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Republic of Peru
República del Perú


FLAG: The national flag consists of red, white, and red vertical stripes.

ANTHEM: Himno Nacional, beginning "Somos libres, seámoslo siempre" ("We are free; let us remain so forever").

MONETARY UNIT: The nuevo sol (ml), a paper currency of 100 céntimos, replaced the inti on 1 July 1991 at a rate of i1,000,000 = ml1, but, in practice, both currencies are circulating. There are coins of 1, 5, 10, 20, and 50 céntimos and 1 nuevo sol, and notes of 10, 20, 50, and 100 nuevos soles and 10,000, 50,000, 100,000, 500,000, 1,000,000, and 5,000,000 intis. ml1 = $0.30395 (or $1 = ml3.29) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Labor Day, 1 May; Day of the Peasant, half-day, 24 June; Day of St. Peter and St. Paul, 29 June; Independence Days, 2829 July; Santa Rosa de Lima (patroness of Peru), 30 August; Battle of Anzamos, 8 October; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Immaculate Conception, 8 December; Christmas, 25 December. Movable holidays include Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

TIME: 7 am = noon GMT.


Peru is South America's third-largest country, with an area of 1,285,220 sq km (496,226 sq mi), extending about 1,287 km (800 mi) senw and 563 km (350 mi) nesw. Comparatively, the area occupied by Peru is slightly smaller than the state of Alaska. It is bounded on the n by Ecuador and Colombia, on the e by Brazil and Bolivia, on the s by Chile, and on the w by the Pacific Ocean, with a total land boundary length of 5,536 km (3,440 mi) and a coastline of 2,414 km (1,500 mi).

Various offshore islands, chiefly the Chincha Islands off Pisco in southern Peru, are uninhabited, but at least 21 of these are important to the Peruvian economy and are protected by the government's guano monopoly.

Peru's capital city, Lima, is located on the Pacific coast.


Peru is divided into three contrasting topographical regions: the coast (costa), the highlands (sierra), and the eastern rain forests (selva). The coastline is a narrow ribbon of desert plain from 16 to 160 km (10 to 100 mi) broad. It is scored by 50 rivers, which water some 40 oases. Only a few of these rivers, which have their source in the Andean snowbanks, reach the sea in all seasons. Although the coastal region constitutes only 12% of the national territory, it contains the ports and chief cities of Peru.

Inland, the low costa rises through the steep wastes of the high costa (7602,000 m/2,5006,500 ft), then ascends abruptly to the western cordillera (Cordillera Occidental) of the Andes, which, with its ridge of towering peaks, runs parallel to the coast and forms the Peruvian continental divide. The less regular Cordillera Central and Cordillera Oriental merge in central Peru with the Cordillera Occidental. They branch off to the southeast, meeting a transverse range that becomes a crescent of peaks forming the drainage basin of the 8,288 sq km (3,200 sq mi) Lake Titicaca, the highest large navigable lake in the world (about 3,810 m/12,500 ft high), which is bisected by the Peruvian-Bolivian border. Of the 10 Peruvian peaks that rise above 5,800 m (19,000 ft), Huascarán, 6,768 m (22,205 ft), is the highest.

The intermontane basins, deep-gashed canyons, and high treeless plateaus (punas) of the Andes form the sierra and constitute 27% of the country's surface. The most important rivers draining the Andes on the Atlantic watershed, such as the Marañón, Huallaga, and Ucayali, flow north or south and eventually east to form the Amazon Basin. The selva covers 61% of Peru and consists of the low selva (the Amazon rain forest) and the high selva, a steeply sloping transition zone about 100160 km (60100 mi) wide between the sierra and the rain forest.

Peru lies near the boundary of the Nazca and South American Teutonic Plates, which is a seismically active area. An 8.4 magnitude earthquake occurred near the coastal region on 23 June 2001, triggering a tsunami that affected parts of Chile and Bolivia. Over 100 people were killed by the event and over 2,600 more were injured. It was recorded as the largest earthquake of the year worldwide. One of the countries most devastating quakes on record occurred in May 1970 when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake killed 66,000 people.


Although Peru's seaboard is situated well within the tropical zone, it does not display an equatorial climate; average temperatures range from 21°c (70°f) in January to 10°c (50°f) in June at Lima, on the coast. At Cuzco, in the sierra, the range is only from 12°c (54°f) to 9°c (48°f), while at Iquitos, in the Amazon region, the temperature averages about 32°c (90°f) all year round. The cold southnorth Humboldt (or Peruvian) Current cools the ocean breezes, producing a sea mist with the inshore winds on the coastal plain. Only during the winter, from May to October, does this sea mist (garúa) condense into about 5 cm (2 in) of rain.

Latitude has less effect upon the climate of the sierra than altitude. The rainy season in the Andes extends from October to April, the reverse of the coastal climate. Temperatures vary more from day to night than seasonally. The snow line ranges from 4,700 to 5,800 m (15,500 to 19,000 ft). In the eastern rain forest, precipitation is heavy, from 190 to 320 cm (75 to 125 in) annually; rain falls almost continuously between October and April.

A warm Pacific west-to-east current called El Niño appears near the Peruvian coast every four to ten years around Christmastime (the name is a reference to the Christ child), occasionally causing serious weather disturbances.


Peru's several climates and contrasting surface features have produced a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Where the coastal desert is not barren of life, there are sparse xerophytic shrub, cactus, and algarroba, and a few palm oases along the perennially flowing rivers from the Andes. Where the sea mist (garúa) strikes against the rising slopes between 800 and 1,400 m (2,600 and 4,600 ft), a dense belt of lomas, flowering plants, and grasses (important for grazing) grows. Perennial shrubs, candelabra cacti, and intermontane pepper trees account for much of the western slope vegetation in the higher altitudes and forests of eucalyptus have been planted.

High-altitude vegetation varies from region to region, depending on the direction and intensity of sunlight. Tola grows in profusion at 3,400 m (11,000 ft) in the southern volcanic regions; bunch puna grasses may be found at 3,700 m (12,000 ft). On the brow (ceja) of the eastern slopes, mountain tall grass and sparse sierra cactus and low shrub give way at 900 m (3,000 ft) to rain forests and subtropical vegetation. As the eastern slopes descend, glaciers are remarkably close to tropical vegetation.

The 601,000 sq km (232,000 sq mi) of eastern selva, with 18 rivers and 200 tributaries, contain the dense flora of the Amazon basin. Such native plants as sarsaparilla, barbasco, cinchona, coca, ipecac, vanilla, leche caspi, and curare have become commercially important, as well as the wild rubber tree, mahogany, and other tropical woods.

For centuries, vast colonies of pelicans, gannets, and cormorants have fed on the schools of anchovies that graze the rich sea pastures of the Humboldt Current and have deposited their excrement on the islands to accumulate, undisturbed by weather, in great quantities of guano. This natural fertilizer was used by the pre-Inca peoples, who carried it on their backs to the sierra. Forgotten during the days of colonial gold greed, guano attracted the attention of scientists in 1849, when its rich nitrogen content was analyzed as 1417%. For 40 years thereafter, Peru paid many of its bills by exporting guano to exhausted croplands of Europe. Guano has since been largely replaced in the international market by synthetic fertilizers.

The rich marine plant life off the Peruvian coast attracts a wealth of marine fauna, the most important of which are anchoveta, tuna, whale, swordfish, and marlin. Characteristic of the Andes are the great condor, ducks, and other wild fowl. The vizcacha, a mountain rodent, and the chinchilla are well known, as is the puma, or mountain lion. Peru is famous for its American members of the camel familythe llama, alpaca, huarizo, and guanacoall typical grazing animals of the highlands. The humid forests and savannas of eastern Peru contain almost half the country's species of fauna, including parrots, monkeys, sloths, alligators, paiche fish, piranhas, and boa constrictors, all common to the Amazon Basin.

As of 2002, there were at least 460 species of mammals, 695 species of birds, and over 17,000 species of plants throughout the country.


Peru's principal environmental problems are air pollution, water pollution, soil erosion and pollution, and deforestation. Air pollution is a problem, especially in Lima, due to industrial and vehicle emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources totaled 26.1 million metric tons in 1996. In 2000, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 29.5 million metric tons.

Water pollution is another of Peru's environmental concerns. Its sources are industrial waste, sewage, and oil-related waste. The nation has 1,616 cu km of renewable water resources with 86% of the annual withdrawal used to support farming and 7% used for industrial activity. Only 87% of city dwellers and 66% of the rural population have access to improved water sources. Soil erosion has resulted from overgrazing on the slopes of the costa and sierra.

The National Office for the Evaluation of Natural Resources is the principal policymaking body for resource development, while the General Department of the Environment, part of the Ministry of Health, deals with control of pollution problems; water, forest, and wildlife resources are the province of the Ministry of Agriculture. Numerous environmental protection measures have been passed, but enforcement is lax and hampered by inefficient management and scarce fiscal resources. A major environmental challenge for Peru in the 1980s had been opening the selva for agricultural development without doing irreparable harm to the ecology of the Amazon Basin.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 46 types of mammals, 94 species of birds, 6 types of reptiles, 78 species of amphibians, 8 species of fish, 2 species of invertebrates, and 274 species of plants. Threatened species included the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, black spider monkey, puna rhea, tundra peregrine falcon, white-winged guan, arrau, green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, olive ridley turtle, leatherback turtle, spectacled caiman, black caiman, Orinoco crocodile, and American crocodile. The red-throated wood rail has become extinct.


The population of Peru in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 27,947,000, which placed it at number 40 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 5% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 32% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 101 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be 1.6%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The projected population for the year 2025 was 35,725,000. The overall population density was 22 per sq km (56 per sq mi), with some 53% of the inhabitants living in the coastal region; 36% living in the Andean sierra; and 11% living in the eastern rain forest.

The UN estimated that 73% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 1.86%. The capital city, Lima, had a population of 7,899,000 in that year. Other important cities are Trujillo, Arequipa, and Chiclayo.


In the 1860s and 1870s, the Peruvian government imported Chinese laborers to mine guano deposits, build railroads, and work on cotton plantations. Since then, Peru has not attracted large numbers of immigrants, although there are Japanese as well as Chinese enclaves in the coastal cities. In 1991, some 377,485 Peruvians left the country, and 309,136 returned. The United States was the leading country of destination (38%), with Chile second. In 1999, Peru continued to produce more refugees than it received, due particularly to human rights violations. As of 2004, there were 766 refugees recognized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and 232 asylum seekers, the latter mainly from Colombia. In that same year, 1,593 Peruvians sought asylum in Canada, Ecuador, and the United States.

For decades, the government encouraged the movement of people into the empty areas of the eastern Andean slopes (the high selva) in order to bring the eastern provinces into the national economic mainstream. Since the 1950s, however, the main trend has been in the reverse, from the sierra to the coastal cities. Lima has received the bulk of rural migrants, and by the mid-1990s the metropolitan area of Lima supported nearly one-third of the total national population.

The total number of migrants living in Peru in 2000 was 46,000. In 2004, remittances were $1.3 billion, 5% of GDP. In 2005, the net migration rate was an estimated -1.0 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.


According to the latest estimates, about 45% of the inhabitants are Amerindian, 37% are mestizo (of mixed Amerindian and Spanish or other European ancestry), 15% are white, and 3% are black, Asian, or other. Small groups of Germans, Italians, and Swiss are important in commerce, finance, and industry. Chinese and Japanese operate small businesses, and some Japanese have been successful in agriculture.

Of the 47 million sierra Amerindians under Inca domination, fewer than one million were left when the first colonial census was taken in 1777. A failing food supply and new diseases, such as smallpox, scarlet fever, and measles, were lethal to the young. Despite continuing disease and poverty found among the Amerindians today, they have increased to more than eight million. The main groups are the Quechua- and Aymará-speaking tribes, but there are also some other small tribes in the highlands. Peru's lowland forest Amerindians were never subjugated by Incas or by Spaniards and continue to be fishermen, hunters, and foragers.

In the mid-1980s, at least 225,000 rain forest Indians were grouped in 37 tribes. A 20-year plan announced in 1968 called for the full social, economic, and political integration of Peru's Amerindian population. Nevertheless, in the 1980s, sociocultural distinctions based on ethnic background were endemic to Peruvian society, with whites (especially the criollos, those of early Spanish descent) at the top of the hierarchy, mestizos and cholos (acculturated Amerindians) below them, and monolingual Quechua- or Aymará-speaking Amerindians at the bottom.


Spanish is spoken, as in all Latin America, without the use of the sound represented by th in thing characteristic of Castilian. The majority of the population speaks only Spanish. At least seven million Amerindians, as well as many mestizos, speak Quechua, the native tongue of the Inca peoples, the use of which was outlawed following an Amerindian revolt in 1780. A decree of 27 May 1975 granted Quechua the status of an official language, along with Spanish. Some words in modern English usage derived from Quechua are alpaca, condor, pampa, coca, guano, Inca, llama, guanaco, vicuña, puma, and quinine. Aymará is spoken by at least 700,000 people, especially in the department of Puno and around Lake Titicaca, and various other languages are spoken by tribal groups in the Amazon Basin.


Although about 80% of the population is nominally Roman Catholic, it has been estimated that only about 15% of all Catholics actively participate in religious services. The practice of Catholicism in Peru is often imbued with Amerindian elements. Between 7% and 12% of the populations are Protestants, including evangelical Christians (Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, members of the Assemblies of God, the Christian Missionary Alliance, The Evangelical Church of Peru, and the Church of God) and non-evangelical Christians (Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Jehovah's Witnesses). Approximately 2.5% of the populace are members of other religions, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Shintoists. Atheists and agnostics account for 1.4%.

The constitution guarantees religious freedom, but it also recognizes the Roman Catholic Church as an "important element in the historical, cultural, and moral development" of the country. A 1980 concordat signed with the Vatican grants special recognition, and preferential treatment, to the Catholic Church as well.


The system of highways that was the key to the unification of the Inca Empire was not preserved by the Spanish conquerors. The lack of an adequate transportation system is still a major obstacle to economic integration and development.

As of 2004, Peru's railroad system consisted of 3,462 km (2,153 mi) of standard and narrow gauge railway lines. Of that total, the standard gauge accounts for 2,962 km (1,842 mi). Nationalized in 1972, the system is subject to landslides and guerrilla attacks. Operation of the system was given in concession in July 1999, for 30 years, to two companies: Ferrovias Central Andina S. A. (central railway); and Ferrocarril Transandino S. A. (south and south-east railways). The two principal railway systems, the Central and Southern railways, were built during the second half of the 19th century and were at one time owned and operated by British interests. The Central Railway, the world's highest standard-gauge rail-road, connects Lima-Callao with the central sierra. The Southern Railway links Arequipa and Cuzco with the ports of Mollendo and Matarani and runs to Puno on Lake Titicaca, where steamers provide cross-lake connections with Bolivia. The Tacna-Arica Railway, totaling 62 km (39 mi) and linking Peru with Chile, is also a part of the nationalized system.

In 2002, of the estimated 72,900 km (45,300 mi) of existing roads, only 8,700 km (5,406 mi) were paved. The nation's highways are deteriorating, especially in the mountains, where land-slides and guerrilla attacks often occur. The two primary routes are the 3,000 km (1,864 mi) north-south Pan American Highway, connecting Peru with Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile, and the Trans-Andean Highway, which runs about 800 km (500 mi) from Callao to Pucallpa, an inland port on the Ucayali River. The 2,500-km (1,550-mi) Jungle Edge Highway, or Carretera Marginal de la Selva, spans most of Peru along the eastern slopes of the Andes and through the selva. In 2003, there were 346,300 automobiles and 234,800 commercial vehicles. About 60% of inland freight and 90% of all passengers are carried by road.

The Amazon River with its tributaries, such as the Marañón and the Ucayali, provides a network of waterways for eastern Peru. Atlantic Ocean vessels go 3,700 km (2,300 mi) up the Amazon to Iquitos and, at high water, to Pucallpa. As of 2004, there were 8,808 km (5,473 mi) of waterways, of which 8,600 km (5,349 mi) consist of tributaries of the Amazon River and 208 km (129 mi) on Lake Titicaca. Peru has 11 deepwater ports and in 2005 its merchant fleet consisted of four vessels of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 13,666 GRT. Only Peruvian ships may engage in coastal shipping. Callao, Peru's chief port, and Salaverry, Pisco, and Ilo have been expanded.

Much of Peru would be inaccessible without air transport. In 2004 there were an estimated 234 airports. In 2005, a total of 54 had paved runways, and there was also one heliport. The two principal airports are Col. Fco. Secada at Iquitos and Jorge Chavez at Lima. Faucett Airlines is the older of the two main domestic air carriers, which serve 40 airports and landing fields. The recently privatized Aeroperú, created in May 1973, provides both domestic and international services. In 2003, about 2.233 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights. The Peruvian Air Force also operates some commercial freight and passenger flights in rain forest areas.


Archaeological evidence indicates that Peru has been inhabited for at least 12,000 years. Perhaps as early as 6,000 years ago, the first primitive farmers appeared. Between 500 bc and ad 1000 at least five separate civilizations developed. The Paracas, on the southern coast, produced elaborately embroidered textiles and performed brain surgeries, in spanish "trepanaciones craneanas. " The Chavín, in the highlands, were noted for their great carved stone monoliths. The Mochica, on the north coast, produced realistic pottery figures of human beings and animals. The Nazca in the south were noted for the giant figures of animals in the ground that can be seen only from the sky. The Chimú were the most developed of these groups.

The Quechua Empire, whose emperors had the title Sapa Inca, was established in the 13th century. During the next 300 years, the extraordinary empire of the Incas, with its capital at Cuzco, spread its spiritual and temporal power to northern Ecuador, middle Chile, and the Argentine plains. By means of a system of paved highways, the small Cuzco hierarchy communicated its interests to a population of 812 million. The intensive agriculture of scarcely tillable lands, held in common and controlled by the state, created a disciplined economy. The ayllu, a kinship group that also constituted an agrarian community, was the basic unit of the Inca Empire, economically and spiritually. The Incas were sun worshipers and embalmed their dead. Their highly developed civilization used a calendar and a decimal system of counting and advanced arquitecture, but never developed a wheel.

Francisco Pizarro's small band of Spaniards arrived in 1532, shortly after a civil war between the Inca half-brothers Huáscar and Atahualpa. The empire collapsed in 1533. Lima was established in 1535 and promptly became the opulent center of the Viceroyalty of Peru. It held jurisdiction over all Spanish South America except Venezuela. The Spanish imperial economy, with its huge land grants given by the crown and its tribute-collecting encomiendas, brought vast wealth and a new aristocracy to Peru. To Spain, Peru was a gold bank. Mines were exploited, and overworked Indians perished by the millions as food supplies declined.

Peru remained a Spanish stronghold into the 19th century, with modest internal agitation for independence. One notable exception was the abortive revolt led by a mestizo known as Tupac Amaru II in 1780. Otherwise, Peruvian royalists helped the crown suppress uprisings in Peru and elsewhere. In the end, Peru was liberated by outsidersJosé de San Martín of Argentina and Simón Bolívar of Venezuela. San Martín landed on Peruvian shores in 1820 and on 28 July 1821 proclaimed Peru's independence. The royalists were not quelled, however, until the Spaniards were defeated by forces under Bolívar at the battle of Junín and under Antonio José de Sucre at Ayacucho in 1824. The victory at Ayacucho on 9 December put an end to Spanish domination on the South American continent, although the Spanish flag did not cease to fly over Peru until 1826.

Between 1826 and 1908, Peruvian presidents ruled an unstable republic plagued by rivalries between military chieftains (caudillos) and by a rigid class system. Marshal Ramón Castilla, president from 1845 to 1851 and from 1855 to 1862, abolished Amerindian tributes and introduced progressive measures. Between the 1850s and the mid-1880s, Peru experienced an economic boom financed by sales of guano to Europe. A program of road building was implemented, and an American entrepreneur, Henry Meiggs, was hired by the government to build a railroad network in the Andes. In 1866, a Spanish attempt to regain possession of Peru was frustrated off the port of Callao. An 1871 armistice was followed in 1879 by the formal recognition of Peruvian independence by Spain. The War of the Pacific (187984) followed, in which Chile vanquished the forces of Peru and Bolivia and occupied Lima from 1881 to 1883. Under the Treaty of Ancón, signed in October 1883, and subsequent agreements, Peru was forced to give up the nitrate-rich provinces of Tarapacá and Arica.

Peru entered the 20th century with a constitutional democratic government and a stable economy. This period of moderate reform came to an end in 1919, when a businessman, Augusto Leguía y Salcedo, who had served as constitutionally elected president during 190812, took power in a military coup and began to modernize the country along capitalistic lines. It was in opposition to Leguía's dictatorship, which had the backing of US bankers, that a Peruvian intellectual, Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre, founded the leftist political party "American Popular Revolutionary Alliance" (APRA). In 1930, after the worldwide depression reached Peru, Leguía was overthrown by Luis M. Sánchez-Cerro, who became Peru's constitutional president in 1931 after an election which the Apristas (the followers of APRA) denounced as fraudulent. An Aprista uprising in 1932 was followed by the assassination of Sánchez-Cerro in April 1933, but the military and its conservative allies maneuvered successfully to keep APRA out of power. Manuel Prado y Ugartache served as president during World War II, a period which also brought the eruption of a border war with Ecuador in 1941. The 1942 Protocol of Río de Janeiro, which resolved the conflict on terms favorable to Peru, was subsequently repudiated by Ecuador.

In 1945, Prado permitted free elections and legalized APRA. Haya de la Torre and the Apristas supported José Luis Bustamante y Rivera, who won the elections, and APRA (while changing its name to the People's Party) received a majority in congress. In 1948, military leaders charged the president with being too lenient with the Apristas and dividing the armed forces. A coup led by Gen. Manuel A. Odría ousted Bustamante, and APRA was again outlawed. Several hundred Apristas were jailed, while others went into exile. In January 1949, Haya de la Torre found refuge in the Colombian embassy, where he lived for the next five years. Under the rule of Odría and his military board of governors, the Peruvian economy flourished. Odría announced his retirement in 1956, and promoted his own candidate for the presidency. In a free election, the opposition candidate, former President Prado (tacitly supported by the outlawed APRA) returned to office.

Peru under the Prado regime was characterized by deep-rooted social unrest and political tension. Prado himself faded into the background, allowing Premier Pedro Beltrán to rule. Beltrán's economic moves stabilized Peru's financial picture, but the political problems remained. The election of 1962 was a three-way race between Haya de la Torre; Odría, back from retirement; and Fernando Belaúnde Terry, leader of the Popular Action Party (AP). Although Haya de la Torre got the most votes, he did not receive the constitutionally required one-third of the votes cast. The parties then went into negotiations, and a deal was struck giving Odría the presidency with an APRA cabinet. The military thereupon intervened, annulled the vote, and suspended the newly elected congress. The governing junta then announced new elections for July 1963, and the same candidates ran. This time, Belaúnde received 39% of the votes cast to become president.

Belaúnde embarked on a program of agrarian reform, as well as tax incentives to promote manufacturing. However, he was caught in a crossfire between the Odrístas, who considered him a radical, and the Apristas, who believed he was not doing enough. Belaúnde's AP formed a coalition with the Christian Democratic Party to control the senate, but APRA and the Odría National Union controlled the Chamber of Deputies. On top of all this, Belaúnde had to deal with two separate leftist insurgencies in Peru's highlands. As Peru approached new presidential elections, the AP began to quarrel, and opposition parties continued to sabotage Belaúnde's programs. Then a scandal concerning the granting of oil concessions to the International Petroleum Co., a subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey, rocked the government. A military junta exiled Belaúnde on 3 October 1968 in a bloodless coup.

In 1969, the military government, under the presidency of Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado, began enacting a series of social and economic reforms. This time, they did not worry about opposition, ruling instead by decree. By 1974 they had converted private landholdings into agricultural cooperatives, nationalized a number of basic industries, and had mandated profit-sharing schemes for industrial workers. The military also reached out to Peru's long-neglected Amerindian population, making Tupac Amaru a national symbol, and recognizing Quechua as an official national language.

In August 1975, Velasco, whose health and political fortunes had both declined, was removed from office in a bloodless coup and replaced by Gen. Francisco Morales Bermúdez Cerruti, formerly his prime minister. The new regime moved to liberalize the system, declaring a general amnesty for post-1968 political exiles and the legalization of some previously banned publications. They subsequently announced a return to civilian government and the creation of a "fully participatory social democracy." Some state-controlled enterprises were sold and worker-participation programs were scaled down. A Constituent Assembly was elected, and under the leadership of the perennial candidate Haya de la Torre they drew up a new constitution in 1979. New elections were held in 1980, and the AP and Belaúnde returned to power.

Belaúnde's second term was even less a success than his first. Adverse weather conditions and the world recession accompanied ill-conceived policies that led to triple-digit inflation. Austerity programs caused increased rates of unemployment and currency problems pinched the Peruvian middle-class. Perhaps most disturbing of all, a small Maoist guerrilla group, Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) was operating openly in the Andes, especially around Ayacucho. Despite passage of an antiterrorist law in 1981, terrorist activities intensified. The AP's tenuous hold on the government was slipping. The AP won only 15% of the vote in the 1983 municipal elections. By 1985, with Peru on the brink of an economic collapse, the AP received a mere 7% of the vote.

The election of 1985 was historic in two ways: it was the first peaceful transfer of power in 40 years, and it brought the first president from APRA since the party's founding in 1928. Alán García Pérez, secretary-general of APRA, won with 53% of the vote and brought with him an APRA majority in both houses. The new president pursued populist economic policies aimed at controlling inflation, stimulating the economy, and limiting external debt repayments. To get inflation under control, García established a strict set of price controls, dropping inflation precipitously. Salaries were then allowed to increase, which led to a dramatic surge in the production of industrial and consumer goods. García also announced that external debt service would be set at 10% of export earnings, when several times that amount would have been required to keep up with interest payments alone.

While initially successful, these programs eventually ran aground. The IMF, a constant target of García, declared Peru ineligible for any further borrowing because of the size of Peru's external debt. After its initial boom, industrial production began to sag. Food shortages became common as suppliers refused to produce with artificially low prices. By 1990, inflation had climbed to four-digit levels.

García had some success in dealing with Peru's democratic left, but the militant left was another story. By increasing the stridency of his rhetoric, especially against the United States, García was able to capture leftist votes, seriously damaging the power of the United Left (Izquierda UnidaIU). However, Sendero escalated its attacks, coming down out of the mountains and striking at urban and suburban targets around Lima and Callao. In addition, the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) merged with the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR), and struck with increasing intensity. Although García had promised to get the military under control, it was soon clear that he could not function without them, and authorized a set of brutal counter-insurgent campaigns.

By 1990, Peruvians began to cast about for someone to deliver the country from its economic and social woes. Neither APRA nor the AP had any credibility left. In a surprise, Alberto Fujimori, the son of Japanese immigrants, defeated conservative novelist Mario Vargas Llosa by 57% to 34%. Other candidates totaled a little over 9%. Fujimori immediately imposed a draconian set of austerity measures designed to curb inflation, which he had promised not to do during his candidacy. These measures caused a great deal of economic dislocation, but did reduce inflation to pre-1988 levels.

Fujimori moved aggressively to combat Sendero and the MRTAMIR. He organized and armed rural peasants to counter the increased guerrilla presence, and gave the military a broad mandate to crack down on the insurgents. The capture of Abimaél Guzmán, leader of Sendero Luminoso, was hailed as a major blow against the movement, but the violence continued. Human rights continued to deteriorate, and the military became stronger.

Domestic opposition increased as Fujimori became increasingly isolated politically. Then, in April 1992, Fujimori shut down Congress and refused to recognize any judicial decisions. The autogolpe ("self-coup") received widespread popular approval and, most significantly, the military supported Fujimori's moves. In 1992, elections were held to create a Constituent Assembly charged with making constitutional reforms, including allowing Fujimori to run for a second five-year term in 1995. Both APRA and AP refused to participate, and Fujimori's New Majority/Change 90 party took a majority of seats. With full executive powers and a legislature full of supporters, Fujimori was able to enact whatever reforms he deemed necessary to improve Peru's economic and social situations.

A border war with Ecuador in early 1995 (in which both sides claimed victory) boosted Fujimori's popularity to a level that enabled him to win his unprecedented second-consecutive presidential election by a landslide, roundly defeating former UN secretary general Javier Perez de Cuellar. In May 1999, Fujimori and Ecuadorian President Jamil Mahuad formally ended the border dispute that dated from 1941. The accord gave Ecuador a small piece of Peruvian territory and navigation rights on some Peruvian rivers. In Ecuador, the peace treaty was considered a capitulation, turning the army against Mahuad.

Fujimori continued to rule by martial law, and took decisive steps to end terrorist opposition and violence in Peru. In 1996, the second-highest leader of Sendero, Elizabeth Cardenas Huayta, was arrested. The Tupac Amaru rebel movement was decimated in April 1997 when military commandos stormed the Japanese Embassy, where the rebels had been holding hostages since December 1996, and killed all 14 of the Tupac Amaru guerrillas who had carried out the siege (one hostage died in the raid, from a heart attack as a result of a gunshot wound).

Although the success of the embassy raid and the end of the hostage crisis at first raised Fujimori's popularity, it soon began to decline as Peruvians wearied of Fujimori's strong-arm tactics. Government attacks on the press and on certain members of the business community created a mounting dissatisfaction with the Fujimori regime. When Fujimori fired three Constitutional Tribunal judges for rejecting his claim to a third consecutive presidential term, Peruvians' tolerance was pushed beyond its breaking point and protests erupted. Continuing widespread poverty (despite recent years of economic growth), coupled with governmental abuses of power and violence eroded Fujimori's popular support. As the April 2000 elections came near, Fujimori at first remained silent on whether he would seek a third term. However, political maneuvering by his supporters had ensured that no viable candidate would rise to face him.

Opposition parties were weak and divided. Former President Alan García, who had fled the country in 1992 and faced corruption charges, became a possible candidate. Fujimori's supporters in congress quickly approved a law banning any former officeholder facing criminal charges from running for election. But Fujimori did remain vulnerable; a two-year recession and widespread unemployment had left one of every two Peruvians living in poverty by mid-1999. Fujimori also was under a great deal of international pressure to rectify undemocratic conduct. In June 1999, members of the US House of Representatives said they were concerned at the "erosion of democracy and the rule of law" in Peru. A Senate subcommittee said it should be consulted before the White House gave any more American intelligence to Peru. Later that year, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights rejected Peru's bid to withdraw from its jurisdiction, saying it would continue to summon Peruvian officials to declare on reported abuses.

Within weeks of the April 2000 elections, Fujimori seemed all but certain of winning the presidency for a third term. Yet, a virtual unknown had suddenly become a viable candidate, winning support from throughout the country. Alejandro Toledo, a 54year-old business school professor, was soon ahead of other challengers trying to defeat Fujimori. Toledo had a modest upbringing. His father was a bricklayer, and his mother sold fish at a street market. Of indigenous ancestry, Toledo quickly gained an important following in Peru's Amerindian communities, where Fujimori had found support. The election was held on 9 April, with several international organizations monitoring polling stations.

It soon became clear that Fujimori's supporters were trying to steal the election. There were unexplained delays in revealing the results, and widespread reports of voter fraud. The United States, the Organization of American States, the Atlanta-based Carter Center, and several other international organizations monitoring the election agreed that widespread fraud had tainted the elections and demanded a second presidential election between Fujimori and Toledo. Tens of thousands of Peruvians marched in peaceful protests demanding a second round. The other presidential candidates backed Toledo. Three days after the election, the electoral office said Fujimori had obtained 49.8% of the vote, not enough to capture the 50% plus one he needed to avoid a second round. Toledo received 40.3% of the vote.

The political crisis resulting from the rigged election became uncontrollable after Fujimori's chief advisor, Vladimiro Montesinos, was shown nationwide in a video, which he had produced, bribing an opposition congressman to join with Fujimori in September 2000. Dissenting politicians had leaked the tape to the media and with the knowledge that hundreds of similar tapes existed, Montesinos fled the country to Panama, which did not grant him political asylum. Montesinos then returned to Peru, but his whereabouts were unknown. Fujimori enacted a far-fetched search for the runaway Montesinos, but in the process Montesinos escaped by yacht to Costa Rica and later Venezuela. In a last hope to stabilize the political environment, Fujimori offered to hold new presidential elections in April 2001 in which he would not run. However, such gestures did not prevent the deepening of the institutional crisis and in an official APEC meeting in November, Fujimori flew to Japan and resigned via facsimile. He remained in exile in Japan, and the Japanese government subsequently recognized him as a Japanese citizen. Congress impeached Fujimori, judging him "morally unfit to govern" and selected congressman Valentin Paniagua to be the president of the interim government (after the sitting vice president also resigned). During Paniagua's presidency, Montesinos was found and extradited to Peru, and political calm was restored for a brief period.

A new presidential election was held in April 2001. Alejandro Toledo came in first with 36.5% of the vote, but he was forced into a runoff with former president Alan García (25.8%) who had returned to the country after Fujimori's resignation. Toledo went on to win the runoff with 53.1% of the vote. But García's impressive 46.9% transformed the former discredited president into a powerful actor in Peruvian politics.

Toledo became the first Peruvian of indigenous heritage to become president. Yet, his popularity and support during the first months of his administration began to fall as accusations of corruption and moral improprieties tainted his presidency. After failing to keep his campaign's main promise to create jobs for all Peruvians within 90 days after his inauguration, protests and national strikes plagued the country as people demanded better services and wages, as well as less corruption. No real advancement in the economy was perceived, and further resentment was sparked by criminal acts of Toledo's family and symbolic acts of government, such as increasing the president's salary and attempting to increase the sales tax twice in one year. Security declined as crowds in poorer areas took the law in their own hands, even lynching corrupt local bureaucrats or criminals. Toledo's efforts to prosecute those responsible for corruption and human rights violations during the Fujimori government also distracted him from the urgent social and economic challenges facing his country.

During his tenure, Toledo suffered from dismal approval ratings, ranging in the single digits. Politically, his party quickly crumbled, with many key followers leaving or beginning new parties. The political turmoil brought by his style of leadership led him to change presidents of congress five times, in vain attempts to appease the opposition and Peruvian citizens. His ineffectual leadership and the lack of discipline within his political party also hindered the process of democratic restoration in Peru.


Prior to the military coup in 1968, Peru was governed under the constitution of 1933, which declared Peru to be a republic with a centralized form of government. Legislative powers were vested in a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies, of variable number. Both senators and deputies served their electoral districts for a period of six years. Under the constitution, executive power was held by the president, who, with two vice presidents, was elected for a six year term, with a minimum of one-third of the vote, but could not be reelected until an intervening term had passed. Voting was obligatory for all literate Peruvian citizens aged 21 to 60.

The military leaders who seized control of the government in 1968 immediately disbanded the bicameral Congress. For the following decade, Peru was ruled by a military junta consisting of the president and the commanders of the three armed forces. The return to civilian rule began with the election of a Constituent Assembly in June 1978 and the promulgation of a new constitution on 12 July 1979. Presidential elections were held in May 1980, and Peru's first civilian government in 12 years took office in July.

After the autogolpe in 1992, the constitution was suspended. A new Constituent Assembly was elected and a new constitution was written. For the most part, all the major elements of the 1979 constitution were preserved, but presidents were allowed to run for one immediate reelection. Under the 1979 constitution, the president was popularly elected for a five-year term and could not be reelected to a consecutive term. The winning candidate had to win at least 50% of the vote or face a runoff election against the second-place candidate. The National Congress consisted of a 60-member Senate and a 180-member Chamber of Deputies. All elected legislators had five-year terms. The 1979 constitution eliminated literacy as a qualification for voting and made suffrage universal at age 18. In addition, there are more than 160 locally elected government councils.


Throughout most of Peru's modern political history, personalities and power politics have counted for more than party platforms. There are nevertheless several parties with origins at least as far back as the 1950s.

