Perfect Peru

Peru is located on the west coast of southern America, north of Chile, on the Pacific Ocean. The coastline is made up of a narrow strip of land to the west of the Andes Mountains that forms a high ridge that is very close to the sea, forming the Pacific Ocean. A fertile area on the continent's interior is watered by rivers that flow down to the Amazon basin on the continent's eastern side, where they provide irrigation for agricultural production. It rains only once every fifteen years in some parts of Peru, which makes the country extremely reliant on the rivers that are fed by snowmelt from the Andes. During the sixteenth century, the Spaniards under Pizarro discovered and conquered Peru, which became known as the Inca Empire.

During the Spanish conquest, the country was inhabited by a race of people known to Europeans as the "Incas," who had advanced to a level of civilization that astounded the conquering Spaniards. They lived in large cities, and the worship of the Sun God served as the focal point of their civilization, to whom they made gifts of large quantities of gold, which Peru at the time possessed in large quantities. The gold, which was only used as a decorative metal by the Incas, who did not use money as a means of exchange, piqued the interest of the Spaniards, who used it to virtually wipe out the Inca civilization and plunder the temples and buildings of the cities that were lavishly decorated with gold. Peru's Spanish colonisation is still visible today; there are many buildings that are eerily similar to Spanish architecture, and the names of many of the inhabitants reflect their Spanish ancestry. For the invaders, the country offered numerous advantages in addition to its wealth in gold. The land was fertile and well-cultivated, and the towns, despite their elevation in the mountains, were well-constructed and well-designed. 

Because the Spaniards built their cities on top of the foundations laid by their Inca forefathers, a number of towns, such as the town of Cuzco, have retained the same street plan as the old Inca cities to this day. There are numerous Peruvian legends about the origins of the Incas, also known as the 'Children of the Sun,' and their descendants. The original Incas, according to legend, were descended from the son and daughter of the Sun God himself, and were cast out into the mountains to wander until they found a suitable location for their capital city to be built. Their city and empire were established in the Cuzco valley, which had a broad fertile plain and protective hills, when they reached it from the Andes Mountains. Here, the "coricancha," or Sun Temple, was constructed, which is considered to be the most important structure in the Empire. 

Machu Pichu
Machu Pichu

Throughout the structure were beaten gold ornaments, including a large round plaque with the face of the Sun God on it, which had been strategically placed to catch the first rays of the morning sun in the morning. Cuzco also boasted the Golden Garden of the Sun, which was built in gold. It was entirely constructed of gold, with trees, flowers, animals, and birds all made entirely of the precious metal. There were numerous festivals held throughout the year, but the most important was the Solemn Feast of the Sun, which drew people from all over the Empire to Cuzco to witness the sunrise in the Sacred Square. When the sun first appeared, the chief, known as the supa Inca, poured a libation into the hands of his father, the Sun, and asked him to bless him. 

Following that, offerings were made in the Temple of the Sun, and nine days of festivities were held. The Incas had a strong grip on their empire. There were three groups of people who worked for the empire: one who worked for the Sun God and the upkeep of the priests of the Sun God; one who worked for the Inca; and the third who worked for the ayllus, or tribal groups of people who were the workers of the empire. To ensure that only men between the ages of twenty-five and fifty were allowed to work in their fields, the Incas instituted a strict quota system. This age group was also responsible for military service; women and children were expected to work from home. No money taxes were collected, but a portion of the annual produce was given to the priests and the Inca, and the Inca was required to provide the priests with a fixed amount of labour service in order to work the lands set aside for them and the Inca. 

People with specialised skills were exempt from many of the services and were able to concentrate on their specific skill, such as road construction or building construction, instead. As long as work was being completed for the Incas, the Incas would provide food, clothing, and materials, but the work-service would only be required at specific times of year. There were also several days a year that were designated as national holidays for the entire country; on these days, everyone was encouraged to participate in the festivities and was exempt from all forms of labour.

The country was also bound together by a common language, Quechua, which served as the official language of all of the Inca Empire's provinces and colonies and served as its official language. The Empire covered a large area of land, and as was the case in most countries at the time, it had difficulty transferring messages from one part of the country to the other across the border. The Incas developed a remarkable system of runners who ran at a high rate along the many roads that connected the various cities of the Empire. The Inca craftsmen were master builders who built magnificent structures. Incan fortifications were built without the use of mortar, as evidenced by a photograph of an Inca building. They carved enormous blocks of stone and slid them together with such precision that many of the structures are still as strong today as they were when they were first constructed. 

The fortress of Machu Picchu is considered to be one of the most impressive examples of Inca architecture. This mountain fortress was only discovered in 1911 by an American who was well-versed in Incan history and was on a mission to find it. It is located high in the mountains overlooking the valley of Cuzco, and it is believed to have served as a refuge for the Virgins of the Sun who fled from the marauding Spaniards who overran the Inca empire during the Spanish invasion. The city's towers and buildings are still standing, and the fort's layout can be seen in great detail on the surrounding terrain. Many Inca relics can still be found in Cuzco, including the Cathedral and the Plaza Mayor. As a result, it became easier for the Spaniards to incorporate the stonework into the walls of their homes rather than demolish it and start over with new foundations. As an illustration, consider the curved end wall of the great temple dedicated to the Sun God, which was destroyed by the invaders but which has survived as part of the end wall of the monastery built on the site of the temple and which is a perfect example of the Inca craftsman's skill. 

Despite the fact that the Incan empire was destroyed nearly four hundred years ago, it is still possible to learn a great deal about the lives that people led during that time. One reason for this is that many Inca settlements were deserted when the Spaniards arrived, and as a result, many details of Inca life, such as those at Machu Picchu, can only be discovered through excavation because they were not disturbed by later inhabitants. Every one of these remnants of Peru's ancient Incan Empire is being meticulously restored by the country's authorities. They are an obvious tourist attraction, and the sites are being developed, as well as large hotels being built close to them, in order to attract more visitors.

The way of life of the vast majority of Peruvians today is frequently strikingly similar to that of their Inca forefathers. Their clothing and food are frequently unchanged; they eat primarily cereals with a small amount of meat and, at their feasts, sing songs and perform dances that are believed to be at least as old as the Incas. The country is still mainly agricultural though fishing is important, and normally more fishmeal is produced than in any other country in the world; most of the people live in small communities which are very different from the busy modern towns like Lima, the capital, where there are tall flats and offices like those in large towns all over the world, and where the car and bus have supplanted the donkey which is still the commonest form of transport in the remoter country districts.