• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

  • Ecuador!

    Ecuador: Sally Lightfoot Crab. Go Now!

    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

  • Venezuela!

    Venezuela: Los Roques. Go Now!

    Rooted in Europe, Venezuela boasts an impressive history, culture, and beauty, including the Caribbean Coast (pictured). Explore Venezuela!

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    This hidden gem is full of surprises, from the impressive salt flats (pictured) to the migrating flamingos. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent. Explore Bolivia!

Culture & Identity of Peru


Most visitors to Peru go to see the historic ruins and natural beauty, but some visitors forget about the people. It was this landscape that created the culture of the people today and in the past; it was the ancestors of today's people that built these ruins. The great architecture of Peru, expanding beyond just Macchu Pichu, is a testament to the people of the past and the culture they handed down to today's people. The people have been settled and economically self-sustainable for centuries as focus has shifted to architecture, the arts, foods, and other aspects of the culture today both in the past and today.

People live in every corner of Peru, from large cities like Lima to villages in the mountains and rainforests. The lifestyles, daily routines, and way of life for each of these people differs greatly. Most people live in the cities though and the city life is slowly creating a western-styled routine and culture. Elsewhere, especially in the mountains and rainforests, the people live much as they had hundreds of years ago as little has changed.

Most Peruvians begin the day at about 6:30 or 7:00 am to eat breakfast and get ready for the work day or school day, which typically begins at about 8:00. In the cities most people take public transportation, but some people have cars and in more rural areas biking or walking seems to be the best options for many. Some families still take a long lunch at about 1:00 or 2:00 pm, but this is slowly changing in the cities and schools generally don't get out until about 2:00 so this is when most people with a mid-day break have lunch. For those who do take a long mid-day break they often go back to work in the late afternoon and remain there until the evening.

Once at home and on the weekends the people tend to shift in very different directions. Entertainment options are very limited outside the cities and even for those living in the cities entertainment can be expensive. Most people spend their free time with family, but for more rural families the summers may be occupied with farming or fishing to make a living.

No matter the person and the culture that a person lives by, nearly everyone in Peru is descended from the Incans (Quechua and Aymara) and/or the Spanish, both of whom have an incredible history. Both these people passed down a tradition of settlement, farming, and economic prosperity that has led to a shift in focus to leisurely activities including great feasts, arts, architecture, handicrafts, and clothing. Both cultures also placed great importance on family and free time as the present always seems to be more important than a future meeting or event, something the Peruvians carry on today.


There is no truly unifying identity in Peru, although being Peruvian (in political terms) may be the closest link to unite all the people within the country. However, for many people, primarily those who are of European descent, the term Peruvian also comes with a cultural definition, therefore excluding many of the indigenous people of Peru. For these indigenous people some identify as Peruvian, while others cling to an identity based on ethnicity, language, and culture, such as many of the Quechua and Aymara.

Among the ethnic European population, most will claim to be "Peruvian," which many ethnic Europeans define in both political as well as cultural terms. For many of these people, to be "Peruvian" is to be a native Spanish speaking Catholic who lives a lifestyle very much similar to that of the Europeans in the sense of modern amenities and culture. To others "Peruvian" is more of a politically-defined terms and any citizen of Peru is included, but few people define the term in this way.

As many people in Peru are mestizos, or a combination of European and indigenous people, it is difficult to determine who is a "Peruvian" and who is a "Quechua," "Aymara," etc. Due to this the difference between being indigenous and being Peruvian is primarily in the eye of the beholder and in the way of life of the individual. Those people with almost all European blood often exclude indigenous people from the definition of Peruvian, while many indigenous people who live a more European lifestyle often consider them Peruvian. Likewise, many mestizos often identify by their lifestyle, which tends to define them as "Peruvian."

For the people who primarily identify with their indigenous group, the definition of their identity is heavily dependent the group's language, ethnicity, culture, and lifestyle. The Quechua and Aymara are two linguistic groups (although they are also related ethnically) who often identify in this way, defining "Quechua" or "Aymara" in linguistic and cultural terms. However, the culture and lifestyle of these groups varies across the country so there is no standard definition. More than anything the lifestyle is one of historical importance as most of the people who identify in this way cling to numerous aspects of their past and rarely live as the ethnic European population does. No matter a person's ethnicity or identity, nearly everyone in Peru today is Catholic and many speak Spanish (some as a second language), both of which seem to be important aspects of the "Peruvian," "Quechua," and "Aymara" identities.

This page was last updated: November, 2013