The American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria AmericanaAPRA) was begun in 1924 by Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre as a movement of and for Latin American workers. The five planks in its original platform were opposition to "Yankee imperialism," internationalization of the Panama Canal, industrialization, land reform, and solidarity among the world's oppressed. Controlling most of unionized labor, APRA was anti-Communist and anti-imperialist. Outlawed in 1931 and again in 1948, APRA was legalized in 1956. APRA has been historically opposed to the military, and political conditions in Peru from the 1930s until the mid-1980s have been dominated by hostility between APRA and armed forces leaders. After the death of Haya de la Torre in 1979, APRA was weakened by internal dissension. By 1985, new leadership and the failure of the Belaúnde government allowed APRA its first experience in power. Yet, the economic crisis experienced during the Alan García government severely hurt the party. Lack of leadership within APRA also hindered that party electorally. After Fujimori's demise, APRA reemerged as a strong and unified party. In the 2001 presidential and parliamentary elections, APRA obtained 20% of the vote (26 seats in the 120-member chamber), consolidating its position as the second-largest and the most disciplined party in Peru.

The Popular Action Party (Partido de Acción Popular, or AP) was founded in 1956. Originally a reform party, it competed with APRA for the support of those favoring change in Peru. After an impressive campaign in 1956, the AP won the presidency in 1963, thanks to the military's hatred of APRA. In the 1980 presidential election, Belaúnde received 45.4% of the votes cast, compared with 27.4% for APRA candidate Armando Villanueva del Campo. After Belaúnde's tenure, AP has lost electoral appeal. In the most recent election, AP only obtained 4% of the vote and three seats in the chamber.

After the dissolution of congress by the 1968 military coup, political parties continued to exist, although they were denied any role in government until the late 1970s. Ideologically, the military rulers between 1968 and 1980 reflected both strong socialist and nationalist principles.

The left has undergone a number of changes, partly as a result of military intervention, and most recently has been undermined by the activities of leftist guerrillas. The Peruvian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Peruano) was formed in 1929. Outlawed in 1948, it changed its name to the Revolutionary Labor Party (Partido Obrero RevolucionarioPOR), which split in the 1980s into a number of small factions. The United Left (Izquierda UnidaIU), which formed to support the candidacy of Alfonso Barrantes Lingán, took 21.3% of the 1985 ballot. Barrantes was mayor of Lima until APRA unseated him in 1986, whereupon Barrantes resigned as IU president and the coalition dissolved.

The largest active guerrilla party is Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a Maoist group founded in 1964. Its founder, Abimaél Guzmán, a former college professor, was captured by the government and is still imprisoned. Sendero's strength is concentrated around Ayacucho, in the sierra southeast of Lima. Its program includes not only attacks on bridges, power lines, and urban centers but also attempts to organize highland peasants. Sendero collects tribute from peasants in exchange for protection and encourages peasants not to sell their food crops to the cities.

A smaller group, the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac AmaruMRTA), merged with the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR) to form a group that has been increasingly active. The MRTA-MIR is more urban-oriented and follows a more orthodox Marxist line than the eccentric Sendero.

President Alberto Fujimori came to office in 1990 as an independent, calling his party Change 90-New Majority. In the 1995 elections, Fujimori was reelected in a landslide victory and his party took 67 of the 120 congressional seats, giving it a clear majority (the next-highest number of seats, 17, went to the Union for Peru party, led by former UN secretary general Javier Perez de Cuellar who came in second in the presidential election).

Current president Alejandro Toledo also formed his own party before the 2001 election. Peru Posible was formed in 2001 around the then-popular figure of Toledo. With 26.3% of the vote, it captured 45 seats in the Assembly. But Peru Posible has shown little party discipline and it is unlikely that the party will survive beyond Toledo's own political career.

By 2005 the Popular Christian Party (Partido Popular CristianoPPC), aligned with former Prime Minister Antero Florez Arao, led in the political arena against Fujimori's newly named party Si Cumple and APRA which came in second and third. However, with growing discontent with the more traditional political parties, several new options emerged. Business leaders from the manufacturing conglomerate commonly known as Gamarra created their own political party named Solución Nacional. Another political party growing from the small and medium business sector is Proyecto Pais and Somos Peru, started by the former Mayor of Lima Alejandro Andrade. For the 2006 elections, 28 candidates were formally registered. Because political parties represent small constituencies and have uncertain political futures, the prospect of party politics remains uncertain.


In March 1987, President García promulgated a regionalization law that would replace the nation's 24 departments (and the constitutional province of Callao) with 12 regions having economic and administrative autonomy. Each region was to have an assembly of provincial mayors, directly elected members, and representatives of various institutions. However, due to inadequate funding and an uncertain political picture, these regions did not function and existed alongside the departmental structure, which was never dismantled. The 148 provincial subdivisions remained intact.

The 1979 constitution confirmed the legal status of about 5,000 Indian communities. The first local elections since 1966 took place in November 1980 and occur at three-year intervals. The 1993 constitution reaffirmed those indigenous rights and divided the country into 25 departments.


The Peruvian legal system is based generally on the Napoleonic Code. The 1993 constitution guarantees the independence of the judiciary. Peru's highest judicial body, the 16-member Supreme Court, sits at Lima and has national jurisdiction. The nine-member Court of Constitutional Guarantees has jurisdiction in human rights cases. Superior courts, sitting in the departmental capitals, hear appeals from the provincial courts of first instance, which are divided into civil, penal, and special chambers. Judges are proposed by the National Justice Council, nominated by the president, and confirmed by the Senate; they serve permanently until age 70. Justices of the Peace hear misdemeanor cases and minor civil cases.

The 1993 constitution abolished the death penalty (except for treason in time of war) and limited the jurisdiction of military tribunals; it also established the Public Ministry, including an independent attorney general, to serve as judicial ombudsman. Despite such reforms, the Peruvian judicial system still suffers from overcrowded prisons and complex trial procedures. Many accused persons (especially those accused of drug trafficking or terrorism) may spend months or even years in prison before they are brought to trial.

Although the judicial branch has never attained true independence, provisions of the 1993 constitution establish a new system for naming judges which may lead to greater judicial autonomy in the future. The 1993 constitution also provides for a human rights ombudsman (the Office of the Defender of the People), a Tribunal of Constitutional Guarantees empowered to rule on the constitutionality of legislation and government actions, a National Judiciary Council, and a Judicial Academy to train judges and prosecutors. The Tribunal of Constitutional Guarantees has seven members; three of them are in some way associated with the president or his party. To declare a law unconstitutional, at least six of the judges must agree.


Peru's armed forces in 2005 totaled 80,000 active personnel, supported by 188,000 reservists. The Army numbered 40,000 members, whose equipment included 275 main battle tanks and 110 light tanks. The Navy had 25,000 active personnel including 4,000 Marines, 1,000 Coast Guard members, and 800 naval aviation personnel. The Air Force numbered 15,000 personnel, with 89 combat capable aircraft, including 18 fighters, over 73 fight ground attack aircraft, and 16 attack helicopters. The Navy operated 6 tactical submarines, 1 cruiser, 4 frigates, and 13 patrol/coastal vessels. About 77,000 paramilitary troops comprise the national police force. The defense budget in 2005 totaled $1.08 billion.


Peru is a charter member of the United Nations, having joined on 31 October 1945; it belongs to ECLAC and several nonregional specialized agencies, such as the FAO, IAEA, the World Bank, ILO, IMF, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. Peru is a member of the WTO, APEC, the South American Community of Nations, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the Andean Community of Nations, G-15, G-24, G-77, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Latin American Economic System (LAES), the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA), the OAS, and the Río Group.

Peru is part of the Nonaligned Movement and a signatory of the 1947 Río Treaty, an inter-American security agreement. The government has supported UN missions and operations in Ethiopia and Eritrea (est. 2000), Liberia (est. 2003), Burundi (est. 2004), Côte d'Ivoire (est. 2004), and the DROC (est. 1999). The country belongs to the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

In environmental cooperation, Peru is part of the Antarctic Treaty, the Basel Convention, Conventions on Biological Diversity and Whaling, Ramsar, CITES, International Tropical Timber Agreements, the Kyoto Protocol, the Montréal Protocol, MARPOL, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the UN Conventions on Climate Change and Desertification.


Since World War II, the Peruvian economy has developed rapidly, exhibiting a rate of growth that has been among the highest in Latin America. The strength of Peru's economy lies in the diversity of its natural resources. Silver and gold were the prized commodities of colonial Peru. In more recent times, lead, copper, zinc, iron ore, and since the late 1960s, petroleum have become important export earners. Fishing, including the production of fish meal, has become a major undertaking. Agriculture, which occupies about 4.9% of the work force, is sharply divided between two sectors: small-scale farming, producing food crops for subsistence and the domestic market, and export-oriented production.

Policies from 1960 to 1990 were aimed at social reform, but worsened and perpetuated poverty. Repeated experiments in social engineering created economic and institutional uncertainty and a prolonged decline in governance. Government spending grew steadily in the 1980suntil it collapsed in 1989but spending in the production of public services fell. As a result, there was a steady degradation of the civil service and the provision of public goods that undermined productivity, fostered anarchy and public turmoil, and, ultimately, made poverty reduction impossible.

By 1990 per capita income was below that of 1966; political violence was claiming 3,000 lives each year; tax collections were less than 5% of GDP; and prices had increased by a factor of 27 million over three decades. In fact, Peru's economy had all but collapsed. It was the finale of 30 years of misguided policies, economic mismanagement, and since 1980, rampant and escalating terrorism.

Since 1990 and the Fujimori regime, the government has pursued a bold reform agenda. It has strengthened the authority of the state throughout the country, defeating terrorism and fighting drug trafficking. It liberalized interest rates, the exchange rate, and international capital flows. It established the independence of the central bank and eliminated credit from the central bank to the government. It increased competition by opening the economy to trade with the rest of the world and eliminating public monopolies and price controls. It improved labor market efficiency by addressing tenure regulations and establishing more flexible terms for probationary periods and fixed-term contracts. It facilitated private ownership of land and developed a vast privatization program. It eliminated the state monopoly in social security and established the framework for a private pension fund system. And it eliminated public development banks and state intervention in the allocation of credit.

Since the reform program, Peru has enjoyed macroeconomic success, but the reforms have done little to alleviate poverty. Between 1993 and 1996, Peru's economy grew by 32%, in part due to the privatization of state companies; but thousands of Peruvians lost their jobs as a result. The rate of inflation fell steadily as a result of stringent monetary and fiscal measures. It dropped from over 7,650% in 1990 to about 40% in 1993; and 4% in 2000, one of the lowest inflation rates in Latin America. The Peruvian economy grew by 7.3% in 1997, but in 1998 and 1999 growth slowed to an estimated 1.8% and 3.8% respectively. A combination of El Niño weather that hurt the fishing and agricultural industries, and the Asian financial crisis which depressed metal prices, contributed to the Peruvian economic downturn. Growth for 2000 was forecast at over 5%.

In 2004, the economy expanded by 4.8%, up from 4.0% in 2003, but down from 4.9% in 2002; in 2005, the GDP growth rate was estimated at 4.7%. These steady growth rates contrasted with the erratic development patterns displayed by Peru in previous years. The country's overdependence on minerals and metals makes its economy susceptible to world market price fluctuations. Inflation has been fairly stable, and at 2.1% in 2005 it did not pose any major problems to the economy. In the same year, the unemployment rate has reached 8.4%, and while it is not endemic, it remained a matter of concern to policy makers.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Peru's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $168.9 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $6,000. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 5.6%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 2.1%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 8% of GDP, industry 27%, and services 65%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $860 million or about $32 per capita and accounted for approximately 1.4% of GDP. Foreign aid receipts amounted to $500 million or about $18 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.9% of the gross national income (GNI).

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Peru totaled $43.00 billion or about $1,587 per capita based on a GDP of $60.6 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 3.5%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 26% of household consumption was spent on food, 17% on fuel, 13% on health care, and 5% on education. It was estimated that in 2003 about 54% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


In 2005, Peru's labor force was estimated at 9.06 million. As of 2001 (the latest year for which data was available), 9% of the population was employed in agriculture, 18% in industry, and 73% in the services sector. In 2005, the unemployment rate in metropolitan Lima was estimated at 8.7%. However, there was widespread underemployment across the country as a whole.

About 5% of the total labor force was unionized in 2001. Although unions have played an important role in Peruvian politics in recent decades, membership has declined as the informal labor sector grows. Begun in 1944 under Communist domination, the Workers' Confederation of Peru was reorganized in 1956 as the national central labor organization, now known as the Peruvian Revolutionary Workers' Center (Central de Trabajadores de la Revolución PeruanaCTRP). In 1980, this organization was incorporated into the Democratic Trade Union Front, which also includes the Communist-led General Confederation of Peruvian Workers, the National Workers' Confederation, and the APRA-affiliated General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (Confederación General de Trabajadores PeruanosCGTP), which dates from 1944. In 1999, the CGTP called a one-day general strike, supported by 400,000 transit workers and other public-sector employees that paralyzed normal activity in Peru's major cities.

An eight-hour day and a 48-hour week are the maximum in Peru, with a weekly day of rest mandated. Legislation has been uneven, but the law requires in most cases that employers create healthy and safe working conditions. Dangerous and night work are regulated. The civil code prohibits labor by minors under 14; nevertheless, a recent study indicated that 8% of the workforce was between the ages of 8 and 16. Peru's labor stability laws provide that after three months of employment a worker may be dismissed only for a "serious offense." As of 2002, the minimum wage was $128 a month.


Only 4.3 million hectares (10.6 million acres), or 3.4% of the total land, was under cultivation in 2003. The area of available agricultural land per capita is one of the lowest in the nonindustrialized world. The major portion of the coastal farmland is devoted to the raising of export crops, while the sierra and the selva are used primarily for the production of food for domestic consumption. In various communities, the Inca system of cooperative labor and land use still remains; fields are communally planted and harvested, and the produce or the profits divided.

The Agrarian Reform Law (ARL) of 1969 profoundly affected the whole of Peruvian agriculture. By 1973, most of Peru, except for the rain forest on the eastern side of the Andes, was brought under the reform program. Large private landholdings were abolished. Contrary to the expectations of farm workers, however, the appropriated land was not redistributed in small individual parcels. The large estates expropriated by the government were instead reorganized into cooperatives that maintained their administrative unity and were often incorporated into still larger units, known as social-interest agricultural societies, through which they were linked on a cooperative basis. By 1980, the expropriation and redistribution of land were largely complete. Out of the nine million hectares (22.2 million acres) of cropland and pasture originally expropriated, 8.8 million hectares (21.7 million acres) were allocated to 379,000 families. In addition, 2.9 million hectares (7.2 million acres) reverted to the state, and 1.1 million hectares (2.7 million acres) were distributed to 10,706 families in the selva. The bulk of land went to cooperatives, and only about 43,000 families received land, totaling 683,000 hectares (1,688,000 acres), in the form of private holdings. The government justified this program by arguing that the supply of arable land in inhabited zones of Peru is so small that equal distribution of the land would permit an allotment of less than 0.5 hectares (1.2 acres) per rural inhabitant; that community ownership of land accords with Peruvian traditions, especially the proto-socialist Inca heritage; and that improved equipment and technique are more easily implemented in larger enterprises. As it turned out, inadequate distribution systems and lack of technical expertise limited the productivity of the cooperatives, and by 1981, about 80% of them were operating at a loss. The free market policies of President Fujimori played an important role in Peruvian agriculture during the 1990s, virtually undoing the expropriative and redistibutive policies of the ARL. In 1996, the Land Tenure Law was instituted, which was a step toward allowing land to be titled and used as collateral. The Water Law no longer ties water usage with land area, and mandates that farmers must pay for their use of water. Water is an extremely expensive commodity in the coastal valleys.

Peru's agriculture is highly diversified but not well integrated. In an irrigated section of the coastal desert lowlands, more than 1,195,000 hectares (2,953,000 acres) are cultivated with cotton, sugar, rice, soybeans, pulses, fruits, tobacco, and flowers. Modern methods are widely used in this area, and as a result, output has risen at a much faster rate than population growth. The sierra, in contrast, is relatively dormant, its lands being inferior or impractical to till. The selva contributes cocoa, fruits and nuts, tea, coffee, tobacco, and forest products.

In the 1980s, a combination of weak financing, heavy overseas borrowing, poor pricing policy, bad weather, and outmoded equipment contributed to a serious deterioration in the performance of the sugar industry. In 1996, the sugar industry's twelve collective farms were forced to change their management and ownership structure. Most had been inefficient, overloaded with administrative workers, and together owed the government $250 million in back taxes and social security payments. Some of the collective farms began to sell portions of their capital to the private sector. Staples are potatoes and corn, grown throughout Peru, but with very low yields. The leading commercial crops are rice, cotton, sugar, and barley. The principal agricultural deficiencieswheat, livestock and meat, animal and vegetable fats, and oilsare covered by imports. Production of major crops (in thousands of tons) in 2004 included rice, 1,816; corn, 1,180; coffee, 145; wheat, 168; and beans, 83. Sugarcane and potato production in 2004 amounted to 7.9 million tons and 3 million tons, respectively.

Cultivation for illicit purposes of the coca leaf (the source of cocaine), which has long been used habitually and ritually by Andean Amerindians, has been a problem recognized by the Peruvian government and by the International Narcotics Control Board since the 1980s. The US government estimated there were 31,150 hectares (76,970 acres) of managed coca in 2003 (67% growing in the Upper Huallaga and the Apurimac valleys), the lowest level of coca cultivation in Peru since 1986. The total cocaine economy in Peru may amount to $1.22.4 billion annually (24% of Peru's GDP). Nearly all of the wealth derived from the cocaine economy accrues to narcotics traffickers and other criminal elements.


The cattle, sheep, hogs, goats, horses, and poultry brought by the Spaniards to Peru were strange to the Amerindians, whose only domestic animals were the hunting dog and the American members of the camel familythe llama, alpaca, and their hybridswhich served as carriers and for food, clothing, and fuel. Only recently domesticated, the vicuña is protected by law, and limited quantities of its fine fleece are marketed. Most Amerindians of the southern highlands are herders.

The southern Andes contain the major cattle ranges. Brown Swiss, zebu, and Holstein have been imported, and agronomists are crossbreeding stock to attain herds of greater weight or of more milk on less feed. Although 16.9 million hectares (41.7 million acres), or 13% of Peru's land area, are permanent natural pasture and meadow, areas suitable for dairy cattle are few. In 2005, the livestock population included 14,009,000 sheep, 5,100,000 head of cattle, 2,900,000 hogs, and 2,000,000 goats. Living at altitudes of 10,000 ft above sea level, Peru has an estimated three million alpacas, or 80% of the world's alpaca population. There are also about 150,000 vicuñas, up from 5,000 in the 1960s. Production of alpaca hair fiber amounts to about 4,000 tons per year. Livestock output in 2005 included 152,000 tons of beef, 90,000 tons of pork, 34,000 tons of mutton, 650,000 tons of poultry, 180,000 tons of eggs, and 1,311,000 tons of milk.


Commercial deep-sea fishing off of Peru's coastal belt of over 3,000 km (1,860 mi), is a major enterprise. Peruvian waters normally abound with marketable fish: bonito, mackerel, drum, sea bass, tuna, swordfish, anchoveta, herring, shad, skipjack, yellowfin, pompano, and shark. More than 50 species are caught commercially. There are over 40 fishing ports on the Peruvian coast, Paita and Callao being the most important centers.

The Peruvian fishing industry, primarily based on the export of fish meal, used in poultry feed, is among the largest in the world. Fish meal production in 2004/05 was 1.5 million tons; fish oil, 210,000 tons. Only 90 of the 110 fish meal plants on Peru's coast were operating in 2004. Peru's fishing sector led the world during the mid-1960s, although production since then has fluctuated radically. In the 1970s, over fishing nearly lead to the disappearance of the anchovy resource. The fish meal and fish-processing industry is managed by Pescaperú, which was founded in 1973.

The key to Peru's fishing industry in any given year is the presence or absence of El Niño; this warm ocean current displaces the normally cool waters deep in the Pacific, thereby killing the microorganisms upon which other marine life depends. The recurrence of El Niño causes the disappearance of anchoveta and a sharp fall in the catch of other species. The average annual catch during 19912000 was 8,515,000 tons. The total catch in 2003 was 6,089,660 tons, second highest in the world after China. That total included 5,347,187 tons of anchoveta, and 217,734 tons of Chilean jack mackerel. Exports of fish products in 2003 amounted to $1.03 billion, with fish meal accounting for 72%. The major export markets are China, Germany, Japan, and Taiwan.

To suppress invasion of their rich fishing grounds by foreign powers, Peru made formal agreements with Chile and Ecuador to extend the rights to their coastal waters out to 200 nautical mi. Violations of the proclaimed sovereignty by Argentine and US fishing fleets in 1952 and 1954 gave rise to shooting incidents. Since then, US fishing boats have occasionally been seized and fined or required to purchase fishing licenses; after eight US tuna boats were taken in November 1979, the United States retaliated by imposing a temporary embargo on Peruvian tuna.


About 51% of Peru's land area, or approximately 65.2 million hectares (161.1 million acres), is covered by tropical rain forests. Most of Peru's exploitable timberlands lie on the eastern slopes of the Andes and in the Amazon Basin; the arid Pacific watershed cannot support forestlands. The trees of commercial importance on the coastal plain are amarillo, hualtaco, and algarroba (cut for railway ties and for charcoal fuel). Lumber from planted eucalyptus is used locally in the sierra for ties and for props by the mining industry. Eastern Peru, however, with its abundance of rain, consists of approximately 70 million hectares (173 million acres) of forestland (more than half the country's area), most of it uncut. A precise indication of Peru's volume of standing timber has never been ascertained. The selva contains Peru's only coniferous stand, where ulcumano is logged. Cedar, mahogany, moena, tornillo, and congona (broadleaf hardwoods) are also logged. The rain forests of the Amazon lowlands contain cedar, mahogany, rubber (wild and plantation), and leche caspi (a chewing-gum base). Commercially important are tagua nuts, balata, coca, fibers, and a wide range of medicinal plants.

Lumbering is conducted chiefly in the selva, where Pucallpa and Iquitos are the main sawmill centers. Mahogany is now the principal lumber export product, sent mainly to the United States and Europe; mahogany and Spanish cedar trees supply about half of Peru's lumber output, which falls far short of the nation's needs. In 2004, production of roundwood totaled 10,486,000 cu m (370 million cu ft).


The mining of metals was Peru's leading industry in 2003. Among the minerals exported in that year were gold, copper, zinc, lead, silver, tin, and iron. In 2003, the country's mining industry accounted for $4.6 billion or more than 51% of total export revenues, which came to $9 billion in that year. Peru was the second-largest producer of silver, after Mexico, the third-largest producer of zinc, after China and Australia, and the fourth-largest producer of lead, after Australia, China, and the United States. Peru's zinc output represented 12% of world concentrate output, almost 62% of Latin America's concentrate, and 29% of refined zinc. Other leading industries were cement, steel, and metal fabrication in 2003.

Gold output (from mines and placers) was about 172,000 kg in 2003, up from 157,530 kg in 2002. Of that total, 159,770 kg came from mines. Reserves (metal content) totaled 3.5 million tons, excluding placer deposits. The southeastern Andes had well-known gold placers on the Inambari River and its tributaries. Placer gold production, which accounted for about 14% of total gold output, was concentrated in the Inca and the Mariategui regions, and gold was also recovered from placers in rivers and streams throughout the jungle.

Copper mine output in 2003 (metal content) was 842,578 metric tons, down slightly from 844,553 metric tons in 2002. The country's copper reserves totaled 57.4 million tons (metal content). Southern Peru Copper Corp. (SPCC) remained the largest copper producer, with a total output of 326,900 metric tons of copper metal from its mine operations at the Cuajone open pits and its solvent extraction and electro winning cathode plant at Toquepala. Peru's second-largest copper producer, Compañía Minera Antamina S.A., owned the $2.3 billion copper-zinc Antamina megaproject (Huari, Ancash Department), which could become the world's third-largest producer of zinc (163,000 tons per year) and seventh-largest producer of copper (272,000 tons per year). The project included the Antamina open pit and concentrator, a 302-km slurry pipeline, port facilities in Huarmey, and a new access road, power line, and town site. The new mine had a capacity of 275,000 tons per year; the concentrator, 70,000 tons per day. Antamina's revised proven and probable ore reserves were 559 million metric tons at a grade of 1.24% copper, 1.03% zinc, 13.71 grams per ton of silver, and 0.029% molybdenum, or 1.8% equivalent copper.

Zinc mine output (metal content) was 1,372,790 metric tons in 2003, up from 1,232,997 metric tons in 2002. Mined lead output was 308,874 metric tons in 2003, up from 305,651 metric tons in 2002. Cía Minera Volcán S.A. (CMA) was Peru's largest private producer of zinc. CMA had operations in the Yauli mining district and the Paragsha property, in Cerro de Pasco. Total reserves of zinc (metal content) amounted to 16 million tons; lead, 3.5 million tons.

In 2003 Peru produced 2,921 metric tons of mined silver (metal content), up from 2,870 metric tons in 2002. Medium-sized companies accounted for three-quarters of production. Reserves totaled 36 million tons (metal content).

Production of iron ore and concentrate (gross weight) was 5,239,000 tons in 2003, up from 4,594,000 tons in 2002. Shougang Hierro Perú S.A., a subsidiary of China's Shougang Corp., continued to be Peru's sole iron ore producer. Iron ore reserves (metal content) totaled 830 million tons. Exploitation of iron ore, centered in southern Peru, was exclusively for export until the steel mills at Chimbote began operations in 1958.

The metals antimony, white arsenic, bismuth, indium, manganese, molybdenum, and tin were extracted in various parts of Peru. No cadmium or chromium was mined in 19982001, or in 2003, nor was any tungsten mined in 19992001, or 2003.

Of the 30 industrial minerals mined commercially in Peru, the most important were salt, gypsum, marble, and limestone. Peru also produced barite, bentonite, boron materials (borates), hydraulic cement, chalk, common clay, fire clay, diatomite, dolomite, feldspar, flagstone, granite, kaolin, lime, nitrogen, onyx, phosphate rock, pyrophyllite, quartz, quartzite, sand and gravel (including silica sand), marl shell, slate, sulfur, talc, and travertine. Minero Perú had proven reserves of 550 million tons of phosphate rock at its Bayóvar Project, in the Sechura Desert. The Bayóvar Project had tremendous export opportunities to the Asia-Pacific region via the port of Paita.

Peru has long been famous for the wealth of its mines, some of which have been worked extensively for more than 300 years. Through modern techniques and equipment, a vast potential of diverse marketable minerals was gradually becoming available from previously inaccessible regions. Because many of the richest mines were found in the central Andes, often above 4,300 m, their operations have been wholly dependent on the Andean Indians' adaptation to working at high altitudes. Copper, iron, lead, and zinc were mined chiefly in the central Andes, where all refining was done at La Oroya, the metallurgical center.

The government no longer had exclusive control over exploration, mining, smelting, and refining of metals and fuel minerals, although, in principle, all mineral and geothermal resources belonged to the government. The role of the government has been limited to that of a regulator, promoter, and overseer. Individuals and private companies were allowed to hold mining permits. As of 2001, the government has privatized 90% of its assets in mining, a greater rate than in any other sector, with some mining tenders still pending, and several mining prospects waiting to be privatized, which could generate $2.14 billion. The promotion of domestic and foreign private investment via a sweeping privatization process and the formation of joint ventures started off at a vigorous pace in 1991 and has continued at a slower pace. Private firms, most of which were controlled by local interests, dominated medium- and small-sized mining operations. More than 100 foreign mining companies have been established in Peru since 1990. Of the $10.02 billion of foreign direct investment in 2001, $3.32 billion was in the minerals sector, $1.67 billion of it in mining. In 2001, $1.4 billion worth of mine and facility expansions were completed, and $2.6 billion worth of mine projects were completed. In addition, $3.3 billion of investment were projected for mine projects with feasibility studies, and $1.3 billion were expected in projects with advanced exploration work. The state was expecting Minero Perú's projects pending privatization to generate $2.1 billion of investment. Mining, energy, telecommunications, and related industries were the most attractive sectors of the Peruvian economy. Privatization of Centromín, Electroperú S.A., Minero Perú, Petroperú, and the banking sector was expected to continue to generate investments in every sector of the economy, particularly in the mining and energy sectors. Future foreign investments in the minerals sector were projected to be $17 billion, the largest amount of capital committed to date, with $9.1 billion expected in the mining sector for the 20012009 period.

Peru was facing political upheavals, and the mining industry was increasingly on the defensive. Development of MYSA's Cerro Quilish gold deposit was stalled by the city of Cajamarca to protect its major watershed. The citizen group Coordinadora Nacional de Comunidades Afectadas por la Minería (Conacami) indicated that it had the right to participate and to be consulted on mineral policies that involved communities affected by mining operations.

The junta that came to power in 1968 pursued a steady program of nationalization. In 1971, state mining rights were assigned to the government enterprise Minero Perú. The General Mining Law of 1992 made legal procedures to obtain mining rights easier, and amendments in 1996 guaranteed protections to mining ventures and contracts. These laws have ensured more favorable exploration and production contract terms for investors. Within the framework of four 1990s laws promoting investment in mining and natural resources and dealing with foreign and private investment, more than 250 domestic "Stability and Guarantee" contracts have been signed since 1993.


Peru, as of 1 January 2005, had proven oil reserves of 253 million barrels, a crude oil refining capacity of 192,950 barrels per day, and proven natural gas reserves of 8.7 trillion cu ft.

Oil production in 2004, was estimated at 94,120 barrels per day, with crude oil production accounting for 79,900 barrels per day. However, domestic oil demand averaged an estimated 161,000 barrels per day in 2004, making Peru a net oil importer. Net oil imports in 2004 averaged an estimated 66,880 barrels per day.

Natural gas production and domestic demand in 2002 were each estimated at 15.5 billion cu ft. However, Peru's Camisea project, when it does come fully on-stream, is seen as making Peru a net exporter of natural gas. September 2004 marked the first full month of production for the Camisea field, producing 3.68 billion cu ft of natural gas.

Peru's electric power generating capacity in 2002 totaled 5.912 million kW, of which hydroelectric capacity came to 2.965 million kW and conventional thermal capacity accounted for 2.940 million kW. Geothermal/other capacity accounted for 0.007 million kW. Electric power output in 2002 totaled 21.749 billion kWh, with hydroelectric generation providing the largest share at 17.860 billion kWh. Conventional thermal sources provided 3.705 billion kWh, and geothermal/other 0.184 billion kWh. Demand for electric power in 2002 totaled 20.227 billion kWh.


Manufacturing in Peru began with the establishment of consumer goods industries, which still dominate the sector. Smelting and refining are among Peru's most important industrial enterprises. As part of a long-term industrial program through hydroelectric power development, the Chimbote steel mills began to function in 1958; by 1965, capacity reached 350,000 ingot tons. A number of foundries, cement plants, automobile assembly plants, and installations producing sulfuric acid and other industrial chemicals have also come into operation. The expansion of the fish meal industry necessitated the construction of new plants as well as the establishment of many subsidiary industries: boatyards, repair and maintenance installations, and factories for the production of tinplate and cans, paper, jute nags, and nylon fishnet. Once a major guano exporter, Peru now produces synthetic fertilizers high in nitrogen and related industrial chemicals.

The country's sustained economic growth has been the result of a well diversified economic base. In 1996, the most dynamic area was agriculture, with crop production rising by 7% due to substantial increases in industrial crops like cotton, soy bean, tea, and asparagus. Other industries showing important growth during the late 1990s were the mining of metals, petroleum, and construction. In 1998, it was estimated that an average of 11 new oil wells would be drilled per year until 2003, but in 1999 oil exploration slowed when a couple of dry wells were drilled. There are five oil refineries operating in Peru, with a production capacity of 182,000 barrels per day. In 2000, a concession was signed to develop the 13 trillion cubic foot (Tcf) Camisea natural gas field, and the development of this field may lead to the establishment of a natural gas market in Peru. Growth in construction during 1998 skyrocketed by 12%, with projects related to the repair of an estimated $1 billion in El Niño damage, and road building projects. Revenues from manufacturing production fell by 3%, however, because of low agricultural production and low world metals prices. By 2003, the economy was recovering. Textile production was an increasingly important sector, as was the production of leather goods, shoes, and the Alpaca and Vicuna sectors. In 2003, it was expected that 150,000 new jobs would be created in textile manufacturing.

The industrial production growth rate in 2005 was 6.6%, higher than the overall GDP growth rate, and an indicator that industry was an economic growth engine. In 2005, industry accounted for 27% of the GDP and it employed less than 20% of the labor force. Services were by far the largest sector, with a 65% share of the economy, while agriculture was the smallest one, with an 8% share.


The Lima Academy of Exact, Physical, and Natural Sciences was founded in 1939. In 1996, Peru had 18 other scientific and technological learned societies and 15 scientific and technological research institutes. The Natural History Museum of the National University of San Marcos, founded in 1918, and the Geological Museum of the National University of Engineering are both located in Lima. In 1996, Peru had 34 universities that offered courses in basic and applied sciences. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 34% of college and university enrollments. According to the Industrial Law of 1982, enterprises may invest up to 10% of their income tax-free in research and development (R&D) projects approved by the National Council of Science and Technology and carried out by the national universities.

In the period 19902001 there were 233 scientists and engineers and 1 technician engaged in research and development (R&D) per million people. In 2002 spending on R&D totaled $138.196 million, or 0.10% of GDP. High technology exports in that same year totaled $24 million, or 2% of the country's manufactured exports.


A disproportionate amount of Peru's purchasing power is concentrated in the Lima-Callao area, where selling practices increasingly follow the pattern of more commercially developed Western countries. In the highlands, where more than 60% of the population lives, retailing is done at the market level. Only about 17% of Peruvians shop in supermarkets. The fiesta day, or weekly market, for the Andes Amerindian is an important social commercial affair, where objects made at home are bartered. Barter is also the method of exchange among the first Amerindians of the Amazon Basin. Cooperative retail outlets have been established in the large mining concerns and agricultural estates. Installment sales are increasing on vehicles, refrigerators, television sets, and agricultural and industrial equipment. Franchising has grown slowly in recent years, with US-based companies predominating. Direct market for services has become popular as well. An 18% value-added tax applies to most imported goods.

Shops and some businesses are open from 10:00 am to 1 pm, and 4 to 8 pm, Monday through Saturday. Banks transact public business from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. Business hours are normally 9 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday. In the provinces, openings and closing are usually one hour earlier.


In general, Peru exports raw materials and imports capital goods and manufactures. The United States is Peru's largest trading partner, and exports include mineral fuel oil, refined silvery and jewelry, lead ore, and concentrated coffee. Main imports from the United States include cereals, refined oil, machinery parts, chemicals, and electrical machinery.

Peru's major export commodities are gold (17%), copper and its ores (15%), animal feed (13%), and zinc (8.3%). Other exports include refined petroleum products (4.0%), coffee (3.3%), refined silver (2.6%), and lead (2.4%).

In 2005, exports reached $16 billion (FOBFree on Board), while imports grew to $12 billion (FOB). In 2004, the bulk of exports went to the United States (29.5%), China (9.9%), the United Kingdom (9%), Chile (5.1%), and Japan (4.4%). Imports included intermediate goods, capital goods, and consumer goods, and mainly came from the United States (30.3%), Spain (11.5%), Chile (7.2%), Brazil (5.4%), and Colombia (5.2%).


Peru's export earnings depend heavily on world market prices in metals and fish meal. Peru maintained a favorable balance of trade from 1966 to 1973; but a surge in the price of oil imports, a decline in world copper prices, and a drop in fishing exports reversed this trend. The trade balance began to improve in 1976 and 1977, but rising interest payments kept current accounts at a loss. An austerity program was adopted in 1978; by the end of the year, Peru had reduced the deficit on current accounts, thanks in part to IMF loans. The surplus rose in 1979 and 1980 because of an extremely favorable trade performance and an additional infusion of public-sector capital. During the 1980s, however, Peru's export position was negatively affected by the worldwide recession and by lower world mineral prices, resulting in a negative trade balance, which, together with rising interest payments on the foreign debt to the IMF, led once again to an overall payments deficit. During 1990, Peru experienced a trade and capital surplus, but a deficit in the current account. Exports fell, while imports grew largely due to overvalued exchange and because government subsidies promoting exports were eliminated. With the reforms of the Fujimori government during the 1990s, trade liberalization more than doubled the overall trade volume during the decade. Unfortunately, the current account balance remained low; between 1992 and 1999 the balance of payments deficit was over 5% of GDP. In 2002, the IMF approved a two-year $316 million standby agreement with Peru.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Peru's exports was $7.3 billion while imports totaled $7.4 billion resulting in a trade deficit of $100 million.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2001 Peru had exports of goods totaling $7.11 billion and imports totaling $7.2 billion. The services credit totaled $1.5 billion and debit $2.3 billion.

