From the colonial period to the present the mining industry has been one of the most important and dynamic sectors of the Peruvian economy. For over four hundred years the expansion and contraction of the industry has had major repercussions throughout Peruvian society. 1 The labor requirements of the mining industry shaped the characteristics and size of the work force first in the Viceroyalty and later in the Republic of Peru. The large population concentrations in the mining centers have influenced patterns of internal trade.