Back in the 1850s, Baron Schutz von Holzhausren of Germany and the then President of Peru, General Ramón Castilla, developed a grand plan to establish settlements deep in the jungle. The original deal between Germany and Peru required Peru to build roads, schools and churches; while the Austro-Germans needed to be of Catholic religion, have some kind of office and impeccable reputation.

The first group of three hundred, mainly Tyrolean, immigrants left Europe in 1857 on the British ship Norton, arriving in Lima on July 28. During the overland journey, cutting their way through jungle, almost half the colonists died of disease, accident or exhaustion. The town of Pozuzo was founded in 1859 when the area was ripe with virgin forest and crystalline rivers owned by the Yanesha tribe. Nine years later, a second group of immigrants arrived to reinforce the original population, which had been left, more or less abandoned, by the Peruvian authorities. The colonists began to expand their population and territory; first, Oxapampa was founded in 1891 by the Bottger family, then others went on to found Villa Rica in 1928.

Today the economy of Pozuzo is based on beef cattle; but lederhosen are worn for fiestas and Tyrolean dances are still performed, creating a peculiar combination of European rusticism (the local dance and music is still strongly influenced by the German colonial heritage) and native Peruvian culture. Moreoever, many of this unusual town’s present inhabitants still speak German, eat Schottsuppe, waltz well and dance the polka.

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