereas the lowlands are known for their fertile river valleys, which have produced a wealthier, more cosmopolitan culture. Research shows that almost half of the Peru population are Indians, while the other one third are Mestizo.About fifteen percent are of European descent, and there are also significant number of African and Asian minorities. Multitude of indigenous languages continues to hold in the highlands even though the official language of Peru is Spanish (Chaplin 243).
The influences in the cuisine
Peruvian cuisine is basically a combination of traditional Amerindian cooking and the cuisine of Spanish conquerors that came in the sixteenth century.Maize, potatoes, and beans were the basic ingredients of pre-Columbian cooking in peru.These three staples plays the biggest role in Peruvian gastronomy and have been expanded upon with the addition of Spanish major foods like rice, wheat, and meat. As people kept moving in over the years from Africa, China, and Japan, the idea of foreign cooking traditions had to be incorporated into the Spanish-Amerindian mix, making a unique natural cuisine. The influences and style of Peruvian cooking can therefore be divided into several basic regional categories and they include the cuisine of the coast, which is rich in seafood because of the proximity of the Pacific Ocean. Whereas the biggest influence on coastal food preparation is from the colonial Spain, others are the contributions of the Chinese, Japanese, African, and the Amerindians traditions (Lucien 68).
The main food regarded by many as the national dish of Peru includes the Ceviche, which has exemplified the coastal cooking and hence spreading rapidly in all the restaurants in Peru's main cities. This food involves raw seafood, sweet potato, and toasted corn kernels in a spicy citrus sauce. The style of food preparation in Lima, capital city of Peru, and that one of the central coast regions reflects to higher degree the cooking of the immigrants incorporating Chinese and the Japanese traditions in preparation of raw fish and rice. Peru's ethnic diversity has been reflected b Lima because it has served as a Mecca for immigrants and rural migrants hence boosting a diverse cuisine. For example, the Japanese influences are clearly seen in the popular tiradito, which is a combination of Ceviche that incorporates sashimi-style of raw fish. In the preparation of cau cau, African, Chinese, and Italian influences are very vital. Whereas the northern coast of Peru differs more with powerful influences from the preparation of coastal indigenous groups. The types of food that characterize this region include stewed meats which are referred to as "secos".
Another influence of the cuisine in Peru is from the east. The Andes Mountains are regarded as a home to many indigenous population and individuals whose food preparation traditions date back to pre-Incan periods. The traditional cooking of Andes involves maize, potatoes, and other different domesticated tubers together with meat fro guinea pigs and alpacas. Earlier on, the most elaborated traditional foods were reserved mainly for holidays and other festive moments.However, restaurants that attract tourist began serving labor intensive Andean specialties like pachamanca frequently.Pachamanca is a kind of food that involves variety of meats,vegetables,and herbs that are cooked underground on heated stones, but traditionally was prepared for big groups of guests.
Lastly, the cuisine of the Peruvian Amazon differs from all other parts of the nation. It features basically locally existing ingredients, jungle cuisine including varieties of fish from rivers that traverse the forests. The jungle is also considered to be a home to many special fruits that take an important place in the diets of those staying in the eastern parts of the country.
Differences in the regions of Peru
According to United Nations Development Programme Report, Peru Republic is one of the significant cultural tourist attraction areas worldwide. It has appealing landscape predominated by the majestic mountain range in whose heights have its source great river that passes through the mysterious Amazon rainforest, flowing on the pacific and Atlantic ocean (Lucien 56). Peru has three main natural regions and they include the coastal region, where Lima the capital of Peru is located. It is a narrow coastal plain that is deserted and by passed by fertile valleys. This region features agricultural plantations like cotton, sugar cane and rice as well as the exploitation of oil in the country.
Another region includes the highlands, which is part of the Andean mountain range and has the peaks of above six thousand metres of altitude. This region has high fertile lands of subtropical nature. It is rich with minerals like silver, zinc, iron, copper and gold as well as cattle keeping. The third and the final region include the Montana and the Amazon basin, where the Amazon jungle is located on the eastern part of Peru. Although this region has the largest number of natural resources, the absence of transport and communication infrastructures prevents exploitation opportunities, particularly in the 70s. However, in 1973, they began large-scale oil extraction in the region (Haas, 90).
The population of Peru is about thirty three million and separated almost equally between the highlands and the population centers of the coast and the division marks a sharp cultural as well as geographical divide. The inland regions have their extreme poverty and subsistence agriculture, whereas the lowlands have their fertile river valleys, which have produced richer, more cosmopolitan cultures. According to studies, almost half of the Peru populations are Indians, while the other one third is Mestizo. The population is a mixture of Indians, mestizos and the descendents of the Spanish colonists; furthermore, there are Chinese and the African communities. Peruvian cuisine is a mix of diverse indigenous,colonial,and immigrant influences that have been linked to varying degrees depending on regional influences.Generally,Peruvian food preparations involves mostly maize and seafood and thus one is required to try both so that he or she is able to enjoy or experience the national cuisine.