Peru’s So-Called “Gold”

By BobbyRica | March 15, 2012

guano island

If you go to the millennia on the Islas Ballestas and Peninsula de Paracas, you will see that the seabirds have deposited many layers of guanos – sun-baked, nitrogen-rich droppings. The large resident bird colonies are the ones responsible for these. The guano can be found everywhere, even in places as deep as 50 meters.


Even in pre-Inca times, the use of guano as a rich fertilizer has been widely well-known. But did you know that these “filthy riches” are Peru’s principal exported product during the mid-19th century? Large amounts of guano were shipped to America and Europe. The trade became so successful that it prompted Spain to start the so-called “Guano War” from 1865 to 1866. They were seeking possession of the Chincha Islands, which were rich in guano.

Today, over-exploitation and synthetic fertilizers have made guano’s production process more peaceful. The only exceptions are the boatloads of day-trippers from nearby Pisco.

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