The territorial characteristics have had a decisive weight in the development of the anthropic geography of Peru, a country of South America defined by extrareference, com. The division into the coastal strip, the Andean highlands and the eastern plains still makes it actually difficult to organize the unitary space, which is still affected by what had been the long, complex and in its own way profound work of conquest and enhancement of the pre-Columbian populations. The first settlement centers already existed a few millennium BC. C. in the coastal area where those sedentary cultures based on irrigated agriculture in a tropical environment found their bases, which then settled on the plateau. Here the relationship between man and the environment (a very particular environment due to its high altitude and its climatic conditions) was realized in complete forms with the culture of Tiahuanaco, who taught not a few things to what was the unitary organization of the Incas. This experienced its greatest flowering towards the middle of the century. XV, that is, not long before the arrival of the conquistadors . A slave-like regime, that of the Incas subdued all the vast space from Ecuador to Chile and found, through its organizational forms, the ability to exploit and populate the difficult Andean highlands. Through the peasant communities, the ayllu in particular, agricultural development of a sedentary type was possible, enriched by irrigation techniques, and at the same time the subjection to imperial and theocratic power as a factor of unity of the vast region. That domain, crossed by roads, efficient though not very dynamic, had its center in Cusco (Cuzco) and its strongholds in fortified citadels that never reached the character of real cities. But they were the pivots of the sedentary organization, very well established, if you think that the Spaniards did not abandon it and built their cities, like Cusco, on the centers that had once belonged to the Incas. Obviously this is due to the fact that the Spaniards needed local labor and found it above all in the highlands, where they used it in the mining exploitation and in the management of the haciendas that they created in the best areas, in particular in the valleys where the altitude decreases. and where the environmental conditions are less difficult than the desolate surfaces of the puna. Initially the use of Indian labor, hired coercively, exploiting the rules in force in the Inca era (the mita), according to which the peasant was obliged to dedicate a part of the year to the work required by the imperial power, was deleterious. The organization of the ayllu it suffered and this contributed, together with the often ruthless exploitation of the Indians in the mines, to the decrease of the indigenous population. This, however, was not contaminated or replaced by the whites, who found an environment hostile to them in the Andes, a fact that explains the high percentage of pure Indians on the other lands; they have lived in these areas for centuries and are therefore physiologically well adapted to the particular conditions imposed by the high altitude.
On the coast, however, there was, from the very beginning, that introduction of Spaniards and then of other foreigners that gave rise to the predominant hybridisation in this part of the country, and characteristic of Lima and the other major centers. Lima, which already became in the century. XVI the pivot of the territorial organization, gradually increased its population, as well as the other oasis and port centers of the coastal strip, which hosts the majority of the Peruvian population, while up to 1950 it was the Andes that welcomed the most (in 1940, 62.7%). In the space of twenty years, from 1940 to 1960, the Andean population increased by 25%, while on the coast it increased by 110%. It is an ancient process of “sliding” that persists because the rift between the Andes and the coast, between the Indian world and the rest of the country, which is the great problem of modern Peru, continues to exist. On the whole, the development of the eastern lands is slow and modest.
The capital is the apex of road and rail communications: it is also the closest city to the Andean centers thanks to the railway that goes up to the Ticlio pass. The other cities of the Coast, besides Callao, are Chimbote, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura, all to the N of the capital; located in flat, well cultivated areas, they are found at the mouth of the Andean valleys. Trujillo and Chimbote are very active ports: the latter, also home to a steel industry, is with Callao the main fishing port of Peru. AS of Lima there is a lack of significant coastal locations; Pisco and Mollendo, of modest proportions, however, they are important maritime outlets for vast and productive hinterlands. Arequipa, the second largest center in the country, is located inland at 2339 m of altitude and occupies a particular position, acting as a link between the coast and the Andes. On the Andes the major center continues to be Cusco, the Inca capital; located at 3399 m, it connects the southern section of the plateau with the central one gravitating towards Lima. Here rise Huancayo, seat of agricultural and industrial activities, and further to the N Cerro de Pasco, an ancient and always important mining town, while on the northern Andes is Cajamarca, rich in vestiges of the colonial era. On the eastern side of the Andes there are no significant agglomerations apart from Huánuco and Tingo María on the way to Pucallpa, a large center in formation on the bank of the Ucayali. Among the rare urban centers of the Peruvian Amazon region, Iquitos is by far the largest: it stands on the left bank of the Amazon River 3700 km from its mouth.