G. C.W. Ames

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Ely, Roland T., 1924-||Keen, Benjamin, 1913-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of History


Developing countries--Social conditions


The history of the Peruvian montan?a is closely connected to man's persistent effort to augment him food supply by migrating to unsettled areas and bringing new land into production. In Peru, the population is growing at a faster rate than agricultural output. The nation can produce adequate food if capital and technology are intensively applied to land already under cultivation. Unfortunately this has not been possible because powerful interests are demanding that resources be invested in other sectors of the economy. Development of the montan?a offers a logical solution to Peru's demographic and agricultural problems. The Peruvian montan?a has been associated with the myth that the subtropical forests of the eastern slopes of the Andes are a "Green Hell." Adherents to this theory have argued that Europeans and highland Indians cannot perform effectively in the hot, humid subtropics and consequently cannot be expected to settle there in significant numbers. Prior to World War II, this view of the montan?a was apparently confirmed by numerous failures of governmental colonization schemes and the setbacks suffered by many missionaries. Periodic outbreaks of yellow fever and malaria killed many colonists in the montan?a and forced many others to flee back up to the altiplano, or to keep on going right on down to the Pacific coast. Historians and geographers have consequently described the montan?a in very somber terms and continued to do so in spite of reliable evidence to the contrary. This thesis, then, seeks to set the record straight and to reaffirm the montan?a's potential value as a safety valve for internal migrations from the overpopulated and poverty stricken sierra. Since World War II, successful settlement of the montan?a by highland Indians, who it was thought could not adapt to the geography and climate of this region, has refuted traditional judgments of subtropical Peru. The successes of some colonization projects, both governmental and private, have demonstrated that the montan?a can be profitably settled. The critical element in the success of these settlements has been dependable and relatively cheap transportation to markets in the sierra, as well as to Lima and other coastal towns. Interaction of these factors has given the montan?a growing importance for the Peruvian economy.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes maps.


122 pages




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