Peruvians celebrating the festival of San Juan down by the river in Shapaja near Tarapoto, Peru. Photo by Tony Dunnell.

When you type a word or phrase into the Google search box, Google automatically gives you suggestions based on the words you’ve entered. These suggestions are based on the most commonly searched terms related to your entry. And this reflects the human hive mind in all its terrifying glory.

I’ve use the Yoast Google Suggest Expander tool to give me a far larger list of commonly asked questions. By entering “Are Peruvians….” I quickly had a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about Peruvians, at least during May 2017. And in this article I’ve tried to answer them all.

I’m probably asking for trouble here, but I didn’t want to shy away from the more troublesome questions. So I apologize in advance for some huge generalizations, and some points of view that might ruffle a few feathers.

And if you think some of the questions are stupid, don’t blame me — blame the Human Race.

The Most Frequently Asked Questions About Peruvians

These are the most commonly asked questions about Peruvians in Google search, when asking “Are Peruvians….?”

Are Peruvians Hispanic or Latino?

If you’re in the United States, then, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanic or Latino is “a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin regardless of race.” That’s quite a catch-all definition, and would make Peruvians both Hispanic and Latino.

Being Hispanic is basically determined by whether you or your family/ancestors speak Spanish. Being Latino is a geographical thing; if you come from Latin America, you’re Latino.

It’s not really an issue in Peru (or, generally speaking, outside the USA), as Peruvians see themselves as Peruvian first and then South American — not Latino or Hispanic. A Peruvian in the USA would be a Latino; in Peru, he’s just Peruvian.

Are Peruvians Asian or Part-Asian?

Asian immigrants, primarily Japanese and Chinese, account for 5% to 7% of the population of Peru. So while Peruvians are not, by definition, Asian, there are a lot of Asian Peruvians.

Are Peruvians white?

Peru is a multiethnic nation, with a mix of indigenous groups, a colonial history and plenty of immigration (including from Asia, Africa and Europe). The national census does not gather information about race, but other studies have put the percentage of the population that identifies as “white” at between 5% and 15%.

Beyond the jargon, most Peruvians are a beautiful brown color with shades all across the spectrum.

Are Peruvians black?

Generally speaking, no, Peruvians are not black (see above). But Peru is home to vibrant Afro-Peruvian communities, formed by the descendants of Africans brought to Peru as slaves. The actual number of people in Peru identifying as black or Afro-Peruvian varies depending on the study involved. I’ve seen percentages ranging from 2% to as high as 15%.

Are Peruvians Spanish?

Nope, not Spanish either. They’re Peruvian. But Peru was under Spanish colonial rule from the mid-1500s until July 28, 1821, when it won its independence.

Are Peruvians Indian?

What? Like, from India? Or like cowboys-and-Indians Indians? Either way, no. There are indigenous Peruvians. And while you could refer to them as native Americans, which isn’t strictly incorrect, the term Native American typically refers to the indigenous people of the United States (see below). But if you refer to indigenous Peruvians as indios, or “Indians,” you’ll sound like a Spanish explorer from the 1500s. And that’s probably not a good thing.

Are Peruvians short?

Europe dominates the list of the world’s tallest people, with the Netherlands at the top. The average Dutchman is around 6 feet tall (183 cm). Other particularly tall countries include Latvia (especially its women) and Estonia. The average man in the USA is about 5 feet 9.5 inches tall.

Peruvians are a long way down the list. The average Peruvian man is 5 feet 4.5 inches (164 cm, which is 6 cm shorter than Lionel Messi). The average Peruvian woman is 4 feet 11.5 inches (151 cm). So Peruvians are officially on the short side. But at least they’re slightly taller, on average, than Ecuadorians and Bolivians.

Peruvian children on the streets of Lima. Photo by Thomas Quine, flickr.com.

More Google Questions About Peruvians: A to Z

 

Are Peruvians attractive?

Sorry, but this one is far too subjective to answer. The physical characteristics of Peruvians also change on a regional basis, so you might find yourself falling in love every half hour in the jungle, and just once a month in the highlands. Or vice versa.

Are Peruvians arrogant?

I say no to this one. You get some arrogant Peruvians, of course, but that’s the same in any country. Speaking very generally, I reckon there’s a higher percentage of arrogant people in the United Kingdom (my home turf) than in Peru.

Are Peruvians good in bed?

Ahem. Um, no comment. Privacy clause.

Are Peruvians circumcised?

Circumcision is relatively rare in most of Europe and Latin America, while almost universal in the Muslim world and common in the United States. In Peru, fewer than 20% of males are circumcised — probably closer to 10% or less.

