Peruvian Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do’s

  • Engage in discussions on topics such as football (soccer), Peruvian cuisine and Peru's natural landscapes. These are welcome topics of conversation.
  • Try to show an interest in Peruvian cuisine. Food is a big source of pride for many Peruvians and is often a great way to bond.
  • Be open to invitations to join in social activities such as a game of soccer. It is a great way to interact with others and to build stronger relationships.
  • In a social setting, genuine attempts to speak Spanish will be appreciated, regardless of the level of proficiency.
  • Always show respect to elders through actions such as giving up one's seat on public transport. Deferring to the elderly is highly valued in Peru.
  • Do make an effort to look presentable. For many Peruvians, good impressions are often related to the effort one puts into their physical appearance.
  • Peruvians enjoy sharing information about their daily lifestyles (see ‘Diversity of Lifestyles’ in Core Concepts). However, jokes or criticism about lifestyle is considered offensive.


Don'ts

  • Avoid raising topics relating to Peru’s past and present political issues unless you have already established rapport with your Peruvian counterpart. For instance, discussions on ideology such as communism, as well as past and present political events, are quite sensitive and polarising.
  • Do not make jokes about illicit drugs or drug consumption. The topic of drugs is not considered lighthearted in Peru and such comments may be considered an insult or insensitive.
  • Avoid referring to an indigenous or mestizo Peruvian as ‘cholo’. While sometimes used in a positive sense, the term is usually used as a pejorative and may greatly offend your Peruvian counterpart.
  • Try not to stereotype contemporary Peruvian culture based on ancient Inca culture. While many Peruvians take pride in their cultural heritage, Peruvian culture is dynamic and has changed throughout history. 
  • Do not assume all Hispanic and Latin American peoples are the same. Many different countries and cultures across Central and South America vary in many aspects. Thus, avoid homogenising Peruvians with people from other areas of the continent.
  • Do not be offended if you are called ‘gringo’. This term is generally used not as an insult but as a way to refer to any foreign people or objects. 
  • Never insult or make jokes about a Peruvian’s mother. Such comments are considered highly offensive as many Peruvians show utmost respect towards their mothers and grandmothers.
  • Avoid referring to the United States as ‘America’. Specify it as the ‘United States’ (‘Estados Unidos’) instead. All of South America is also technically American, and Peruvians may find it frustrating when the term is reduced to refer to just those from the USA.
  • Avoid boasting about Chile to your Peruvian counterpart. As one of Peru’s neighbouring countries, Chile is thought to be a ‘rival’, in a similar way that New Zealand is to Australia. One example of this rivalry is the dispute over the origin of the alcoholic beverage known as ‘pisco’.
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