Exports of goods and services reached $15 billion in 2004, up from $11 billion in 2003. Imports increased from $11 billion in 2003 to $13 billion in 2004. The resource balance was consequently

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 8,749.4 8,414.1 335.3
United States 2,318.5 1,565.8 752.7
United Kingdom 1,082.4 77.4 1,005.0
China 675.3 640.0 35.3
Switzerland-Liechtenstein 672.0 60.9 611.1
Chile 416.1 429.3 -13.2
Japan 390.2 368.8 21.4
Spain 288.8 177.8 111.0
Germany 254.6 242.4 12.2
Brazil 231.3 549.4 -318.1
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 187.2 190.3 -3.1
() data not available or not significant.
Current Account -1,061.0
   Balance on goods 731.0
     Imports -8,255.0
     Exports 8,986.0
   Balance on services -930.0
   Balance on income -2,082.0
   Current transfers 1,221.0
Capital Account -93.0
Financial Account 1,061.0
   Direct investment abroad -60.0
   Direct investment in Peru 1,377.0
   Portfolio investment assets -1,435.0
   Portfolio investment liabilities 1,211.0
   Financial derivatives
   Other investment assets 328.0
   Other investment liabilities -361.0
Net Errors and Omissions 655.0
Reserves and Related Items -561.0
() data not available or not significant.

slightly negative in 2003 (-$18 million), and positive in 2004 ($2 billion). The current account balance followed a similar path, improving from -$935 million in 2003 to -$10 million in 2004. Foreign exchange reserves (including gold) grew to $12.7 billion in 2005, covering more than a year of imports.


The Central Reserve Bank, the sole bank of issue, was established in Lima in 1931 to succeed the old Reserve Bank. Also created in 1931 was the Superintendency of Banks and Insurance, an agency of the Ministry of Finance, which defines procedure and obligations of banking institutions and has control of all banks. The government-owned National Bank (Banco de la Nación) not only acts as the government's tax collector and financial agent, but also is Peru's largest commercial bank. Another government agency, the Caja de Ahorros, provides secured loans to low-income borrowers. The government-owned development bank is COFIDE. There are 15 commercial banks in Peru.

Peru's banking sector has grown rapidly as a result of the economic recovery and capital inflows into the financial system. A decade ago, in 1987, the president of Peru was contemplating nationalizing the entire system. Shortly after his election, Mr. Fujimori decreed the abolition of the state's development and mortgage credit banks. Today, only COFIDE offers state-regulated development assistance, but as a second-tier bank channeling funds from other institutions and without the powers to raise financing on its own account. Along with the subsidized state development banks, a host of savings and loans cooperatives have disappeared, victims of financial mismanagement, hyperinflation, and embezzlement. With them went the savings of many lower and middle-class Peruvians, who have been left with a distrust of the financial system.

Financial operations and assets remain concentrated: four banks account for over 60% of all loans, and almost three-quarters of all deposits in the system. During 1997, commercial bank loan portfolios grew by approximately one-third. Total assets of the banking system amounted to $18.8 billion in 2001. Peru is severely under banked. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $6.1 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $17.4 billion. That year, the discount rate, the interest rate at which the central bank lends to financial institutions in the short term, was 14%.

The privately owned Lima Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Valores de LimaBVL) regulates the sale of listed securities. Securities exchanges actually began in Lima in 1860, but the stock exchange in its current form was founded in 1971. There was a long bull run in 1992 as the economy stabilized after the coup and progress towards pacification was made. After falling by 27% in 1999 and 34% in 2000, the dollar value of the index dropped only 2.6% in 2001. At the end of 2001, 207 companies were listed on the BVL, and the market capitalization was $11.1 billion. As of 2004, there were 194 companies listed on the BVL, which had a market capitalization of $20.115 billion. In 2004, the IGBVL Index rose 52.4% from the previous year to 3,710.4.


Insurance companies are controlled through the Superintendency of Banks and Insurance of the Ministry of Finance. According to a law of 1952, branches controlled by foreign insurance companies may not be established in Peru, although foreign insurers may operate through Peruvian subsidiaries in which they hold only minority interest. A majority of stockholders and directors of locally incorporated stock companies must be Peruvian nationals. The National Bank assumes exclusive control of all foreign reinsurance operations, as well as the writing of export credit insurance. In 2003, a total of $873 million in direct premiums were written, with $507 million of the total comprised of nonlife and $366 million of the total was life insurance. For that same year, Peru's top nonlife insurer was Rimac Internacional, which had gross written nonlife premiums of $174.5 million, while the country's leading life insurer, El Pacifico Vida, had gross written life insurance premiums of $94 million. Worker's compensation and employees' life insurance are compulsory.


The central government publishes an annual budget representing the government's consolidated accounts (including budgetary and extrabudgetary transactions). Indirect taxes, including import and export duties, constitute the major source of government revenues. In the early 1970s, the number of state enterprises increased rapidly, which led to increased public-sector spending. As the revenues from state enterprises lagged behind expenditures, the budget deficit increased to about 10% of GDP during 197577, as compared to 1.7% during 197072. As a result of a fiscal stabilization program, the deficit was reduced to 6.5% of GDP in 1978, and to 2.5% in 1985. In 1990, the Fujimori administration began to pursue tighter fiscal policies and attempted to avoid domestic financing of the deficit. The consolidated public sector deficit, which in 1990 was 6.5% of GDP, fell to 2.5% by 1992, despite the suspension of most foreign financing after the 5 April 1992 coup.

Revenue and Grants 34,742 100.0%
   Tax revenue 27,257 78.5%
   Social contributions 2,502 7.2%
   Grants 544 1.6%
   Other revenue 4,439 12.8%
Expenditures 38,542
   General public services
   Public order and safety
   Economic affairs
   Environmental protection
   Housing and community amenities 154 0.4%
   Health 4,867 12.6%
   Recreational, culture, and religion
   Education 2,584 6.7%
   Social protection 15,508 40.2%
() data not available or not significant.

The IMF program allowed a foreign-financed deficit of 2.9% of GDP in 1993 for increased social sector spending and investment in infrastructure. However, with lower than expected foreign financing and tax collection, the deficit that could be maintained while meeting the public sector external debt obligations was only equivalent to about 2% of GDP. The privatization of state enterprises fattened the government's coffers between 1992 and 2000. The budget deficit for 2000 was 2.5% of GDP due to a rise in public sector wages of 16%, and lower-than-expected revenues from privatization that year.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Peru's central government took in revenues of approximately $21.8 billion and had expenditures of $22.4 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$600 million. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 41.8% of GDP. Total external debt was $30.18 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2003, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues in millions of nuevos soles were 34,742 and expenditures were 38,542. The value of revenues in millions of US dollars was $9,988 and expenditures $6,645, based on a market exchange rate for 2003 of 3.4785 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: housing and community amenities, 0.4%; health, 12.6%; education, 6.7%; and social protection, 40.2%.


The basic corporate tax rate is 30%. However, incentives are available to investments made in mining, oil and gas licensing, and services contracts, for investments in manufacturing located in jungle areas, in tax-free zones, and in border areas. Capital gains are generally taxed as income at the corporate rate. Also, a special regime for small businesses and for some low-income companies imposes a monthly income of 2.5%. There is also a 4.1% tax on the distribution of dividends to nonresidents and individuals. However, dividend payments are not taxed if they are made between resident companies. Foreign dividends are part of taxable income. Branches of foreign companies are subject to the same taxes as Peruvian companies.

The personal income tax is charged at progressive rates of 15%, 21%, and 30%. Various deductions and allowances reduce the individual's taxable income. 20% of the salary and wages paid by a company to its employees is tax-exempt.

The main consumption tax is Peru's value-added tax (VAT) with a standard rate of 19%, of which 2% goes to the local level as a municipal promotion tax. Exports of goods, services, and chattels are exempt for VAT. Other taxes include excise, social security, healthcare pension fund, and profit-sharing taxes.


Import licenses are not required on most products. Ad valorem duties are levied at 4% (on 23% of products), 12% (on 45% of products), or 7% (on 15% of products, especially textiles, footwear, and some agricultural products) of CIF value (cost, insurance, and freight). The remaining items are assessed duties ranging from 1720%. Tariffs range from a total of 420%, averaging 11.6%.

Export processing free zones offer investors exemptions from customs duties for imports and exports. Peru does not adhere to the common external tariff of the Andean Community, but is a member of the group, which opened a free trade zone with MERCOSUR in 2000.


The British were the first to gain prominence as investors in Peru, when they took power of the railways in payment of debt to Peruvian bondholders in 1890. They developed oil fields and a long distance telephone and cable service. In the mid-1950s, Swiss, German, and Canadian interests became active in the transportation and communication services. Private US interests ventured capital and technical aid to all sectors, especially the oil and mining industries. The fishing industry from the beginning was fostered by the United States. Private companies operated tuna fleets in Peruvian waters, as well as canneries.

Between 1959 and 1961, following passages of industrial development laws and the signing of an investment guarantee treaty with the United States, under which private US investors could obtain federal risk insurance against currency inconvertibility, total foreign investment almost doubled, rising from $686 million to $1,274 million. US investments continued their rapid growth rate until the 1968 coup, after which Peru's military rulers pursued a nationalist course, characterized by selective expropriation of foreign-held interests in sectors such as mining, finance, and infrastructure. In addition, a variety of strictures were placed on the uses of foreign capital, as well as on the relative proportion of foreign-to-local control. US-linked firms were the hardest struck by these measures, causing a strain in relations. In February 1974, a US-Peruvian agreement provided a compensation schedule for properties taken over during 196873. At the end of 1973, the US investment column stood at $793 million, less than half of the total a decade earlier. Private investments in the 1970s continued to lag, although some new funding was being advanced in mining and petroleum. From 1977 through 1980, net direct capital investment totaled only $177 million, or less than the total for 1981 ($263 million), the first year after the restoration of civilian rule. In 1984 and 1985, after the economic slump, net direct investment was $89 million and $53 million, respectively.

After 1980, the official attitude toward foreign investment changed substantially. The 1979 constitution guarantees protection of private property, whether Peruvian or foreign, and permits foreign jurisdiction for international financial contracts. The agency responsible for foreign investment is the National Commission of Foreign Investment and Technology (Comite Nacional de Inversion Extranjera y Tecnologia, or CONITE). In late 1986, the Andean Group relaxed its regulations on foreign investment; this change was expected to benefit Peru. About 1,000 foreign companies were represented in Peru in the 1980s, either directly or through subsidiaries or affiliates.

The trade and investment climate in Peru improved significantly after President Fujimori assumed office in July 1990. Foreign investor confidence in Peru should be maintained with Fujimori as the key element in sustaining capital inflows. The Foreign Investment Promotion Law and the Framework Law for Private Investment Growth outlined the government's support for privatization and foreign investment in 1991. From 1991 to 1997, privatization sales totaled over $7 billion, most of which came from foreign investors. There are no restrictions on remittances, but there is a mandatory affirmative action program for Peruvian employees. Activities in export processing zones are tax and customs duty exempt for 15 years.

In 1998, total foreign direct investment (FDI) stock totaled about $7.3 billion. FDI inflow to Peru in 1998 was over $1.8 billion, up from nearly $1.7 billion in 1997, and then peaked at $2.3 billion in 1999. Due mainly to political turmoil and uncertainty in the country, FDI flows to Peru fell to $681 million in 2000. In 2001, FDI flows increased to $1.1 billion, and in 2002 were approximately $2 billion. The major sources of FDI have been Spain (particularly in telecommunications), the United States, and the United Kingdom (in the energy and industry and mining sectors). Cumulative FDI as of 2002 was over $10 billion.

In 2004, the stock of FDI was $12.6 billion, up from $12.46 in 2003. Most of the investments went to communications (29%), industry (14.7%), finance (14.7%), mining (13.5%), and energy (13%). In June 2004, PetroPeru was excluded from the privatization list by a congress law, and it was authorized to conduct exploration and production activities. A series of major mining and energy projects (the Camisea natural-gas field being one of the most important ones), were likely to attract important investors from abroad.


After World War II, President Odría discontinued import licensing and certain price controls and enacted the Mining Code of 1950, the Petroleum Law of 1952, and the Electrical Industry Law of 1955, all with a view to reassuring sources of foreign and domestic capital of reasonable taxation and an adequate rate of earnings under liberal exploitation concessions. Given this stimulus to capital ventures, the economy expanded, and new exports, such as iron and coal, were developed.

After the coup of 1968, Peru's military rulers sought a profound restructuring of the country's economic life. The overall objectives were the establishment of effective state control of natural resources; redistribution of foreign participation; creation of manageable balance among governmental, private, and foreign sectors; and redistribution of productive sources more broadly throughout the population. Nationalization, coupled with a redistribution of ownership and management authority in major enterprises, was the cornerstone of the new policy from its incipient stages in 1968 through 1975. A five year plan was announced in December 1968, emphasizing a reorientation from an agricultural to an industrial economy and stressing the expropriation of large estates, with redistribution of land to peasants in the sierra. In early 1969, tax and credit incentives for the formation of cooperatives and the consolidation of smaller landholding were enacted. In nonagricultural sectors, the government began, in 1969, selective nationalization of major foreign holding in the mining, petroleum, and infrastructure sectors. In several areas, a government presence was asserted through the creation of state-owned commercial enterprises, the most notable of which included Induperu, in industry; Mineroperu, in mining; Pescaperu, in fishing; Petroperu, in petroleum; Entelperu, in telecommunications; and COFIDE (Corporacion Financiera de Desarrollo), in investment.

Industrial enterprises in general were required to adopt profit-sharing and co-ownership schemes for their employees. Although strict limits were placed on foreign participation in Peruvian industry, such investments were not ruled out in principle, and in 1974, the government acted to guarantee fair settlement for US holdings expropriated during 196873.

In the mid-1970s, the regime began to moderate the rigid price control system instituted in its formative years. The prices of petroleum and basic consumer goods were increased, while wage increases were fixed and agricultural subsidies removed. In September 1975, the sol was devalued and financial controls were imposed to help stem inflation (reaching 40% in 1975) and to ease the trade imbalance. The Tupac Amaru Development Plan, announced in 1977, limited the structural reforms of the Inca Plan, calling for economic decentralization and encouragement of foreign investment.

In the late 1970s, a number of state-controlled enterprises were sold, and worker participation was curtailed. The civilian leaders who came to power in 1980 sought to reduce government participation in the economy and to improve the efficiency of state enterprises. Import tariffs and export taxes were reduced, and a new investment program for 198085 emphasized power and irrigation projects and the construction of housing and health care facilities. These attempts to revitalize the economy were hampered by the worldwide recession and by the soft market of Peru's commodity exports. In response, the García Administration reverted to an interventionist policy, imposing import controls and regulating foreign-exchange availability, as well as influencing the financial sector by threatening to nationalize the banks.

On 28 July 1974, the government announced its Inca Plan (which may actually have been drawn up before the 1969 coup), a master plan that envisioned eventual transformation of all economic entities along prescribed socialist lines. Three types of enterprises were to be permitted to operate in Peru: state-owned enterprises, worker-owned collectives (industrial communities), and social-property companies (entities managed by workers but financed by the state).

In late 1975, the Central Bank set up a line of credit to aid the formation of social-property companies through the National Fund for Social Property. The Agrarian Bank, which had been created in July, was authorized to handle the credit requirements of the reorganized agricultural sector, as well as to ease the transformation of cooperatives and farmers' associations, many of which had existed for only a few years, into social-property entities. The order of priorities for industry placed basic industriesnotably steel, nonferrous metals, chemicals, fertilizers, cement, and paperat high rung, followed by manufacturers of capital good, such as machine tools, and industrial research. Reinvestment of profits was stressed throughout.

The decade of the 1990s, with an administration in favor of a market economy, attracted more investment into Peru's economy. With foreign capital flowing, Peru was poised for economic recovery. Privatization and the rapidly growing economy were providing the government with funds to spend on infrastructure and social programs.

In August of 1990, the government implemented an economic program based on (1) an economic stabilization plan, (2) a structural reform program and (3) a set of initiatives aimed at reintegrating the Peruvian economy into the international economic system. As a direct result economic growth in the 1990s was quite strong.

The economic stabilization plan focused on achieving an inflation rate comparable to international levels, and to foster an environment favorable for savings, investment and sustained economic growth. The plan was based on strict fiscal discipline in accordance with an austere monetary policy. The inflation rate was about 6% in 1999. Structural reforms resulted in capital amounting to $7 billion between 1991 and 1999, resulting in a massive inflow of foreign investment. The reinsertion of Peru into the international financial system, beginning in 1991, was intended to restore normal relations between the country and its international creditors. Peru normalized its relations with multilateral bodies, the Paris Club, and with commercial banks.

Upon being elected in 2001, President Toledo implemented an economic recovery program, to revive an economy that had stagnated from 19982001. He took measures to revive the privatization program and to attract investment. The production, refining, and distribution of coca engages approximately 200,000 Peruvians, but the government has taken steps to curtail the narcotics industry. These include promoting alternative development programs in coca-growing areas, in order to convince coca farmers not to grow the crop.

In 2002, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a two-year $347 million Stand-By Arrangement with Peru, to support the government's plans for economic recovery and a lowered rate of inflation.

The consistent economic growth was likely to continue in 2006 and 2007, although at more moderate rates. The growth was expected to be fueled by higher consumption rates, which in turn would be positively influenced by consumer confidence and employment growth in export-oriented industries. A series of planned public development projects were expected to trigger a boom in the construction industry, which would also be reflected in the overall growth pattern of the country.


A modern system of social security (referred to as SNP) has evolved from initial legislation provided in the 1936 constitution. Coverage and benefits were substantially broadened after the 1968 coup. Workers were entitled to receive benefits covering disability, medical attention, hospitalization, maternity, old age, retirement, and widows and orphans. In 1991, the government introduced a new system of individualized capitalization through private pensions (SPP), which exists along side the national social security system.

Social insurance is compulsory for all employees up to the age of 60. The national social security and pension funds (SNP) are endowed by 13% of employee earnings, with the balance of funds supplied by the government. The private system is funded entirely by contributions from employees amounting to 10% of earnings. Sickness and maternity benefits are funded by 9% of employer payroll, with a special credit for employers who use the newer private system. Working mothers are entitled to maternity leave of 90 days at 100% pay. A funeral grant is provided.

Women are often kept from leadership roles in the public and private sectors by the force of tradition, although they are equal under the constitution. A government-supported program to provide credit to female entrepreneurs encourages women to pursue ventures. Racial and sexual discrimination are specifically prohibited by law in hiring, but in practice it continued to occur. Sexual harassment continued despite new legislation adopted in 2003. Domestic abuse and violence against women is a widespread problem which is exacerbated by insensitivity on the part of authorities, although there are some special police stations staffed by women to assist female victims of violence.

Human rights violations have been committed by the government and terrorist groups. There are restrictions on freedom of speech and of the press. Prison conditions are poor and the physical abuse of prisoners is common. The native population of the Amazon region continued to suffer discrimination.


Although Peru has made significant advances toward reducing epidemic disease, improving sanitation, and expanding medical facilities, much remained to be done. Approximately 77% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 76% had adequate sanitation. Health services are concentrated around metropolitan Lima. A health care plan initiated in 1981 called for the establishment of 100 health centers in rural areas and shantytowns. The central administration of all health services lies with the Ministry of Health. A General Health Law enacted in 1997 restructured and reformed the health care sector. As of 2004, there were an estimated 117 physicians, 67 nurses, and 11 dentists per 100,000 people. Total health care expenditure was estimated at 6.2% of GDP.

The infant mortality rate in 2005 was estimated at 31.94 per 1,000 live births. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 23.3 and 5.8 per 1,000 people. Maternal mortality was high at 265 per 100,000 live births. Some 69% of married women used contraception during 2000. Average life expectancy in 2005 was estimated at 69.53 years.

Leading causes of death included acute respiratory infections, intestinal infectious diseases, circulatory system and cardiovascular disease, and tuberculosis. Serious vitamin A deficiency was documented in 22% of children ages four and under and an estimated 48% of all children aged six to nine suffering from malnutrition. Goiter rates in school-age children were high.

Peru has repeatedly reported the highest number of yellow fever cases in the Americas. Other common diseases included malaria and tuberculosis. Immunization rates for children up to one year old were: tuberculosis, 98%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 98%; polio, 97%; and measles, 95%.

The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.50 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 82,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 4,200 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


Successive governments since the 1950s have recognized the importance of slum clearance and public housing programs in combating disease and high mortality rates. Most housing development programs carried out by the government and by private enterprise have been in the Lima area. In Lima and other towns, several "neighborhoods" (unidades vecinales) have been completed through government efforts since the early 1960s. Each such housing complex is designed to be a self-sufficient community. A typical neighborhood is built to house 6,000 persons at moderate rentals.

One of the revolutionary government's early decrees gave the Housing Bank control over financing low-cost housing. Construction grew rapidly during 197073, to the point of depleting local cement supplies.

In 2002, there were about 6 million dwelling units nationwide. About 88.7% of all units were single-family detached houses. Rapid urbanization has resulted in housing shortages in urban areas. Shanty towns called pueblos jovenes have developed in these areas as families build temporary structures out of straw mats, scrap wood, and other disposable materials.


The government has been responsible for public education since 1905; free secondary education began in 1946, but with far too few public schools to meet the need. In March 1972, new education legislation enhanced the central authority of the Ministry of Education, granting the government control over all teaching appointments in the public schools and increasing its authority over the private sector. The legislation provided for adult literacy instruction and instituted the concept of a fully staffed six-grade "nuclear" school to serve the rural population. The 1972 law also established Quechua and Aymará as languages of instruction for non-Spanish-speaking Amerindians, especially in the lowest grades.

Education is compulsory for 12 years, including one year of preprimary education. Primary school covers six years and is followed by two years of general secondary school. Students then attend either a three-year general academic secondary school (studying either arts or sciences) or a three-year technical school. Students planning to enter university may take an additional year of preparatory studies, but this is not an entry requirement. The academic year runs from April to December

In 2001, about 50% of children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 100% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 69% of age-eligible students. Nearly all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 25:1 in 2003; the ratio for secondary school was about 19:1. In 2003, private schools accounted for about 13.7% of primary school enrollment and 17.3% of secondary enrollment.

There is a national university in virtually every major city; the oldest is the National University of San Marcos of Lima, originally founded in 1551. The National University of Engineering and the National University of Agriculture are specialized governmental institutions. The University of San Cristóbal de Huamanga in Ayacucho, founded in the 17th century, was reopened in 1960 and offers mainly technical training. Peru's hard-pressed universities can accept only a fraction of each year's applicants. As of 2005, the government was in the process of organizing a university for the indigenous people of the Northern Amazon region. This school would offer course in such fields as forestry management and medicinal plants, with classes conducted in indigenous languages. In 2003, about 32% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 87.7%, with 93.5% for men and 82.1% for women.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3% of GDP, or 17.1% of total government expenditures.


The National Library in Lima, with 736,000 volumes, is the largest in Peru. More than 450,000 volumes may be found in the various libraries of the University of San Marcos. The library at the National University of San Augustín at Arequipa contains over 430,000 volumes. The library at the Pontifical Library has over 350,000 items. There are nearly 200 public libraries in Peru, the largest of them in Callao, Arequipa, and Lima.

Peru has endeavored to restore and maintain the aesthetic and historical evidences of its pre-Columbian and colonial civilizations in more than 250 public and private museums. The City Hall in Lima contains a full record of the city's official acts since its founding. The Cathedral of Lima, with its silver-covered altars and carved stalls, contains priceless historical, and religious relics. A chapel near the entrance contains the alleged remains of Francisco Pizarro. Two colonial residences, the Palacio Torre Tagle and the Quinta de Presa, have been maintained to exhibit antiques and to serve as examples of the architecture of traditional Lima. There is no law protecting old houses, however, and many have been removed to make way for new downtown buildings. Some have been privately restored, such as the headquarters of the Association of Amateur Artists, the Institute Riva Aguero, the Associated Electrical Companies, the Bullfight Museum, and the Oquendo Mansion. In the Quinta de Presa is a museum with the possessions of the actress La Perricholi, the famous favorite of the 18th-century Viceroy Amat.

At Pueblo Libre in Lima are the National Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, with exhibits of pre-Columbian civilizations, and the Museum of the Republic, a historical museum. The Rafael Larco Herrera Museum in Lima (housing the former collection of the Chiclín plantation near Trujillo) is a private museum with a vast collection of notable antiquities from the pre-Inca Chimú culture. The University of Trujillo has a museum with specimens of early Peruvian cultures. Lima's Museum of Art exhibits Peru's national art from the pre-Columbian era to the contemporary period. There are regional museums throughout the country, including the Frederico Galvez Durand Archeological Museum in Huancayo featuring artifacts from the Nazca peoples.


Peru's major telecommunications systems were developed privately by Swedish, US, and Swiss enterprises. In 1970, however, the government nationalized the Lima Telephone Co. and announced plans to take over the entire telecommunications system through its wholly owned company Entelperú. A joint Peruvian-Chilean firm operates a system in southern Peru and Arica, Chile. In 2003, there were an estimated 67 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people; about 33,000 people were on a waiting list for telephone service installation. The same year, there were approximately 106 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people. The government's Bureau of Mails and Telecommunications operates the domestic telegraph system, using radio to reach communities not served by land lines.

In 2004, there were 65 radio stations and 2 news channels on 2 commercial cable systems in the Lima area. There are many privately owned provincial stations. The government owns only one radio station and one television network. In 2003, there were an estimated 269 radios and 172 television sets for every 1,000 people. About 16.6 of every 1,000 people were cable subscribers. Also in 2003, there were 43 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 104 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 129 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

The leading Lima dailiesamong them El Comercio (2004 circulation 120,000), Ojo (40,000), and Expreso (50,000)are the most important newspapers and are flown daily to provincial towns. Other major papers from Lima include Aja (120,000), El Bocon (90,000), and La Republica (50,000). The official government paper is El Peruano (27,000), a daily gazette in which laws, decrees, and brief government announcements are published. Special-interest periodicals are published by learned societies, agricultural groups, and business associations.

During the period of military rule between 1968 and 1980, the press in Peru was under strict government control. The law provided severe penalties for criticizing government officials and required newspapers to publish reports from the president and cabinet ministers. When civilian rule returned in 1980, the press was returned to private control. However, freedom of the press was again restricted during the political crackdown by President Fujimori in April 1992, and journalists have been arrested by the government. As of 1999, journalists were subject to harassment and intimidation, and practiced self-censorship. The government is said also to exert control over the media through the purchasing of advertising to promote government views and pro-government opinion.


The national Society of Industries, founded in 1896, coordinates the branches of organized industry. The Office of Small Industry and the Institute for the Development of Manual Arts were established in 1946 to revive the weaving and spinning skills of Incas and to coordinate the handicraft workers in textile and other industries, such as gold and silver crafts. Numerous chambers of commerce continued to function.

Of Peru's many learned societies, perhaps the most important is the Academia Peruana, affiliated with the Royal Spanish Academy of Madrid. Others include the Peru Association for the Advancement of Science and the Geographic Society of Lima. There are several professional associations dedicated to research and education for specific fields of medicine and particular diseases and conditions.

National youth organizations include the National Association of Scouts and Guides, the Federation of Peruvian Students, Junior Chamber, and YMCA/YWCA, as well as a number of religious youth groups. Sports associations offer encouragement for amateur competition in such pastimes as badminton, squash, and track and field.

The Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women's Rights has an office in Lima. International organizations with national chapters include Amnesty International, UNICEF, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Habitat for Humanity, CARE Peru, and the Red Cross.


As part of a program to encourage foreign tourism, the government has built and manages, through its Peruvian Hotel Co., several hotels or inns and a variety of tourist services. To help increase foreign exchange earnings from tourism, Peru consolidated all government agencies dealing with tourism into an autonomous corporation in 1964. The Fund for the Promotion of Tourism was established in 1979.

Tourists, as well as scholars, are especially drawn to the wealth of archaeological remains on the coast and in the sierra. Chan Chan, the center of the Chimú civilization, stands in adobe ruins near Trujillo. The ruins of the 9th-century coastal city of Pachacamac are just south of Lima. Inca ruins may be seen at Cuzco, Sacsahuamán (on the northern edge of Cuzco), Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu, as well as on Lake Titicaca islands.

The northern coastal waters are famous for big-game fishing, and the abundant resources of the sierra waters are maintained by fish culture stations. Lakes and streams have been stocked with trout throughout Peru. In Lake Titicaca, trout average 10 kg (22 lb); trout weighing as much as 21 kg (46 lb) have been caught. Other tourist attractions include beaches and water sports; several state parks offer mountain climbing, cross-country skiing, and white-water rafting. The most popular sports are football (soccer), baseball, basketball, and bullfighting. Fiestas, especially the annual celebrations of patron saints, include both Catholic and Indian rites; bands of musicians, or conjuntos, are an important part of each fiesta.

There were 933,643 visitors who arrived in Peru in 2003, of whom 67% came from the Americas. Hotel rooms numbered 123,252 with 213,829 beds. The average length of stay was two nights. A US passport is required along with an onward/return ticket. Visas are only required for visitors from Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Bulgaria, Russia, Pakistan, India, and China. The presence of yellow fever in the area may require a certificate of vaccinations against the disease.

In 2004, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Lima at $215; in Cuzco, $204; and in Paracas, $158.


The Inca Huayna Capac (1450?1525) reigned from 1487 and extended the Inca Empire, encouraging public works and fine arts. On his death he left the empire to his two sons, Huáscar (1495?1533) and Atahualpa (1500?1533); Huáscar was executed by his half-brother, and Atahualpa, the last of the great Incas, was executed by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro (1470?1541). Acknowledged as America's first great writer, Garcilaso de la Vega (El Inca, 1539?1616), son of a Spanish conquistador and an Inca princess, preserved in his Royal Commentaries of the Incas authentic descriptions of this ancestral empire and its traditions. Manuel de Amat (fl.18th century), viceroy from 1762 to 1776, was a patron of the colonial theater and of the famous actress Micaela Villegas, known as La Perricholi. Tupac Amaru II (José Gabriel Condorcanqui, 174281), partly descended from the Incas, led a revolt against Spanish rule in 1780 in which he was defeated, captured, and executed.

Dr. José Hipólito Unnúe (17581833), a statesman and scientist, founded Lima's medical school in 1808 and reformed Peruvian education. The hero of the War of Independence, Mariano Melgar (17921815), was also a poet and composer whose regional songs (yaravís) are still popular. Marshal Ramón Castilla (17971867) distinguished himself in two great presidential terms (184551, 185562), introducing railways and the telegraph, emancipating the slaves, abolishing Amerindian tribute, modernizing Lima, and developing the important guano industry. Ricardo Palma (18331919) is considered Peru's greatest literary figure; a critic, historian, and storyteller, he originated the genre called tradición, and wrote the 10-volume Tradiciones Peruanas. José María Valle-Riestra (18581925) was an important composer.

In the modern era, the work of an erudite Amerindian, Julio Tello (18801947), became internationally known in archaeological circles. Jorge Chávez (18871910) made the first solo flight across the Alps in 1910. Santos Chocano (18751934), César Vallejo (18951938), and José María Eguren (18821942) are considered Peru's finest modern poets. Established prose writers are Víctor Andrés Belaúnde (18831966), Jorge Basadre (190380), and Ciro Alegría (190967); the novelist Mario Vargas Llosa (b.1936) was the first Latin American president of PEN, an international writers' organization. Peru's best-known contemporary painter is Fernando de Szyszlo (b.1925). Other noted Peruvians include Ventura García Calderón (18661959), a writer; José Sabogal (18881956), a painter; Honorio Delgado (18921969), a scientist; and José Carlos Mariátegui (18951930), a political essayist. Yma Sumac (b.1928) is an internationally known singer.

Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre (18951979) originated APRA in 1924 as a Latin American workers' movement; it became Peru's most significant political force. Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado (191077), who led the military coup of 1968, ruled as president of Peru until his own ouster by a bloodless coup in 1975. Gen. Francisco Morales Bermúdez Cerruti (b.1921), president during 197580, prepared the country for a return to civilian rule. Fernando Belaúnde Terry (19132002), founder of the Popular Action Party, served as president during 196368 and again during 198085. Alán García Pérez (b.1949) was elected president in 1985. Alberto Fujimori (b.1938), was president from 1990 to 2000: once out of office, Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for Fujimori on charges including crimes against humanity, murder, and kidnapping, and President Alejandro Toledo (b.1946) lodged an extradition request with the Japanese government (where Fujimori had fled) in 2003. In 1982, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (b.1920) became secretary-general of the UN.


Peru has no territories or colonies.


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Republic of Peru

Major Cities:
Lima, Arequipa

Other Cities:
Cajamarca, Callao, Cerro de Pasco, Chiclayo, Chimbote, Cuzco, Huancayo, Ica, Iquitos, Pisco, Piura, Pucallpa, Trujillo


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 1999 for Peru. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


PERU is a nation of diversity and contrast. Historically, it was the nucleus of the great Inca civilization and, subsequently, the administrative center of the Spanish colonial empire in South America. Geographically, Peru includes the desert coastal region with its populous cities of Lima, Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo, and Piura; the mountainous central area of the Andean chain; and the jungle region forming the headwaters of the Amazon Basin.

Situated on the Pacific coast of the continent, Peru shares frontiers with five South American republicsEcuador and Colombia to the north, Chile to the south, and Brazil and Bolivia to the east.



Lima lies in the center of Peru's coastal desert area on the Rimac River, 8 miles from the Pacific Port of Callao and about 475 feet above sea level. Its coordinates are 12 degrees south latitude and 77 degrees west longitude, the same longitude as New York City, 3,500 miles north. The Pan American Highway links Lima with Ecuador (600 miles north) and with Chile (720 miles south).

Although only 12 degrees south of the Equator, Lima is not tropical. The Pacific Ocean's cool Humboldt Current moderates the Peruvian coastal climate. Two distinct seasons occur: summer and winter. Winter is cool and damp with over-cast skies; summer is moderate and generally pleasant. Rain is practically nonexistent in the area though light mist and drizzle persist throughout the winter.

Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, and named the "City of Kings," probably because the site was discovered on Epiphany. The seat of the viceroy was established here in 1542 with jurisdiction over all Spanish territory in South America except Venezuela.

The City of Kings has changed in the past 25 years from a quiet city of Spanish colonial charm into a modern-day metropolis. Although many colonial landmarks still stand, new office buildings and hotels tower over the dignified mansions and churches of the 17th and 18th centuries. Greater Lima with its suburbs covers roughly 400 square miles and has a population of over 7 million, making it the fourth-largest city in South America. By day the city teems with business and traffic; at night it assumes a typical Latin American cosmopolitan appearance, offering excellent restaurants, nightclubs, discotheques, concert halls, and movie theaters.

The area is rich in centuries-old plazas and churches. Inca and pre-Inca ruins are nearby, and artisan objects of silver, leather, and alpaca wool are available. Many modern entertainment and sports facilities are also available.


Electricity in Lima is 220v, 60 cycles, but the voltage varies. Some houses and apartments are wired for both 110 and 220. Keep in mind that 110v appliances require a transformer. Most areas have enough water, but severe shortages can occur, particularly in summer. Telephone, electricity and water service are reliable in Lima.


American-style supermarkets are abundant in most residential areas. Markets offer a variety of locally produced and processed goods. Many small specialty shops can be found throughout greater Lima, but imported foodstuffs are expensive.

Delicious fresh domestic and imported fruits and vegetables, both tropical and temperate, are sold in Lima year-round. Bananas, melons, oranges, and such tropical fruits as papayas, mangoes, and maracuya (passion fruit) are of good quality and reasonably priced. Apples, plums, peaches, strawberries, watermelon, pears, etc., are also available in season. Small limes are used for drinks and in cooking. Fresh fruit juices including strawberry and melon are popular. Many fresh herbs and spices are sold in the supermarkets.

