Afro-Peruvian are descendant of Africans brought to Peru. They number 5 to 10% of the population. The population is estimated at 2 million. Large numbers can be found in the southern coast Chincha, Lima, Cañete, Nazca, Callao, and Ica,  in the north Morropón Province.


The first Afro-Peruvians arrived with Francisco Pizzaro as slaves, sailors, and soldiers. African soldiers were with Francisco Pizzaro when he conquered the Incas in 1533. Notable slave soldier Juan Valiente was among his troops. Valiente was the only black person, slave to be awarded an encomienda, groups of indians paying tribute.

Timeline of Afro-Peruvian

1791 Afro-descendant pop. @1,232,122, Peru Viceroyalty
1799 afro-descendant population@130,000
1850-1865 chinese import labor
1835, 1850, 1862 census did not take into account race
1876 afro-descendant population@44,224 or 1.94%, census geared to whitening ideology--all mix race placed as one-zambos , mulattos, mestizos-all claiming to be white
1940 afro-descendant population@29,054 or .47%, census geared to whitening ideology--all mix race placed as one-zambos , mulattos, mestizos-all claiming to be white; blacks claiming to be trigueno
1960 No racial stats taken on census after 

After the conquest, Afro-Peruvians were used in construction of the now hispanised Lima and Cuzco, building roads, and clearing lands. Indians were used in the gold and silver mines. Black slaves were initially considered unfit for mining. Increasingly, Afro-Peruvian slaves began to be used in agriculture, as haciendas began to prop up, growing cotton and later sugar, along the coast, due to indians dying out and fleeing.

Slaves made an overland journey that took months. Many died. Slaves contributed their knowledge of farming and metalwork, which they had acquired from Africa before being captured. 

Spanish law allowed slaves to purchase their freedom. At the turn of the sixteenth century, their was a substantial free population of Afro-Peruvian--libertos. They were free but life was very regulated. They could not join the skilled trade profession. They could not own firearms. Most worked as domestics and joined the military. Plus, it was mostly women and children, particularly girls who  were freed, since they were considered the least valuable, between 1580-1650. Even with regulated lives some Afro-Peruvians were able to amass fortunes like Juana Barba and María de Huancavelica in Lima. By 1635, the population of Peru was majority black at 13,620 with a mulatto population of 861. The numbers later decreased to 10,000 by 1700.

Increasingly, slaves were being used in the mines. This increased mortality from mining causing demand for more slaves. By the 1700s, most slave owners went outside of the asiento to purchase slaves. The asiento was a designated provider,  like the French or Dutch. By 1795, the Spanish decreed one could purchase slave from any seller--other Spanish territorries or any nation willing to sell.

In 1821, Peru vied for independence. In 1824, Antonio Jose de Sucre with a troop of predominantly libertos, slaves, and mestizo defeated loyalists at Ayacucho, sealing Peru's independence. Independence did not bring an end to slavery, numerous revolts would occur, until Peru's civil war in 1854, in which Ramon Castilla promised an end to slavery for service. Castilla won the civil war and kept his word. Slavery ended in December of 1854.

The freeing of slaves caused a labor shortage, resulting in the importation of indentured Chinese labor. Most Afro-Peruvians fled to the cities, as well as Indians. Work was hard to come by. Afro-Peruvians found themselves residing in slums, well into the twentieth century and facing much discrimination. 


Afro-Peruvians revolted against slavery and abuse. The 1540s saw numerous outbreaks of rebellion, which were immediately put down. Slaves who fled their masters called cimarones formed palenques. The most famous was founded by Francisco Congo or Chavelilla, Palenque Huachipa, which was a prosperous farming, ranching, and raiding community. Between 1763 and 1764, cimarones of Carabayllo attacked travellers and government officials. It took an army unit to put an end to their raiding. During the rebellion of indian leader Tupac Amaru, libertos sided with the rebellion because of an attempt to tax them. Although Tupac's rebellion was a failure, it prompted the government never to tax libertos


Afro-Peruvian culture can be seen in the food, which retains strong African influences. After all, it was slaves who did all the cooking. In the music strong poly-rthymic traditions mixed with strong string traditions. Afro-Peruvian music is referred to as música criolla. Its major exponent has been Susana Baca, Peru Negro. Religious syncretism has occurred and can be seen in the celebration of El Señor de los Milagros. The reverence of saints is fused with African beliefs. 

Modern Status

After World War II, Peru underwent major political change, from rule by oligarchy, to more democratic representation, but under military control. Peruvian cities became centers of Afro-Peruvian culture. Afro-Peruvian culture, history, literature, and music was taught. During the 1960s and 1970s inspired by the U.S. civil rights, Afro-Peruvians formed political organizations, like Francisco Congo Black Movement. The numerous groups never coalesced under one entity except in the 1970s, under the Association of Black Peruvian Youth, teaching Afro-Peruvian culture, history, and raising awareness of Afro-Peruvian issues. During the 1980s and 1990s, no single organization emerged representing Afro-Peruvian issues.

In 2009, the government of Peru apologised to Afro-Peruvian for slavery, racism, and continued discrimination, the first in Latin America to acknowledge ungoing problems of discrimination and racism.

2% of Afro-Peruvians pursue higher level education and 27% finish high school.

Famous Afro-Peruvian

Augustin Vallejos-mulatto head of sugar union, member of congress in the 1940s
Francisco "Pancho" Fierro
Jose Gil de Castro
Nicomedes Santa Cruz Gamarra
José Manuel Valdés
San Martín De Porres-Afro Peruvian Saint 
León Escobar-black desperado of the 1830s, raided Lima

Works Cited

Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Gates, Henry Louis, Jr.(1999). Africana: the Encyclopedia of African and African American Experience. Basic Civitas Books, pp. 1511-1513. ISBN 0-465-00071-1.

Mcknight, Kathryn J. and Garofalo, J(2009).  Afro-Latino Voices: Narratives from the Early Modern Ibero-Atlantic World 1550-1812. Hackett Publishing Company: In,

Peru apologises for abuse of African-origin citizens, BBC News,29 November 2009, retrieved  27-March-2011

Government Begs “Historical Pardon” from Afro-Peruvians for Past Abuse. Latin American Herald Tribune. Retrieved 27-March-2011