The Chala or "Coast" is one of the eight natural regions in Peru. It is formed by all the western lands that arise from sea level up to the height of 500 meters. The coastal desert of Peru is largely devoid of vegetation but a unique fog and mist-fed ecosystem called Lomas is scattered among hills near the Pacific coast as elevations up to .
In this region, the flora includes vegetation that grows near the rivers, like the carob tree, the palo verde, salty grama grass, manglar or mangrove tree, the carrizo or giant reed and the Caña brava (ditch reed); and plants that grow in the hills, such as the Amancay or Peruvian daffodil (Hymenocallis amancaes), the wild tomato, the mito or Peruvian papaya ( Vasconcellea candicans), and the divi-divi (Cæsalpinia coriaria).
The coastal fauna of the Chala includes sea lions, the anchovy and several seabirds.
Common trees in the north are the faique, the zapote, the zapayal, the barrigon and other thorny tropical savanna trees of the equatorial dry forests on the northern coast of Piura and Tumbes. Páramo and the northern coast of the Piura region are not under the influence of the cold Humboldt Current. Páramo has a tree line at the border, even on the westside of the continental divide.
Chala may refer to:
- Chala, a region in Peru
- Chala, Gujarat, town in Gujarat
- Chala, Kannur, town in Kerala
- Chala, Thiruvananthapuram, a suburb of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala
- the Hellenistic name of Hulwan
- Chala bread: see Challah bread, a traditional Jewish bread
- Chala, a name given to Bukharan Jews who were forcibly converted to Islam
- Liliana Chalá
Chala is an Uzbek term meaning "neither this nor that," referring to Bukharan Jews who were allegedly forcibly converted to Islam beginning in the late eighteenth century. In response, these Chala Jews outwardly practiced Islam, but secretly retained their Jewish traditions. These crypto-Jews married among themselves and lived in their own neighborhoods that bordered on existing Jewish neighborhoods. The Chala Jews carry a very similar story to the Marranos of Spain.
Chala Jews were unable to return to their true Jewish faith due to the fatal consequences associated with leaving the Islamic faith. The Islamic rulership during this period imposed a death penalty against those renouncing their Islamic faith. Therefore, it was not until the emergence of Imperial Russia, and Soviet rule that Chala Jews were able to revert to their original faith.
By the 19th century, there were Chala communities that emerged in the cities of: Samarkand, Khiva, Kokand, Margilan, and Shahrisabz. Often, it was not until two to three generations that Chala Jews would begin to intermarry with the local Muslim population and shed any remaining Jewish traditions.
The return of the Chala to Judaism began with the Russian conquest of Central Asia in 1867. While the Khiva and Kokand khanates were incorporated into the Turkestan governorate, the Bukhara Khanate remained autonomous and continued to enforce the death penalty against those who abandoned Islam. As a result, many Chala Jews illegally immigrated into Russian-controlled areas, to escape the certain threat of death. Although Russian law required that these newcomers be deported back to Bukhara and face an imminent death, the deportation orders were continuously delayed, and thus many had remained as permanent non-citizens of the Russian Turkestan region. Some Chala Jews also joined merchant guilds in order to prove their economic use to the empire. Because Muslim law was retained in Bukhara for a longer period than in surrounding cities, by the time communist Soviet rule arrived in Bukhara, many members of the local Chala no longer identified themselves as Jewish, and were fully assimilated into the Muslim population.
Following the installation of Soviet rule in 1920, the religious distinction among the population was no longer officially recognized. Nevertheless, ethnic distinctions on passports enabled many Chala Jews to continue being counted as ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks, rather than Jews.
In 2000, author Mansur Surosh published a novel Chala ("The Outcasts"), which describes the experiences of the chala.