Fish, fresh meat, and chicken are generally available. Beef, pork, and some cuts of lamb are good, but quality varies. Cook pork thoroughly.

Fresh, pasteurized milk is available at some local supermarkets (La Molina brand is preferred but sometimes hard to find). Many Americans buy boxed, long-life milk. Powdered or canned milk is available. Local and imported cheeses are plentiful and varied. There is no lack of good cheeses in Lima. Ice cream is not very expensive and may also easily be made at home.

Seven brands of beer are brewed in Peru and good Chilean wines are available locally. World-famous "pisco" brandy (distilled from grapes) is widely served and "pisco sours" are traditionally offered as a gesture of hospitality. Locally bottled soft drinks include Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Seven-Up, and tonic. The bright yellow Inka Cola is a favorite Peruvian soft drink.

Peruvian cuisine excites the palate and is imaginative and varied, with many dishes based on fresh fish and seafood. Corn, potatoes, and chicken are combined with such fresh herbs as basil and coriander (Chinese parsley) to make delicious soups. Rich desserts are popular. Restaurants are exceptionally good, though expensive.


All items of apparel are sold locally but imported items are expensive. The style and fit of locally produced apparel are different. Local tailoring and dressmaking services are good. Excellent fabrics may be purchased here. Peru is famous for export of a high-quality cotton.

Attractive, good-quality shoes are available, but expensive, and large, half-size, and narrow sizes are hard to find.

Men: Most Peruvian men dress conservatively, wearing shirts and ties to both office and social gatherings. In summer, sport shirts and slacks are acceptable for day and evening wear.

Women: Women will find woolen and other medium-weight warm dresses or suits practical for office or social wear during winter. Evening jackets and wraps are necessary in winter and frequently lightweight shawls are needed in summer. Shorts are rarely seen in public in the city, but are common at clubs, picnics, and at home.

Dress slacks are generally acceptable, depending upon style and fabric, and are suitable for coffees, luncheons, teas, meetings, and cocktail parties. Street-length dresses or separates are worn more frequently.

Children: Uniforms required for various schools should be purchased locally. Black athletic shoes are acceptable to uniform standards and could be purchased in the U.S. Although kindergarten-age children do not wear uniforms, they will need them when they enter first grade. During March, school children are not required to wear uniforms because of the heat.

Supplies and Services

American and European brands of toilet articles and cosmetics are expensive here; domestic brands are more reasonably priced and some are satisfactory.

Pharmacies are well stocked with antibiotics, vitamins, and U.S.-patented medicines at controlled prices comparable to those in the U.S.

Photography enthusiasts could bring a supply of film, but remember that it deteriorates if stored in a humid climate for long. Most film types are sold locally.

Tailoring, dressmaking, shoe repair, hairdressing, barbering, laundry, dry-cleaning, and other services are available at reasonable prices.

Domestic Help

A maid's salary is currently about $150 to $200 per month. For full-time help, the employer also must pay a social security tax of about 18% of monthly salary. Both live-in maid and day maids are easy to find. Besides monthly pay, the employer must provide uniforms, food, and for daily domestics, transportation money. Live-in servants need a simple bed and chest of drawers, available locally at modest prices. Some find that to have domestic help is essential because their presence helps improve home security and because air pollution and dust create constant cleaning problems.

Gardeners, and ironing persons, are available as day workers, who can be hired to wash and wax floors, clean windows, and polish furniture (jobs maids generally do not do). Gardeners generally have their own lawn mowers. Good caterers are available for special entertaining at reasonable prices.

Peruvian law requires employers to give servants 15 days vacation when they complete a year of continuous service. Also, 15 days indemnity will be due domestic workers for each full year of service.

Religious Activities

The Lima Cathedral, originally built in the 16th century, has been almost entirely reconstructed and is currently used primarily as a museum. Lima has many other Catholic churches, some of considerable historic and artistic interest. Masses in English are conducted at the Santa Maria Reina Chapel, Avenida Sta. Cruz, Ovalo Gutierrez, in Miraflores.

Three Protestant churches have Sunday services in English: the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd at Av. Santa Cruz 491, Mira-flores. Sunday services include Holy Communion at 8:00 a.m. with Morning Service at 10:00 (Creche and Sunday school available). The International Union Church at Av. Angamos 1155, Miraflores offers interdenominational Worship Services in English on Sundays at 10:30 and Sunday school at 9:30 (adults) and at 10:15 (children). The Union Church also offers Bible Studies on Friday, March to November. The New Life Bible Fellowship at Av. La Molina Este, 142 Rinconada del Lago, offers an interdenominational English Worship Service on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. in Iglesia Vida Nueva en Cristo. Nursery is available. Several Jewish congregations offer services in Hebrew and Spanish, with many English-speaking members of the congregation. Asociacion Judia de Beneficeacia Eculto de 1870 is located at Jose Galvez 282, Miraflores (4451089), Central Social y Cultura Sharon at Dos de Mayo (440-0290) and Union Israelita del Peru can be contacted at 4400290. Mormon services in English are also offered. Lima has missionaries from many Protestant denominations, but their church services are usually in Spanish. The YMCA and YWCA are active in the Lima community.


School-age children usually attend the Colegio Franklin D. Roosevelt, an international school in Lima. Instruction is in English and programs are offered for preschool age children (3 and 4-year old), as well as kindergarten through grade 12. Colegio Roosevelt is accredited by the U.S. Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. This private, coeducational, nondenominational school, was established in 1946 to provide schooling for dependents of major U.S. companies in Peru. Its curriculum is primarily designed to prepare students for future enrollment in universities. The school has about 1,300 students (kindergarten through grade 12). The student population is currently 1,337 with U.S. citizens making up 26%, 52% Peruvian, and the remaining 22% of the students are third country nationals.

The large campus is quite impressive. Separate buildings are used for the high school, middle school, elementary school, multipurpose media facility, and the gymnasium. Many faculty and administrative personnel are U.S. citizens. School begins the first week in August and continues until early July, with a 2-1/2 month holiday from mid December through February. The school does not have a cafeteria. Children either carry their lunches or purchase snack food.

Guidance counselor interviews of secondary students assist in class scheduling. To assist administrators, the school recommends that copies of official transcripts, standardized tests, report cards, letters of recommendation and any additional information that would be helpful, be forwarded to FDR prior to your arrival. English, history, social studies, Spanish, science, math, and physical education are standard offerings in the high school as well as elective courses. International Baccalaureate (IB) courses and diploma as well as Advanced Placement (AP) are available. Additionally, Roosevelt offers a strong computer education program. Extracurricular activities include sports (baseball, basketball, soccer, field hockey, tennis, softball and volleyball). Photography Club, Drama Club, National Honor Society, student government and Varsity Club. Gifted and talented children programs are offered. Students with diagnosed mild learning disabilities are included in regular classes with support from a specialist. However, it should be noted that Coleglo Roosevelt has limited resources for special needs students. Programs for students with learning difficulties or those in advanced curriculums do not compare with those offered in U.S. public school systems. It is important to contact the school before enrollment to discuss how best your child can be accommodated. All relevant information should be forwarded, along with academic and health records, before arrival to enable the school to better evaluate individual students. More detailed information regarding resources for special needs students at FDR can be obtained from the Overseas Briefing Center.

The school offers a short summer activities program. Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt can be contacted at: (phone) 51-1-435-0890, (fax) 51-1-4360927 or (e-mail) [email protected].

Their web site address to be contacted is:

Peru has many national and private universities, including 14 in Lima. One semester courses like those given in U.S. colleges and universities are generally not offered here. Agriculture and engineering are taught at national universities in Lima. All courses are in Spanish and enrollment is restricted.

The University of San Marcos in Lima is the oldest in the Americas (founded May 13, 155 1) and the largest in Peru. Its faculties include humanities, law, medicine, sciences, economics, education, and veterinary medicine. But this university has been plagued with student disturbances and is suffering an economic crisis.

The Catholic University is the largest private university in Lima. During July and August it sponsors a special program for U.S. students, as does the University of Lima, which has an excellent School of Communications. The University of the Pacific specializes in business education and other related programs.

Special Educational Opportunities

The Binational Centers offer a language program to teach Spanish to foreigners in Peru. In addition, English language classes are available. You can also arrange inexpensive private language tutoring.


Sports facilities, aside from various spectator sports, are primarily limited to private clubs, gymnasiums, or health studios. Lima has many popular, but expensive, sporting clubs and several tennis, golf, swimming, and riding facilities. Some clubs have almost impossible admission requirements, but others have memberships available that range from expensive to moderate. Clubs usually require initiation fees or shares (some of which can be sold on departure) plus monthly or quarterly dues. Several modern, well-equipped health studios and gymnasiums in the area provide exercise facilities, boxing, wrestling, weight lifting, etc. An active softball league operates on weekends at Roosevelt School.

The American Association is a social/charitable membership organization for U.S. citizens and Canadians living in Lima. Among its activities are group trips to outlying areas, a monthly restaurant night, and other social events. It sponsors a community picnic each year on Labor Day and a joint Canadian/U.S. Independence Day celebration in July.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Almost every area and town in Peru has its own unique festivals and celebrations. These are mostly colorful religious events. Comfortable, clean tourist hotels operate in the most frequently visited towns. Reservations for all in-country travel can be made through several local travel agencies. The South American Explorers' Club has an office in Lima with extensive files on trips within Peru. Membership costs $30 per year.

Nearby Pacific Ocean beaches offer swimming and surfing, but the undertow and currents are sometimes dangerous, and many nearby beaches are contaminated by raw sewage. About 20 to 30 miles south of Lima are clean, pleasant beaches that are also safe for children. These include the Punta Hermosa and Santa Maria beaches. Surfing in Peru deserves special mention. The many coastal beaches provide a variety of waves rarely seen in other localities. However, the water is usually quite cold, so surfers require wetsuits as well as surf-boards. Both are expensive in Peru. A group of sailing enthusiasts in Lima holds regattas during the summer for Lightning class craft.

Both expensive surf and small boat fishing are available at Pucusana (30 miles south) and Ancon, though it is hard to get small boats in summer. Trout fishing is available at Lake Titicaca, on the Altiplano in southeast Peru about 810 miles from Lima, and in neighboring mountain streams, but not in the vicinity of the city.

Three aviation clubs are located about 12 miles from the city center. These include a flying club, a gliding club, and a parachute club. Fees vary and at times have been high by U.S. standards. A good working knowledge of Spanish is needed to participate in the activities of these clubs.

Lima has facilities for target, skeet, and trap shooting. You may rent or board horses at several stables and riding clubs. Inter-Club riding competition is well organized and competition keen. Spectator sports include horse races (held on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday), polo, colorful bullfights (October-November), soccer, basketball, cockfights, and professional boxing and wrestling.

Bring any sports equipment you plan to use here, particularly tennis and squash racquets, scuba equipment, surfboards, golf clubs, badminton sets, ping-pong, volleyball, hunting and fishing equipment, bicycles, yard equipment for children, baseball gloves, balls and bats. Local equipment ins expensive. A game known as "fronton" is also popular and is similar to outdoor paddle ball.

Lima offers a wide choice of good restaurants for business lunches and social dining. Sidewalk cafes and drive-in restaurants abound in the city. Some snack bars feature American-type services and food. Certain tourist areas offer more elegant dining. Many popular restaurants specialize in Chinese food, pizza, fried chicken, or Peruvian Creole food. Many U.S. fast-food franchises such as Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Domino's Pizza operate in Lima.


Several theaters in Lima show first-run movies. American films are popular and are widely shown with original soundtracks and Spanish subtitles. Lima also has live theaters with most performances in Spanish. An active amateur theater group, sponsored by the British community, regularly presents plays in English.

The National Symphony Orchestra offers concerts during winter, at times featuring vocal or instrumental artists from Europe, the U.S., or other Latin American countries. The city has a local ballet company, and international ballet companies occasionally perform. International soloists participate in the elegant Municipal Theater's annual opera season.

Lima has several nightclubs with dance orchestras and floorshows, discos, and good jazz bars. These clubs are expensive and prices vary according to the entertainment offered.

Peruvians celebrate their country's independence on July 28 and 29 with military parades, official receptions, and religious ceremonies.

Social Activities

Most entertaining in Lima is done in private homes, clubs, or hotels.

Peruvians are conservative and reserved about admitting outsiders to their social and family circles, but they are friendly to Americans. With a little time and effort you can make valuable and pleasant friendships. It is a good idea to reconfirm appointments, particularly social engagements, the same day or the day before.

Social organizations open to membership by Americans (some by invitation only, others by application) include the American Society of Peru, the Toastmasters, the American Women's Literary Club, the Lima Women's Chorale, Good Companions (British theater group), Lions, Rotary, and several sport clubs. For children, Lima has active affiliates of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Guides. Bring transfer cards if you wish to enroll your children in one of these groups.


Arequipa is 475 miles southeast of Lima, at the foot of the dormant volcano, El Misti, one of Peru's highest points (19,031 feet). The city proper, at an altitude of 7,550 feet, is the capital of Arequipa Department and had a metropolitan population of about 635,000 in 1990.

Arequipa was founded in 1540 by Francisco Pizarro on the site of an Inca town. It is situated on an oasis, in an arid region that grows crops for local consumption. The city is an important commercial center for southern Peru and northern Bolivia, producing leather, nylon, textiles, and foodstuffs. A steel mill and textile plants also are in operation.

Tourism is an important industry here. Incan ruins, hot springs, and bathing resorts are among Arequipa's tourist attractions. Examples of Spanish colonial architecture, almost completely destroyed in an 1868 earthquake, have been restored. Santa Catalina, a cloistered convent, is said to be an architectural marvel. Arequipa has been called the "white city" because of the light-colored sillar (building stone) which dominates the area.

There has been a university in Arequipa since 1821. The city is the seat of a Catholic diocese, the publishing center for two newspapers, and the site of several provincial banks and a Chamber of Commerce. One of Peru's three seismological stations is located here; the others are in Lima and Huancayo. The city is prone to severe earthquakes. The latest earthquake in the 1960s devastated the city.

Prescott Anglo-American School in Arequipa is a coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through grade 12. It was founded in 1965 and is accredited by the country's Ministry of Education. Its curriculum is Peruvian, with Spanish a required language. Six members of its staff of 70 are U.S. citizens. Enrollment is about 1,140. Prescott is located a few miles from the center of the city; the mailing address is Apartado 1036, Arequipa, Peru.


The ancient Inca city of CAJAMARCA is situated 350 miles north of Lima in Cajamarca Province. Conquistador Francisco Pizarro captured and executed Inca chief Atahualpa here in 1532. The colonial presence is evident in the cathedral and San Francisco Belén Church. Cajamarca relies on mining, agriculture, and manufacturing for its economic well-being; tourism is increasing in importance. The thermal springs known as "Baths of the Incas" are near this provincial capital of approximately 93,000. A main trading hub of the northern Andes, Cajamarca has adequate transportation via road and air.

CALLAO , on the doorstep of the capital city, is the chief seaport of Peru. It is situated on Callao Bay, only eight miles west of Lima. The city is the capital of Lima Department, and had a metropolitan population of approximately 575,000 in 1989. Founded in 1537, at the same time that Francisco Pizarro established Lima, Callao was incorporated as a town in 1671. As the gateway to Lima, it was frequently attacked. Sir Francis Drake captured the town in 1578. It later was held by Spanish loyalists until 1825, even though Peru had gained its independence in 1821; the Spanish also bombarded the city in 1866. Callao was occupied by Chile from 1881 to 1883 during the War of the Pacific. Major expansion of its harbor was undertaken in 1958. The harbor, which is sheltered by a small peninsula and an island, handles more than half of the nation's imports and exports. Metallurgical industries, shipbuilding factories, breweries, and sugar refineries are found in Callao. Exports include minerals, wool, refined metals, fish oil, and fish meal. Callao was totally destroyed in 1746 by an earthquake and a tidal wave, and again severely damaged in 1940; however, many colonial landmarks survive.

CERRO DE PASCO rests in Peru's central highlands 112 miles northeast of Lima. One of the highest cities in the world at an altitude of 14,436 feet, it gained renown for its mining in the mid-1630s. Silver dominated the industry for 200 years. Today the original silver deposits are long depleted, replaced by gold, copper, lead, zinc, and other minerals. Cerro de Pasco is the capital of Pasco Province and has an estimated population of 70,000.

CHICLAYO , with a 2000 population of about 517,000, is a maritime city in northwestern Peru, 400 miles north of Lima. The capital of Lambayeque Department, it is situated on the coastal desert between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains. Chiclayo gets little rainfall and may go years at a time without receiving any, but Andean streams are used for irrigation. The artificial watering enables the area to raise sugarcane and the greatest part of the country's rice. Chiclayo has a university, founded in 1962, and an agricultural college, established in 1963. The city has many parks and gardens and a large marketplace.

CHIMBOTE , one of Peru's fastest-growing urban areas, was reconstructed as a model city less than 20 years ago. The city, 225 miles northwest of Lima on the Pacific coast, made international headlines in 1970 when a massive earthquake struck. The unique natural harbor accounts for the important import/export business here. This involves agriculture, manufactured goods, and bulk materials. Excellent transportation for this community of 253,000 is provided by an airport and by the city's location on the Pan-American Highway. Chimbote is also the terminus of a local railroad.

CUZCO (also spelled Cusco) is 300 miles southeast of Lima at the junction of the Huatanay and Tullamayo rivers. Situated at an altitude of 11,200 feet, Cuzco's population, close to 300,000, is predominantly Indian. Cuzco once was the capital of a vast Inca empire, known as the "City of the Sun." It is thought to have been founded in the 11th century by Manco Capac, the first ruler of the Incas. At that time, the city had massive temples, fortresses, walls, and beautiful palaces. Today, the Temple of the Sun is the site of a Dominican convent. Ruins of some of the Inca buildings survive, notably the fortress of Sacsahuaman. Francisco Pizarro took Cuzco for the Spanish in 1522, destroyed much of the ancient city, and constructed a colonial city, using many of the old walls as foundations for new buildings. The Renaissance cathedral of La Merced is the most noteworthy of the many churches in Cuzco. An earthquake destroyed a broad area of the city in 1950, but most of the historical buildings have been restored, and Cuzco still is considered the "archaeological capital of South America." The National University of Cuzco was built in 1597. The Feast of Into Raymi is the important festival here. Close to Cuzco is the ancient, terraced, "lost city" of Machu Picchu. Cuzco is a commercial and industrial center. Among the industries are textile, beer, and rug production. The city is linked by air, highway, and railroad with Lima.

HUANCAYO , a city whose metropolitan-area population was estimated at 327,000 in 2000, is situated in central Peru, on the Montaro River. A university, founded in 1962, and a national seismological station are located here. Huancayo is the hub of a large Indian district. Many Indians come to Huancayo to trade at the city's central market. The city has many beautiful examples of modern and religious architecture. Huancayo is a major commercial and tourist center for Peru's Central Andes region. In 1966, the Museo Cabrera was opened. It contains pottery and engraved stones from the ancient Nazca culture.

ICA , on the river whose name it bears, is 170 miles southeast of Lima. The capital of Ica Department, this city of 161,400 (1993 est.) is located next to the Pan-American Highway. The Spanish settled here in 1563. Ica, twice destroyed by earthquakes, is today a commercial center for the cotton, wool, and wine produced in the region, and is also a summer resort. A university was founded in Ica in 1961. The shrine of Our Lord of Luren, site of many pilgrimages, is located here.

IQUITOS is in northeastern Peru, 1,270 miles northeast of Lima. The capital of Loreto Department, it lies on the Amazon, approximately 2,300 miles from the river's mouth. Founded in 1863, Iquitos, with a 2000 population of 367,000, is the farthest inland port of appreciable size in the world. The city became important early in the 20th century with the boom in rubber, but declined soon afterward when the market collapsed. Today, rubber, coffee, cotton, and timber are exported from Iquitos. The Andes Mountains are a barrier to the transport of commercial goods to the Pacific, so Iquitos' products are exported via the Atlantic Ocean. A university was founded here in 1961. Iquitos is the cultural, religious, and tourist center of eastern Peru.

PISCO is a port on the Pacific Ocean, about 130 miles south of Lima, with a population of about 56,000. Large vineyards surround the city, and one of its major industries is the production of Pisco brandy. Cotton is also cultivated and processed in the area. Other industries in Pisco include textile manufacturing and cotton seed milling. Subsistence farming and fishing are also pursued. Adjacent to Pisco, on the Paracus Peninsula, are ruins from a pre-Incan civilization.

PIURA , 425 miles northeast of Lima, is situated in the Piura valley of the Peruvian coastal desert. San Miguel de Piura, originally situated on the coast, was the first Spanish settlement in Peru, founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1532. Because of unhealthy conditions, the city was moved to the present inland site of Piura, about 35 miles southeast of its port, Paita. Sebastián de Benalcázar set out from here to conquer Ecuador. Severely damaged by an earthquake in 1912, this city of 325,000 (2000 est.) residents has developed into a commercial center for corn, rice, cotton, and sugarcane produced in the region. The cotton market in Piura is extensive; several cotton gins and cottonseed oil mills are located in the immediate area. A technical university opened here in 1961.

In east-central Peru about 80 miles from the Brazil border sits PUCALLPA , half civilized, half rain forest frontier town. This city of approximately 172,300 (1993 est.) residents was opened to the outside world in 1945 upon the completion of the Lima-Pucallpa highway. First settled in the early 1530s, Pucallpa is the largest city in Ucayali Department, as well as a market center and industrial district. Primary industries in Pucallpa include sawmills and plants for extracting rose-wood oil. It is accessible by air or river traffic; there are no paved roads. This area has become headquarters for several missionaries and colonizers.

TRUJILLO is a coastal city in northwestern Peru, about 300 miles north of Lima. Its port, Salaverry, is nine miles to the west. The capital of La Libertad Department, Trujillo has a metropolitan population of about 652,500. The city was founded in 1534 and played an important role in the fight against Spanish rule. Independence was declared in 1820 and, in 1825, Trujillo served as Peru's provisional capital, as well as main headquarters for Simón Bolívar. In 1617, a wall was built to protect the city from English pirates; today, the wall is one of the principal points of interest. Situated in a fertile oasis of the coastal desert, Trujillo is a thriving commercial and industrial center. Rice and sugar are processed here, and the city also produces textiles, leather goods, and food products. The University of La Libertad was founded in Trujillo in 1824. Four miles west are the ruins of the pre-Incan city of Chan-Chan, believed to have been established between 800 and 1000. Chan-Chan is recognized as the capital of the pre-Incan civilization of Chium, and once had 200,000 inhabitants. Walls, decorated in relief designs, are part of the ruins today. In 1990, Trujillo had an estimated population of 532,000.


Geography and Climate

Peru is on the west coast of South America, south of the Equator, between 0 and 18 degrees south latitude and 70 degrees and 81 degrees west longitude. It is the fifth most populated country in Latin America, and it is three times the geographic size of California.

The country has four distinct geographic areas: the narrow coastal desert region (about 25 to 40 miles wide), barren except for irrigated valleys; the Andean highlands or sierra, containing some of the world's highest mountains; the "ceja de montana" (eyebrow of the mountain), a long narrow strip of mountainous jungle on the eastern slope of the Andes; and the selva or rain forest area, which covers over half the country, including the vast Amazon River Basin and the Madre de Dios River Basin.

The sierra, which makes up over one-fourth of Peru, is an area of uneven population distribution, rich in mineral wealth. Many of its inhabitants live at elevations above 10,000 feet. The selva region is sparsely populated and only partially explored. The climate in the ceja de montana varies with the elevation from temperate to tropical.

Because Lima lies on an axis of instability in the Earth's crust, seismic activity is common. Light earthquakes called "temblores" occur but seldom cause damage. For example, between May 1998 and May 1999, 85 light earthquakes occurred. A strong earthquake occurred in Lima, Callao, and environs on May 24, 1940, causing major damage and claiming over 2,000 lives. Also, serious earthquakes occurred in Cuzco (1950), Arequipa (1958 and 1960), the Lima-Callao area (1966-74), and Chimbote and the Callejon de Huaylas (1970).

Peru lies below the Equator; therefore its seasons along the Pacific Coast are the reverse of those in the Northern Hemisphere. Summer lasts from about mid-December through April in that region and is generally pleasant, with warm, sunny days and cool, comfortable nights. February is usually the warmest, with an average temperature of about 79°F, but humidity averages 83 percent. Temperatures rarely range above the mid-80s. Only two distinct seasons occur in the highlands: the rainy season from December to April and a dry period the rest of the year. Temperatures in the sierra fluctuate considerably with the weather and altitude.

Winter along the coast lasts from May or June to November. The weather is chilly and damp. Sunny days in Lima's winter are rare, particularly in July, August, and September. Rain is virtually unknown; however, a fine mist often falls and fog is common. The coolest, dampest months are July and August, with average temperatures about 60°F and rarely falling below the low 50s. Humidity is high all year, especially in winter, requiring constant vigilance against mildew and mold.


Peru's 1999 population was estimated at 25.23 million, with a population growth rate of about 1.7 percent per year. The nation's population consists of many ethnic groups, of which about one-third live in the Lima metropolitan area. Indigenous peoples constitute about 35 percent of the population, while Peruvian of mixed indigenous and European descent ("mestizo") comprise almost 50 percent. Whites comprise almost 10 percent of the population, while Asians and Blacks make up less than 5 percent of the total population. In the Lima metropolitan area, the population is overwhelmingly mestizo and white, with relatively large Japanese and Chinese communities.

Peru has two official languages-Spanish and the foremost indigenous language, Quechua. Spanish is used by the government and the media, and in most forms of education and commerce. English is spoken by many educated Peruvians, and is understood in most major hotels and in many restaurants and shops catering to tourists. Amerindians who live in the Andean highlands speak Quechua or Aymara and are ethnically distinct from the diverse indigenous groups, who live on the eastern side of the Andes and in the tropical lowlands adjacent to the Amazon basin. All of the indigenous languages are losing ground with increases in indigenous people moving to the largest cities, where Spanish is the most commonly used language.

Public Institutions

When the Spanish arrived in the early 16th century, the territory now known as Peru was part of the Inca Empire that extended from southwestern Colombia to central Chile. Its conquest by a handful of adventurers led by Francisco Pizarro (who founded Lima, which he called the "City of Kings") was facilitated by the aftereffects of the succession struggle in the Inca Empire between two half-brothers, Atahualpa and Huascar.

Peru was part of Spain's American empire for almost 300 years. Several prominent leaders of South American wars of independence played a role in Peru's liberation: San Martin proclaimed Peru's independence on July 28, 1821; and Bolivar was President of Peru from 1824 to 1826. Sucre won the battle of Ayacucho in 1824 (generally considered the last major engagement of the wars of independence).

Since becoming independent, Peru and its neighbors have been engaged in intermittent territorial disputes. Chile's victory over Peru and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific (1879-83) resulted in a territorial settlement in which Peru lost Arica and Tarapaca Provinces to Chile. Following a serious clash between Peru and Ecuador in 1941, the Rio Protocol (of which the U.S. is guarantor) established the current boundary between the two countries. Occasional brief skirmishes have occurred over the years along a part of the border area still undemarcated. Major fighting broke out on the Peru-Ecuador border (limited to a sparsely populated jungle area) in January 1995 until a cease-fire was brokered by the four Rio Protocol guarantors in March. The U.S. participated in observing the ceasefire, and along with Brazil, Argentinia and Chile, helped facilitate the signing of a global and definitive peace agreement on October 26, 1998.

Throughout Peruvian history, the military has played a prominent role. Coups have repeatedly interrupted civilian, constitutional government. The last period of military rule lasted from 1968 to 1980.

For centuries, the Peruvian Indian population has cultivated the coca plant (Erythroxylum coca vas coca ), whose leaf is chewed as a mild stimulant and specific against altitude sickness, used as an herbal tea, or used for some traditional or religious ceremonies. In the 1870s, the pharmaceutical industry isolated the cocaine alkaloid, a powerful local anesthetic, but also a highly addictive stimulant with significant potential for abuse.

An initial burst of cocaine abuse in Europe and the U. S. subsided at the time of World War I, but in the 1970s, escalating demand for cocaine in the U.S. again led to vast expansion in the limited traditional coca crops by much greater cultivation destined for illicit drug production. Since that time, cocaine has become the most significant illicit substance of abuse in the U.S., and is a growing problem for the rest of the world.

Peru is overwhelmingly the world's largest producer of raw material for cocaine, and the illegal drug trafficking industry has since the 1980s become recognized by the Peruvian people as one of their greatest domestic problems, a source of financing for terrorist groups, corruption of democratic political and judicial institutions, economic and social distortion, and devastation of the Amazon environment.

Peru returned to democratic rule in 1980 when Accion Popular led by American-educated Fernando Belaunde Terry came to power. In the 1985 elections, Alan Garcia of the center-left American Popular Revolutionary Party (APRA) won the presidency and a controlled majority of the two Houses of Congress. American-educated Alberto Fujimori, an independent candidate, was elected President in 1990. On April 5, 1992, with the support of the armed forces, President Fujimori suspended the constitution and closed down the country's congress and courts in what became known as "the auto-coup." Following pressure by the international community, Fujimori called national elections to choose a new unicameral congress in November 1992 to draft a new constitution. Fujimori's political movement, Cambio 90/ Nueva Mayoria, won a majority of seats; several traditional political parties boycotted the election.

The new constitution, which the congress drafted, was narrowly approved in a nationwide referendum in October 1993. Unlike the previous constitution, the new one allowed a sitting president to run for reelection, which Fujimori did and won by a landslide in April 1995. In 1996, the Congress passed legislation interpreting the constitutional term limits for president, that made it possible for Fujimori to seek reelection in the 2000 national elections. The new legislative body is a unicameral congress with 120 members elected at large. President Fujimori's party holds 71 seats, and a variety of other groups, the largest of which is Union Por El Peru, hold the rest.

Under President Fujimori, many of the problems that haunted his predecessorsincluding terrorism, significant human rights violations, and hyperinflationhave been eliminated or greatly reduced. Some 30,000 persons, including thousands of noncombatants, died between 1980 and 1995 as two insurgencies challenged the government. A turning point was the September 1992 capture by police of Abimael Guzman, the founder and leader of Peru's largest terrorist group, Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). However, other serious problems remain, including poverty, high unemployment, the illicit drug industry, and a controversial judicial branch.

Peru is divided into 24 departments and the Constitutional Province of Callao (the country's chief port, adjacent to Lima). The departments are subdivided into provinces that in turn are composed of districts. Municipal government is a distant second in power to the central government, with regional government a mere appendage of the latter.

Arts, Science, and Education

As Spain's most important viceroy-alty in South America, Peru was an art-producing center. Art continues to be appreciated in Lima, where numerous commercial art galleries and museums exist. During the last three decades, painters such as Gerardo Chavez, Alberto Quintanilla, and Jose Carlos Ramos have gained international stature along with Peru's renowned painter Fernando de Syszlo and sculptor Victor Delfin. A younger generation of promising artists has also sprung up at a time when Peru's economy provides more opportunity to promote the arts.

Peru is well known for its writers and poets. Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the world's most renowned contemporary novelists. His novels and essays are read abroad and have been widely translated. His bestselling titles include Green House, Conversation in the Cathedral, Aunt Julia and the Script-writer, and The War of the End of the World. His most recent is A Fish in the Water. Other poets and writers are Julio Ramon Ribeyro, Alfredo Bryce Echenique, Antonio Cisneros, and Blanca Varela.

With the recovering economy and the strengthened internal security situation in Peru, the country is resuming its cultural life. Musical offerings, including opera, are also available in Lima. Internationally known soloists, ensembles, and conductors perform with either the National Symphony Orchestra or under the sponsorship of the Philharmonic of Lima. The three famous tenors Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jose Carreras, for example, all visited Peru during 1995. Top foreign singers, folk dancers, and ballet groups perform in Lima every year, and quality chamber groups present concerts during the May-December season. U.S. artists perform under the auspices of USIS and Peru's Binational Centers (BNC's) in Lima or in provincial cities.

The Peruvian theater has had a long and colorful history. Today, it is a popular national institution, with many active professional and amateur university groups. An increasing number of professional companies continue performing regularly, with several specializing in modern theater. USIS and the Lima BNC recently staged the Tennessee Williams play The Night of the Iguana with great success.

The Good Companions, a nonprofessional theater group sponsored by the British community, performs in English several times yearly at the British Theater under the auspices of the British Council.

Spanish and English classes, a varied program of cultural presentations, and a modest bilingual library are available to Americans and Peruvians at the Lima Binational Center and its branch in Miraflores (Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano-ICPNA), where more than 10,000 Peruvians study English. Other Binational Centers, also supported by English teaching, are located in Arequipa, Cuzco, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura, and Huancayo. Americans are encouraged to request the monthly activities bulletin of the Lima ICPNA's and to visit the provincial centers, where they are assured of a cordial welcome.

Commerce and Industry

Peru is a developing country blessed with extensive natural resources that enhance its potential for development. Rich mineral deposits in the Andes, abundant timber resources in the Amazon region, and an unusually bountiful supply of fish along the country's long coastline form a solid base of natural wealth. The arable lands along the coast offer the potential for considerable growth in agriculture, with sufficient investment in irrigation and other agricultural technologies.

In 1997, Peru's Economy grew by 7.2 percent, while inflation, at only 6.5 percent, fell to its lowest level in a quarter century. Peru's economy faltered in 1998, however, as the combined adverse effects of the Asian crisis (which depressed metal prices), the El Niño weather phenomenon (which hurt the important fishing industry) and the Russian crisis (which caused foreign investors to withdraw portfolio investments and foreign banks to suspend lines of credit to Peruvian banks) took their toll. The 1998 Gross Domestic Product grew by 0.7 percent while the inflation rate fell to 6.5 percent. The following year saw an estimated growth of about 3 percent.

Confidence in the Peruvian economy stems from the program of fiscal discipline undertaken by President Alberto Fujimori since his first term in office (1990). His policies halted the hyperinflation of the 1980s and put Peru on an unprecedented growth path. He succeeded in reinserting Peru into the global financial community by committing to repay official debt to foreign creditors, and by his efforts to stem terrorist activity.

The Peruvian Government actively seeks to attract both foreign and domestic investment in all sectors of the economy. In 1991, the Peruvian government began an extensive privatization program, encouraging foreign investors to participate. From 1991 through 1998, privatization sales totaled about $7 billion, of which foreign investors purchased the vast majority. Foreign investors have the same rights as national investors to benefit from any investment incentives, such as tax exemptions. Foreign direct investment has been spurred by the significant progress Peru has made over the last eight years toward economic, social, and political stability.

The Peruvian economy was not as hard hit during 1998 and early 1999 as some other Latin American economies (such as Brazil's which was forced to devalue its currency at the beginning of 1999). Most observers attribute the relative calm in Peruvian financial markets to its fiscal and monetary discipline, the size of its international reserves, and its floating exchange rate. Nevertheless, at the start of 1999 business leaders in Peru and others were calling for the government to spur domestic demand by increasing government spending.

The U.S. government advises the American Business Community that the best prospects for investment include mining, oil, and gas, construction, telecommunications, food processing, food packaging, and personal security equipment. Tourism-related products (such as hotel and restaurant supplies) are also promising. In the services sector, consulting services (especially in the areas of finance and tourism) and licensing of franchises are also good prospects.



General traffic and driving practices differ greatly from those in the U.S. Traffic signs are widely disregarded. Improper signaling, failure to signal, and excessive speeding are frequent. Traffic signals frequently fail, compounding congestion and confusion. Lima's traffic can be nerve racking at first, but most people soon adjust to the improvised driving patterns. Traffic in Peru moves on the right as in the U.S.

Leaded gasoline is available in 84 and 95 octane and unleaded at 90 and 97 octane. The latter grades are most commonly used by those with American cars but do not give the same performance as U.S. high test. The cost of a gallon of gasoline in 1995 was almost double U.S. rates. Nowadays the cost of a gallon is between 6 and 7.87 new soles. Your catalytic converter may be removed here to accommodate the local leaded gasoline at more reasonable prices.


Taxis, buses and smaller micro-buses abound. Buses are crowded but inexpensive. Regular taxi service is available at reasonable prices but the condition of most taxis is poor. Passengers should agree upon a price before entering the vehicle. Telephone dispatched taxi service is also available at higher rates.


