General issues: Republic 1857-Present
Country name on general issues: None, Peru
- Local issues: Lima 1873
- Issues for international mail 1880
- War of the Pacific:
- Occupation issues Chili 1881-1882
- Local issue postmaster Lima 1881
- Peruvian government
- Arequipa issues 1881-1885
- General provisional issues 1883
- Lima provisional issue 1884
- Local issues:
- Alerta 1884
- Ancachs 1884
- Apurimac – Abancay 1885
- Ayacucho 1881-1884
- Chachapoyas 1884
- Chala 1884
- Chiclayo 1884
- Cuzco 1881-1885
- Huacha 1884
- Moquegua 1881-1885
- Paita 1884
- Pasco 1884
- Pisco 1884
- Piura 1884
- Puno 1882-1885
- Yca 1884
- Insurgent issues: Tumbes 1895
Currency: 1 Peso = 8 Reales, 1 Peso = 5 Pesetas = 10 Dineras 1857-1866, 1 Sol = 100 Centavos 1866-1985, 1 Inti = 100 Centavos 1885-1991, 1 Sol = 100 Centimos 1991-Present
Population: 3 000 000 in 1900, 30 380 000 in 2013
Political history Peru
A Spanish colony
Peru is located in South America. Before colonization Peru has been home to a range of Indian civilizations. The most significant are the Inca who, from the 15th century, have established an empire that, at its peak, would stretch from southern Colombia to northern Chile with the capital in Peruvian Cuzco. Led by the Spanish conquistador Pizarro, the Spanish confront the Inca empire in the 16th century. The fist engagement is in 1532 and the last in 1572, ending the Inca empire. The Spanish establish the Viceroyalty of Peru which will encompass most of the Spanish possessions in South America. In the 18th century both the economic and political importance of Peru is reduced. The Viceroyalties of New Granada and of Rio de la Plata are detached from the Viceroyalty of Peru that, from 1776, consists of modern day Peru and Chile.
After Napoleon has conquered Spain, what would become independence movements sweep across the Spanish possessions in South America from 1810. Peru, however, initially, is a stronghold loyal to Spain. It will be leaders from the independence movements in neighboring countries that bring about Peruvian independence. Independence is declared in 1821 after the intervention of José de San Martin – one of the leading generals in the Argentinian war of independence – who has crossed the Andes to establish an independent Chile by 1818 and who has next turned to Peru. After the declaration of independence, a war of independence ensues. The royalists loyal to Spain are eventually defeated in the battle of Ayacucho in 1824 – a victory due to the intervention of Simón Bolívar who has been the leading figure in the war of independence in Colombia.
The 1820’s and 1830’s are an unstable period in shaping the republic of Peru. From 1836 to 1839, Peru is part of the Peru-Bolivia Confederation – a confederation that triggers the War of the Confederation, as Chile, and to a lesser extent Argentina, fear the establishment of a potentially all too powerful political entity. Chile will come out victorious, thus leading to the dissolution of the Confederation. From the 1840’s, Peru will enter a period of relative political stability.
Establishing the borders
The establishment of the borders of Peru is a lengthy and complex process. Let’s take a closer look, from north to south.
The Peru-Ecuador boundary dispute
In the north, the borders will have to be established with the successor states of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. The dispute starts in the 1820’s as a dispute with Greater Colombia, the direct successor of the Viceroyalty of New Granada that, in 1830, will split up into Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. From 1830, Peru and Ecuador are the main contestants – Colombia also claiming parts of the contested territory. In defining the borders between the former Spanish possessions, it is accepted, as a guiding principle, to follow the borders between the political entities in colonial times – the ‘uti possidetis juris’ principle. In this case, that principle does not provide an easy solution. Disputed are just exactly which decrees of the Spanish crown apply and how these should be interpreted. Peru, furthermore, states that a more important principle is the right of self determination – the contested regions of Tumbes, Jaen and Maynas have, in 1821, declared independence and have voted for association with Peru. The dispute will lead to a number of armed conflicts between Peru and both Ecuador and Colombia. Several treaties are signed to define the borders – treaties that are either not ratified by the contestants or shortly after nullified. De facto Peru, from 1821, administers the Tumbes, Jaen and Maynas regions and gradually increases its control to eventually include most of the disputed territory. A 1922 treaty with Colombia settles the border with Colombia. The conflict with Ecuador once more escalates into war in 1941. In 1942, the Rio Protocol is signed defining most of the border between Peru and Ecuador. Demarcation leads to a continued conflict over small stretches of the border. After armed border conflicts in 1981 and 1995, these last stretches of the border are finally agreed upon in 1998, thus ending one of the longest boundary disputes in modern history. The dispute is reflected in the fact that both period and modern maps may show very different borders depending on what position the mapmaker would take in the dispute.
