Political History of Peru

A political overview of 500 years of Peru's history from Spanish rule to today

Since Francisco Pizarro conquered the Inca Empire in 1532, Peru had a turbulent history with many ups and lots of downs. The country has seen many rulers and forms of government from Spanish conquistadores and viceroys to freedom fighters and caudillos to civilian and military presidents to dictators and right, center and left presidents.

Below you find an overview of the political developments in Peru over the past 500 years which hopefully not only summarizes the facts but explains the complex contexts allowing you to understand today’s political structure and the causes for Peru’s current political, economic and social problems.

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Spanish rule in Peru (1533 - 1824)

Political History of Peru
After the Italian explorer and navigator Christopher Columbus on its way to find a new route to India and the Spice Islands set foot on the Caribbean islands of San Salvador (October 1492) and Hisp...

Independence of Peru (1821 - 1824)

Political History of Peru
When Napoleonic France invaded and occupied Spain during the Peninsular War (1807 – 1814) installing Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, on the Spanish throne, aspirations for independence from S...
After independence Peru had a hard time with the transition from the feudal society imposed by the Spanish Viceroyalty to a self-governed democratic Republic.

War of the Pacific (1879 - 1884)

Political History of Peru
The War of the Pacific, also known as Saltpeter War or Ten Cents War, arose from a dispute between Chile and Bolivia over valuable mineral deposits in the Atacama Desert.

Aristocratic Republic (1884 - 1930)

Political History of Peru
After the War of the Pacific, the war expenditures, the loss of revenue from the Tarapaca region and a devastated country led to political instability with different civilian and military forces ai...

Peru from 1930 to 1968

Political History of Peru
After President Augusto B. Leguía settled the Tacna-Arica dispute with Chile in 1929 resulting in the Peruvian loss of Arica and angering extreme nationalists, and with the Great Depression in full...

Military Regimes in Peru from 1968 to 1980

Political History of Peru
As we have seen so far, since independence Peru’s political scene was characterized by presidents, civilian governments and parties reflecting the - in comparison to the population - few oligarch e...

Instability in Peru from 1980 to 1990

Political History of Peru
After General Francisco Morales moved the Velasco's revolution into a more conservative "second phase" reviving the country's economy by denationalizing certain industries, opening the mining secto...
There are two main rebel groups operating in Peru, both leftist: The Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement).
In the 1990 elections, voters concerned about the disastrous economic situation, inflation, the increasing threat from Peru's terror groups, drug trade and corruption, chose relatively unknown Albe...
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