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Immigration to Peru

Over the last five centuries, Peru has become a truly multi-ethnic country, formed by the combination of several different groups.  Amerindians, who originally migrated from Asia, were the inhabitants of the land that was to become Peru for several thousand years.  Then came the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, and with it came an influx of Spanish settlers during the Colonial period.  These Spanish settlers, as well as Africans brought over as slaves, intermixed with each other and with the indigenous people already living in Peru, creating a large ‘mestizo’, or mixed, race.

After Peru won it’s independence from Spain, Peru began to see more immigration from Europe, especially England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.  After the abolition of slavery, there was an influx of Chinese, who came over to work as laborers.  The Chinese have had a large influence on Peruvian culture, and especially in the country’s cuisine.

In 2005, the UN put the number of immigrants in Peru at 42,000, which accounted for less than 1% of its population.  However, a more recent report from the Peruvian Directorate of Migrations has put the number at 64,303.  The largest group of foreign residents is from Argentina, which accounts for about 14% of the total with something over 9000 Argentineans living in Peru.  Immigrants from the United States make up just over 9% of the total with 5,800 US citizens now residing in Peru.  Other large groups of immigrants in Peru include Chileans, Bolivians, Colombians, Brazilians Spanish and Chinese.  The majority of foreign residents in Peru live in Lima, with other communities found in La Libertad and Arequipa. 

The net population count in Peru is at about 0.95/1000 people annually – in other words, slightly more people are leaving Peru for other countries than are moving here.  What has had a bigger impact on Peru than foreign immigration has been internal immigration – people who have been displaced from their homes in the interior of the country because of terrorism in the 1990s and have moved to the larger, coastal cities.  This migration of people has caused a large strain on the infrastructure of cities like Lima.

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