Perú

Culture & Customs

Peru is a country with a wide cultural background. Some of the current customs are different according to region, from north to south and from the Coast to the Amazon Rainforest.

Peru's ancient history has shaped a country with an interesting and varied culture. Native Peruvians were usually ruled by a king or a small circle of rulers who justified their power in divine sources. Later, the Spaniards ruled and influenced Peruvians for almost three centuries. The Spaniards introduced new customs, beliefs, people (mainly Spaniards, Africans, and Asians), procedures, and inventions. The independence of Peru created a democracy which was many times overruled by military parties (most of them with devastating results for the natives). Peruvians have long struggled to find their country’s identity and strengths, but the last few generations of Peruvians have managed to form a new and vibrant country.

People from the Coast

 

Starts at the coasts of the Region of Piura and goes all the way to the southern coasts of the country.

People from the Amazon Rainforest

 

Usually very friendly but also introverted, and more polite than the people from the coast but still welcoming. When visiting a tribe, it is important to make sure that visitors are expected. You need to make arrangement ahead of time.

People from the Highlands

 

Usually very friendly, not as outgoing as the people from the Coast, and more polite but still welcoming. Foreigners are usually welcome in the majority of local communities, but there are some communities where permission to visit the place is needed. (This usually happens in communities far away from main cities).

Important to know:

  • When invited to dinner, dress code should be asked. Some family dinners are formal.
  • When invited to dinner and plate is empty, guest will be offered more. If guest is satisfied, firmly say, “No thanks. I am happy and satisfied” (no gracias, estoy lleno y satisfecho). Keep in mind that Peruvians love compliments about their food.
  • When meeting a male Peruvian, the visitor is expected to shake hands (right hand); and when meeting a female Peruvian or a person of the opposite sex, people generally give a kiss on one of the cheeks. (In a formal situation or in a conservative town, people are expected to shake hands).
  • Some festivities are well worth seeing. Hundreds of people actively participate (dancing or playing in a band) in these festivities. The Virgin of La Candelaria Festival in Puno (February) as well as the Festival of the Sun in Cusco (June) are two of the most important ones. These festivals are also examples of Peru's cultural diversity.
  • Be careful when driving, keeping in mind that Peruvians are aggressive drivers.

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