The tomato is native to South America and found its way to Mexico around 2000 years ago. After the Spanish colonization of the Americas, the tomato was distributed around the world. Taking genetic evidence into consideration in the Peruvian highlands direct ancestors of today's tomato, a small green fruit, were harvested and consumed already in ancient times.
It's assumed by many that the tomato has its origin in the Andes regions of Peru, where the center of diversity seems to be situated. Although the tomato is botanically a fruit, it is a vegetable for culinary purposes, because of its flavor. While in many countries outside Peru the tomato is a key ingredient in many dishes, in Peru it only plays a minor part in the local cuisine. Tomatoes are often eaten raw, in salad or salsas.