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Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    Figure 7 Principal Ethnolinguistic Divisions, 1991

    Source: Based on information from Aníbal Cueva García (ed.), Gran atlas geográfico del Perú y el mundo, Lima, 1991, 557.


    Indian girls at a community fiesta on Lake Titicaca's Taquili Island
    Courtesy Elayne Zorn, Inter- American Foundation


    Indian woman, with daughter, filling a cántara in Platería, a village near Puno
    Courtesy Inter-American Development Bank


    Baptism of a child in a Lima church
    Courtesy Paul L. Doughty


    A colonial church in Ayacucho
    Courtesy Embassy of Peru

    The importance of developing and maintaining effective intracommunity relationships underlies many of the kinship traditions that are universal in Andean and Peruvian family life in small towns. Throughout the Andes, there has been a constant need for peasants to retain strong interpersonal and family bonds for significant socioeconomic reasons. For centuries the peasantry suffered the constant loss of land until the Agrarian Reform Law of 1969 reversed the pattern. The stronger a community is tied together, the greater has been its ability to defend its interests against usurpers, a fact often shown in ethnographic studies throughout the region.

    By practice and reputation, Andean villages and towns often enjoy reputations for cohesiveness, community action, and the good, simple life. The tight social relationships in Peru's towns and villages, peasant communities, and small cities, however, are not necessarily based on "rural" or agricultural needs and a positive community spirit. Even in small populations where everyone knows everyone else, or knows about them, there can be marked ethnic and social class differences and rivalries that afford many opportunities for disagreement and feuds. Although people share their culture, values, and participation in a community, family interests often clash over property ownership and chacra boundaries, local politics, and any of the myriad reasons why people might not like each other. Thus, small town life can be difficult when conflicts erupt: "pueblo chico, infierno grande" ("small town, big hell") is the expression used. There are, therefore, two contradicting images of small town life: one bucolic, tranquil, and good natured; the other, petty and conflictive. Both images are rooted in fact.

    Data as of September 1992

    NOTE: The information regarding Peru on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Peru COMMUNITY LIFE AND INSTITUTIONS information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Peru COMMUNITY LIFE AND INSTITUTIONS should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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