Lima, an important air hub of South America, has a large, fairly modern airport, served by American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and Continental Airlines. Other international airlines serving Lima include Air France, Lan-Chile, Viasa (Venezuela), Avianca (Colombia), Varig (Brazil), Aero Peru, Iberia (Spain), LAB (Bolivia), Lufthansa (Germany), Alitalia (Italy), and others.

The ships that regularly service Callao Port and offer passenger transportation are from the Crowley American Transport and Maersk Lines. Their ships depart every 15 days or so from Miami, New Orleans, Houston, and New York.


Telephone and Telegraph

Long-distance telephone and telegraph services to and from the U.S. and other countries are good and getting better.

All services are routed via satellite. AT&T, MCI and Sprint direct dialing to the U.S. is available through the Peruvian telephone company (Telefonica, a member of the ITU). It is possible to dial direct to almost any country in the world.

Radio and TV

Lima has 32 AM and 36 FM radio stations that provide news and popular Latin American, classical, contemporary, European, American, and Peruvian music. World news coverage in Spanish is adequate, and reception is good. Peru's leading news radio station is Radio Programas del Peru (RPP): BO 730 AM and 89.7 FM. VOA shortwave reception is good, and VOA Spanish programs are regularly rebroadcast on Radio Miraflores (1250 AM), RPP, and others.

Seven TV stations operate in Lima. One of them, Channel 5, transmits 24 hours daily, while the others start in the morning or at midday and broadcast until late at night. All broadcasts are in color and use the standard American television (NTSC) system. Most programs are the same as in the U.S.-soap operas, Westerns, audience participation, domestic comedies, old movies, and dubbed U.S. shows. All are commercial with 8 to 22 minutes of advertising an hour. Two Peruvian companies provide cable TV service to metropolitan Lima. The monthly fee is approximately $40 for about 50 channels including some from Europe, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and the U.S. (CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS, but ESPN, TNT, FOX, and HBO are not the U.S. premium channels).

Recent enacted Peruvian telecommunications laws aim to make the content of Peruvian TV more educational and cultural. American TVs with a transformer to convert 220v current to 110v will receive local programs. However, cables, rabbit ears or access to an external antenna is required. Bring radio, TV equipment, VCRs, and TV cassettes from the U.S. as they are expensive here.

Ham radio operators, who hold a valid U.S. license, are entitled to operate in Lima.

Licenses also can be obtained locally. Prior notice and payment of a small fee must be given to the Ministerio de Transportes y Comunicaciones, Direccion General de Telecomunicaciones.

In the past few years, VCRs have become very popular. Many places rent English-language films, both current and classic, as well as U.S. TV shows. Tapes, the majority of these available for VHS systems at moderate prices, are often pirated so the quality is poor. However, a U.S. video chain (Blockbuster Video) has opened several stores.

Several local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer standard dial up services for those bringing personal computers. Surge protectors are advisable. 28.8 kbps to 54 kbps modem speeds are available depending on the telephone lines servicing the area where the user resides. ISPs provide communications and browser software for most standard operating systems. ISP subscription fees vary but closely parallel those in the U.S. ranging from $10.50 to $19 per month. Red Cientifica Peruana (RCP) is the longest established and perhaps the best known ISP with full, 24-hour dial-up service. America On Line (AOL) and other U.S. Internet services are available, but users must pay a per-minute charge for connect time via long distance telephone lines.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Lima has a competitive press with 16 daily newspapers. The most influential is the 159 year-old paper of record, conservative El Comercio. Well-informed readers often also consult center-right Expreso and center-left La Republica.

Gestion tries to be Peru's version of The Wall Street Journal. El Peru-ano, the government gazette, is the only medium that publishes the text of official communications. Other dailies are more or less sensationalistic and colorful.

Three political magazines are published in Lima. The most influential is centrist Caretas; followed by independent, center-left Si; and the more popularly oriented Gente. Two respected intellectual bimonthlies, Debate and moderate leftist Quehacer, are published along with a wide range of specialized periodicals on economics and other fields.

Newspapers are relatively expensive. Newsstands sell copies at 58 cents to 88 cents daily and 66 cents to $1.11 on Sundays with home delivery costing more. The official daily El Peruano costs a hefty 88 cents. Magazines have become quite expensive (at about $3).

Lima has distributors of most major U.S. dailies. At one of them, Durlar, at Tiziano 205, San Borja, phone 475-8025, you can buy or arrange for delivery of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the International Herald Tribune, all 1 or 2 days old. They may also be ordered by mail. The international edition of the Miami Herald, which has been printed in Lima and available for same-day sale, including home delivery, is being renegotiated at the time of this writing. Newsstands sell Time, Newsweek, and a few other popular American magazines. Prices are higher than those in the U.S. Some bookstores, mostly in Miraflores and San Isidro, sell English-language books.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Lima has several good private hospitals called "clinicas." These clinics lack some of the high-tech equipment found in the U.S. but are more than adequate for emergency situations and stabilizing patients. The physicians are trained in Peru, Europe, and in the U.S. Many are U.S.-board certified.

Individuals should have planned elective surgery done in the U.S. In general U.S. health insurance is not accepted and payment is expected at the time of the visit (expenses generally are reimbursable as allowed through your specific insurance plan). Dental care including orthodontia is available by both U.S.-and Peruvian-trained dentists. Individuals should have a general dental examination prior to arrival.

Community Health

Lima has a high incidence of hepatitis A, measles, typhoid, diarrheal disease, and tuberculosis. Poverty, overcrowding, and malnutrition are common. Malaria, yellow fever, dengue, and rabies are common in the jungle.

Expatriate families are generally healthy. They experience the same illnesses as in the U.S. in addition to gastro-intestinal infections, usually from contaminated food or water. Winter (May through November) is cool and humid. The cool, sunless weather increases the number of colds, bronchitis, asthma, and allergy-related complaints. Due to many factors, e.g., terrorism, high crime, need for increased residential security, and periodic water shortages, and the long, sunless, gray winter, many individuals experience stress-related symptoms and occasional depression.

Preventive Measures

The following are suggestions for staying healthy in Peru:

  • Use bottled water, as tap-water is not potable. Commercially prepared soft drinks and beer are considered safe.
  • Vegetables and fruit require disinfection with a chlorine solution before eating. Avoid salads and raw vegetables and fruits in restaurants. Do not buy from "ambulantes" (street vendors).
  • It is recommended that you start the hepatitis A and the hepatitis B series before coming. Yellow fever immunization is required for jungle travel and for travel into some other countries (such as Brazil) from Peru. Have this vaccine before you come to Peru. The following immunizations should be kept current: typhoid; diphtheria; tetanus; polio; measles, mumps, and rubella; and HIB.
  • Individuals who will be working in the jungles and/or traveling or living in outlying areas should take the pre-exposure rabies and hepatitis B vaccines prior to arrival.
  • Hand-carry your immunization record as you would your passport.
  • Bottled drinking water is not adequately fluoridated.
  • Automobile accidents commonly occur. Seat belts and child-restraint systems are strongly recommended.
  • Before traveling outside Lima, check for malaria precautions, as the malaria prophylaxis medication recommended depends on the area of jungle travel within Peru. Generally, Mefloquine or Doxycycline are recommended. Notes for Travelers


Passage, Customs & Duties

A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and depart Peru. Tourists must also provide evidence of return or onward travel. U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a tourist stay of 90 days or less. U.S. citizens remaining in Peru more than 90 days must pay a monthly fee to extend their visa for up to three additional months, for a total of six months. U.S. citizens, including children, who remain in Peru over six months without obtaining a residence visa will have to pay a fine in order to depart Peru.

Visitors for other than tourist or family visit purposes must obtain a Peruvian visa in advance. Business visitors should ascertain the tax and exit regulations that apply to the specific visa that they are granted. U.S. citizens whose passports are lost or stolen in Peru must obtain a new passport and present it, together with a police report of the loss or theft, to the main immigration office in the capital city of Lima to obtain permission to depart. An airport tax of $25 per person must be paid in U.S. currency when departing Peru. There is also a small airport fee for domestic flights. For further information regarding entry requirements, travelers should contact the Peruvian Embassy at 1625 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 605, Washington, DC 20036; telephone (202) 462-1084 or 462-1085; Internet; or the Peruvian Consulate in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Patterson (NJ), San Francisco, or San Juan.

You can fly to Peru from most sections of the U.S. in less than 16 hours (6 hours nonstop from Miami).

Remember that the seasons are the reverse of those in the U.S., so pack your luggage accordingly.

The Government of Peru prohibits the exportation of ancient Indian artifacts and colonial art. The U.S. Government supports this policy and, in accordance with the GOP Law No. 12958 of February 22, 1958, and Decree of Law 18780 of February 4, 1971 (available in General Services Office). The packing companies in Lima are prohibited from packing and shipping items that appear to be antiques. Due to the large number of facsimiles, the packing companies cannot differentiate between the real item and a copy. In order to avoid delays, acquire in advance a certification from the Instituto Nacional de Cultura verifying that the item is a copy and may be exported.

U.S. citizens living in or visiting Peru are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Lima and obtain updated information on travel and security in Peru. The Consular Section is open for American Citizen Services, including registration, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon week-days, excluding U.S. and Peruvian holidays. The U.S. Embassy is located in Monterrico, a suburb of Lima, at Avenida Encalada, Block Seventeen; telephone (51-1) 434-3000 during business hours (8:00 a.m. To 5:00 p.m.), Or (51-1) 434-3032 for after-hours emergencies; fax (51-1) 434-3065 or 434-3037; Internet web site- This web site provides information but does not yet have interactive capability to respond to specific inquiries. The U.S. Consular Agency in Cusco is located in the Binational Center (Instituto Cultural Peruana Norte Americano, ICPNA) at Avenida Tullumayo 125; telephone (51-8) 24-51-02; fax (51-8) 23-35-41; Internet address [email protected]. The Consular Agency can provide information and assistance to U.S. citizen travelers who are victims of crime or need other assistance, but it cannot replace U.S. passports. U.S. passports are issued at the U.S. Embassy in Lima


Pets must have a certificate of good health issued by a registered U.S. or foreign veterinarian. A Peruvian consul must then notarize this document. A certificate of rabies inoculation is also necessary for dogs and cats. Dog owners are especially cautioned that Lima has high infestations of fleas and mites that are difficult to control. Owners should bring appropriate pesticides and shampoos to aid in treatment.

Firearms & Ammunition

Local law provides that law enforcement and military personnel are authorized to import handguns in calibers up to .45 (pistol) and .357 (revolver). All others are limited to 9mm and .38 calibers respectively. Shotguns up to 16 gauge and rifles up to .44 caliber are permitted. Personal full automatic weapons are not allowed. All firearms brought into Peru must be taken out of the country when you leave.

Currency, Banking & Weights and Measures

Peru's currency changed on January 1, 1986, from the sol to the inti. On January 1, 1991, the currency changed from the inti to the new sol. In December 1999, the exchange rate is new soles 3.49 = $1.

A legacy from the years of hyperinflation is that many businesses price items in U.S. dollars. Payment is usually made in the sol equivalent value but many stores readily accept U.S. dollars as well. Counterfeiting, both of U.S. dollars and soles, is a problem and caution should be exercised when conducting transactions.

Peru uses the metric system of weights and measures, except for gasoline, which is sold by the gallon.

Specific Health Risks

Visitors to high-altitude Andean destinations such as Cusco (11,000 feet), Machu Picchu (8,000 feet), or Lake Titicaca (13,000 feet) should discuss the trip with their personal physician prior to departing the United States. Travel to high altitudes could pose a serious risk of illness, hospitalization, and even death, particularly if the traveler has a medical condition that affects blood circulation or breathing. Several U.S. citizens have died in Peru from medical conditions exacerbated by the high altitude. All people, even healthy and fit persons, will feel symptoms of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) upon arrival at high-altitude. Most people will have increased respiration and increased heart rate. Many people will have headaches, difficulty sleeping, lack of appetite, minor gastric and intestinal upsets, and mood changes. Most people may need time to adjust to the altitude. To help prevent these complications, consider taking acetazolamide (Diamox) after consulting your personal physician, avoid alcohol and smoking for at least one week after arrival at high altitudes, and limit physical activity for the first 36 to 48 hours after arrival at high altitudes.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Mar/Apr Holy Thursday*

Mar/Apr. Holy Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

May 1 Labor Day

June 29 St. Peter and St. Paul

July 28-29 Independence Days

Aug. 31 St. Rose of Lima

Sept. 5 Labor Day

Oct. 12 Combat of Angamos

Nov. 1 All Saints' Day

Dec. 14 Immaculate Conception

Dec 25 Christmas



These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country.

Area Handbook for Peru. American University. Foreign Area Studies. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1993.

Barndt, Deborah. Education and Social Change: A Photographic Study of Peru. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., 1980.

Bingham, Hiram. Lost City of the Incas. Yale University Press, 1930. (Paperback edition).

Caraway, Caren. Peruvian Textile Designs; International Design Library, Stemmer House, 1983.

Carey, James C. Peru and the United States, 1900-1962, Notre Dame Press, 1964.

De Soto, Hernando. The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World. Harper and Row, 1990.

Frost, Peter. Exploring Cusco. Nuevas Imagenes S.A., 1989.

Gilbert, Dennis L. The Oligarchy and the Old Regimes in Peru. Latin American Dissertation Series, Ithaca. Cornell Univ. Press, 1977.

Gorman, Stephen M. Post-Revolutionary Peru: The Politics of Transformation. Westview Press, 1982.

Hemming, John and Edward Ranney. Monument of the Incas. Little, Brown, 1982.

Insight Guides-Peru. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1994.

McClintock, Cynthia and Abraham Lowenthal. The Peruvian Experiment Reconsidered. Princeton University Press, 1983.

Minta, Stephan. Aguirre: The ReCreation of a 16th Century Journey Across South America. Henry Holt and Company, 1993.

Morales, Edmundo. Cocaine: White Gold Rush in Peru. University of Arizona Press, 1989.

Morris, Robert. Contemporary Peruvian Theater. Texas Tech Press, 1977.

Moseley, Michael E. T he Incas and their Ancestors. Thomas and Hudson, Ltd. 1992.

Palmer, David Scott. Peru: The Authoritarian Tradition. Praeger Publishers. 1980.

Palmer, David Scott, ed. Shining Path of Peru. St. Martin's Press, 1992.

Peru in Pictures. Lerner Publications, Department of Geography Staff, Lerner, 1987.

Pike, Frederick B. The Modern History of Peru. Praeger Histories of Latin America. Praeger, 1967.

Poole, Deborah & Gerardo Renique. Peru: Time of Fear. Latin America Bureau. 1992.

Poole, Richard. The Inca Smiled: The Growing Pains of an Aidworker in Ecuador. One World Publications, 1993.

Prescott, William H. History of the Conquest of Peru. Modem Library, 1936. (Paperback edition). Basis for information on many subsequent publications.

Rachowiecki, Rob. Peru: A Travel Survival Kit, Lonely Planet, 1986.

Simpson, John. In the Forests of the Night. Encounters in Peru with Terrorism, Drug-Running and Military Oppression. Random House, 1993.

Stap, Don. A Parrot Without a Name: The Search for the Last Unknown Birds on Earth. University of Texas, 1990.

Stein, Steven. Populism in Peru: The Emergence of the Masses and the Politics of Social Control. University of Wisconsin Press, 1980.

Vargas Llosa, Alvaro. The Madness of Things Peruvian: Democracy Under Siege. Transaction Publishers, 1994.

Vargas Llosa, Mario. A Fish in the Water: A Memoir. Farrar Straus Giroux, 1994. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. Farrar, 1982. (Paper-back, AVON, 1985.) The War of the End of the World. Farrar, 1984.

Washington Office on Latin American Staff. Peru in Crisis: Challenges to a New Government. WOLA, 1990.

Werlick, David P Peru: A Short History, Southern Illinois University, 1978.

Wethey, Harold H. Colonial Architecture and Sculpture in Peru. Harvard University Press, 1949.

Wright, Ronald. Cut Stones and Crossroads: A Journey in Peru. Viking Penguin, 1988.

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Peru
Region: South America
Population: 27,012,899
Language(s): Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Literacy Rate: 88.7%
Number of Primary Schools: 33,017
Compulsory Schooling: 6 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 2.9%
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 4,163,180
  Secondary: 1,969,501
  Higher: 657,586
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 123%
  Secondary: 70%
  Higher: 26%
Teachers: Primary: 153,951
  Secondary: 106,614
  Higher: 45,443
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 27:1
  Secondary: 19:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 121%
  Secondary: 67%

History & Background

Spanning a 2,400 mile length of the Pacific coast, Peru constitutes the third-largest country in South America at 1,285,216 square kilometers. At least as significant as the country's size, however, is its geographical and climatic diversity. The bulk of the nation's population of 22 million inhabits the arid but accessible coastal region west of the Andes, which creates a formidable barrier between the coast and the tropical rainforests that fill nearly 60 percent of Peru's land area east of the mountains. Since the time of Spanish colonization, the coastal region has enjoyed economic privilege over the inland areas, largely due to accessibility. The climate across the country ranges from tropical to glacial, with vast differences in the productivity of the soils and accessibility to transportation.

Peru's population has been historically split just as its geography, yet this division has been more fluid. After their sixteenth-century conquest of Peru, the Spanish placed themselves at the head of a strongly hierarchical existing population, subjugating the previously dominant Inca leaders but allowing them to retain a place of dominance over their subjects. Even after independence from Spain in 1825, race has continued to play a major role in Peruvian society. As in many other Latin American nations, a three-tiered hierarchy has emerged over time with those descended from the Spanish at the top, the native groups at the bottom, and mixed race or mestizaje, occupying a position of some respectability in between.

The formation of the contemporary Peruvian education system began with the arrival of significant numbers of Spaniards in the sixteenth century. The development of schools for the growing Spanish population was driven almost exclusively by the clergy, who gathered in greatest density at Lima, constituting as much as 15 percent of the capital city's population by the seventeenth century. Due to this concentration of clergy, Lima became established early in Peru's modern history as the center of education with many Spanish students migrating from outlying districts for their education. Eventually this migration extended to meztizos, those of mixed race, and most recently to the indigenous peoples of the nation. Only during the latter half of the twentieth century were provincial educational facilities developed that could compare with those in Lima. While education during the colonial period focused exclusively on those of the ruling class, the 1821 war of independence, led by San Martín, sought to enfranchise the entire population and opened educational opportunities to a wider segment of society. After three centuries of Spanish oppression, however, the Native Americans came to this opportunity largely illiterate, poor, and Monolingual; therefore, they were illprepared to advance into the higher levels of the new republic's society. Cultural biases in favor of the established educational centers and against the Native American and mestizo populations coupled with economic limitations to slow the expansion of the educational system. It took more than a century of slow progress to create an educational infrastructure that reached all the significant population centers across the nation. Secondary colegios were founded in Ayacucho and Huaráz in 1828, in Chiclayo in 1832, and in Trujillo in 1854. The effect of these and other provincial colegios was to reduce the need for educational migration to the major centers of Lima and Cuzco.

In the years following independence, the Peruvian governments that resulted from the series of 10 constitutions placed into effect between 1823 and 1993 have consistently accepted responsibility for universal education. In order to remedy the slow pace of progress in achieving this objective, governments initiated a series of significant and more or less successful reforms that marked the most important progress of the nation's first century. In 1855, a reform movement created the primary and secondary levels of the public schools. In 1866, the Prado government's Minister of Justice and Education, José Simeón Tejeda, worked to create the nation's first uniform secondary school curriculum, orienting studies more toward vocational training than toward the traditional college preparatory curriculum. At the same time, Tejeda labored toward gender equality, attempting to provide equal access to education for women and allowing women to teach in the nation's primary schools. An 1867 law called for a secondary school for each sex to be established in each provincial capital, although the full implementation of these reforms would only be accomplished many years later. Tejeda also worked to effect university reform, abolishing the colonial Colegio de San Marcos as an independent unit within the San Marcos University and creating faculties in sciences, letters, law, and theology. An 1875 movement introduced lycées modeled on the French system into the nation's secondary schools. Finally, in the first decade of the twentieth century, the administration and finance of the nation's schools were centralized under the auspices of the Ministry of Education. During that same period the ministry saw its budget doubledto reach 17.2 percent of the national budget.

Despite these and other less celebrated efforts, the goal of universal, equal education suffered due to the strict social stratification still prevalent throughout the country and enforced by conservative cultural, political, and religious forces. Only in the post-World War II period was significant progress achieved in spreading education to the majority of school-age children in Peru. During the years of 1944 through 1962, a joint organization of educators from Peru and the United States created and funded the Servicio Cooperativo Peruano-Norteamericano de Educación (SECPANE), which aimed to increase educational access for Peru's Andean Native Americans. During its 18 years of existence, SECPANE instituted many initiatives, including the creation of central resource schools, well-provided with both equipment and staff, which served as hubs for a network of smaller schools. Despite the gains, however, upon SECPANE's termination in 1962, much of the progress was lost. The demise of SECPANE has been ascribed to various forces, including a lack of understanding of Peruvian social dynamics on the part of the administrators and teachers from the United States and their failure to more integrally involve Peruvian educators and administrators in the reforms so as to make the process more self-replicating.

A more successful reform came in 1972 when the Ministry of Education resolved to use education to prepare citizens for the workplace in ways that would help develop society, effect structural reforms in the culture, and make Peru more powerful and independent within the international community. This reform, which included a revival of many of the techniques used during the SECPANE years, was accompanied by a significant increase in educational funding and a renewed commitment to provide free and equal education for students from the primary schools through the university. During the 1960s and 1970s, considerable progress was attained in extending the reach of the educational system, with those termed "uneducated" by the government reduced from 32.8 percent to 13.5 percent between 1961 and 1981.

An economic crisis that culminated in 1990 with Peru having the world's highest inflation rate (7000 percent), an effective unemployment rate of 94 percent in Lima, and a nationwide poverty rate of 50 percent resulted in dramatic cut-backs in real-dollar funding for Peruvian education and a consequent deterioration of the school system. The succeeding government committed itself to a restoration and eventual expansion of education funding. At about the time that funding rose above pre-crisis levels, the Ministry of Education moved to reorganize and reform the entire educational system through a series of structural and curricular initiatives beginning in 1997 and aiming for complete implementation by 2007.

An understanding of Peru's educational culture cannot be complete without an awareness of the ethnic and social divisions within the nation. Historically, Peruvian society has been structured in such a way as to reinforce the existing hierarchy that placed Europeans at the top. Education has been seen, in the earliest days and, to a less obvious degree, up to the present as a tool for the maintenance of this hierarchy. Education has thus followed a two-fold philosophical program in effecting this maintenance, serving to underscore the innate superiority of the privileged classes while at the same time serving to assimilate indigenous people into the thought patterns and values of conformity. From a practical standpoint, cultural indoctrination has followed a three-part strategy for assimilation and control. First, religious instruction was used as a main goal of the education system, and the efforts to bring Catholicism to the indigenous people held strong for many years after the conquest. Second, education was called upon to train clergy and bureaucrats from among the lower classes, creating collaborators in their practice of assimilation. Third, education aimed to train the lower classes in the economic and social standards of the ruling class so that they might take their place as functioning, productive members of the society. Peru, in 1997, began a 10-year process of modernization and restructuring of the educational system, aimed at addressing many of the inequities of the past and better preparing students for the future.

Besides ethnic divisions, Peru has a long-standing division between urban and rural residents. The 1990 census located more than 70 percent of Peruvians as urban dwellers with a full 30 percent residing in the capital, Lima. Virtually all quality-of-life statistics, including income, literacy, and educational achievement demonstrate the relative advantage that urban dwellers hold over their rural counterparts. Of the improvements in educational performance between 1961 and 1981, most were sited in the urban areas. Language divisions persist despite long-standing attempts, only recently abandoned, to enforce Spanish as the universal language. Indigenous languages are spoken by approximately 25 percent of inhabitants, with Quechua being the primary language of some 80 percent of this group. Spanish remains the official language with Quechua and Aymara granted a semiofficial status in some regions. During the twentieth century, Peru's already complex population became complicated by a large number of immigrants, especially Japanese immigrants, who arrived mostly as farm workers. The most prominent of these Nikkeijin, as the descendents of these Japanese immigrants are called, Alberto Fujimori, served as Peruvian President from 1990 through 2000.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

Peru's 1993 constitution devotes several articles to the topic of education. In article 13, education is presented as a core factor in personal development to be protected by the state and encouraged by the family. The specific provisions that follow this affirmation provide for academic freedom; academic professionalism; limited local control of education; compulsory preprimary, primary, and secondary education; university freedom and autonomy; and assorted other educational rights. The education articles of the constitution also establish the authority of the national government, specifically the Ministry of Education, over curricular and administrative matters of education nationwide. While the constitution includes important provisions for higher education, most of these rights were stated earlier and more completely in the 1982 General Law of Education Year. This law was followed in 1983 by the University Law, which further established the rights of the institutions, academics, and higher education students. The 1995 higher education law, provides for the establishment of the Consejo Nacional para la Autorización de Funcionamiento de Universidades (CONAFU), which serves as a coordinating council for the nation's growing number of higher education institutions.

The 1997 reform documents the dramatic change in educational philosophy that Peru has planned for the years 1997 through 2007 when it suggests that the existing concepts of education were designed to function in a learning environment diametrically opposed to that actually in existence. The old educational philosophy is typified as the acquisition of a list of concepts and acts while that which the Ministry of Education seeks to create is presented by way of four areas: learn to be, learn to coexist, learn to become, and learn to learn.

Educational SystemOverview

The Peruvian educational system serves young people from shortly after birth until the completion of university studies, although many limitations and exclusions make this system far from universal. A developmental preprimary system attempts to prepare students for primary education during their first six years of life. According to the legal standards of the nation, Peruvian children have access to equal and compulsory primary education from the ages of 6 to 11. Upon completion of primary education, students proceed to a unified two-year program of secondary education in a general secondary school from ages 12 to 14. At the end of the general secondary program, students are divided into two tracks for a three-year program from ages 14 to 16. The more academic of these tracks is the Ciclo Diversificado Científico-Humanista, which awards a Bachillerato Academico upon completion. The second track, the technical secondary school, awards its completing students a Bachillerato Técnico. Aside from the three-tiered program of traditional education, the nation also provides special education services for nearly 300,000 students annually. These students include those with cognitive and physical disabilities as well as emotional instability. Education in Peru is compulsory from the ages of 6 through 16. The academic year runs from April to December for 38 school weeks each year. In the secondary schools, each week includes 36 class periods.

Peru in 1999 supported 56,671 schools and 284,511 classrooms nationwide, serving a total of 7,553,011 students. The 2000 statistics showed an increase to 7.8 million students, of whom 6.7 million attended free state-funded schools. Of these students, slightly more than half (50.5 percent) are male. Of the nation's 351,441 teachers, females outnumbered males by a rate of 57 to 43. Ministry of Education statistics estimate that 96.9 percent of primary-age children and 85.9 percent of secondary-age children were enrolled in school in 1999, up from 88.0 percent and 79.4 percent respectively in 1993. Throughout all levels of education, students in rural schools were considerably more apt to be older than the prescribed age for their current level of school, reflecting the relative weakness of the early-childhood programs in rural areas. Similarly, rural students are much more likely to receive scholastic assistance than their urban counterparts.

Although slightly underrepresented in the primary and secondary schools, the status of women in Peruvian education has improved dramatically since the Tejeda Ministry of Education began opening the way to full participation for women. The inclusion of minorities, most notably Native Americans, in the education system remains a work in progress. The history of Peruvian education can be outlined using the series of initiatives attempted since independence at integrating the Native Americans into the system. In the 1960s, the government instituted a new basic education law, which dictated that any community building its own schoolhouse would be assigned a teacher by the government. In the wake of this, hundreds of peasant communities worked together to bring a school into their midst. The Ministry of Education made good on the promise of teachers, greatly raising the enrollment rates of eligible students. Although recent reforms and practices suggest that the educational system is moving toward a less assimilationist attitude, historically, Native American students were viewed and were encouraged to view themselves as distinctively and defectively "other." Many indigenous people viewed the educational system as a means toward reducing this difference, thus forcing them to blend with the dominant culture. Education has, even in recent years, taken an active role in disparaging Native American culture, including encouraging students to discard their traditional clothing and not to speak the vernacular language.

In 1990, a total of 72 percent of the population reported speaking only Spanish, compared with 60 percent in 1961. Roughly 18 percent of the total population is bilingual in Spanish and a native language, while around 10 percent report being monolingual in a native language. This number, while only 50 percent of the non-Spanishspeaking population reported in 1960, still represents a significant portion of the nation's potential students. Although Spanish remains both the official language of the nation and the primary language of instruction, earlier efforts at suppressing native tongues have ended. In recent decades, the government has reversed its Spanish-only policies, processing through a period of neutrality, to current promotion and support for both bilingual education, mostly Spanish-Quechua and Spanish-Aymara, and study and preservation of various native languages. Recent initiatives utilizing bilingual education in the Andean and Amazon regions of the nation have resulted in pronounced progress in literacy and educational achievement among those peoples. Despite efforts at linguistic inclusion within the government at large and the education establishment in particular, literacy and fluency in Spanish remain a virtual requirement for participating within the national life and exercising rights as a citizen.

Between 1950 and 1990, the number of students enrolled in private schools declined from 34 percent to 14 percent. This decline can be traced to two conflicting forces. First, the overall rate of matriculation among all eligible students increased significantly over this period. With virtually all of these new students moving into the public schools, the private schools' proportion of the total student population declined without an actual decline in headcount. Second, the economic crisis of the 1980s caused a slight reduction in enrollments in private schools, although this force was by far the less significant of the two.

All private schools operate on a non-profit basis with state oversight and regulation. Private schools are generally self-funding, although some receive a subsidy from the government that assists in the payment of teacher salaries. Fees levied by private schools are set by a fees and scholarships committee within the individual school, composed of the school's director, its principal (or a designated representative), a member of the faculty, and a representative of the parents. The fees assessed range from $15 to $300 monthly. Roughly 25 percent of private-school students attend schools provided by religious bodies.

All curricular materials, syllabi, and course outlines are created and provided by the Ministry of Education. These materials, once created, are required by law to remain in place for at least six years before revisions can be effected. Local control is allowed for decisions concerning the details of content delivery and teaching methodologies in order to provide flexibility in accommodating the variations in language. While the first years of primary curriculum are tightly scripted by the Ministry of Education, teachers in grades five and six are given relatively more freedom in allocating time dedicated to the required classes. In the lower grades, teachers are restricted to variations in the actual delivery but are given very little flexibility in terms of content. Teachers are required to prepare an annual plan, before the beginning of the school year, through which they coordinate their proposed pedagogy with the personal and regional needs found in their classes. While content is tightly controlled by the government, teaching methods are largely left up to the individual teachers, who are encouraged to take into account the maturity levels and learning habits of their students, their own particular teaching styles and strengths, and the resources available in and around the school.

From the beginning of the republic to the present, Peruvian leaders have seen education as a vital force in economic development. The nation's ability to effect recovery from the economic crisis of the 1980s can be traced not just to sound economic policies on the part of the government but to the expansion of both the educational infrastructure and the proportion of highly educated people within the society. Economic development in the Amazon and trans-Andean regions have followed closely behind the establishment and expansion of education services in those areas.

Aside from its role in economic development, education has been a major force in political and social development. Early reformers like San Martín saw education as a means toward guaranteeing the survival of an independent state. The nation's history of military dictatorship and government corruption can be traced to some degree to the failure of a century-long series of initiatives toward universal education. Conversely, the nation's recent relative political stability, especially in the light of such potentially devastating forces as economic disasters, political corruption, and the Shining Path movement, suggests that progress toward the expansion and improvement of the education system have begun to fulfill San Martín's hopes.

A final area in which education fosters development is in national identity. In the wake of the devastating War of the Pacific, which resulted in Peru losing wealth, prestige, and territory, education became the primary means by which the government inculcated a nationalistic vision within students. Although the curricula of the 1997 reform seems headed away from this tendency, textbooks and classroom objectives in the schools have traditionally been laden with nationalistic and sometimes jingoistic materials, which laud the heroes of the past and at the same time vilify two long-time enemies, Chile and Ecuador.

Preprimary & Primary Education

The existence of a primary school and teacher in a village is seen as the first step out of poverty and disrespect by most poor and rural citizens. Preparatory education begins as early as the child's first year of life and continues up the point at which the student enters primary school at age six. The first four of these preparatory years focus on involving the parent in the development of the child, while the final two years constitute a kindergarten program with the aim of preparing the child for the more structured primary curriculum. Among the goals of the preparatory education system is the early diagnosis of learning disabilities, as well as family education regarding standards of hygiene, nutrition, and other environmental factors that predict student success. One of the most important goals for the Ministry of Education is to reach all four- and five-year-old children with preparatory education services. In 1999, the Ministry estimated a coverage of 63 percent of four-year-olds and 82.4 percent of five-year-olds, up significantly from 56.6 percent and 78.5 percent, respectively, in 1993 but still considerably below a level of coverage that might be termed universal.

Primary education serves students from ages 6 through 11 and is divided into two portions. The first of these portions lasts four years followed by a two-year second portion. The goals stated by the Ministry of Education for the primary years include the fostering of an independent and critical mind in the student along with basic education in the areas of science, the humanities, and technology; citizenship development; and vocational readiness. Toward that end, the government prescribes a curriculum including the study of mathematics, language, social studies, science, physical education, art, religion, and practical arts. Primary school enrollment in 1999 was reported at 3.3 million.

In 1998, the Ministry of Education presented a new curriculum for basic education, which was to be put into effect in 2000. This curriculum, while not a drastic departure from the curricula of the past, presented objectives and methods in a more consistent and competencyoriented manner. The basic education curriculum has been divided into five major areas: communication, including oral, written, and visual; mathematics and logic; personal and social studies; science and environmental studies; and religion. For each of these areas the curriculum provides fundamental disciplinary assumptions, specific competencies, and suggested methods for achieving these competencies.

The curriculum and educational objectives of the primary schools for both traditional and non-traditional students are established by the Ministry of Education. Completion is based on the mastery of objectives, not on time, although this flexibility does have limits. Students are evaluated four times each year using a progressive evaluation instrument. A cumulative evaluation is performed at the conclusion of the academic year in order to determine the readiness for promotion of the student. This instrument is aimed at an overall measurement of the facts, processes, and activities included in the previous year's work. The examination is graded on a scale from 0 to 20. An average in all areas of 11 with passing grades in both language and mathematics is required for promotion to the next grade. Those students failing are allowed to retest in March, a month before the beginning of the school year, in order to remain at their appropriate age-grade level.

Students failing to achieve either the overall score on the annual examination or failing the mathematics or language component are not allowed to advance to the next grade in the primary sequence. Also, students who are absent for 30 or more days during the school year will be required to repeat the grade level. For those students aged 15 and older who have not already completed the basic education requirements of the primary school, the schools provide a separate but parallel program of study in the evenings, allowing these students to work while completing their studies. Since the 1970s, the government has expanded such non-traditional study programs by funding vocational training centers for students who have not excelled in academic settings. These centers, often working in partnership with private industry, strive to adapt instruction to the particular needs of the learner.

Secondary Education

Secondary education covers the 5 years from the ages of 12 through 16 and is divided into two phases. The first phase comprises two years of general studies followed by the second phase, which includes three years of specialization. In this second phase, each pupil may choose between academic and vocational options. The academic students are allowed to sub-specialize in either liberal arts or science, while the vocational students choose between commercial, industrial, and agricultural courses of study. Upon successful completion of the second cycle, pupils are awarded with a certificado for the specialization they have studied. After receiving their certificado, students before the 1997 reforms were eligible to sit for the university entrance examination immediately, although most have opted to engage in a one-year preparatory course of study before taking the examination. The 1997 reforms, reacting to this need, established a new level of education, two years in duration, to be placed post certificado and post-compulsory education. This study leads to the achievement of the bachillerato, and is considered indispensable for success in higher education and for the accomplishment of the three stated goals of secondary education: To prepare the student to exercise the rights and responsibilities of a citizen in a democratic nation, to prepare the student to effectively enter the working world, and to equip the student with a skills sufficient for successful entrance and pursuit of higher education. Secondary enrollment was reported at 2.3 million students in 1999.