Are Peruvians Catholic?

The majority of Peruvians are Catholic. Here’s the religious overview of Peru, according to the last census in 2007:

  • Catholic 81.3%
  • Evengelical 12.5%
  • Other 3.3%
  • Atheist / None 2.9%

Are Peruvians crazy?

While I have met some crazy Peruvians, I’ll say that no, most Peruvians are not crazy in any kind of clinical sense.

Are Peruvians cheap?

I’m guessing that’s “cheap” as in “they don’t like to spend money” or “stingy.” In which case… um… I’ll say no. At the same time, I’ve met a lot of Peruvian guys who are total misers when it comes to buying beer. But there are also pure economic considerations here, as between 20% and 25% of the Peruvian population lives below the poverty line, which can make “cheap” living a matter of necessity, not choice.

Are Peruvians dumb /stupid / smart?

No nationality or race is inherently dumb. Peruvians are not dumb. Unfortunately, the Peruvian education system is not great. In 2013, Peru ranked last in the influential OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings, which included 65 countries. Its ranking improved slightly in 2015, but not by much. Must do better.

Are Peruvians friendly?

Peruvians range from incredibly friendly to forlorn and reserved. From my experience, Peruvians in or from the jungle regions are the friendliest. But there’s always going to be a huge caveat when it comes to perceptions of friendliness: If you act like a dick, people will treat you like a dick. So a lot depends on you.

Are Peruvians happy?

Yes, apart from the miserable ones.

This Peruvian soldier seems a little distracted by something. Photo by Tony Dunnell.

Are Peruvians Inca?

As mentioned above (Are Peruvians White?), Peru is a multiethnic country. The CIA World Factbook states that 45% of the Peruvian population is Amerindian (indigenous). The two major ethnic groups are the Quechuas and Aymaras, both of which are tied to the Incas. Another large chunk of the Peruvian population is mestizo, a mix of European and Amerindian descent. So it’s fair to say that some Inca blood still runs in at least half the Peruvian population.

Are Peruvians jealous?

Yes.

Are Peruvians lazy?

Generally, Peruvians are probably about average on the global laziness scale. Without wanting to offend my jungle friends, I’d say they’re probably lazier on average than Peruvians from the coast and highlands. But Peruvians in the jungle have the heat and humidity as a perfect excuse. Hell, I live in the jungle and I use the heat to excuse my laziness all the time.

Are Peruvians Mayans?

Nope. You need to head north to Central America and Mexico for Mayans.

Are Peruvians Mexican?

I’m assuming curious five-year-olds are the reason for the frequency of this particular Google query. Peruvians are not Mexican. Mexicans are Mexican. Burritos are Mexican. Speedy Gonzalez is Mexican. Peruvians are Peruvian.

Are Peruvians mean?

Oooo, those mean Peruvians! I don’t think the average Peruvian is any meaner than anyone else on this planet. Of course, you can find a few examples of meanness. They haven’t banned bullfighting or cockfighting. Some of them tie condors to the backs of bulls. They love to run over each other in cars, especially in Lima. But in the UK we still argue about tearing foxes to pieces and we love to mock the French, so I guess we’re all a bit mean.

Are Peruvians Native American?

As mentioned above, indigenous Peruvians are native to the Americas. But the term Native American typically refers to the indigenous peoples of the United States. People native to Peru are more commonly referred to as the indigenous peoples of Peru (or, more widely, of the Americas).

Are Peruvians obese?

Peruvians are just about in the middle of the global obesity rankings, with about 15% of adults in the obese category. That’s not too bad, especially compared with the top of the table. In first place is American Samoa with a whopping 74.6% of its adult population in the obese category, followed by a whole bunch of other South Pacific nations. The United States, well-known as a land of “larger people,” ranks 19th in the world, with obesity in adults at 33%.

Are Peruvians racist?

Big question. I’m going to say no, Peruvians are not racist. They can be hugely politically incorrect, sure. They’ll openly call anyone from Asia or slightly Asian-looking “chino” (Chinese); blacks are negros (but, as controversial footballer Luis Suárez pointed out, that’s not as offensive as it may sound to English speakers); overweight people are gordos (fat); and white-skinned foreigners are gringos. Sensitive, no. But generally not hostile, either. On the uglier side of things, there is a lot of discrimination among Peruvians, directed against their highland compatriots. People from the sierra take the brunt of the prejudice in Peru, so much so that even their demonymserrano — is used as an insult.

A Peruvian family in the northern jungle region of Peru. Photo by Tony Dunnell.

Are Peruvians rude?

