Although the Quechua-speaking Incans dominated the region in nearly every way, they
were no match for the Spanish, starting with Spanish diseases and followed by Spanish
weapons. The Spanish, like the many civilizations before them, found these lands
rich in resources and made the region the center of their exploration and colonization
efforts in the greater region.
The heavy influence from Spain led to vast cultural and lifestyle changes. Although
many indigenous people survived in the isolated mountains and Amazon River basin,
many others were taken over by the Spanish as these groups often intermarried, creating
a new culture that was Spanish dominated; today most people speak Spanish and are
Catholic. Today nearly half the population today is mestizo, while nearly
the other half remains indigenous, primarily claiming to be either Quechua or Aymara.
Due to the division of the ethnic groups, the two cultures, that of the Quechua
and other indigenous people in contrast to the culture of the mestizos,
grew and developed on separate paths, but with many shared traits. For example,
nearly everyone, no matter their ethnicity, converted to Catholicism and the people
created many shared foods. While these cultures remain unique and separate in so
many ways, they are also merging in many forms, such as religion, but today more
noticeably in the form of lifestyle.
In recent decades many people in Peru have moved to cities. These people include
both the mestizos and the indigenous people seeking jobs or new opportunities.
This is creating a new lifestyle that is becoming more reliant on technology, communication,
and transportation in the ever-growing cities. Despite these changes, the historic
cultures of the people have managed to survive in the mountains and countryside,
keeping Peru a fairly diverse country.