The Peru-Bolivia-Brazil boundaries and the Republic of Acre
Further south, the border will be decided between Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. Upon its independence, Peru extends much further east than modern Peru, into what is now Brazil. After the dissolution of the Peru-Bolivia Confederation in 1839, this territory is transferred to Bolivia. Part of the region has, in 1839, been occupied by Brazil and is ceded to Brazil by Bolivia in 1867. In the Bolivian part – the Acre region – between 1899 and 1903 three attempts are made to set up an independent republic of Acre. The three republics are each only short lived due to Brazilian interventions – the majority of the population of the region being Brazilian. In 1903, the territory is divided by Brazil, Bolivia and Peru along the lines of the current borders.
The Peru-Chile boundary and the War of the Pacific
Yet further south, the border between Peru and Chile is defined as the outcome of the War of the Pacific that was fought from 1879 to 1883 – one of the major armed conflicts in the modern history of South America. At stake are the rich nitrate deposits in the Atacama Desert lying in western Bolivia – at the time extending to the Pacific Ocean by way of the Antofagasta region – and southern Peru. Chile has, in 1874, gained rights to exploit these deposits in the Antofagasta region. When Chile considered its rights violated by Bolivia, Chile, in 1879, occupied the Antofagasta region. Bolivia declared war on Chile and thus brought Peru into the war as Peru and Bolivia had signed a treaty of alliance in 1873. After the occupation of the Bolivian Antofagasta region, the war moved to Peru. Having first secured naval supremacy, Chile, in a number of successive campaigns, occupied the larger part of Peru, the capital of Lima being occupied in 1881. The Peruvian government retreats to Arequipa. In 1883, Peru faces final defeat and is forced to sign a peace treaty. Peru cedes the Tarapaca region to Chile. The Tacna and Arica regions are put under Chilean administration with the intention to organize a referendum on the future of these regions. The referendum never takes place. In 1929, Peru and Chile agree to divide the region, Tacna becoming part of Peru, Arica becoming part of Chile. With Bolivia – that in 1880 had effectively stepped out of the war – a truce is signed in 1884 in which Bolivia cedes the Antofagasta region to Chile.
Political and economical developments
From the 1840’s, Peru enters a period of relative political stability. The economy is boosted by the export of guano – although the rich deposits in Peru also lead to the short Chincha Islands War with Spain in 1865-1866, as Spain claims to have rights to these islands. The decline of guano as a source of income and heavy government spending on investments, such as railways, causes Peru to go bankrupt in the 1870’s . The War of the Pacific further disrupts the country both politically and economically. Regaining political and economical stability will take until the late 19th century. The 1895 revolution starts the ‘Aristocratic Republic’, a period of authoritarian but stable leadership in Peru. When, in 1914, the military assumes power through a coup d’état, this initiates an era in which military dictatorships and authoritarian civilian regimes alternate with periods of full democracy. In 1980, the last military regime resigns. The 1990’s are dominated by the autocratic rule of president Alberto Fujimori who, in 1992, dissolves parliament. In 2000, Fujimori is ousted and democracy restored to Peru. From the 1960’s, Peru is confronted with communist and Maoist opposition groups. The most noticeable is ‘Sendero Luminoso'‘Shining Path’ – a Maoist group that, from 1980, engages in a guerrilla war, thus gaining control over parts of central and southern Peru. Since the 1990’s, the influence of Shining Path has been greatly reduced, but the organization is active until the present day.
Economically, Peru has known periods in which the government advocated a liberal market economy and periods in which the economy was largely government controlled. Since the 1990’s, Peru is a liberal market economy that is currently qualified as a middle high income economy. The largest population group are the Amerindians with 45% of the population, followed by the meztizo with 35% and the people of European origin with 15%.
Postal history Peru
The first stamps issued for use in Peru were stamps previously issued by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company. The PSNC was a British owned shipping company that, from 1847, had initiated postal services on its shipping routes between Great Britain, Chili and Peru and had issued stamps for these services. The initiative was not a success and the stamps were never actually used. As the Peruvian government decided to experiment with postal services, it was provided with stamps from the unused stock of the PSNC. These were used for a period of three months from December 1857 until February 1858. The first definitives issued by the Peruvian government date from March 1858 – stamps showing the coat of arms of Peru, not inscribed with the country name. The first stamps inscribed ‘Peru’ date from 1866. A stamp issued in 1871 at the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the first South America railway between Lima and Callao is considered to be the first commemorative stamp issued worldwide. A stamp for local mail is issued in Lima in 1873. In 1880, Peru joins the UPU – on 5 January 1880, stamps are issued for use on international mail. These are earlier issues – some in different colors – overprinted with an oval in which it reads ‘Union Postal Universal, Peru’ and in the center of the oval ‘Plata'‘Silver’ indicating that the stamps were sold in a hard currency – a requirement of the UPU. The War of the Pacific disrupts the postal administration, leading to a range of special issues discussed in a separate section below. After the War of the Pacific, regular stamp issuing is resumed in 1886. Peru has, until the present day, issued almost exclusively stamps with themes of national interest.