Peruvians are no ruder than most people. But they do have their quirks, some of which can easily be perceived as rude (or, let’s face it, just are rude). They are pretty useless at queuing — especially old women, who elbow their ways into queues across the nation — which for an Englishman is especially notable. When a Peruvian dials a wrong number, he or she will rarely say something like “Oh, sorry for bothering you.” They just go silent and hang up. Or, and this is really annoying, they’ll call a wrong cellphone number and when you say “Sorry, wrong number” they’ll start interrogating you, thinking you stole the phone. Now that’s rude (and it ties in with the question of trust/distrust, see below).

Are Peruvians religious?

Yes, but Peruvians are arguably not as fervently religious as Brazilians or Argentines when it comes to Catholicism (the dominant religion in all three countries). I say that from my own observations. For me, religious fervor in Peru is not as strong as you might expect — and I put that down to Peru’s history. Despite the best efforts of the Spanish conquistadors and the Catholic Church, the Inca gods and other mythological entities — such as Pachamama and the Apu mountain spirits — are still revered and “active,” even among practicing Catholics. Not only is that pretty cool as religions go, it also dilutes the Catholicism to a certain extent (feel free to disagree with me here — I imagine many people might).

Are Peruvians romantic?

They’re probably more romantic than me. Outwardly and publicly, anyway. How much substance is behind the romantic gestures of Peruvian men is open to debate. Buying chocolates and flowers and teddy bears for your girlfriend is all great and lovely — but not so great and lovely when your two other girlfriends find out.

Are Peruvians trustworthy?

This is potentially the most controversial thing I’ll talk about in this article, but trustworthiness is an issue in Peru. I could probably write a book about this (it’s a complicated and delicate subject), and I don’t want to get mired in details here, but this is an aspect of Peruvian society that many Peruvians acknowledge and accept as true. The trust issue ties in with what is known as la viveza (la viveza peruana or, more widely in South America, la viveza criolla). It’s a way of acting that may include (whether consciously or not and to varying extents) a lack of respect for others, a self-centered outlook, blaming others and avoiding personal responsibility, a lack of moral direction, opportunism and a few other negative characteristics. That’s not to say that every Peruvian lives by the code of la viveza — far from it — but it is very much alive and kicking in Peruvian society.

I asked Dario Alfonso Moscoso Pastor, one of my Peruvian friends in Lima, for his opinion on the trustworthiness issue. His answer:

“In general, yes [Peruvians are trustworthy]. But as an expat, you need to take time to adapt to the sometimes shocking experience about living in Peru. One of the most negative aspects you might find is the so called “viveza criolla“, or taking advantage of others, even if you need to break the rules. Which applies to the chaotic traffic in Lima, for example. The total disregard for rules, not respecting lights and pedestrians, can give you an idea about Peru. But in time, you’ll know how to deal with it, because there will be other Peruvians who’ll help you, eventually. There might be bad Peruvians, but the good ones overwhelm them.”

Why are Peruvians always late?

Timekeeping is certainly not a strong point in Peru. As to why Peruvian are always late, I’m not entirely sure. Is it just a cultural thing, whereby people somehow have come to accept punctuality as some kind of myth, in which case arriving on time is basically an error? I don’t know. What do you think?

What are Peruvians called?

Seriously? The answer is kind of in the question, no? Unless, of course, that’s just a poorly worded way of asking what names are popular among Peruvians (I’m being kind here). In that case: Maria, Jose, Juan, Luis, Carlos and Rosa frequently appear at the top of lists of the most popular names in Peru.

What are ancient Peruvians called?

The cultural periods of pre-Columbian Peru stretch way back, as far as 9500 BC in some charts. During that time, many cultures and civilizations, large and small, have risen and faded. Some of the most notable civilizations include the Norte Chico, Chavín, Moche, Nazca, Wari, Sican, Chimú, Chachapoya, and Inca. There is no single name for ancient Peruvians as a whole.

Why are Peruvians so bad at Dota (and Dota 2)?

Dota and Dota 2 are multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video games. I don’t know much about them, so I asked a friend who has a fair bit of experience (he told me “I used to play six hours every day for a year. I still suck at it though”). According to him, Peruvians are so notoriously bad at Dota that the words “Peruvian” and “Peru” are used among the Dota community to refer to anyone — Peruvian or not — who’s bad at the game. “North Americans stereotype Peruvians as the worst teammates in the server,” he says, “in the same way the Philippines is portrayed in the Southeast Asian servers. It’s because they clown around and don’t do team play. If someone dies or is the weak link, Americans just say “Fuck you Peru” even if the person isn’t Peruvian.” So now you know.