Peru is a republic in South America, on the Pacific Ocean, located between Ecuador and Colombia in the north, Brazil and Bolivia in the east and Chile in the south. The capital is Lima.
The Andes Mountains pass through Peru from northwest to southeast, and are the most central natural geographical features of the country. It is an inland lowland east of the Andes, facing the Amazon rainforest.
Peru is a developing country that has experienced significant economic growth since the beginning of the 2000s, mainly due to export revenues from mining. At the end of 2014, about 25 per cent of the labor force was still employed in the primary industries (agriculture, fisheries and mining).
Peru was the center of the Incaret, which stretched from today’s Colombia to Chile, with the capital Cuzco. The country was conquered by the Spaniards in 1531–1533 and became the seat of the Spanish Viceroy of South America. Peru was declared an independent republic in 1821.
Due to the country’s historical heritage and biological diversity, Peru is a key destination for tourists from all over the world, and tourism is a major industry. The most visited places are the Machu Picchu incubator in Cuzco, the Amazon rainforest and Lake Titicaca. The Peruvian cuisine, including its ceviche, has been internationally recognized in recent years.
Geography and environment
Peru’s land area is the equivalent of Spain and France combined. Peru also claims 200 nautical miles in the Pacific Ocean along the country’s coastline, as well as an area of 60 million hectares in Antarctica. The height differences in the country mean that Peru has 18 ecological regions, which contributes to a wide variety of biodiversity and resources.
Andean mountains pass through the country from northwest to southeast. At the foot of the Andes to the west is a narrow coastal plain characterized by desert. This alternates with lush valleys along rivers that start in the Andes and flow towards the Pacific (known as the Costa region). The coastal climate varies from relatively mild to very hot in the north. The humidity is high, but with little rainfall. With a location just below the equator one could expect a warmer climate, but the coast is cooled by the cold ocean current known as the Humboldt Current.
The mountain region is called Sierra. In northern Peru, the mountains are somewhat lower, with humid climate and rich vegetation. In the middle region the mountains are higher and the valleys narrower. Here we find Huascarán, Peru’s highest mountain at 6768 meters above sea level. In southern Peru the mountain ranges are wide and one finds the Andean high plateau ( Altiplano ). Temperatures in the mountain region vary widely due to elevation differences. The mountain region has two main seasons: rainy season (November – March) and summer time (April – October).
The inner lowlands east of the Andes are called Selva, which refers to the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon River is formed in Peru, where the rivers Marañón and Ucayali meet. A distinction is made between highland rainforest (Selva alta) and lowland rainforest (Selva baja). Temperature and humidity are high all year round, with a lot of rain. There is strong vegetation and great biological diversity in both areas. The Amazon rainforest is among the areas of the world with the most variety in plant and animal life.
People and society
According to countryaah.com, Peru has 31.7 million inhabitants (2016), and most speak Spanish. The vast majority of Peruvians have partial indigenous origins (including mastics ) or belong to the indigenous population. The term mastiser is used for people of mixed origin (European / indigenous people).
A very high proportion of Peru’s population is of indigenous origin, or is of mixed origin. The Lama is traditionally an important livestock in the country, both as a loading animal and for milk, meat and wool.
In Peru, the term indigenous or nativo is used for indigenous peoples from the Amazon rainforest. These amounted to 332,975 inhabitants, divided into 13 language groups in 2007. Indigenous peoples from the Andes Mountains belong mainly to the Quechua and the Aymara population. In the 2007 census, there were about 3.7 million people who had Quechua or Aymara as their mother tongue. It is also a minority of Afro-Peruvians. Many of these are descendants of Africans who were brought to the country as slaves in the 16th and 16th centuries. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was migration from Italy, China and Japan.
Peru has become an urban community over the past 50 years, and most of its inhabitants live in cities and towns. Many – even in cities – lack access to public services and facilities, such as inlet water, drains and electricity. Despite great economic growth over the last decade, there are still large social differences between different social groups. In 2013, approximately 23.9 percent of the population lived below the poverty line. 2.7 percent were considered “extremely poor” (INEI 2015).
Most Peruvians belong to the Catholic Church, but Protestant churches are growing.
State and politics
Following the 1993 constitution, Peru is a unified state and presidential democratic republic. The president is elected in the general election (with a vote) for five years, and without re-election since 2001. The congress consists of 130 members elected simultaneously for the same term.
Japanese-born Alberto Fujimori was president of Peru from 1990 to 2000. In 2009, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for complicity in the murder of 25 people (known as the Cantuta and Barrios Altos cases). It was the first time in world history that a former head of state was brought to justice for human rights violations in his own country.