British offices abroad have operated in a number of ports in Peru between 1862 and 1879 using the stamps of Great Britain. These would have handled international mail until Peru joined the UPU in 1880. French offices were operated in Peru – probably in the same period as in Chile, thus, from 1872 to 1874, using the stamps of France.
A special issue was released in 1895 in Tumbes for use in the departments of Tumbes and Piura. At the time, parts of Peru were under control of revolutionary forces – the revolution that would lead to the establishment of the Aristocratic Republic. The commander of the provisional government in northern Peru, Don Augusto Seminario, ordered a set of stamps to be issued – a set that would be used in March and April 1895. The set has been disputed as possibly being issued for speculation – Michel states that the Peruvian Philatelic Society has judged the set to be genuine.
War of the Pacific
The War of the Pacific has led to a number of special issues that form a complex but interesting part of the postal history of Peru. A step by step discussion follows:
- General issues, Chile: Chile operated postal services in the growing part of Peru that was occupied between 1879 and 1883. Most commonly used were the general issues of Chile. These can be found used in a range of cities, both in the Bolivian littoral and in Peru and may be recognized by the cancels.
Occupation issues, Chile: In 1881 and 1882, specific issues for occupied Peru were released. All these issues are overprints on Peruvian stamps captured by the Chilean authorities, the overprint being the Chilean coat of arms. Two sets of Peruvian stamps were used. The first are the general 1874-1879 issues. The second are a set of stamps prepared by the Peruvian authorities, but not yet released. Again, these were the general 1874-1879 issues that the Peruvian authorities had ordered to be overprinted with a horseshoe and the inscription ‘Universal Postal Union Peru’ to signify that Peru had joined the UPU in 1880. Thus, this set, as issued by Chile, had a double overprint. The Chilean overprints were released mainly in Lima and Callao but were also available in a number of other cities. Both types were withdrawn in 1882 when it was found that the stamps were forged in large numbers.
Local issue postmaster, Lima: When the Chileans had occupied Lima in on 17 January 1881, they did not immediately take over the postal services that, for a time, continued to be run by the Peruvian postal authorities. The postmaster of Lima decided that he could not guarantee the quality of service other than in Lima. For that reason, on 28 January 1880 he issued a set of stamps with an overprint identical to the set issued on 5 January 1880 – see the above – only now not inscribed ‘Union Postal Universal, Peru‘ but ‘Union Postal Universal, Lima‘.
- Peruvian government, Arequipa issues: The Peruvian government, after the fall of Lima, had withdrawn to Arequipa and made Arequipa the temporary capital of Peru. For the area under its control, stamps were issued, from 1881 to 1885, that were used in Arequipa, to the north to Cuzco and to the south to Moquegua. The first issues are previously issued revenues overprinted ‘Provisional 1881-1882’. Subsequent issues are stamps of local design and print overprinted with a double circle inscribed ‘Arequipa’.
Peruvian government, general issues: After the retreat of the Chilean forces, the Peruvian government issued provisional stamps for general use. All came from existing stock dating prior to the war. The first set is issued on 23 October 1883, – the day the postal administration was transferred from Chile to Peru. This was the set that was prepared by the Peruvian authorities before the war, but not issued, the set with the horseshoe overprint that had been used by the Chilean authorities with the additional overprint of the Chilean coat of arms. This set was now issued as designed with only the horseshoe overprint. Subsequent sets issued were were also from available stock, only now, to prevent against fraud, overprinted with a triangle with ‘Peru’ in the center. Found with this triangle overprint are the 1874-1879 issues without additional overprint, the 1880 and 1881 issues with the ‘Union Postal Universal, Peru’ and the ‘Union Postal Universal, Lima’ overprint and the 1883 issue with the horseshoe overprint. The triangle can be found in many varieties and these issues are thus of particular interest for specialists.
Peruvian government, local issue Lima: In 1884 stamps were issued for local use in Lima and Callao – the 5 centavo denomination of the 1874-1879 issue overprinted with a sun and ‘Correos Lima’. Scott notes that identical overprints on other issues exist but were only sold to collectors.
Local issues: During and just after the Chilean occupation, with national communication and supply lines being interrupted, the Peruvian government ordered local post offices to issue stamps overprinted with local countersigns to prevent fraud. This has resulted in a large number of local issues. The overprints can be found on the 1874-1879 issues from before the war, on the Arequipa issues of the Peruvian government and on the provisional issues of the Peruvian government after the withdrawal of the Chilean forces. The control overprints are sometimes made using the regular local cancels – another field for specialists as it may be difficult to distinguish regularly canceled stamps from the control overprints. Local issues are found to be issued until 1885 and regular stamp production was resumed in 1886.