The first South American country to be inhabited by Croatians was Peru, in the 16th century, when Basilije Basiljević, a landowner from Dubrovnik, came here after hearing tales of El Dorado, the ancient city of the Incas. Among the twenty eight churches in Cusco is the church of San Blas, i.e. the church of St. Vlaho, build by Basiljević and sailors from Dubrovnik. The church is simple on the outside, yet it harbors a magnificent wooden altar covered in golden foil. It has long since stopped being a Croatian church, and is now a Peruvian church, and the sole remaining trace of our people in this part of the world. It is located in the historical San Blas district.


Barrio San Blas 1                            Barrio San Blas 2

Cusco, San Blas or St. Vlaho district


Crkva svetog Vlaha                    Oltar

Cusco, exterior and interior of the church of St. Vlaho


Even much later, in the 19th century, people from Dubrovnik continued to come to Peru. They were joined by other Dalmatians and people from the coast, and mostly worked collecting guano in Cerro de Pasco, located 4,330m above sea level, which makes it the highest inhabited location in the world. After World War I, immigration to the region waned, and most of the Croatians here lived in the port town of Callao. There are none living there today, as they all moved to Lima instead. It is difficult to estimate their exact number, but it is estimated that there are around 7,000 of them. The Croatian language has mostly been lost here. The Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Croatia is active here, with honorary consul Antica Peinović Masle de Kuljevan at its head.

In Peru, on the Chillon River in the Carbayllo County, to the north of Lima, the Osoynik bridge has been built. Construction of the bridge was entirely financed by Peruvian entrepreneur and author of several historical books, Marko Burin, who was born in 1941 in Osojnik by Dubrovnik. The bridge, which was opened to traffic in 1993, was built by Burin as a memorial to his hometown and as a sign of friendship between Peru and Croatia. In El Comercio, in an article titled The bridge that united Peru and Croatia, the first page said that it was the nicest form of an ode to peace; effort invested for the common good.[1]


Marko Burin

Marko Burin, at his farm



Osoynik, Peru

There are several streets dedicated to Croatia in Peru. Calle Croacia was opened in Santa Clara, thanks to the efforts of the Jadran Croatian society.




In the town of Zapallal, where the Burin, Urljević, Bašić, Franić, and several other Croatian families lived, there is also a street called Calle Croacia.

There is a street called Calle Juan Bielovucic in Lima, which got its name after the first airman of South America, and the first man to fly across the Alps, in 1913. Bielo, as Ivan Bjelovučić (1889 – 1949) was fondly called, was born in Peru, where his father, Miho, came to from Janjina on Pelješac, in 1885. It was there that he met and married the daughter of the French Consul, Adrienne Cavalier; Ivan’s mother. Since Miho died at a young age, Adrienne decided to live with her children in Paris, so Ivan got his education there, and became a pilot in 1910. It was already in 1911 that he got an invitation from Lima to acquire an airplane and introduce aviation to Peru. And so it was that he, in the presence of the president and numerous state and military officials, became the first man to fly across Peru. He was the bearer of numerous medals and an officer of Peruvian aviation.


ivan_bjelovucic                       Bjelo u avionu     

Ivan Bjelovučić (1889 – 1949)

The Peruvian post office has dedicated a postal stamp to Bjelovučić on two occasions. The first was published in 1937, when the International Aviation Technology Conference was held. It was on this occasion that Bjelovučić was awarded the first degree cross for aviation. The second stamp was published on the 100th anniversary of his flight from 1911.




     Finally, Bjelovučić’s name is included in the Book of Peruvians, Libro de la Peruanidad, and his name is on the Centro Social y Deportivo Juan Bielovucic sports center. The center is colloquially known as Bielo, and is located in the city of Huanuco in the north of Peru.


In the city of Ica, in the south of Peru, some 300km from Lima, a school was opened under the name Colegio Peruano Croata.


grb              skola na paradi

Colegio Peruano Croata, Ica, Peru



[1] El Comercio, Lima – Peru, December 19th, 1993, pg. 1, El Puente que une al Peru y Croacia