The President has wide powers; he appoints the government, ambassadors and senior officers and can declare a state of emergency for up to 60 days.
Peru has a multi-party system with relatively new and changing political parties. In the 2016 election, the party Fuerza Popular, led by Keiko Fujimori (daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori ), won a superior victory with 73 out of 130 members of Congress. The country’s oldest party, APRA, got only five representatives in this election.
Peru’s armed forces have been under civilian control since 1980, but had significant political influence during the war with the guerrilla group Luminous Path ( Sendero Luminoso ) in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as under the Fujimori regime in the period 1990-2001.
Peru’s border dispute with Chile over a sea area of 38,000 km ² was dealt with and resolved by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 2014.
Peru is a member of the UN and the UN’s special organizations, including the World Bank, as well as the World Trade Organization and the Organization of American States.
After many years of authoritarian rule under Alberto Fujimori, Peru embarked on a more democratic system of government in the 2000s. Here, the locals in Chinchero cast their vote at the 2000 presidential election, where Fujimori voted for a third term, and the opposing candidate resigned in protest. A few months later, Fujimori was ousted, and a transitional government took power until new elections were held in 2001.
Peru’s history dates back 20,000 years as population groups migrated into present-day Peru from North America. The Chavín de Huantar civilization in the Andes (1500-500 BCE) was long considered to be the oldest in Peru. Recent archaeological research shows that the Caral civilization (2700-1600 BCE) is older, with the oldest urban settlement on the American continent.
Up to the Incarnation arose in the 1300s, there were several civilizations; among them Paracas, Nazca, Chachapoyas, Moche, Tiwanaku and Chimu. All were agricultural-based societies with basic state formation. They developed technology to master their surroundings and shared many cultural features. The Incarceration built on the knowledge of these early civilizations and became the most advanced state formation on the American continent.
During the colonial period (1532-1821) the Inca population was subject to Spanish rule. The community was divided into two, República de Blancos (Spanish) and República de Indios (indigenous people), with their own governing bodies and authorities, and with the indigenous people subject to the Spaniards. The system of ‘ reducciones’ and ‘ encomiendas’ (administrative and territorial units for the settlement and control of indigenous peoples) provided labor for Spanish gentlemen, and eventually also for the acquisition of lands belonging to the indigenous people. At the same time, society became more complex, and new population groups emerged; criollos (Spanish born in America) and mastiser (mixed Spanish / indigenous people).
Peru became an independent republic in 1821. Its inception was marked by political strife and a shift in power. Today’s Bolivia came into being as a result of these struggles when the area known as Alto Perú became Bolivia. A steady period in the mid-1800s was followed by economic upswing due to income from guano (natural bird manure) but with little impact on the country’s economic development. The Pacific War, also known as the Salpeter War, took place in 1879-1883; originally between Chile and Bolivia, but Peru joined because of a cooperation agreement with Bolivia. Peru lost the war with Chile in 1883 and lost large lands in the south.
In the early 1900s, Peru experienced a new economic boom, with exports of raw materials such as rubber, sugar and cotton. New working conditions formed the basis for trade unionization among workers in the agricultural sector. In the 1920s, Peru’s modern political parties were formed, including the APRA ( Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana ), founded by Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre in 1926, and the Socialist Party, founded by José Carlos Mariátegui in 1928.
In the period up to the 1960s, civilian and military regimes alternated, some with clear programs for state modernization. Nevertheless, Peru remained a country of extreme inequality between city and country, between rich and poor and between Spanish-speaking masters and the Quechua- speaking peasant population. The land question was central. Large landowners on the coast controlled cotton and sugar production, while landowners in the highlands expanded at the expense of local farming communities (comunidades campesinas).
General Juan Velasco Alvarado came to power in a coup d’état in 1968 and initiated a comprehensive change process. Natural resources such as oil and copper were nationalized. Under the motto “the land belongs to the one who cultivates it” ( la tierra es para quien la trabaja ), the powerful land oligarchy was abolished through the expropriation of large land properties. More than nine million hectares were expropriated and shared among more than 30 percent of the country’s peasant families. Peru’s land reform is still considered one of the most comprehensive land reforms implemented in Latin America.
A constitutional assembly was formed in 1978, and the military regime ended in 1980 when a new democratically elected president came to power. In the 1980s, the Maoist guerrilla group Luminous Path ( Sendero Luminoso ) started guerrilla war in the Ayacucho region. In December 1982, the government deployed the military, and several years of high numbers of killed and missing persons followed. The 1980s were also characterized by economic crisis and hyperinflation, especially during the APRA government of President Alan García (1985–1990).