The 1997 reforms organized the secondary education curriculum into five areas of emphasis: science (including mathematics) and technology, communications, economics and management, human development (including philosophy and history), and professional development. This curriculum is designed to be interconnected with the subject matter in each discipline reinforcing the lessons learned in the others. The grading system is generally on a 20-point scale with 11 as the passing point. The average age at which students leave the public secondary schools was 16.8 years in 1996, with an average of 16.7 in private schools. With the imposition of the 1997 reforms, this number has risen and become much closer to the average age of university entrance. At the completion of the bachillerato course of study, students may sit for the nation-wide Bachillerato examination, which provides a standardized entrance examination for all institutions of higher education that opt in the system.

Like the primary schools, Peru's secondary schools test students several times each year in order to ensure adequate progress. Annually, students take a cumulative examination focused on the year's studies. The examination is graded on a scale from 0 to 20 with an 11 required for passage. A failing score in either mathematics or language is a secondary grounds for failure on the examination and for repetition of the grade level. More than 500,000 students of primary schools, or nearly 15 percent of the total student population, failed to achieve the necessary credentials for advancement and were required to repeat a grade level in 1998. Approximately 17 percent of students in urban areas have repeated at least one grade level, and this figure rises to 26 percent among students in rural areas; this high rate of failure is attributed to a low number of hours effectively dedicated to core subjects in many schools. Studies have suggested that on average, urban students spend 450 hours annually in such studies compared with only 226 hours per year among rural students. These numbers compare most unfavorably with the average of 1,000 hours of studies for Chilean students. Besides the problem of grade-level repetition, Peru is experiencing an increased level of school drop outs. An April 2000 report, although presenting promising numbers regarding overall matriculation, noted a growing rate of premature school leaving on the part of, especially, secondary students. The exact number of drop outs is not obtainable from government statistics as these statistics reflect many students who have been officially enrolled but who have stopped attending classes. One study suggested that as many as 200,000 students, both from primary and secondary schools, abandon their education mid-year but are still counted in the government statistics.

Given Peru's hierarchical heritage, which has emphasized the education of the privileged class and others who could fare well in a competitive academic setting, vocational training became a national educational priority rather late. Since the early 1970s, increased attention has been placed on this area of education, especially in the area of technology. In the intervening decades, local governments have joined the national government in opening a series of vocational training institutions, although the quality of these new schools has been uneven. Along with the efforts to provide sites for vocational education have come attempts to make this training accessible for citizens from the poorer and traditionally less well-educated segments of the society. Along with the secondary-level vocational educational facilities, the nation has created several higher-level training sites, including the Higher Technological Institute and the Peruvian Institute of Business Administration. These institutions not only provide more advanced instruction to their population but provide training and resources for lower-level vocational schools.

Higher Education

The year 2001 marked the 450th anniversary of the founding of Peru's oldest and most prestigious university, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Universidad del Perú (UNAM). At the other extreme, the nation has recently created universities both in the depths of the Amazon region and in urban areas in an attempt to broaden the availability of higher education to all citizens. These foundational stories describe the past and present of Peruvian higher education. Despite a history of economic and political difficulties, the proportion of the population that attain any given level of higher education compares favorably with the nations of Western Europe and considerably outstrips many nations with a stronger educational infrastructure.

University enrollment in 1900 totaled only 1,000 students; by 1970 that number had risen to 128,000. The period from 1960 to the present reflects enormous growth in the higher education system. In 1962, only seven universities served the nationliberal arts schools at Trujillo, Cuzco, and Arequipa, as well as the venerable San Marcos in Lima; an engineering school; an agricultural school; and the Pontifical Catholic University of Lima. The need for new institutions brought about a quadrupling of the number of schools during the mid-1960s. With the establishment of new universities and increasing enrollments, the higher education student population of the nation doubled between 1961 and 1965. By 1970 the number of universities had been increased to 34, with an increase to 51 in 1990. Much of this growth came initially in Lima in the form of private universities but, under the demands of a greatly increased population of secondary graduates, the government began to found new institutions in provincial cities, including an agricultural college at Tingo María on the eastern side of the Andes and a university in the Amazonian city of Iquitos.

Peruvian higher education, provided by universities, both public and private; higher institutes; and postgraduate centers, is regulated by the 1993 Constitution, the General Law of Education of 1982, and the University Law of 1983. These laws provide for a good deal of latitude in the functioning of higher education. The funding for state universities comes from government sources, and government funds also subsidize the operations of private universities, teaching institutes, and technological institutes. Universities function autonomously, each one administered by an assembly composed of the rector, the vice-rectors, the deans of the faculties, the director of the graduate school, and representatives from teaching and student groups. This assembly holds the ultimate authority over university policy and practice, including the election of the rector and the vice-rectors. Although students are represented on these boards in significant numbersfour students for every three professorsmany students feel that the combination of the complicated methods for selecting their representatives and the sweeping powers of the rector to ignore the decisions of the assembly combine to leave the assembly as an ineffective organ of government and the rector as a virtual academic dictator. The ongoing administration of the university falls to an executive committee composed of the vice-rectors, the deans, and a student body representative, and presided over by the rector. The nationwide community of universities is coordinated by a national assembly of rectors, which acts to provide the objectives of university activities, to ensure inter-school coordination, and to oversee university economic development. The Consejo Nacional para la Autorización de Funcionamiento de Universidades (CONUFA) was created in 1995 in order to oversee the creation of new and the continuation of existing universities, as well as to assist with the problems of private universities. CONUFA has charged Peru with the task of creating a new university dedicated to serving indigenous peoples of the Northern Amazon region, drawing on both public and private funding sources to offer programs especially aimed at the needs and life of the Amazon Basin, including forestry management and medicinal plants. In order to provide accessibility to indigenous students, the languages of instruction at the new school will include Aguarana, Ashaninka, and Shipbio-Conibo. The site for the new university will be the grounds of the Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Five types of higher education facilities serve the nation. The universidad pública (public university) is a government-funded comprehensive institution comparable to U.S. universities. The most prominent of these is UNAM, the National Autonomous University of San Marcos, which is also the oldest and most prestigious. The second category is the universidad privada (private university), also a comprehensive institution, which receives funding either from non-profit sources, such as the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, or strictly from student tuition. The instituto superior tecnológco (technical higher institute) offers specialized instruction in one or more technologies such as agriculture or engineering. The fourth category is the instituto superior pedagógico (higher pedagogical institute), which is a teacher training facility. Scores of these smaller institutions serve the nation. The final category is the centro superior de postgrado (higher postgraduate centre), a general higher education institution that might be compared with a university branch facility.

The average age of students entering public higher education is 19.7, while private schools average 19.6, reflecting the national tendency for students to take time between secondary and higher education. Admission to vocational training typically requires the student to hold at least the Bachillerator diploma, although some vocational students hold the Certificado de Educación secundaria común completa. Entering students have traditionally been required to sit for either the Concurso or Examen de Ingreso entrance exams. For admission to university level studies, the Certificado de Educación secundaria común completa is required, along with an entrance exam. Increasingly, since 1997 the national bachillerato examination has replaced the examinations provided by individual universities. The number of students failing these examinations each year typically stands at nearly 50 percent. Each university is permitted to determine a numerus clausus for their various departments. Peruvian students pay a maximum of $3,600 tuition for higher education. A 1996 survey indicated that 33.2 percent of students work while studying in the public universities. The number of working students in private universities is 28.1 percent.

Foreign students seeking to attend Peruvian universities must hold the secondary school completion credentials corresponding with their Peruvian counterparts. They are eligible to receive assistance in the form of scholarships and financial aid, as well as being granted employment on campus. Foreign students from countries with which Peru has established articulation agreements can obtain credit for their studies, degrees, and diplomas earned at home, while those from other countries must petition for such recognition. All foreign students are expected to be conversant in Spanish.

The lowest level certification given to students in Peruvian higher education, the Certificado de Educación Secundaria Común Completa, actually represents the completion of secondary schooling. Beyond that, students may earn a Diploma de Aptitud Profesional, which represents a short-term course, averaging one year in duration, focused almost exclusively on a particular professional skill. For more technical fields, the degree of Técnico is awarded. As mentioned, the Bachillerato designation represents a new level of secondary education designed to bridge the gap between secondary education and the university, a gap that has previously resulted in students taking from one to two years between those levels to prepare for the entrance examination. The universities grant the designation of Licenciatura denoting legal licensing in a controlled field. The title Profesor is reserved for those certified to teach in the nation's school system. The highest degrees granted by these universities are Maestría and Doctorado, which are equivalent with the Masters and Doctoral degrees of other countries.

The curriculum leading to these degrees is divided into several stages. The first level of study at the university is termed pregrado (undergraduate) and involves a two-year course of study devoted to general studies. Access to this course of study is based on the competitive entrance examination, either the institution-specific examination or the national Bachillerato examination. Students need to score at a prescribed level on this examination and follow this achievement during the pregrado studies by earning a prescribed number of credits to enter the faculty for their specialization. The period of specialization is two to five years and leads to the title of Bachiller, the equivalent of a bachelor's degree. Successful submission of a thesis, which normally takes six months to one year, leads to the Licenciatura or a professional title such as Ingeniero, Médico, Abogado, or Economista. Achievement of the licentura enables the student to enter professional life. Most of the courses building to the Licenciatura require about five years for completion.

The second level of course work in the university is postgrado (postgraduate). The minimum duration of studies leading to postgraduate degrees is four semesters for the Maestría and an additional four semesters for the Doctorado. Candidates for either degree are required to complete and defend original research work. Maestría candidates must demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language while Doctorado candidates must show proficiency with two. In the Faculty of Law, the professional title is awarded after the completion of three years of study after the Bachiller, while medical students must complete five years of study before earning their degree. Universities also award professional titles of Segunda and Ulterior Especialización.

Higher technical and vocational education is offered in the institutos superiores tecnológicos, which focus on technological courses of study, and the institutos superiores pedagógicos, which provide the bulk of the nation's teacher training. Other education is offered through national schools in various disciplines. As of 2000, the nation had established a National School for Public Health, a National School for Public Administration, and the Diplomatic Academy, as well as separate Academies of Fine Arts and Music. These institutions do not enjoy the autonomy of the universities and are responsible to the Department of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education, as well as to the relevant ministries of their subject area. They offer professional training requiring three, four, or five years for completion. Upon completion, the student is awarded the professional qualifications of Técnico and Experto in the appropriate field.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Oversight of Peruvian education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Culture, which is based in Lima. The Ministry's mission is to provide education through the nation's public schools and to provide oversight to private schools and those under the jurisdiction of other agencies. This mission comprises two major responsibilities: the development of standards and curricula for all schools and the direct administration of those schools under the ministry's jurisdiction. While educational policy created in Lima is in force across the entire country, each of the nation's regions or departments maintains its own budget authority and directs its own administration to provide primary, secondary, and technical education to its students. The Ministry of Education is headed by an appointed minister. Beneath the minister are two vice-ministers. The vice-minister of educational management oversees national directors for initial (preprimary) and primary education, secondary and technical education, teacher training, and adult education and literacy. The vice-minister of institutional management oversees offices of educational quality, administrative support, educational infrastructure, and international cooperation. Universities do not fall under the direct control of the Ministry of Education. Each university and other institution of higher education (excluding the teacher training institutions) retains considerable autonomy within the context of the series of laws controlling higher education. The universities coordinate through but do not yield control to a representative body, the Asemblea Nacional de Rectores (Rectors National Assembly), which is composed of the rectors from all the member universities. This group serves to coordinate university activities, as well as to oversee and facilitate their economic development.

The national constitution dictates that education should receive no less than 20 percent of the overall government budget. National educational expenditures have varied considerably under the various administrations of recent decades. As a percentage of GNP, education expenditures amounted to 3.82 percent in 1970, but had fallen to 2.93 percent in 1980 and 2.21 percent by 1989. In 1997 dollars, total expenditures between 1968 and 1990 ranged from a high of more than $1.5 billion in 1987 to a low of $750 million in 1990, the year in which Alberto Fujimori took office. Under Fujimori's administration, the trend in education budgets was dramatically positive, reaching more than $1.8 billion dollars by the end of the decadea figure that represented a $255 expenditure per student, an increase in real dollars of 39 percent over the early 1990s. Perhaps more significantly, capital expenditures during the 1990s averaged 12.6 percent of the overall budget, dramatically outstripping the 3 to 5 percent capital outlays of previous decades. Even during budgetary crises during the mid-1990s when the overall budget declined slightly, capital investment continued strongly. Of the 87.4 percent of the budget dedicated to current expenditures, 45 percent went to primary education, 28 percent to secondary, 15 percent to universities, 8 percent to preprimary, and 3 percent to non-university higher education.

Nonformal Education

Accompanying the nation's resurgent interest in education during the 1990s has come an expansion in nonformal education directed at the adult population. Lifelong learning courses in a wide variety of topics are organized to provide less structured vocational training for the workforce and to provide basic education and cultural enrichment to the community. A Certificado de Asistencia is awarded upon the successful completion of each course. Vocational trainingespecially that focused on an industry with significant, concentrated employment, such as business administration, commerce, and industrial productionis frequently a collaborative effort between the education system and the industry. Trade training is offered to the industries through such arrangements, allowing employees to improve job skills while maintaining a work schedule. Part-time education is offered in both day and evening classes to establish or enhance competencies in the areas of teaching, accountancy, law, computer science, and economics. Adult education authorities also take responsibility for the provision of in-service courses to teachers. Finally, summer classes provide regular students with the opportunity to earn additional educational credits during the summer, while January and February classes provide the same opportunity for teachers.

Teaching Profession

Teachers enjoy considerable privileges in the culture of Peru, especially in the areas farther away from the major population centers where a teacher is likely to be the only person with postsecondary education within an area. Traditionally, teachers fulfill a role as educators and town advisers in the smaller centers of population. Because of their great influence, teachers were, until recent years, prohibited from holding public office due to the belief that they, like a priest, might hold excessive power within the community. Because of the opportunities for advancement afforded by a career in teaching, many have sought this path, especially those from the lower and middle classes who find in teaching a richer opportunity for achievement than might be found elsewhere. Given Peru's limited career opportunities for women, it is not surprising to find that teaching has proven an especially attractive path for women, a fact that is reflected in their representation within the profession.

One of the challenges facing the education system has been the recruitment of sufficient numbers of qualified teachers. Of 110,000 candidates presenting themselves for entrance into the profession in 1999, a total of 29,256 were selected for consideration, yet only17,000 of these candidates passed the test. Only 1 percent of those passing the test managed to score a 14 or higher on the 20-point scale where 11 is the lowest possible passing grade.

Eighty-five pedagogical institutions and more than 50 university education programs provide the initial and continuing training for Peru's 350,000 teachers. While the pedagogical institutions provide a very consistent program of instruction, the university programs vary widely. The training of both initial (preprimary) and primary school teachers is a responsibility of both the nation's universities and non-university institutions. This training typically consists of a course of study spanning 10 academic semesters. Secondary school teachers (professores ) receive their training through the Institutos Superiores Pedagógicos through a five-year course of study. Some secondary teachers are also trained in the universities. Secondary teacher studies culminate with the granting of the professional qualification of Profesor. This certification also includes the mention of the teacher's educational level and disciplinary specialization. Teachers serving the institutions of technical education receive their training at the Institutos Superiores Tecnológicos, completing a three-year course of study before being granted the title of Profesional técnico (technical professional).

The training of teachers for the nation's institutions of higher education is conducted by the universities. Candidates advance through a series of categories of teaching and learning in their given discipline. Educational councils operating independently within each university appoint qualified teachers to one of the professional categories, making their selections through open competitions. The time required for the granting of tenure in each category and the requirements for promotion to a higher level varies both between departments and between universities. The most common model of teacher assessment is for an academic evaluation to be conducted every three years for auxiliary professors, every four years for associate professors, and every six years for principal professors.

Most Peruvian teachers are represented by the Sindicato único de Trabajadores de la Enseñanza del Perú (SUTEP), the Trade Union of Education Workers of Peru. Serving 280,000 teachers of initial, primary, secondary, adult, and special education, SUTEP is governed by a national executive committee composed of 24 members elected at the biannual National Congress. The union was founded in 1972, unifying in the process a wide group of different unions serving different levels of education and diverse geographic territories. In the intervening years, SUTEP has experienced persecution and lack of legal recognition by various governments. In recent years the union's most important objective has been the resistance of a move proposed by various government representatives to privatize education. SUTEP also successfully fought a proposal in 1992 to fire all teachers and rehire them to temporary contracts. Membership in the union is voluntary.


The recovery and advances in the educational system of Peru between the years 1990 and 2000 were remarkable, not only in terms of budgetary outlays but also in curricular and school quality programs. One of the primary challenges for current and future governments will be to be continue the trajectory of progress begun during the Fujimori years. Where success in meeting that challenge depends largely on economic prosperity coupled with political will, success in other areas presents more complex obstacles. Historically, the most significant impediment to universal quality education in Peru has come from the deep social divisions that have existed for centuries along racial, geographic, economic, and linguistic lines. Although progress has been achieved in addressing these divisions, creating an education system far more fair and open than existed a half century ago, considerable progress remains to be made to allow each student the opportunity to fully explore his or her potential.

According to the Ministry of Education, one of its principal obligations is to develop an ability to respond to new situations in a useful and relevant manner. Progress on the ten-year reformation of education started in 1997 has been a significant attempt to develop that ability; however, more progress is needed to achieve the Ministry's goals. Among those goals are the extension of preprimary education to all children aged 4 and 5, and the elimination of illiteracy among all Peruvians under the age of 40. Despite the progress suggested by curricular changes, centuries-old cultural impediments continue to challenge the education system. In 1999, UNESCO recognized Peru's efforts in the area of literacy, noting their achievement in dropping the rate of illiteracy from 13 percent in 1993 to 6 percent in 1999. Also in the area of illiteracy, a 1999 study by the National Institute of Statistics and Information placed the number of illiterate Peruvians older than the age of 15 at more than 1.9 million, more than 10 percent of the adult population. Of this number, three times as many were women, with the preponderance coming from lower social classes and traditionally deprived regions of the country, illustrating the power and persistence of some of the cultural impediments to equality.

The dream of universal and equal education can only be realized if barriers between races and classes can be breached. Perhaps the most intractable of these barriers is that between the Spanish-speaking majority and the significant indigenous-language-speaking minority found mostly in the Amazonian area east of the Andes. Although progress has been achieved in reaching this population, this challenge promises to remain for many years to come.


Azcueta, Michel, et. al. Aportes para una historia de la educación popular en el Perú, Lima: Tarea, 1990.

Balance de una década: educación para todos en el Perú. Lima: El Foro, 2000.

Gorritti, Luis Carlos, Arturo Miranda, and Gonzalo Pacheco. Cuánto cuesta una educación básica de calidad en el Perú. Lima: Foro Educativo: PREAL, 2000.

Ministry of Education. Educación. Office of Communications, 10 March 2001. Available from

Siederer, León Trahtemberg. Educación para el tercer milenio. Lima: Bruño, 1997.

Vásquez, Amelia Pacheco. El gobierno de la universidad en el Perú. Lima: Fondo de Desarrollo Editorial, Universidad de Lima, 1997.

Mark Browning

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Republic of Peru

República del Perú



Peru is located on South America's central Pacific coast. The world's twentieth-largest nation, it borders Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile to the east and south, and Colombia and Ecuador to the north. Lima, the capital, is located on the central coast. Peru's 1,326,074 square kilometers (512,000 square miles) make it roughly the size of Alaska. Lima is approximately the size of Rhode Island.

Peru is divided into 3 distinct geographic regions with a narrow, arid coast, steep Andes Mountains running north to south, and the Amazon jungle in the east. The Amazon covers 57.6 percent of the nation's territory, representing 13.2 percent of the Amazon forest and 7.3 percent of the world's rainforest. The Amazon River system, the world's largest, holds 20 percent of the planet's fresh water. The coastal region represents 10.6 percent of the nation's territory and the highlands 31.8 percent. Its distinctive geography gives it 84 of the 104 known ecosystems and 28 of the 32 known climate zones, making Peru one of the world's most ecologically diverse nations, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).


The population currently stands at 27 million and is growing by 1.75 percent annually, according to estimates for 2000. The birth rate is an estimated 24.48 per 1,000, while the death rate is 5.84 per 1,000. Life expectancy in 2000 was 70 years.

The Peruvian population is extremely young, with 53.8 percent of the population below the age of 25. Only 4 percent of the population is over 65. The majority of Peruvians live in urban areas along the coast, which reflects the general migratory trend in Latin America over the past 60 years. In 1940, 65 percent of the population lived in the highlands, while only 28.3 percent lived along the coast. Today, 52.2 percent live along the coast, 35.7 percent live in the highlands, and 12.1 percent live in the jungle region. Lima is the largest city, home to nearly 8 million people. The second largest city, Arequipa in the southern highlands, is home to 700,000 people.

The largest population group is Amerindian, accounting for 45 percent of the population. The principal Amerindian groups are Quechua and Aymara highland indigenous people. Lowland indigenous groups, representing roughly 350,000 people, are divided into 52 different peoples, the largest of which is the Ashaninkas. Mestizosmixed Amerindian and Caucasianrepresent 37 percent and whites account for 15 percent. The remaining 3 percent of the population is formed principally of blacks, Chinese, and Japanesedescendants of people brought over as slaves or indentured servants. In 2000, Chinese-Peruvians celebrated the 150th anniversary of their arrival in Peru, while the Japanese community celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Peru adopted an aggressive family planning program in 1995, which former President Alberto Fujimori announced at the United Nations Women's Summit in Beijing that same year. The plan included free access to birth control and a nationwide education campaign. The Ministry of Women and Human Development was created at the same time. The plan, however, was attacked for employing forced sterilization of women and men, including 300,000 tubal ligations and 100,000 vasectomies. At least 36 deaths were blamed on the sterilization campaign. Despite the government's efforts, the birth rate did not decline in the second half of the 1990s, remaining at 24.48 per 1,000. (In contrast, the birth rate per 1,000 in the United States is 14.2, a little more than half the Peruvian rate.) The plan came under review in early 2000, and women's rights groups are calling for a "truth commission" to investigate the forced sterilization component.


Since the Spanish conquest in 1532 and the Declaration of Independence from Spain in 1821, Peru has been a raw material exporting nation that has experienced cycles of short-term export booms and long periods of economic stagnation, the last of which began in 1997. The first major boom was gold and silver, which the Spaniards found in abundant supply in the Inca Empire. The Spaniards sent tons of gold objects home annually. Peru became the principal vice royalty of the Spanish Crown during colonization. In addition to minerals, the Spaniards also brought numerous examples of domesticated plants to Europe. Peru has supplied the world with 120 domesticated plants, the largest number of any country, according to the UNDP.

Minerals have remained the mainstay of the Peruvian export economy, with gold topping the list in the last decade. Peru exported US$1.1 billion in gold in 2000, with the Yanacocha (Cajamarca) and Pierina (Ancash) mines ranked among the top 5 most profitable and productive gold mines in the world, according to the World Gold Council. Peru is the world's eighth-largest gold producer, second in silver and copper, and ranks in the top 5 in zinc and lead.

Other export booms have included guano and rubber, but the cycles were short-lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One export product that has remained important since the early decades of the 20th century is fishing, with fishmeal (used as animal feed and fertilizer) being the chief export in the sector. Peru is the world's leading fishmeal producer, supplying nearly one-third of worldwide production in 2000, according to the Paris-based Fishmeal Exporters' Organization. Fishmeal accounted for US$900 million in exports in 2000. Major agricultural export crops have included coffee, sugar, and cotton. Coffee continues to be a major export, but sugar and cotton exports have crashed, with Peru currently importing both products.

In the 1960s, Peru attempted to break its dependence on exporting raw materials with a new nationalistic approach to economic management-based import substitution . Under the leadership of Gen. Juan Velasco, a socialist military government took power in 1968, immediately nationalizing most industries and implementing a sweeping agrarian reform program that took over all major farmlands, either distributing land to peasant communities or forming cooperatives to run them. The government took control of most industries, including nearly all mines, public services (telephone, electricity, and water), and the media. The government adopted an aggressive import-substitution program, trying to stimulate local production and making imports difficult by applying exorbitant tariffs . The Velasco experiment lasted until 1975, when a more conservative military junta (an internal military revolt against a government) overthrew him. The economic model remained basically intact, however, until the late 1980s.

The final years of the statist model were disastrous. Under the leadership of former president Alán García (1985-90), the government attempted to stimulate growth by freezing prices and raising wages, and offering businesses below-market exchange rates for exports and imports. The result was 7,600 percent inflation (1990), an annual GDP decrease of 5 percent, and depleted reserves.

Peru began changing the economic model with the election of Alberto Fujimori in 1990, adopting an International Monetary Fund-designed (IMF) program that lowered or eliminated most tariffs, privatized nearly all state-owned industries and courted foreign investment in banking, telecommunications, and service industries. The program promoted raw material exports, specifically miningan industry that was offered tax incentives. Along with garments (US$693.6 million in exports in 2000), Peru's principal exports are minerals (49 percent of exports in 2000) and fishmeal. A large percentage of manufactured goods are imported, with the country running a trade deficit for 2 decades. The economy became increasingly "dollarized" throughout the 1990s, with 80 percent of bank deposits and 85 percent of debts now in dollars. Industry grew increasingly concentrated in Lima, with approximately 80 percent of manufacturing now based in the capital.

The government is dependent on foreign assistance from multilateral institutions (IMF, World Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank) and foreign governments. The government missed the IMF-set fiscal deficit target of 1.5 percent of GDP in 1999 and 2000. The foreign debt (US$31 billion in 1998) represents 56 percent of GDP. Foreign debt payments for 2001 and 2002 total US$3 billion, and the government signed a standby agreement with the IMF in early 2000 that frees up US$1.5 billion to service its debt.

It is difficult to calculate the value of the black market in Peru, but the impact is significant. The International Intellectual Property Alliance estimates (1998) that 50 percent of motion pictures, 85 percent of recordings, and 60 percent of computer programs are pirated. Peru's 5 borders make it relatively easy for many manufactured goods to illegally enter the country. In addition, an estimated 10 percent of the country's hundreds of thousands cable television hook-ups are illegal. The largest illicit sector, however, is the drug trade. Peru is the second-most important producer of coca, used to make cocaine, and cocaine itself. Black market money from drug sales and money laundering are calculated to be worth between 1 and 2 percent of GDP.

Unemployment, according to the International Labor Organization, stands at 10 percent, but underemployment is approximately 60 percent. An estimated 54 percent of the population lives in poverty, earning the equivalent of US$1.50 a day.


Peru has been politically unstable since independence was declared in 1821 and formally granted by Spain 3 years later. Since independence Peru has had 109 presidents, 18 percent of whom were democratically elected. The remaining presidents came to power through military coups (24 percent), replaced a sitting president (21 percent), were named by Congress (18 percent), were delegated (16 percent), or formed part of a commission of notables (3 percent).

Political parties have generally been tied to 1 man, representing the traditional caudillo (strongman) model that is present in many Latin American countries. When back-to-back democratic elections are held, a rarity in Peru, the ruling party has never held on to the presidency. The country's oldest party, the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), was founded by Victor Raul de la Torre in the 1920s. It continues to have a strong presence, despite decades of political persecution and one disastrous term in power. The party's founder, Haya de la Torre, was exiled for years and never reached the presidency. He received the most votes in the 1962 election, but a military junta stepped in after the election and took power for a year. Haya de la Torre lost by a slim margin in the election held in late 1963.

Those elections were won by Fernando Belaúnde Terry who, with Haya de la Torre, is one of the most important political figures in Peru in the second half of the 20th century. Belaúnde's Popular Action party remains active and at 90 he is still the titular head of the party. Belaúnde was deposed in a left-leaning military coup in 1968 and the generals ruled Peru for 12 years, nationalizing most industries and implementing a sweeping agrarian reform program. When the military returned the country to democracy in 1980, Belaúnde was again elected president.

APRA had its first chance to govern Peru in 1985, when Alán García was elected. At 35, García was Peru's youngest president and came to power with a decidedly left-wing platform. García's populist approach and attempt to re-establish some of the programs of the military regimehe tried to nationalize the banks in 1988 worked for 2 years but began crumbling in 1987. He ended his term in 1990 with 7,600 percent inflation and a bankrupt treasury.

The experience of Popular Action and APRA in the 1980s inspired a wave of independent candidates, personified by Alberto Fujimori. An obscure math professor, Fujimori emerged from obscurity in 1990 to win the presidency. Peruvians were tired of "politics as usual" and gambled on an outsider. With no political experience or party, Fujimori turned to the armed forces and used them to consolidate power. When Congress balked at his plans for sweeping economic reforms and harsh laws to control a growing subversive threat, Fujimori and the military took complete control, closing Congress and the courts in 1992 in what is known as a "self-coup." Fuji-mori received the backing of the population and a year later introduced a new constitution allowing for his reelection. He ran again in 1995 and was overwhelmingly re-elected because he had tamed inflation and his government had arrested the leadership of 2 violent subversive groups.

Although he came to power as an outsider, Fujimori rapidly developed the qualities and policies of Peru's traditional caudillos, concentrating power in the executive and bypassing Congress and the judicial branch whenever necessary.

Unsatisfied with only 2 terms, Fujimori and his allies tinkered with the constitution and decided he could run for a third term in 2000. He ran and won, although the elections were labeled fraudulent by local and international observers. Pressure from opposition parties calling for democracy and evidence of widespread corruption, however, never allowed Fujimori to consolidate his third term. He resigned in November 2000 and fled to Japan, his parents' homeland.

Fujimori's rapid decline set the stage for new elections in April 2001. The elections saw the consolidation of a new party, Peru's Potential, led by Alejandro Toledo. It also marked the return of Alán GarcíaFujimori forced García into exile in 1992and APRA. Toledo was elected president of Peru in a close race, narrowly defeating former president García.

The free-market economic policies in place since 1990 will not change in the coming years. The incoming government, which took office in July of 2001, will maintain strict macroeconomic discipline guided by a Fiscal Discipline Law that does not permit the deficit to be higher than 1.5 percent of GDP. The economic situation will be difficult, nevertheless. The Peruvian economy has been in a recession since 1997, partly due to poor fiscal management on the part of the former government and partly because of the Brazilian, Russian, and Asian economic troubles. The collapse of Fujimori's administration also scared off local and foreign investors, with direct foreign investment reaching only US$600 million in 2000, compared to US$2 billion a year earlier.

The incoming government promises to reduce taxes and tariffs as a way of stimulating the economy and ensuring the 6 percent GDP growth economists say is needed to begin lowering poverty rates. Toledo, who has a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University, is a political centrist, and wants to award small-business loans to farmers, balance the budget, lure foreign investment, and create jobs. Job creation is an especially important priority, considering Peru's current under-and unemployment, and the 300,000 young people joining the labor market each year.

The government's principal source of revenue comes from taxes. Of the US$8.39 billion brought in by the government in 2000, US$7.03 billion came from taxes. The largest chunk comes from value-added taxes , which accounted for US$3.4 billion in revenue in 2000. The second-largest category is income tax , which generated US$1.6 billion. A 15 percent tax is applied to personal income and a 30 percent tax is applied to business income. Other important taxes include the excise on gasoline, liquor, tobacco, and other luxury items, which brought in US$1.1 billion. Peru has the world's third-highest tax on beer, after South Korea and Kenya, accounting for 75 percent of the price of 1 liter. Taxes on imports generated US$704 million and assorted other taxes accounted for US$714 million. Government revenue in 2000 represented 14.1 percent of GDP.


Peru has an extensive system of roads that cross most of the mountain and coastal regions. Of the 72,887 kilometers (45,300 miles) of roads, 8,698 kilometers (5,406 miles) are paved. The government dedicated a significant number of resources to building and rebuilding the highway system throughout the 1990s. The principal roads are the Pan-American Highway, which runs the length of the country down the coast; the Central Highway, which connects the capital, Lima, to the Andean highlands; and the Marginal Highway, which penetrates deep into the northeastern jungle region. The number of automobiles and buses more than doubled in the 1990s, making major cities congested and leading to massive increases in roadway fatalities. An average of 3 people a day died in 2000 in public transportation-related accidents. The government has a liberal policy for imports, allowing for a steady influx of older, used automobiles. The Transportation Department estimates that 75 percent of mass transportation vehicles are more than 20 years old. A light rail mass transportation system was started in Lima in the mid-1980s, but abandoned by the central government for all of the 1990s. The project is now in the hands of the city government, which hopes to have the first 8 miles of tracks operational by 2005.

The nation's rail system, which was privatized in 2000, services highland mining operations. Passenger service on the rail system is limited to certain areas, particularly serving the tourist trade between the highland states of Puno, Cusco, and Arequipa. Several highways are in the process of being privatized and the process should conclude this year. One highway, in the state of Arequipa, has already been privatized.

Peru has 234 airports, but the majority are simple airfields serving small, private planes. The principal airport is the Jorge Chavez International Airport located in Lima, with other modern airfields in the major cities. Of the total number of airports, 44 have paved runways. Jorge Chavez International Airport was privatized in February 2001 and 5 other airports, including the tourist destination Cusco are in the final stages of privatization. Peru has a series of excellent, deep-water ports. The largest port facility is in Callao, the port city adjacent to Lima. In addition to Pacific Ocean ports, the country also has 3 large river ports: Iquitos, Pucallpa, and Yurimaguas. Iquitos is located on the Amazon River, while the other 2 ports are located on major tributaries. Peru has 8,598 kilometers (5,344 miles) of navigable riverways. Lake Titicaca, located on the border with Bolivia, is the world's highest navigable lake.

A mix of private and public companies generates electricity, the bulk of which is hydroelectric (74.79 percent). The Peruvian government began privatizing electricity generation, transmission, and supply in the mid-1990s and is continuing the process. U.S. and Spanish companies are the major investors in the sector, which produces 18.28

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Peru 84 273 144 14.1 30 N/A 18.1 3.09 400
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Brazil 40 444 316 16.3 47 3.1 30.1 18.45 3,500
Ecuador 70 419 293 11.7 25 N/A 18.5 1.42 35
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

billion kWh per year. Major natural gas reserves, which should be available to the market by 2003-04, will help diversify dependence on water sources.

Telecommunications services have improved dramatically since the state-owned telephone service was privatized in 1993. Major players in the market include Spain's Telefonica, U.S.-based BellSouth and AT&T, and Italy's TIM. The CIA World Factbook reports that there are 1.5 million fixed lines, while cellular phones top 500,000 (1998 estimates). Telephone analysts predict that mobile phones will outnumber fixed lines in Peru within 3 to 5 years.

There are an estimated 3 million television sets and 13 broadcast stations. Cable television has not yet penetrated the national market, with nearly all of the subscribers concentrated in Lima. There are an estimated 6.65 million radios that can tune into 472 AM stations and 198 FM stations nationwide.

There are 15 Internet service providers and an estimated 800,000 people use the Internet, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. Peru has a relatively low per capita number of personal computers, but the country is a pioneer in setting up public Internet booths to allow Internet access at a low cost. These public booths are both public and privately run, with the government installing thousands of Internet access centers in rural areas.


Peru's diverse geography and climates, as well as its location along South America's central Pacific coast, give it privileges enjoyed by few nations. However, the country's natural wealth in agriculture, mining, and fishing has not been harnessed to the benefit of the population. The country's principal problems have been, and continue to be, its reliance on raw material exports and its unstable political climate. As a result of its dependence on raw materials, Peru's economy is highly susceptible to downturns in the world economy. Natural phenomena, particularly El Niño (a warm water current that changes ocean and air patterns off the coast of Peru and provokes droughts in some parts of the world and flooding in others), periodically play havoc on fishing and agriculture, as well as destroy infrastructure . Because of political turbulence, Peru has had 3 presidents between November 2000 and November 2001, a disturbing trend that keeps local and foreign investors skeptical about placing their money in the country.

The administration of former president Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) emphasized the raw material export model, offering incentives to capital-intensive investments, particularly in mining. By privatizing telecommunication services, the government opened this as a new and important sector within the economy, with investments totaling nearly US$4 billion throughout the last decade. The new government, while recognizing the importance of mining, is pledging to emphasize labor-intensive sectors, particularly manufacturing, farming, and tourism as a way to diversify the economy and create jobs.


