People of Peru - Now & Then
Four major groups of the human family have contributed to Peru's population: Amerindians, whites, blacks, and Orientals. The government traditionally described all mixtures of these stocks as "mestizo," although in everyday speech this term usually denoted the European-Indian amalgam most common in the country. Up until a century ago, Negroes were quite numerous, especially in Lima and other coastal areas. Intermixing, however, has nearly eliminated this group as a significant, visible component of the population.
Today, Blacks and Asians (primarily Chinese and Japanese) together account for less than 1 percent of the nation's inhabitants. Except for these two ethnic elements, racial labels are as much social and cultural designations as categories based upon physical features. Boundaries between the groups are imprecise; white merges into mestizo and mestizo into Indian. Ultimately, the racial term applied to an individual depends upon how the person perceives himself and is viewed by others. Peruvian perceptions of race, like beauty, are in the mind of the beholder.