History and Politics – There were several prominent Andean cultures in Ancient Peru; Mochica, and Chimu in the north, Tiahuanaco, Wari and Paracas in the south and the most recent Inca (‘Tawantinsuyo’ – ‘Four Regions Sun Federation’). In 1532 the barbarian Spanish invasion began and established a colonial form of governing and practiced systematic genocide of the aboriginals.
Spanish born in the Americas organized an independence war against the Spanish crown and accomplished Peruvian independence in 1821. The same process happened in other places of the Americas. These new states such as Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador etc, are not representative of the nations that are inside the territories, but are only a colonial continuation to this day. In fact, essentially nothing has changed for the native people dominated by oligarchic elite. 1% of the population owns 90% of the income of the country. Peru is a state of contrast and drastic differences.
Geography – Peru is one of the 10 mega-diverse countries in the world; it has 82 of the 104 zones of life in the world!
An incredible variety of regions and micro-regions, that have an amazing amount of endemic plants and animals, can be found in Peru. In just a few hours you can pass through different ecosystems and experience unbelievable contrasts in weather conditions, ranging from tropical (30°c+) on the north coast, humid in the eastern jungle to freezing temperatures in the high Andes (-25°c).
It is divided into western coastal plain (Costa – 12%), high and rugged Andes in the centre (Sierra – 30%), and the eastern lowland jungle of the Amazon Basin (Selva – 58% of the total area of Peru).
Location: Western South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador
Total area: 1285220 sq km
Water: 5220 sq km
Land: 1.28 million sq km
Area comparison: slightly smaller than Alaska and five times bigger than the UK
Border countries: Bolivia (900km), Brazil (1560km), Chile (160km), Colombia (1496km) and Ecuador (1420km)
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 200NM
continental shelf: 200NM
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Pacific Ocean – 0m
highest point: Nevado Huascaran – 6768m/22204ft
Natural resources: copper, silver, gold, petroleum, timber, fish, iron ore, coal, phosphate, potash, hydropower, natural gas
Land use: arable land: 2.85%
permanent crops: 0.38%
other: 96.77% (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, landslides and mild volcanic activity
Geography note: Peru shares control of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake, with Bolivia; a remote slope of Nevado Mismi, a 5316m/17440ft peak, is the ultimate source of the Amazon River
Population: 29600000 (July 2004 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.39% (2004 est.)
Birth rate: 21.27 births/1000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate: 6.29 deaths/1000 population (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 32.95 deaths/1000 live births
female: 30.21 deaths/1000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 35.57 deaths/1000 live births
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 69.22 years
male: 67.48 years
female: 71.03 years (2004 est.)
Ethnic groups: Amerindian: 45%, mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white): 37%, white: 15%, black, Japanese, Chinese and other: 3%
Religion: Roman Catholic (90%)
Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara and more than 60 dialects are spoken in the jungle region
Literacy: (definition – 15 years and over with the ability to read and write)
total population: 90.9%
female: 86.8% (2003 est.)
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Peru
conventional short form: Peru
local long form: Republica del Perú
local short form: Perú
Government type: Constitutional Republic
Capital: Lima (c.10 million people)
Administrative divisions: 24 regions and 1 constitutional province* (provincia constitucional); Amazonas, Ancash, Apurimac, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Callao*, Cusco, Huancavelica, Huanuco, Ica, Junin, La Libertad, Lambayeque, Lima, Loreto, Madre de Dios, Moquegua, Pasco, Piura, Puno, San Martin, Tacna, Tumbes, Ucayali
Peru is implementing a decentralization program in which these 25 administrative divisions will begin to exercise greater governmental authority over their territories. In November 2002, voters chose their new regional presidents and other regional leaders; the authority that the regional government will exercise has not yet been clearly defined, but it will be devolved to the regions over the course of several years.
Independence: 28 July 1821 – from Spain (National Holiday)
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory until the age of 70 (members of the military do not vote)
Economy – Peru’s geography is reflected in its economy – an arid coastal region, the Andes inland, and tropical lands bordering Colombia and Brazil. Copious mineral resources are found in the mountainous areas and Peru’s coastal waters provide superb fishing grounds.
However, overdependence on minerals and metals means that the economy fluctuates according to world prices and also the lack of infrastructure in the country does not encourage foreign trade and investment.
The economic situation has improved in recent years, nevertheless, and in 2002 and 2003, the country’s economy was one of the fastest growing in Latin America, growing by 5% and 4%, respectively, with the exchange rate stable and an annual inflation lower than 2%.
GDP per capita: purchasing power parity – $5,200 (2003 est.)
Industries: mining of metals, petroleum, fishing, textiles, clothing, food processing, cement, auto assembly, steel, shipbuilding, metal fabrication
Currency: nuevo sol (PEN)
Exchange rates: Nuevo Sol per US dollar – 3.48 (2003), 3.52 (2002), 3.51 (2001), 3.49 (2000), 3.38 (1999)
Airports with paved runways: 52
unpaved: 63569km (1999 est.)
Waterways: 8808km (Note: 8600km of navigable tributaries in the Amazon system and 208km in LakeTiticaca