Peru's climate and different geographical zones make it an important agricultural nation. Of the 120 domesticated plants Peru has provided the world, the potato is the most important. There are more than 3,000 varieties of potatoes found in Peru, making it the world's genetic center for the crop. Other important crops include sugarcane, coffee, and cotton, with Peru producing 2 of the world's finest strains of cotton: Pima and Tanguis. In addition to these staples, the UNDP estimates that the Andean and jungle food baskets include important vegetables and fruits that are relatively unknown but high in vitamins and proteins. These include camu-camu, a small jungle fruit with the highest known levels of vitamin C, and quinoa, a highland grain. In addition, Peru is also a major supplier of crops such as asparagus, because of its unique climate. Peru has a window for asparagus (US$120 million in export earnings in 1999) exports between November and January, months in which almost no other country exports the product. Other "designer" products include mangos, sweet onions, and herbs.

Other important elements in the agricultural sector are domesticated Andean animals including llamas, alpacas, guanacos, and vicuñas. All 4 belong to the same family and provide varying levels of fine wool. The vicuña, which is not domesticated, has the world's finest wool. Vicuñas have been on the endangered species list for decades, but are rebounding, numbering close to 150,000 today. Vicuñas are protected under the CITES convention, which means their wool cannot be commercialized. The Peruvian government is lobbying to have the prohibition changed.

A potentially important source of income could come from Peru's virgin forest in the form of logging. The Peruvian government began overhauling its laws governing the timber industry in 2000, dividing up parcels and placing conditions on logging and exports of slow-growth hardwood trees such as cedar and mahogany. Together with Guyana, in northern South America, Peru is one of the few countries on the planet that has most of its forest reserves relatively untouched.

Despite its history of agriculture and immense natural wealth, agriculture has received little attention in the past few decades. The sector continues to struggle after years of government intervention in the 1960s and 1970s (when the military government undertook agrarian reform), and benign neglect throughout most of the 1980s and 1990s. For a brief period in the 1980s, during Alán García's presidency (1985-90), the government attempted to offer interest-free loans to farmers through a state-run farmers' bank. The bank was a failure, with negligible returns on loans and declining production.

Agriculture represents 13 percent of GDP but employs 30 percent of the country's population. The incoming government proposes upping the sector's percentage of GDP as well as its employment participation by focusing on value-added products and concentrating on vertical integration . Cotton production is one agricultural product that the government is attempting to increase through vertical integration. Cotton production is linked to the country's textile manufacturing. The country's textile industry exported more than US$700 million in 2000 and includes several vertically-integrated companies, such as Textiles San Cristobal, which produces for U.S. manufacturer Ralph Lauren and other high-end clothing companies. They run cotton plantations, thread and fabric factories, garment producers, and exporters of the final product.

The goal of Toledo's government is to get Peruvian textiles included in the list of products exported to the United States tariff-free under the Andean Trade Preference Act, passed in 1990. The Peruvian government is pushing for them to be included in an extension of the act, which is currently being negotiated. The Peruvian government believes that if textiles receive tariff-free status, there will be a boom throughout the textile industry, beginning in the cotton fields.

The government plans on doubling the number of acres dedicated to cotton in order to increase cloth production to feed the textile industry. Other targeted products include hard yellow corn for the poultry industry, coffee for the specialty coffee market in the United States and Europe, and sugarcane. Peru currently imports corn and sugarcane, despite its long history of development of both crops. According to the Department of Agriculture, Peru has been a net agricultural importer since 1980, with agriculture imports worth roughly US$200 million more than exports in 1999.

Hundreds of laws were passed under the previous administration to stimulate the agriculture sector. These included privatization of fallow lands and irrigation systems, as well as removing conditions on land ownership and tenure. However, the government failed to pass 2 important pieces of legislation governing community-owned lands and water rights. Without these 2 laws, large agroindustry projects will not be able to operate.

One of Peru's best-known crops is coca, which is the raw material used to make cocaine. In addition to coca, Peru also produces substantial quantities of marijuana and, in recent years, poppies used in opium production. The government, together with its U.S., European, and UN partners, has been reducing coca crops since the mid-1990s, with promising results. Coca crops have fallen from 276,000 acres in 1992 to 84,000 acres currently. Neighboring Colombia has passed Peru as the leading producer of coca.



Peru is an international leader in fishing, producing nearly 10 percent of the world's fish catch. The cold-water Humboldt Current brings nutrient-rich cold waters that create ideal fishing grounds. Peru exported more than US$1 billion in fish products in 2000most of it as fishmealand fished nearly 10 billion tons, making fishing the second-most important industry after mining. Fishing has been a mainstay in Peru for thousands of years, playing a key role in ancient societies. In modern times, fishing has boomed due to whaling in the late 19th century and demand for guano (bird dung), a byproduct of fishing found on small islands off the coast.

While always important, the full use of Peru's fishing resources did not occur until the mid-20th century with the introduction of fishmeal production. The star of the fishmeal, which is used for animal feed or fertilizer, is the Peruvian anchovy. For most of the 1960s and 1970s, Peruvian anchovies accounted for 44 percent of the world fish catch destined for non-human consumption. The fishing industry's participation in the GDP varies yearly, depending upon the catch and ocean conditions. In years when El Niño is present, such as 1998, the sector's participation falls to below 1 percent of GDP. Fishing currently accounts for roughly 3.5 percent of GDP and, because it is not a labor-intensive industry, employs approximately 80,000 people.

The government began privatizing the fisheries industry, PescaPeru, in 1994 in a process that continues today. The government has sold its participation in all processing plants and fishing fleets, and is now preparing to privatize fishing ports as a general program to privatize all the nation's ports. The Fisheries Ministry is also beginning a process of privatizing experimental and research centers as well as fish-farming installations. The industry is facing another potential downturn because of the fear created by "mad cow" disease in Europe. The European Union nations voted in early 2001 to ban all feed products made from animals, including fishmeal. The scope of the ban was later reduced, but restrictions still apply. Peru's fishmeal exports to Europe declined by 41 percent in the first quarter of 2001.


Mining has been a central element in Peru's history for thousands of years. The Andes are rich in minerals and gold, and silver pieces can be found in numerous pre-Columbian societies. Mineral exports are a key to the country's economy, representing nearly half of Peru's exports in 2000. Peru ranks eighth worldwide in gold production (first in Latin America), second in copper, and among the top 5 producers of lead and zinc. Two of Peru's gold mines, Yanacocha and Pierina, are among the most productive and profitable gold mines in the world. Peru has an estimated 21 million fine ounces of gold reserves in mines currently under operation and 42 million fine metric tons of copper reserves. An additional 100 gold mines are predicted to come on line in the next 5 years. Also looming in the near future is the massive Antamina project, a Canadian-led mining operation that will require US$2.3 billion in investments and is expected to produce copper, zinc, lead, gold, and silver for the next 30 to 40 years. Antamina is the largest mining project underway in the world.

Mining activity and exports have grown exponentially since 1991, when the government adopted a series of new rules and tax benefits for large-scale mining, streamlined the process for filing a mineral claim, and allowed companies to re-invest upward to 80 percent of profits tax free. Mining exports grew from US$1.2 billion in 1987 to US$2.7 billion in 1997. Gold witnessed the greatest increase, rising from less than US$1 million in exports in 1987 to US$500 million in 1997. Gold exports are now US$1.2 billion, according to the World Gold Council.

Like fishing, however, mining is not a labor-intensive activity, creating few jobs and demanding huge investments for each job created. Nevertheless, mining represents one of the few money-making activities in the Peruvian highlands, particularly in areas higher than 12,000 feet above sea level where most mining operations are located. Mining represents 10 percent of GDP, according to the U.S. State Department's Country Commercial Guide.


Because of its long dependence on raw material exports, Peru has never developed a strong manufacturing sector. The sector represents 15 percent of GDP and is tied heavily to mining, fishing, agriculture, and textiles. Manufacturing is mainly devoted to processing a percentage of the raw materials to gain a value-added advantage. The most promising sector is textiles, with Peru exporting nearly US$700 million in garments in 2000, mainly to the United States and Europe. Textiles represent the largest non-raw material portion of the Peruvian export economy. Peruvian textiles are currently exported duty -free to European Union nations under an agreement to help the country fight the drug trade. The U.S. Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA), passed in 1991, has the same goal, exempting nearly 6,000 products produced in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru (all major drug-producing nations) from tariffs. Textiles, however, were left off the list. The 4 governments are lobbying for the U.S. Congress to include textiles on the trade list when ATPA is renegotiated in December 2001. Peruvian garment makers generally produce high-end products for the U.S. markets, including brand names such as Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, and Bobby Jones.



Tourism has represented a new growth industry in Peru since the early 1990s, with the government and private sector dedicating considerable energies to boosting the country's tourist destinations both to Peruvians and foreigners. Foreign tourist arrivals have jumped from approximately 90,000 in 1990 to more than 1 million in 2001, with a corresponding upswing in investment in services. The U.S. State Department's Country Commercial Guide estimates that US$330 million will be spent on new hotels alone between 2000 and 2005. The government estimates that 1 million new jobs will be created if it reaches the goal of 2.5 million tourists by 2005.

The public and private sector are promoting the country's tourist industry in 2 specific categories: ecotourism and historical/cultural tourism. The main draws are the Amazon rain forest and high Andes, including the Colca Canyon, the world's deepest, and archaeological sites such as Machu Picchu, considered to be the "lost city of the Incas."


With the exception of Banco de CreditoPeru's largest financial institution (US$8.5 billion in assets)nearly all the financial sector has fallen into foreign hands. The financial system has been on somewhat shaky ground since 1997, with a number of bank mergers or failures. The number of banks in the system fell from 25 in 1998 to 16 in 2001. There were 2 interventions by the government to save banks in late 2000, and authorities say the system is solid although it might not be flush with cash.


Nearly all retail is concentrated in Lima and, with a few important exceptions, is controlled by foreign capital. The 2 major department store chains, Saga and Ripley, are Chilean-owned and one of the 2 supermarket chains, Santa Isabel, belongs to the Dutch conglomerate Ahold. The other supermarket, E. Wong, is Peruvian-owned and solid. Supermarket sales, however, account for less than 10 percent of overall sales nationwide. In the past 10 years, Peru has attracted international franchises from apparel to gas stations and fast-food chains, including McDonald's and Burger King. The most successful franchise in terms of profit has been Dunkin' Donuts.


Peru has had a trade deficit for the past few decades, with exports reaching US$6.7 billion (2000 estimate) and imports of US$7.4 billion (2000 estimate). The trade gap has narrowed since 1997, as the country has fallen deeper into recession and imports have declined. The United States is Peru's largest trading partner, absorbing 25 percent of the country's exports (1997). It is followed by China (8 percent, mainly minerals and fishmeal) and Japan (7 percent, mainly minerals). The United States is also the largest source of imports, representing 19 percent of goods. Other important sources for imports are Colombia (6 percent), Venezuela (5 percent), Chile (4 percent), and Brazil (4 percent). Major exports include fish products, minerals (gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead), agricultural products (coffee, asparagus), petroleum products, and textiles. Major imports include machinery, transportation equipment, food (wheat, corn, rice), petroleum, medical equipment, and iron and steel.

Peru is a founding member of the Andean Community of Nations, which groups together Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela. Peru has had difficulties with the group, and, under Fujimori, threatened to pull out. The Andean group has joined forces to lobby for an extension of ATPA and all nations are flirting with Brazil to test the possibility of adjunct membership in the Southern Cone Common Market (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay).

The incoming government promises to move the country away from raw material exports as a way of stimulating other industries and generating a trade surplus within 5 years. The emphasis will be on textiles, agroindustry (principally "niche" crops like asparagus where Peru has a comparative advantage because of climate), and fossil fuels. The massive Camisea natural gas fields,

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Peru
Exports Imports
1975 1.291 2.550
1980 3.898 2.499
1985 2.979 1.835
1990 3.231 3.470
1995 5.575 9.224
1998 5.723 N/A
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

located in the south-central jungle region, should be completed within 3 years, giving Peru an energy surplus it hopes to export to Ecuador and Chile and possibly Brazil by hooking into a Bolivian natural gas pipeline already sending fuel to Brazil.


Peru has been in a recession since 1997, which has resulted in a tight money supply and declining internal consumption. Domestic demand fell by 0.9 percent in 1998 and by 2.4 percent in 1999. Demand did not increase in 2000, and the first quarter of 2001 showed that Peruvians were still cautious about spending their money. Demand growth for 2001 was estimated to be less than 1 percent, according to the U.S.-based Institute of International Finance.

While external factors like the economic crises in Asia, Russia, and Brazil affected the economy, the most serious effects came from political turbulence within Peru. Former president Alberto Fujimori's decisions to run for a third term in late 1999 and his victory in mid-2000 (in elections widely criticized as fraudulent), kept spending down and scared off foreign investors. The political crisis, which eventually saw Fujimori abandon the presidency and flee to Japan in November 2000, has had a negative effect on tax collection, with tax receipts dropping an average of 10 percent a month between October 2000 and February 2001.

Exchange rates: Peru
nuevo sol (S/.) per US$1
Jan 2001 3.5230
2000 3.4900
1999 3.383
1998 2.930
1997 2.664
1996 2.453
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

The crisis, however, has not affected the exchange rate or inflation, which have fluctuated but not taken off as in earlier times in Peru's history. Inflation has been declining annually since 1990, when it reached 7,600 percent. Inflation has been in low digits since the early 1990s and has been declining steadily since 1994, dropping from 15.4 percent to 3.7 percent in 2000. The currency has also remained stable, moving only from 3.38 nuevos soles to the U.S. dollar in 1999 to 3.5 by year-end 2000. The exchange rate in the first quarter of 2001 remained steady at 3.5 nuevos soles to the U.S. dollar.

The Peruvian government, in agreement with the International Monetary Fund, maintains a floating currency. The government has rejected any possibility of switching currency to the U.S. dollar, as has neighboring Ecuador, or pegging the rate to the dollar, as has Argentina in its "convertibility" plan.

The Lima Stock Marketre-opened in 1971is relatively small, trading blue chips and local shares. Daily transactions average US$3.5 million.


Despite years of promises and billions in social programs, the bulk of Peru's population (54 percent) lives in poverty, according to the CIA World Factbook. Of the poor, the UNDP estimates that 19 percent live in "absolute poverty," meaning they survive on less than US$1 a day.

The contrasts between rich and poor are clearly seen in Lima, the capital, which has more than doubled in size in the past 2 decades. The majority of the capital's population live in shantytowns, known as pueblos jovenes locally, most of which are perched on barren sand dunes near the Pacific coast or on rocky outcrops in the foothills of the Andes. The shantytowns surround upscale neighborhoods, most of which are a cross between Miami homes and Spanish villas.

Income distribution continues to be extremely skewed, with the top 10 percent of the population controlling 35.4 percent of the nation's wealth, while the bottom 10 percent controls just 1.6 percent. The gap is seen

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Peru 2,835 2,777 2,452 2,012 2,611
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Brazil 3,464 4,253 4,039 4,078 4,509
Ecuador 1,301 1,547 1,504 1,475 1,562
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage
Share: Peru
Lowest 10% 1.6
Lowest 20% 4.4
Second 20% 9.1
Third 20% 14.1
Fourth 20% 21.3
Highest 20% 51.2
Highest 10% 35.4
Survey year: 1996
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

in access to basic services. While the wealthy neighborhoods have had access to potable water, waste removal, paved roads, and electricity for decades, these services are newcomers to most shantytowns. In fact, only in the 1990s did most of Lima receive electricity, and water for many areas is still brought in by cistern trucks.

The literacy rate in Peru is 88.7 percent and education is universal and free. An estimated 7 million children and adolescents are of school age. Of these numbers, the U.S. State Department estimates that 6 percent of children and 17 percent of young people either never attend or drop out of school. The high school drop-out rate in rural areas is more than 50 percent. An estimated 750,000 students attend nearly 50 state and private universities.

There are 455 hospitals and 1,083 clinics in Peru, serving a population of 27 million people. There are 23,700 doctors, 7,950 dentists, and 15,000 nurses.

The government tried to offset many of its social problems with programs, but these programs were aimed more at ensuring voter support than solving the root causes of the problems. In 2000, 60 percent of rural Peruvians and 40 percent of urban residents were receiving some sort of government aid through community soup kitchens, food give-aways, or school-based breakfast, lunch, or health-care programs. The incoming government has pledged to maintain most of the programs, but says it will de-politicize them.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund estimate that the Peruvian economy needs to grow by 6 percent annually over a sustained period of time if the country is going to adequately reduce poverty levels. Compared to neighboring Bolivia and Ecuador, Peru is not doing poorly, but it lags well behind Chile and Colombia in terms of per capita income and access to goods and services.

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Peru 26 7 17 13 5 7 25
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Brazil 22 13 18 15 34 4 -6
Ecuador 26 9 15 13 10 3 24
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.


Because the Peruvian population is so youngwith 53.8 percent of the population under the age of 25the working-age population is growing by 300,000 people a year. The U.S. State Department's 2001 Human Rights Report estimates the workforce to number 8.5 million, of whom 5 percent are unionized. Official unemployment, according to the International Labor Organization, was 10 percent in 2000, but even the government admits that the statistics are misleading. An estimated 60 percent of the population is underemployed. The workforce remains largely unskilled, with many skilled laborers leaving the country to search for work abroad. An estimated 1 million Peruvians now live abroad, the majority of them in the United States or Spain.

The government raised the monthly minimum wage to the equivalent of US$117 in March 2000. The U.S. State Department estimates that more than half the work-force earns less than the minimum wage.

The government began dismantling labor laws in the early 1990s as part of the efforts to streamline the economy, open the country to foreign investment, and privatize state-run industries. As a result, labor union activity has declined substantially with the Construction Workers Union and Teachers Union the only 2 organizations retaining a nationwide profile. Strikes called in 1999 and 2000 had little national importance. Under current laws, strikes not approved by the government are illegal.

The 1992 labor law made striking and collective bargaining difficult. While collective bargaining is legal, the law says it can only be carried out if it is "in harmony with broader social objectives." Local and international labor groups also complain about provisions that allow companies to hire 30 percent of the workforce on an "internship" basis, meaning 3-month contracts without social benefits. In addition to government changes to the laws, the Maoist Shining Path guerrillas also made it a policy to infiltrate unions or create their own unions as a way of weakening companies and whole economic sectors. While the Shining Path's leadership was jailed in 1992 and the group has all but disappeared, the stigma it created for unions remains.


1438-1530. Height of the Inca Empire, expansion north to Panama and south to Argentina.

1532. Francisco Pizarro lands in Peru and conquers the Incas.

1821. Independence from Spain is proclaimed.

1824. Independence is granted.

1879-83. War of the Pacific with Chile. Peru loses a large chunk of its southern territory, and its economy is destroyed.

1924. APRA party is founded.

1941. War with Ecuador.

1968. Left-wing military coup led by Gen. Juan Velasco. Agrarian reform begins; industries nationalized.

1975. Right-wing military coup; dismantling of statist model begins.

1980. Return to democracy. Fernando Belaúnde is elected president.

1980. Shining Path launches first attack.

1985. Alán García is elected president. Foreign debt cap is announced.

1988. The government attempts to nationalize the banks; economy collapses.

1990. Alberto Fujimori elected. Structural adjustment program announced. Inflation reaches 7,600 percent.

1992. Shining Path leadership arrested.

1993. Telephone company privatized for US$2 billion.

1995. Fujimori is re-elected.

2000. Fujimori re-elected in fraudulent May elections. He resigns in November.

2000. Valentin Paniagua takes over as interim president in November. Alejandro Toledo is elected Peru's new president.


Peru is a nation rich in natural resources and human potential, but it has been plagued by political turmoil throughout its history. The country has had 109 presidents in less than 180 years as an independent nation. In 2000-01 alone it had 3 presidents. The past administration of Alberto Fujimori is accused of stealing as much as US$1 billionroughly 10 percent of the government's annual budgetthrough bribes, kickbacks, and graft. Peru must rid its public administration of corruption if it hopes to attract foreign and local investors.

The current generation of politicians and economists are correct in pointing out that Peru needs to diversify its economy and its exports, relying less on raw materials and more on value-added goods. A decision to concentrate on the agricultural sector is sensible because it takes advantage of the country's natural wealth, exploits niches in the world market, and most importantly for Peruvians, creates jobs.

The government has hard choices to make in the coming years. The budget deficit cannot be greater than 1.5 percent of GDP as part of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund. Peru missed the target in 1999 and 2000, and another miss will not be taken lightly. The country needs to adopt a new round of reforms, including additional privatizations and reduced government spending, which will make already tough social conditions even more difficult. The government needs to find a balance where it can satisfy creditors and keep international channels open while making sure the basic needs of the population are met.


Peru has no territories or colonies.


Brack Egg, Antonio, and Cecilia Mendiola. Ecologia del Peru (Ecology of Peru). Lima: United Nations Development Program, 2000.

Hudson, Rex, editor. Peru: A Country Study. Washington: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1993.

Tamariz, Domingo. Historia del Poder: Elecciones y Golpes de Estado en el Peru (History of Power: Elections and Coups in Peru). Lima: Jamie Campodonico Ediciones, 1995.

Turner, Barry, editor. The Statesman's Yearbook. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000: Peru. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Webb, Richard, and Graciela Fernandez Baca. Peru en Numeros 1999 (Peru in Numbers in 1999). Lima: Cuanto Institute, 1999.

Lucien O. Chauvin




The Nuevo Sol (S/.). One nuevo sol equals 100 céntimos. Coins are in denominations of S/.1, 2, 5, and 5, 10, 20, as well as 50 céntimos. Paper currency comes in denominations of S/.10, 20, 50, 100, and 200.


Minerals (gold, zinc, silver, lead, and copper), petroleum and byproducts, fish (fish-meal), agriculture (coffee, asparagus), manufactured goods (textiles).


Machinery and transportation and telecommunication equipment, oil and other petroleum products, agriculture inputs (fertilizers, animal feed), medicines.


US$116 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$5.9 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.). Imports: US$8.4 billion (c.i.f., 1999 est.).

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The viceroyalty of Peru covered virtually all of Spanish-speaking South America, an area that today encompasses all or part of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay. Its topography and climates vary, from the deserts of coastal Peru and Chile to the rainforests of the upper Amazon basin, the Mediterranean climate of Chile's central valley, and the glaciated Andean peaks and nearby alpine meadows. The unifying element is the Andes Mountains, which stretch down the western coast of Central and South America from Panama to Tierra del Fuego.


The Andean mountain range extends south 4,971 miles (8,000 km) from northern Colombia to Tierra del Fuego. In Chile the range is narrow; in Bolivia it is broadest. South of the Gulf of Guayaquil the mountains seem to rise abruptly out of the Pacific, and there is a deep-sea trench along the coast. The highest summits approach 22,966 feet (7,000 m). The vertical distance from the deepest part of the trench to the Andean peaks reaches 45,931 feet (14,000 m). Numerous volcanoesactive, dormant, and extinctoccur throughout the chain, and there are frequent earthquakes. Although ferrous metals and coal are absent, there is abundant mineral wealth, and for centuries deposits of gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc have been exploited.

The cold-water counterclockwise Humboldt Current sweeps northward along South America's coast; in northern Peru it curves westward. This current, with its prevailing southwesterly winds, provides a temperate climateeven near the equatorand is responsible for the desert conditions of coastal Peru as well. During El Niño periods, the current shifts, and a warm coastal countercurrent from Ecuador filters southward. Rapid increases in humidity, heavy rainfall, and flooding along the normally desert coast occur, causing catastrophic damage. The Humboldt Current also nurtures rich marine life, providing a staple food in communities along the western coast of South America.


When the Spanish arrived in the sixteenth century, the population was spread over the region, on the coast, highlands, and upper Amazon basin. Andean peoples were settled agriculturalists, supplementing their diets by fishing and hunting. In desert coastal valleys some had developed highly sophisticated irrigation and terrace agriculture. There is debate over the number of Amerindians when the Spanish came; 14 million in the polity established by the Inca is generally accepted as a reasonable estimate. That population was composed of several dozen ethnic entities. Quechua and Aymara were the principal language groups, and there were many dialects and other discrete languages. Under Inca Pachacuti in the mid-1400s, the Quechua-speaking Inca united many Andean ethnic groups in a period of rapid expansion from their base in and around the Cuzco Valley. This relatively recent empire was in turn quickly conquered by a small group of Europeans under Francisco Pizarro.


In contrast to Mexico, where Spanish conquest and stable political organization came quickly, Peru's first years were characterized by native resistance, rebellion, and internal strife among the conquerors. A division of authority among partners Francisco Pizarro, Diego de Almagro, and Panamanian cleric Hernando de Luque (acting for a silent investor) led to dissension. Pizarro conducted most of the exploration along South America's west coast, Almagro supplied men by sea, and Luque handled affairs in Panama.

Hardships were extreme and many explorers died. The halting second expedition (1526 to mid-1528) reached the mid-coast of Peru, where they first encountered conclusive evidence of wealthy populations. The partners agreed to return Pizarro to Spain to report and secure royal authorization for conquest and settlement. The contract with the crown (26 July 1529) provided Pizarro with the lion's share as governor and captain general, leaving Luque bishop of Tumbes, and Almagro the administration of its fortress.

The suspicions of the partners in Panama were realizedPizarro was untrustworthyand future interactions among the men were based on distrust and greed. Almagro's complaints to the crown ultimately led to his appointment as governor of the land south of Pizarro's jurisdiction, but the boundaries and wealth of the territory were unclear.

The third and final voyage of discovery began in December 1530. Much time was wasted in coastal Ecuador, with the result that it was not until September 1532 that San Miguel de Piura was founded as a Spanish town on Peru's north coast. At San Miguel, Pizarro left the ill and old and marched toward the Inca heartland. There were only 168 Spaniards, but they took Indian allies with them. The Inca Atahualpa was resting with a large army near Cajamarca, following victories over his half-brother Huascar. Both had contested the succession after their father Huayna Capac succumbed to smallpox in the mid-1520s. Atahualpa was surprised, taken captive by the Spanish, and forced to rule as a puppet until his execution (26 July 1533). The Spanish were offered a ransomAtahualpa promised to fill two large rooms, one with gold, the other with silverbut, in spite of his compliance, he was killed on the basis of dubious charges.

The Spanish then marched southward through the Andes toward the Inca capital, and finally entered Cuzco (14 November 1533). Native resistance was modest; not all Andean ethnic groups rallied to the Inca cause. Pizarro, as the expedition's governor and captain-general, held extensive political authority. His contract with the crown empowered him to distribute treasure, provide the conquistadors with tributary grants (encomiendas, a system that gave the Spanish control over native populations and required those populations to pay tribute to them), establish cities, and distribute unclaimed lands. His power was checked only by Spanish custom and the presence of a royal legal agent and treasury official.

Spanish cities were quickly founded: Cuzco (23 March 1534), Lima (6 January 1535), with Trujillo, Puerto Viejo, and Guayaquil before year's end; Chachapoyas and La Plata in 1538, Huamanga in 1539, and Arequipa in 1540. Personal rivalries and the internecine fight for spoils, however, prevented the early creation of a stable administration. To summarize a complex series of events: Almagro set out from Cuzco to explore his supposedly rich domain to the south in July 1535. Shortly thereafter a generalized rebellion against Spanish rule in the Andes, extending from north of Lima to Lake Titicaca, erupted under the leadership of Manco Inca. Cuzco was besieged by thousands of natives and communications were cut between the Spanish camps. Almagro returned from his disastrous reconnaissance of Chile in 1537 and helped lift the siege. He now claimed that Cuzco lay within his jurisdiction and captured Hernando Pizarro. But at the Battle of Las Salinas (26 April 1538), Almagro was captured, tried, and subsequently executed by Pizarro. Three years later (26 July 1541), a group of Almagrists under Almagro's mestizo son, Diego de Almagro the Younger, surprised and assassinated Francisco Pizarro in Lima and took control of the realm. The crown already had sent a new administrator, Cristóbal Vaca de Castro, who carried orders to investigate the problems besetting Peru and bring to justice those implicated in Pizarro's death. In the ensuing Battle of Chupas (16 September 1542), Governor Vaca de Castro defeated Almagro the Younger, who was later captured and executed.

At this juncture one might expect that royal authority had been fully established. Indeed, by the New Laws of 1542, the viceroyalty of Peru was created, and its audiencia (royal court) authorized. Both the justices (oidores) and the first viceroy, Blasco Núñez Vela, were authorized to sail to Peru and to found a government in the coastal capital of Lima, but the New Laws also included important provisions for the protection of Amerindians living under the encomienda regime. Most devastating for settlers hoping to establish American dynasties, the grant was to be only temporary. In Mexico, Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza suspended enforcement of the legislation pending review of its impact, thereby avoiding rebellion.

In Peru, Núñez Vela made clear his intent to enforce the new order no matter the consequences. Not surprisingly, the encomenderos (the Spaniards who collected tribute from the Indians) resisted. Their captain was a reluctant Gonzalo Pizarro, another Pizarro sibling. The new viceroy's arrogance and his involvement in the killing of a royal official convinced wavering colonists to join the movement. The viceroy was imprisoned and shipped to Spain, but escaped in Ecuador and collected a royalist force. The rebels under Pizarro defeated the viceroy at the Battle of Añaquito near Quito (18 January 1546), and the viceroy was killed.

Aware of the deteriorating situation in the Andes, the Council of the Indies named cleric Pedro de la Gasca president of the audiencia, gave him broad powers, and sent him to inspect the land and reestablish royal authority. Armed with blank papers signed by the king, he reached Panama in August 1546 and slowly began to collect adherents by issuing pardons and rewards. In spite of their rebellious nature, the Peruvian elite largely supported the monarchy; there was, after all, no alternative example of an independent Andean realm under European leadership.

There were two important battles. In the first, the Battle of Huarina (21 October 1547), royalists were soundly defeated by Caravajal's effective use of artillery. Pizarro, however, was unable or unwilling to complete his victory, and he moved southward toward Lake Titicaca instead. In the Battle of Xaquixahuana (9 April 1548), near Cuzco, Pizarro's supporters deserted and crossed the field to the side of La Gasca. Pizarro was taken and executed, along with Caravajal and other ringleaders, a few days later. This victory largely brought the Spanish settlers under royal authority, although there would be brief, weak uprisings in the mid-1550s.


By the early 1560s the administrative superstructure was largely complete and the viceroyalty system seemed firmly established. Lima was the capital. The viceroy, sometimes a relative of the royal family, who by birth and education could command respect, was appointed in Spain by the Council of the Indies. The viceroy's arrival in Peru with his large retinue of extended family and other officials was celebrated with festivities and civic displays. There were twenty-three Peruvian viceroys under the Habsburg dynasty; their average tenure was eight years. Frequently, they first served as viceroy of New Spain, a less prestigious post. The viceroy was the chief military and administrative officer: he sat as president of the audiencia when it was in session, appointed lesser officials and supervised administration, and was responsible for defense in times of emergency. His power was checked only by treasury officials with a direct link to the Council of the Indies, and individuals who were willing to communicate directly to the crown to voice their concerns. This occurred surprisingly frequently, for subjects could always directly petition the king. There could be open or secret investigations (visitas) of his administration, and, at the end of his term, he was subject to review (residencia).

The audiencia in the viceregal capital took precedence over lesser courts. Audiencias were established in Panama (1538), Lima (1542), Santa Fe de Bogotá (1549), Charcas (1559), Quito (1563), Chile (1565, 1609), Buenos Aires (1661, reverted to Charcas in 1671), and finally Cuzco (1787). The president presided with four to a dozen oidores ('chief justices'), depending on the period and importance of the jurisdiction. The president was usually the oldest oidor, and, when a viceroy died or was absent for some reason, the president of the audiencia served as chief official. In its normal activity as a court, the audiencia met several times weekly. Appeals of the court's decisions went directly to Spain's Council of the Indies. There were several associated officials of the court including a secretary, a recorder, a solicitor (procurador), a chaplain, and the crown's attorney (fiscal). Almost all the higher officials came from Spain.

The closest experience to local rule in the viceroyalty was the town councils (cabildos). The cabildo had jurisdiction over all the territory from the boundary of one Spanish city to another. Officials came from the local elite, those with land and Indian encomiendas; they were named by the leader when the town was founded. Pizarro, for example, founded towns such as Lima and Trujillo, and made the original land grants, both urban plots and rural agricultural lands, and named local officials. Afterward, the city, as a corporation, assumed the right to sell or rent lands, levy taxes, regulate trade and prices, oversee the markets and construct bridges, public buildings, and a water supply. The council met regularly. In the first meeting in January the body elected officials such as the two alcaldes ordinarios ('town magistrates'), the regidores ('town councilmen' or 'aldermen'), the alguacil mayor ('sheriff'), a jailor, and inspectors of weights and measures and other officials. The number of regidores, usually four to eight, depended on the importance of the place. Under the Habsburgs the crown sold many offices to relieve financial strain. The cabildo could act as a minor court in lesser crimes. According to Viceroy Francisco de Toledo's Ordinances, Indian towns had a similar administrative structure.

At first, control of the native population of the countryside was left to encomenderos, but because of their abuses of power this quickly changed. In the mid-1560s Governor Cristóbal Garcia de Castro introduced the corregimiento system that divided the viceroyalty into several dozen units under an Indian agent called a corregidor. By then the encomenderos were forced to reside in the nearest Spanish city rather than in their encomienda. The corregimientos, often composed of several encomiendas, paralleled Andean ethnic units or Inca provinces. The corregidores collected tribute in goods and cash, administered justice as judges in minor cases, supervised local church activities, and provided security. They also disbursed funds to pay the salaries of local leaders and teachers of religion, and doled out to the encomenderos their share of the tribute. Their term of office averaged three to five years, and, in order to avoid corruption, they were to come from the outside and not have relatives in the same district. There were frequent abuses, however, because their salaries were insufficient and there were numerous ways in which an enterprising corregidor could supplement his income.


The colonial Andean economy was based on three pillars: a largely Amerindian labor force; mining, principally silver and, concurrently, mercury, which boosted silver output; and agriculture. Several economic cycles operated. In the first months and years the economy was blatantly exploitative; the goal of most Spaniards was to extract the maximum amount of wealth as quickly as possible and return to Spain. The sacking of local leaders and despoliation of burial sites went on as long as the treasures, amassed over generations, could be easily expropriated. Incredible riches were despoiled: 168 men, for example, shared the booty of Atahualpa's ransom. The astute and fortunate quickly returned to Spain. Unfortunately, the men who arrived earliest had control of the lion's share of the treasures. One quickly sought-out source of wealth and power was the encomienda, which provided a cash tribute payment plus access to labor in return for bringing Christianity and "good government" to the Indians. A large encomienda permitted a life of leisure for the Spanish recipient, so grants were worth fighting for. The first systematic distribution of encomiendas by Pizarro occurred in 1538, although he had made grants earlier when the first Spanish cities were founded.

Another avenue to wealth came through land. In early colonial Peru a land grant without laborers was almost worthless. Here the Spanish attitude of hidalguía ('nobility') prevailed: a gentleman did not labor with his hands. As long as there was an ample native population, or, later, African slaves, there was no problem, but the number of Amerindians began to decline steadily. Around 1560, however, land became a viable source of wealth and power; by then all the available Indians had been granted in encomienda. Outright enslavement of Indians was prohibited by the crown, and, except for a trickle of captives taken during rebellion or in frontier regions, Indian slavery did not provide labor for the colony.

The state played little economic role in the conquest; the enterprise was largely left to individuals or family investors, who pooled resources to join in the expeditions. Spain merely authorized the actions, naming someone to be the principal leader, and then made certain that royal treasury officials were present to take the king's share. At first the most important revenue for the crown was the quinto, or fifth, that the government received for any mineral wealth, precious stones, and other key products. With the mines, the crown received a stable and reliable source of quinto revenues for many decades. The crown also administered part of Indian tribute. The sales tax, or alcabala, was collected on petty commerce in the Spanish cities, but not in the barter economy of the rural countryside. There were many other minor sources of revenue: government monopolies on playing cards, ice, and stamped paper; taxes on the sale of slaves; and special taxes to assist in paying costs for transportation and defense. In the seventeenth century, the crown increasingly resorted to the sale of public offices.