In 1990, Alberto Fujimori was elected president. He pursued a neoliberal economic policy that provided lower inflation and macroeconomic stability, but at the expense of social programs and labor rights. The conflict with the guerrillas ended, with a political and military victory over Luminous Path.
In April 1992, Fujimori conducted a constitutional coup with support from the army. He dissolved the National Assembly and the Supreme Court and gave himself extensive powers. Opposition politicians were placed under house arrest and a state of emergency was introduced. In 1993, a new constitution was passed which, among other things, opened for re-election of the president. Fujimori was re-elected president in 1995 and 2000; last time in violation of the Constitution. Fujimori became a contentious and authoritarian leader, using undemocratic methods to submit to the opposition. In 2000, he escaped from the country following mass demonstrations against his regime and extensive corruption scandals. From 2001, Peru regained democratic rule and has had a positive democratic development.
Former Vice President Martín Vizcarra Cornejo took over as President in 2018 on a political platform where the fight against corruption and political reform is central.
Economic liberalization from the 1990s has led to strong economic growth, largely due to the extraction and export of metals and minerals. Revenue has helped improve public services and living standards, but has also led to social and environmental conflicts at the local and regional levels. Comprehensive infrastructure projects have been implemented across the country and again contributed to economic activity and employment. Since 2017, Peruvian politics and social life have been hit hard by the corruption scandal associated with the Brazilian company Odebrecht. All presidents since 2000, as well as ex-president’s daughter Keiko Fujimori and a number of other prominent politicians and business leaders, have been charged with corruption charges and taken into custody. When police approached former President Alan García 17.
Economy and business
Peru’s total (GDP) totaled $ 202.9 billion in 2014. This was four times higher than GDP in 2000. GDP per capita was $ 11,989 (World Bank 2014).
More than half of Peru’s exports consist of metals and minerals. Copper is Peru’s most important export commodity, followed by gold. In January – February 2015, these accounted for 40 percent of Peru’s total export revenue. Non-traditional goods (processed goods) come second, accounting for around 30 per cent of exports in the same period (MINCETUR 2015). Other important export products are fish meal, fish oil, coffee and asparagus.
Peru’s main trading partners as of January 2015 are China (19.1 percent), the EU (16.3 percent) and the United States (14.9 percent), followed by EFTA, Comunidad Andina (CAN) and Canada. Peru has trade agreements with 17 countries, including EFTA, which also includes Norway.
Peru underwent extensive neoliberal economic reform in the 1990s, with trade liberalization, privatization of public sector operations, and restructuring of the tax system and investment frameworks. Since the late 1990s, Peru has experienced sustained economic growth. In 2008, it was 9.8 percent, 6 percent in 2012 and 2.4 percent in 2014 (IADB 2015). The decline is due to some reduction in exports, as well as lower international prices for metals and minerals.
Since 2015, Peru has also been hit by the Brazilian Lava Jato scandal, which is probably the largest corruption case in world history, through the Brazilian company Odebrecht, which has Peru as the second largest investment country. Clashes with the Peruvian authorities led, among other things, to the resignation of then-President Kuzcynski, partly because of charges of corruption.
Knowledge and culture
Peruvian culture is as varied as the country’s population groups and geography, so there are large regional and class differences in, for example, music, dance, food culture and local traditions.
There are many musical genres in Peru, often associated with various forms of traditional dance: marinera and waltz criollo along the coast and in big cities, huaynos and carnavales in the highlands, and more tropical rhythms in the rainforest, such as cumbia. The fusion of huayno and cumbia is called ‘ chicha ‘ which is very popular with working class youth.
There are many traditional events celebrated in Peru, often associated with the religious calendar. Among the most famous are the Easter celebrations in Ayacucho, carnavales ( permanent names ) in Cajamarca and Arequipa, the Señor de los Milagros procession in Lima, and Inti Raymi in Cuzco (an incase ceremony).
Peru’s educational system is characterized by a sharp distinction between public and private schools, colleges and universities. The middle class and more affluent families send their children to private schools, often Catholic schools, while the working class and rural communities only have access to public institutions, which often have limited resources. In this way, the education system helps to create social differences.
The Inca Ceremony Iinti Raymi in Cuzco is one of the many traditional events celebrated in Peru, often associated with the religious calendar.
Peruvian mass media is largely privately owned. The country’s largest newspaper is “El Comercio”, which has a conservative editorial line, followed by “La República”, which is more progressive and leftist. Television and especially radio are very important media outside the big cities.
Peruvian literature is internationally recognized. In 2010, Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for his extensive writing since the 1960s.
Peru has rich food traditions, and renowned national dishes include ceviche, anticuchos de corazón, carapulcra, ají de gallina and picarones.