Much gold was taken during the first years of the colony, with much of it being plundered. Gold was also extracted in many places in the viceroyalty; for substantial production, placer mining in riverbeds that carried alluvial gold dust and nuggets was preferred. Unfortunately, the costs of placer mining, which required a large labor force, often consisting of expensive imported slaves, were too high to warrant exploitation, save for a few very rich gold sources such as Carabaya in the upper Amazon basin or Colombia's Atrato River.

Silver ore, on the other hand, was ubiquitous, and silver mining was the key to the economy of colonial Peru, and, indeed, fueled Spanish imperial activities. There were dozens of quickly exploited mines. The most famous was Potosí; the mountain, which had been known by native miners, was "discovered" by Spaniards in April 1545. Within months there were more than a dozen significant mine operators, each vying to secure the richest veins and competing for laborers. A principal problem was extracting the silver from the crushed ore, which required substantial heat. There was no coal, or even wood for charcoal, at Potosí's elevation of 13,123 feet (4,000 m). Native technology relied on small puna-grass-fired blast furnaces located on the top of slopes where wind was strong and predictable. Such a method of combustion functioned only while the supply lasted. Fortunately, it was discovered that mercury has an affinity for silver, and under the right conditions combines with it, extracting silver from crushed ore. The amalgam can be heated at relatively low temperatures, the mercury comes off as a gas, and the molten silver remains to be poured into a mold to form an ingot. One of the world's richest sources of mercury was discovered at Huancavelica in Peru's central Andes in 1565.

With the technical problem of production solved, the labor supply once again became the primary issue. Viceroy Toledo solved that dilemma with the mita system. By his order, one-seventh of the tributary population of sixteen Indian provinces near Potosí was required to work in the mines one month each seven years as mitayos. It was paid labor, and there was a daily stipend and travel allowance, although the amount was less than the market price. Toledo partly borrowed the idea from the Incas, who used mitayos on great public works projects. Under Toledo, mitayos were also used in Spanish cities for the mita de plaza to help build churches, city offices, bridges, and water systems, and they were also used in other essential activities. Such labor demands could disrupt native subsistence activities, with damaging consequences. Furthermore, work in the mercury mines was unhealthy, and there were constant fatalities associated with all mining efforts: cave-ins, flooding, and dangerous gases.

Although colonial mining was the economic engine supporting Spain and her imperial demands in Europe, agriculture also played a role in the viceroyalty of Peru. Herding and the associated production of wool were a constant in the Andean highlands. The animals could be native llamas and alpacas, or imported sheep, and woolen cloth was required as part of the Indian tribute payment in wide sectors of the Andes. Production tended to be in the hands of families, with women doing most weaving, similar to "cottage production" in premodern Europe. Here, however, it was not for profit, but tribute payment. The amount varied, but was usually not more than one piece per adult male tributory each year. Quality also varied, with substantial cloth production consumed internally rather than being sold for export. In some regions small textile mills (obrajes) were established by European entrepreneurs, with production for export in mind. Indians worked in thesethose in the audiencia of Quito district were famous for their blue woolensand female and child labor caused cries of alarm by those witnessing abuses.

Wheat was introduced and proved adaptable to highland production. At first wheat production tended to be cultivated near Spanish cities, for the European populations, but by the eighteenth century much wheat produced in the viceroyalty was grown in the central valley of Chile. The native population continued to prefer native staples: corn, potatoes, quinua, or, in warm humid areas, corn and manioc. Of course there were a host of native plants that had been domesticated that continued to be preferred by the autochthonous population. Europeans introduced grape and olive cultivation, but these products competed directly with Andalusian wine and olive oil shipped by Sevillian merchants, and regulations against American production, coupled with technical difficulties, meant that they never achieved true export status in the colonial period.

For alcoholic beverages the native populations used chicha, a light corn beer, or aguardiente, produced from sugarcane. Sugarcane was introduced into some of the irrigated valleys of north and central coastal Peru, and by the early seventeenth century was produced in quantities ample for local supply. In Paraguay, however, sugarcane was planted for export. Jesuits often participated in the direction of the plantations in both locales.


Colonial society was hierarchical, with clear distinctions, making it possible to identify one's position in society. At the same time there was a near caste order, with the blocks of Amerindians, Europeans, and sub-Saharan Africans providing the human material for an evolving colonial society. Although the social groups were initially separate, the evolution was toward a mestizo world.

When the Europeans entered the Andean world, indigenous ethnic peoples varied; there were dozens of separate linguistic groups, with a wide range of possible cultural characteristics. The Inca empire covered much, but not all, of the territory that would be called the viceroyalty of Peru. The Inca had accepted and maintained local folkways, even as they were attempting administrative uniformity, religious acceptance of a general Inca cult, and the use of the Quechua language. The Spanish continued Inca policies, including quechuaization, with Christianity replacing the imperial cult. The common division of native society was between commoner and leader, called a kuraka ('chieftain'). Leadership was usually not hereditary, but based on merit, although the tendency was for leadership to be held within certain families. There was always a group of elders that commanded respect and was involved in any important community decisions. In Andean societies there was rough gender equality, with parallel inheritance. The fundamental social unit was the ayllu, an extended family unit that understood itself as having a common ancestor, generally not identified as a person, but as a physical place, such as a volcano, spring, or lake. The ayllu shared resources and production, and collaborated on various activities necessary for group survival. It was not a money economy; products were exchanged as needed among ayllu members on the basis of customary value equivalencies. In the central Andes there was also a moiety-like structure, with divisions into halves called saya. There is considerable debate about the nature of both ayllu and saya among ethnohistorians. There was competition between the saya, some of it ritualized, which may have contributed to community stability.

The Spanish adopted these rather complex structures as they set up the viceroyalty of Peru. They ruled in conjunction with the local kurakas, giving them a special status, permitting them to wear silk, bear arms, and ride horses, normally prohibited for the Indian commoners. The kuraka helped collect tribute for the Spanish officials, they chose the mitayos, and they helped maintain community solidarity. Although all Amerindians could participate in agricultural activities, there was specialization of labor.

Hierarchy also existed within the African community, and the legal condition of slave or free marked the first boundary. Africans came on the earliest expeditions, and their number increased rapidly after the Spanish began to found cities. The number of free blacks engaged in the trades was initially small, and they clustered in skills such as blacksmithing and tanning. Successful wealthy conquerors often purchased household slaves, who provided a status symbol representing conspicuous consumption, since slaves were costly in the early colony. With the collapse of the Amerindian population along the viceroyalty's coast, increasing numbers of slaves were imported to labor on coastal sugar and cotton estates. The Jesuits came to use large numbers on various plantations. Slaves were also used in placer gold extraction in the Esmeraldas district of coastal Ecuador and in rivers of the upper Amazon basin.

Labor conditions were so harsh in some of these that numerous slaves escaped and set up runaway communities of their own. Those of coastal Colombia and Ecuador are particularly well-documented. The Catholic Church viewed the soul of the African to be just as valuable as the soul of anyone else. As a result, the question of the immorality of holding another person in bondage worried the Spaniard, and manumission was viewed positively. There were frequent manumissions of slaves by their masters at important life events, such as a marriage, birth of a child, or the approach of death. The demographic consequence within the viceroyalty was a continuously growing population of free blacks, who tended to cluster in the Spanish cities, especially along the coast. Within that free black community there was also a hierarchy, with some slaves also owning slaves.

There were two principal elements in the European group, the peninsulares, those who were born in Europe, and the creoles, those born in the New World. The peninsulares usually held the political appointments, whereas the creoles tended to be wealthier. It is no surprise that there was friction between them. The European social ladder was based on wealth; nonetheless all Europeans, no matter how poor they might be, saw themselves as superior to the other groups. Hence, Spaniards of lesser status, including miners, artisans, and craftsmen, as well as drifters in search of fortune, attempted to throw off their low-status baggage and emulated the lifestyle of the elite. Although it was difficult to convince other Spaniards of their new status, the Indians, blacks, and mestizos had little choice but to suffer their overbearing ways. Given that only the first conquerors had any real chance of success in securing an encomienda, the newcomer might make it through trade, perhaps first as a merchant's factor, or in mining, given technical knowledge. Any excess capital would be invested in land, which provided the foundation for social recognition.

Preferred marriage was within the group. Although families played a large role in the selection of a spouse, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there was a remarkable degree of individual choice. The Spanish woman was expected to uphold all the Christian virtues and to be an emblem of the family; beyond this there was a remarkable range of possibilities. The married Spanish woman could expect to have a household servant or even a slave, which was less likely for her female relative in the peninsula. In the absence of a male in the household, either by death or prolonged absence, the woman assumed the full range of economic activities, administering the household, supervising business, even buying and selling properties. The Spanish pattern of inheritance was for equal distribution of the estate, which provided the daughters with virtually the same capital as their brothers. Only the very rich with an entailed estate (mayorazgo) provided the eldest son with the major property and title.

The process of mixing the three primary ethnic populations began immediately and continued throughout the colonial period. From the European standpoint the mixture was most pronounced in the first decades when there were few Spanish women. Francisco Pizarro, Diego de Almagro, and other leaders set the example. The mixed offspring foreshadowed the future population, but their access to high social standing was frustrated. In the first place many, if not most, were illegitimate. Many conquistadores took Indian women or black slaves as concubines and produced numerous progeny, only later to discard the mother and her brood and marry a Spanish woman. In some cases elite native women, for example the Inca princesses (ñusta), or daughters of kurakas, who brought land, livestock, and other sources of wealth into the relationship, might secure legal matrimony. There are several well-known cases of such matches, perhaps the best-known being the marriage of ñusta doña Beatriz Coya, one of the granddaughters of Inca Huayna Capac, to Captain Martín García de Loyola, a relative of the founder of the Jesuit Order. The possibility for social advancement of the mestizos was limited, for they were between worlds. Raised by their mothers and too often rejected by their fathers, they were portrayed in the popular literature as shifty, untrustworthy, and volatile. The church might have provided an avenue of social mobility for them, but after several notorious cases of misbehavior by mestizo clergy, the church rejected the idea. The church also rejected an Indian clergy. Not all mestizos were unsuccessful, however, and many gained status and recognition as majordomos, muleteers, petty merchants, and miners.


The process of effective Christianization of Andean South America was slow and required generations. Hernando de Luque, one of the three original participants in the conquest of Peru, was named "Protector of the Indians" and bishop of Tumbez in 1528, although he never reached his post. The first clergyman in Peru was friar Vicente de Valverde, who confronted the Inca Atahualpa with religious text in hand at the square of Cajamarca in 1532. The encounter boded ill for Christianization. Efforts to bring Christianity to the Indian populations were at first left to the leading figures. Pizarro invited clerics and friars, and with grants of encomiendas the Spanish recipients were initially required to find someone to catechize their Indian charges. By the 1540s representatives of the principal church orders were present: Dominicans, Franciscans, Mercedarians, and the Augustinians. The Jesuits arrived in 1569 and soon played a major role in educating the children of the region's elite. Much of the conversion of Indian parishes (called doctrinas ) was left to the friars; the secular clergy preferred to work in the churches of the Spanish cities where opportunities for advancement were greatest. Soon convents were established in the major centers for daughters of the conquistadores and the native elite; Cuzco alone had the convents of Santa Clara (1558), Santa Catalina (1605), and finally Santa Teresa (1673).

The church's administrative hierarchy evolved rapidly. In 1538 Dominican friar Vicente de Valverde became first bishop of Cuzco, a diocese that extended from modern Colombia to Chile. Lima became the seat of a bishopric in 1541, under the leadership of another Dominican friar, Jerónimo de Loaysa, and by 1549 it had become an archbishopric holding spiritual jurisdiction over all Spanish South America. By the early seventeenth century, bishoprics were seated in Charcas, Paraguay, Buenos Aires, Tucumán, Santiago de Chile, and Concepción. For effective conversion it was necessary for the clerics to learn Amerindian languages, and dictionaries and grammars prepared by missionaries quickly began to circulate in manuscript form. The first book published in South America was the Doctrina Cristiana, a trilingual text in Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara, published in Lima in 1584.

There were several general church councils to oversee the Andean mission. One of the most important was the Third Lima Church Council of 1583, which resulted in the standard catechism, in conformity with the precepts of the Council of Trent. Purity of the faith of the Amerindians was handled by religious inspections ordered by the bishops, a principal task being to extirpate idolatries. The natives were exempt from the Inquisition, however, introduced into Peru by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1570. During its active years, between 1573 and 1773, thirty people were condemned and executed for a variety of offenses, from witchcraft to Protestantism of various sorts to "converted" Jews who practiced Judaism in secret. Hundreds of others received lesser sentences, and the institution successfully checked the spread of nonconformity in the colony, as it reinforced respect for authority. Although the conversion of Andean peoples was largely successful, native traditions were deeply embedded and quickly blended into the daily practices of the colonial church.

See also Buenos Aires ; Colonialism ; Lima ; Missions and Missionaries: Spanish America ; Pizarro Brothers ; Potosí .


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Noble David Cook

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Peru
Region (Map name): South America
Population: 27,483,864
Language(s): Spanish (official),Quechua (official),Aymara
Literacy rate: 88.7%
Area: 1,285,220 sq km
GDP: 53,466 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 57
Total Circulation: 5,700,000
Circulation per 1,000: 342
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 367 (Nuevo Soles millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 11.00
Number of Television Stations: 13
Number of Television Sets: 3,060,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 111.3
Number of Cable Subscribers: 349,520
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 13.6
Number of Radio Stations: 859
Number of Radio Receivers: 6,650,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 242.0
Number of Individuals with Computers: 1,050,000
Computers per 1,000: 38.2
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 2,500,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 91.0

Background & General Characteristics

Like neighboring countries Bolivia and Ecuador, Peru has a large population of indigenous citizens. In fact, in the early 2000s, 45 percent of the population of 27 million was considered indigenous, and many of these spoke Quechua or Aymara. Both Spanish and Quechua were the official languages, although newspapers were published primarily in Spanish. Thirty-seven percent of the population was classified as mestizo (a mixture of European and indigenous blood), 15 percent was white, while the remaining percentage was comprised of other backgrounds, including a strong Japanese influence. This influence was most notably seen during the presidency of Alberto Fuji-mori during the 1990s. The adult literacy rate was approximately 89 percent with a life expectancy of 68 years (male) and 73 years (female). Education was compulsory from six to eleven years of age.

Peru is considered a democratic republic with a multi-party political system. Lima, the capital, lies on the Pacific coast and is the bureaucratic heart of Peru, although it would be appropriate to say that the country's heart lies in the traditionally indigenous territories of the Andes. Centuries, as well as mountains, divide populations throughout this country. Very few city dwellers know either Quechua or Aymara, the indigenous languages spoken daily by millions of Peruvians.

This lack of knowledge about the languages and cultures of the indigenous populations has led to many historically unsuccessful development programs administered by Lima to alleviate poverty in the countryside. The Positivists, for example, sought in vain in the 1920s to Europeanize indigenous groups. On the other hand, other reformers sought to identify with the indigenous peoples. For example, the popular political ideology, Aprismo, embraced the idea of an alliance of Indoamerican territories to recover the Americas for their original inhabitants.

Government in the 1960s and 1970s carried out some of the recommendations, such as agrarian reform, which affected the political and social milieu of current times. During the 1960s peasants invaded large haciendas (farms) demanding that the owners return their property to the indigenous inhabitants. Against this background of rural violence, the Peruvian military seized power in 1968. The left-leaning military regime expropriated all the daily newspapers in the capital city of Lima and assigned each one to one of the country's social forces, such as labor unions and intellectuals.

Many newspapers protested the expropriation by the military. Only one paper, El Comercio, supported the new military regime. This paper was one of the oldest and most prestigious newspapers in Latin America, founded in Lima in 1839. The military closed down two of the most popular newspapers and one radio station for 16 days. Authorities arrested and deported journalists and foreign correspondents critical of their policies and repeatedly closed down the magazine Caretas. Newspaper owners demanded that the government explain the motives behind its censorship and harassment of the mass media.

In the late 1960s the military government issued a Statute of Press Freedom, which was generally supported by journalists and attacked by newspaper owners. The statute restricted ownership to native Peruvians; recognized journalism as a profession; regulated the right of reply; and identified and established penalties for the crimes of libel and slander. The press's right to criticize the government was granted as long as various ideas were upheld: respect for the law, truth and morality, the demands of national security and defense, and personal and family honor and privacy.

The military government stepped down in 1980 amid a variety of social problems and population pressure. Civilian rule, however, did not necessarily equal democracy for Peru. The left-wing guerrilla organizations, Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), used violence and terrorism against the government, military, and even villagers to reach their stated goals of social justice. Because of the threat, the government declared repeated states of emergency and lifted civil guarantees throughout the 1980s.

Alberto Fujimori was elected democratically during the years of the 1989 reform laws, reflecting a growing will to debureaucratize Peru. However, Fujimori staged an autogolpe (self-coup) in 1992 when Congress hesitated to enact economic and political reforms. He suspended the constitution, arrested a number of opposition leaders, shut down Congress, and openly challenged the power of the judiciary. In 1993, in true dictatorial fashion, he created a constitutional amendment that allowed him to run for a second consecutive term.

Even though Fujimori took a repressive stance on opposition and made what appeared to be a crackdown on the press, the Peruvian population re-elected him in 1995. This was probably due to his successful economic policies, which led to a 12 percent growth in the Peruvian economy, the highest in the world for 1994, and the campaign against terrorist organizations. His authoritarian side continued to grow during this time, however, and culminated with a fraudulent election in 2000. Despite a constitutional prohibition against running for three consecutive terms, Fujimori decided to run again in April 2000. Shortly thereafter, Fujimori was forced to resign amid allegations of a fraudulent election, press censorship, massive corruption, human rights abuses, and violence. He resigned as president in November 2000 in a fax sent from Japan, where he chose to remain.

The press represented a wide spectrum of opinion including those in favor of and in opposition to the government. Peru's weekly newsmagazines were the most aggressive of any in the Andean region. In the Lima area alone, there were 20 daily newspapers, 7 television stations, approximately 65 radio stations, and 2 news channels on 2 commercial cable systems. There were numerous provincial newspapers and radio stations. All were privately owned except for one government-owned daily newspaper, one government-owned television network, and two government-owned radio stations, none of which had a particularly large audience, according to the United States Department of State.

In the 1990s in Peru, independent journalists played a critical role in bringing down the Fujimori government, often characterized as corrupt and authoritarian. The daily newspaper El Comercio, the newspaper with the highest distribution, and La República, as well as the magazine Caretas could be included in this group of independent publications. Their professionalism and social critique were cited by the Interamerican Press Agency, which honored them with the freedom of expression award for their emblematic labor during difficult times.

Other newspapers included Correo Perú, El Tiempo, Gestión, La EncuestaLa IndustriaLiberoOjo, andTodo Sport. Lima Post was an English language newspaper. As far as the "governmental" press, it is important to highlight the official newspaper El Peruano and Expreso, whose ex-editor, Eduardo Calmell del Solar, was placed under house arrest for participating in cases of corruption. La Prensa, one of the most respected newspapers in Latin America, folded during the 1980s as pressure for modernization in the computer age began to take is toll on papers with marginal financial situations.

Economic Framework

Alejandro Toledo was voted in during a new election in June 2001. He was a Stanford-trained economist and has advised the World Bank. Toledo said he intended to eliminate corruption, reform the judiciary, refashion the Fujimori-inspired constitution of 1993, restore freedom of the press and speech, and hold elements in the military accountable for their transgressions. He encouraged the infusion of foreign investments, resumed a policy of privatization, and engaged in renegotiating outstanding agreements with the International Monetary Fund.

Press Laws

The Constitution provided for freedom of speech and of the press, and, unlike in earlier years, the government generally respected this right in practice; however, some problems remained. The government generally tolerated criticism and did not seek to restrict press freedoms. However, fear of legal proceedings and strong popular opinion discouraged public expressions of pro-Fujimori sentiments in the media, the opposite ideological stance from the 1990s when Fujimori was in power.

In December 2001 the Toledo administration proposed the Law of Modernization and Transparency of Telecommunications Services, which a congressional subcommittee took under consideration. The bill would create a radio and television commission, comprising government and civil society representatives, to oversee and review the TV licensing process.

In 2001 the Ley Orgánica de Elecciones (Election Law) was declared unconstitutional. This law had prohibited the publication of unofficial election results from 4 p.m. until a maximum of six hours from the close of the polls.

Libel was a criminal offense and cases were brought frequently by individuals, including political figures, against journalists. One journalist from the political program Entre Lineas concluded that former president Alan García obtained an intelligence officer's help to make the judiciary decide the prescription of García's crimes so that García could return to the country and run in the last presidential elections. García accused Valenzuela of libel, a process that continued into 2002.

Other libel and defamation suits were filed against journalists. Manuel Ulloa filed a $1 million lawsuit for libel and defamation against the opposition newspaper Liberación, which led to the seizure of the paper's printing press. Also, a former pro-Fujimori congressman, Miguel Ciccia, filed a libel and defamation suite against Editora Correo.

In February 2001 the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) awarded the Chapultepec Grand Prize to former Human Rights Ombudsman Jorge Santiestevan for his support of freedom of expression in Peru. The Declaration of Chapultepec (Mexico City, 1994) set forth 10 principles on freedom of the press and expression. The IAPA also met with President Paniagua, members of Congress, and Supreme Court justices in an open forum with journalism and law students to discuss issues of press freedom.

The IPI Executive Board unanimously agreed on January 26, 2001, to remove Peru from the "IPI Watch List," a document that places on notice countries that appear to be moving towards suppression or restriction of press freedom. The reason for this action included the return of the television station, Frecuencia Latina-Canal 2, to the Israeli-born businessman Baruch Ivcher, who had been stripped of citizenship and the TV station during Fujimori's regime and the release of journalists who had been wrongly detained after Fujimori left office.

The IPI Board also noted that the cases of five other journalists, who were serving sentences from 12 to 20 years imprisonment for "terrorism" or "betrayal of the state," were under review by the Ministry of Justice's new National Human Rights Council. Some of these journalists were still imprisoned as of 2002.

Despite more press freedom in 2001, journalists still faced threats, attacks, and legal harassment, particularly at the hands of public officials in the country's interior. Both government forces and terrorist organizations attacked the press. Members of the Frente Patriótico de Loreto (Loreto Patriotic Front, FPL) physically and verbally attacked journalists in the Iquitos area. FPL also threatened to destroy the Channel 6 television studios if the cable station continued to employ journalists whom they accused of being Fujimori supporters. The television station's owner was forced to fire the journalists. FPL's supporters also attacked the studio of La Karibena radio station in Iquitos. The studio suffered damages, and one of the radio station's employees received death threats. In the first incident, the FPL members threw rocks after they saw posters of a certain presidential candidate. They threatened to return and burn down the radio station if the posters were not taken down. The second time the assailants destroyed the building's windows, painted its walls black, and tried to enter the studios. Government sympathizers accused journalists of printing untrue information. The reporters were eventually acquitted by a judge who ruled that they were simply exercising their right to impart information of public interest.

Another incident occurred when Peru's Channel 2 news station was blown up in a terrorist attack. Fuji-mori's outrage over Ivcher began when Channel 2 aired in August 1996 a report linking drug traffickers to the Peruvian army. After the broadcast, the military withdrew the soldiers who had provided street security for Frecuencia Latina from the Shining Path guerrillas. In yet another instance, a story aired about "Plan Emilio," an illegal intelligence operation involving electronic surveillance of opposition politicians and journalists during Fujimori's reign. After the story, the Peruvian police raided the station. They were enforcing a court order to strip station-owner Baruch Ivcher, born in Israel, of his Peruvian citizenship and turn control of the station, Frecuencia Latina, over to a pair of minority investors. Quijandria, the host of a popular news show called Contrapunto (Counterpoint), resigned in protest. Peru's Joint Command issued a press release declaring that Ivcher had mounted "a campaign intended to damage the image and prestige of Peru's armed forces." However, under Peru's constitution, the military was barred from publicly expressing opinions on political matters.

On July 13, 1996, Contrapunto aired conversations taped by government security forces that were spying on journalists. The same day the immigration office issued its decree invalidating Ivcher's Peruvian citizenship. Under Peruvian law, noncitizens could not own media outlets. Peruvians demonstrated their support by marching in front of the station. The station, Channel 2, was surrounded by twenty-foot-high cement walls with guard towers and three-inch-thick steel security doors. The journalists resigned. Government officials claimed that the decision to transfer ownership of the station had nothing to do with press freedom. A congressman claimed that it was an issue of national security.

Another dark stage for the press during Fujimori's presidency was characterized by the Vladivideos (video-tapes recorded of bribes being paid to key media figures by Vladimiro Montesinos, Fujimori's intelligence adviser). These tapes confirmed that the Fujimori regime paid five of the six commercial television stations, much of the tabloid press, and at least one major newspaper to print pro-Fujimori articles and editorials. In a video released in February 2001 Montesinos bragged: "[The broadcast channels] are all lined up. Every day I have a meeting with them and we plan what is going to come out in the nightly news shows" (Committee to Protect Journalists, 2002). One of these videos illustrated that Montesinos and Fujimori colluded with television channel owners to ensure Fujimori's third presidential term in April 2000.

One of the owners of Channel 4 admitted to having received US $9 million from Montesinos in exchange for free rein to dictate Channel 4's programming content to favor Fujimori's candidacy. The station's owners became fugitives. Another video showed businessman Delgado Parker, former owner of Red Global de Televisión-Canal 13, negotiating with Montesinos the 1999 dismissal of a Fujimori critic in exchange for Montesinos's support in several legal disputes over the station's ownership.

In addition to bribes, the corrupt tactics included judicial persecution, manipulation of government advertising, threats, and tax incentives.

The defamation campaign that the Fujimori government orchestrated against the independent press and the opposition from 1998 to 2000 was further exposed in 2001. The prensa chica (a group of tabloids that published unsubstantiated allegations about independent journalists and opposition politicians) carried out the campaign. In March 2001, a judge prohibited several tabloid owners from leaving the country after a public prose-cutor's investigation revealed evidence that the government had directly bankrolled the tabloids. A national debate over corruption and media took place in 2001 with the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa proposing to empower the judiciary to revoke the licenses of TV stations that had supported Fujimori.

State-Press Relations

The departure of Fujimori led to a freer and more independent print and broadcast media in Peru, unlike the years during which independent journalists were subjected to a systematic campaign of persecution. After Fuji-mori, the media in Peru experienced a primavera democrática (democratic spring), which echoed throughout the society in general. The government no longer censored books, publications, films, or plays, and did not limit access to the Internet. The government did not restrict academic freedom during 2001. By the end of 2001 a congressional committee debated a new Telecommunications Law, which proposed the creation of a media regulatory commission.

In 2002, governed by Alejandro Toledo, Peru continued to suffer the consequences of almost 10 years of repression imposed by Fujimori. Public confidence in the media, particularly television, had been undermined by news about the depth of media corruption during the Fuji-mori regime. Rebuilding a democratic society was the new primary goal facing Peru. On July 5, 2001, the Peruvian Congress approved the creation of a Truth Commission, in charge of judging cases of human rights violations for crimes committed during the last 20 years of the twentieth century.

Newspapers, television, and radio were becoming increasingly important in the democratization project. The independent press was comprised of journalists known for their high quality and tenacious exercise of freedom of expression, even in the face of on-and-off repression that had included temporary suspensions and even jail time. Congressional committees under the Toledo administration filed criminal complaints against media figures, but even more disconcerting was the idea that fear encouraged self-censorship by journalists wary of drawing unwelcome government attention.

Broadcast Media

The Texto Unico Ordenado de la Ley de Telecomunicaciones (national telecommunications law), published on May 15, 1993, stated that the development and regulation of telecommunications should take place within the framework of a free market economy and that every person had the right to use and loan telecommunication services.

The Peruvian Code of Radio Ethics, approved on July 15, 1994, stated that "the diffusion of private radio is based on freedom, free market and competition, and in its own self control, within a democratic framework." Radio Programas del Perú was the most important private national radio station in the country. One media family in Peru, the Delgado Parkers, established regional networks for radio and television called Sociedad Latinoamericana de Radiodifusión (SOLAR) and Sistema Unido de Retransmición (SUR), respectively.

In the early 2000s, however, television was the most popular media source in Peru, as it reached 80 percent of the population. The leading company in the Peruvian communications sector was América Televisión, which owned channels 5 and 2.

Electronic News Media

In the early 2000s, the Internet was not censored in Peru and was gaining in popularity throughout the country. Like the rest of Latin America, the Internet was becoming increasingly popular with 10 service providers as of the year 2000. Few people connected to it from their homes, however, since the connection fee was still very expensive for a country in which almost half the population lived in poverty.

To counteract expensive connection fees, Internet kiosks were located throughout Lima. Using these Internet stations for one hour was equivalent to the cost of a postage stamp in the United States. Because of the low cost, many Peruvians preferred to utilize this medium to communicate with family and friends living abroad instead of connecting from home.

Education & Training

In 2002, it was not mandatory for journalists or broadcasters to have a license to practice or a university degree in communications. The only demand for a professional title was established under Law Number 23.221 for those professional journalists that wanted to be incorporated into a journalism school.

The Peruvian Congress passed Law Number 26937 on March 12, 1998, that established that Article 2, Part 4 of the Constitution guaranteed the right to freedom of expression and thought (and thus the freedom to state those ideas), subject to the existing constitutional norms.


In the early 2000s, Peru was in the throes of debureaucratization, anti-terrorism, and pro-democratization movements. It appeared that the Toledo administration had ushered in an era of hope for journalists, reporters, and newsreaders for practicing their professions in relative freedom. The relationship between the government and press appeared to have left behind the former disagreements and threats, but it was unclear if Toledo would continue with his democratic ideals.

Despite the marked improvement in press freedom conditions in 2001, some attacks and threats against journalists continued, particularly in rural areas. It would be difficult for Peru to overcome the corruption and authoritarianism of the military and Fujimori regimes, but various sources seemed to be optimistic about the role of the press being able to bring about positive social change in that country.


Chauvin, Lucien. "Peru probe touches media, shops." Advertising Age, 72 no. 9 (2001): 24-28.

Cole, Richard R., ed. Communication in Latin America: Journalism, Mass Media, and Society. Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1996.

Committee to Protect Journalists. Attacks on the Press 2001Peru, 2002. Available at

Gargúrevich, Juan, and Elizabeth Fox. "Revolution and the Press in Peru," Media and Politics in Latin America. Ed. Elizabeth Fox. London: Sage Publications, 1988.

Goodwin, Paul. Global Studies: Latin America, Peru. 10th ed. Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut, 2002.

Guillermoprieto, Alma. The Heart That Bleeds: Latin America Now. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.

International Journalists' Network (IJNet). Peru: Press Overview, 2001. Available at .

IPI World Press Freedom Review. Peru., 2001.

Johnston, Carla Brooks. Global News Access. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998.

Simon, Joel. "Fujimori stomps a station," Columbia Journalism Review 36, no.4 (1997): 58-60.

U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices2001. Uruguay 2002. Available at

Cynthia K. Pope

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Peru (country, South America)

Peru (pərōō´), Span. Perú (pārōō´), officially Republic of Peru, republic (2005 est. pop. 27,926,000), 496,220 sq mi (1,285,210 sq km), W South America. It borders on the Pacific Ocean in the west, on Ecuador and Colombia in the north, on Brazil and Bolivia in the east, and on Chile in the south. Lima is the capital and largest city.


Peru, which varies greatly in climate and topography, falls into three main geographical regions—a narrow strip of desert along the coast, a region of high mountains in the center, and a large area of forested mountains and lowlands in the east. The desert region stretches the entire length (1,410 mi/2,269 km) of Peru's Pacific coastline and owes its aridity to the cold Humboldt, or Peru, Current, which acts as a barrier to the moist air over the Pacific. A persistent warm current (El Niño; see El Niño–Southern Oscillation) appears off the coast every two to seven years, bringing torrential and damaging rainstorms. The coastal and mountainous regions also are frequently shaken by severe earthquakes.

Within the desert are about 40 oases where most of Peru's commercial farming takes place; the principal oases are near Lima, Chiclayo, and Trujillo. Callao (near Lima) and Matarani, Peru's leading ports, are also in the desert region. Near Pisco and Ica are large vineyards. Off the coast are small islands, notably the Lobos and Chincha islands, where guano (used as fertilizer) is harvested.

The central region (c.200 mi/320 km wide) is made up mostly of three ranges of the Andes Mts., the Cordillera Occidental in the west and the Cordillera Central and its continuation, the Cordillera Real, in the east. The Cordillera Occidental includes the loftiest peaks, notably Huascarán (22,205 ft/6,768 m, Peru's highest point) and El Misti (19,150 ft/5,837 m). The rugged eastern ranges receive considerable rainfall and are drained by numerous rivers, which have cut deep canyons. Subsistence agriculture is practiced in the upper parts of the valleys. Between the eastern and western ranges of the Andes in the south, and extending into Bolivia, is the Altiplano Plateau, which includes small, scattered basins of arable land and pastureland and also part of Lake Titicaca. The central region includes about 60% of Peru's population; its main cities are Arequipa, Huancayo, Ayacucho, and Cuzco, an old Inca center.

The eastern region includes more than half of the country's land area. It is made up of the highly forested Cordillera Oriental of the Andes and low-lying tropical plains, covered by rain forests and drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries. The region is generally inaccessible and sparsely inhabited in the north; it is used for the illegal cultivation of coca. Iquitos is the chief city of the eastern region.


About 45% of Peru's population is indigenous, while mestizos make up about 37% and whites 15%. There are also small numbers of persons of Japanese, Chinese, and African descent. Most of the native inhabitants speak Quechua (an official language) or Aymara; they live in the Andes and have retained much of their traditional way of life. Small groups of indigenous peoples live in the isolated rain forest of E Peru and speak a variety of languages. Most other Peruvians speak Spanish (the other official language) and are Roman Catholic. Power and wealth in the country have traditionally been monopolized by the European-descended inhabitants and by a small number of the mestizos; the bulk of the mestizos and virtually all of the indigenous people are laborers or subsistence farmers. The leading universities are at Lima, Arequipa, Trujillo, and Cuzco.


While services and industry are growing segments of the economy, farming still provides a livelihood for many Peruvians, some of whom remain outside the money economy. The chief farm commodities produced are asparagus, cotton, coffee, sugarcane, rice, potatoes, corn, plantains, grapes, and oranges. Although Peru is one of the world's largest producers of coca leaves, production was cut in half between 1995 and 1999 due to a determined government eradication program. However, much coca leaf and paste is still exported, primarily to Colombia, where it is used to make cocaine. Large numbers of poultry, cattle, sheep, llamas, and alpacas are raised. Guinea pigs are also raised for export. The country has a significant fishing industry, centered mainly on anchovies that are processed into fish meal for use as animal feed. Logging is also an important economic activity.

Peru has a large mining industry, the most valuable minerals being copper and silver. Gold, iron ore, coal, and phosphate rock are also extracted. Petroleum is produced along the northern coast and in the Amazon basin, and there is a large refinery at Talara. Natural gas is also produced. Peru's other principal industries include food processing and the manufacture of steel and other metals, textiles, and clothing. There is also a substantial tourist industry. Economic development has been hindered by the country's poor transportation network, which has left large blocks of Peru isolated.

The main exports are copper, gold, zinc, petroleum, coffee, potatoes, asparagus, textiles, and guinea pigs. The main imports are petroleum products, plastics, machinery, vehicles, iron and steel, wheat, and paper. Peru's chief trade partners are the United States, China, Chile, and Brazil. Peru is a member of the Andean Community, an economic organization of South American countries.


Under the 1993 constitution as amended, Peru's head of state and of government is the president, who is directly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. Legislative power is vested in a 120-seat unicameral Congress whose members are popularly elected for five-year terms. Adminstratively, Peru is divided into 25 regions and one province (Lima).


Early History

Peru has been inhabited since at least the 9th millennium BC, and the earliest known American civilization, sometimes called the Caral-Supe, emerged there in the Norte Chico region by c.3200 BC Peru was later the center of several developed cultures, including the Chavín (see Chavín de Huántar), the Chimu, and the Nazca. In the 12th cent. AD, the Quechua-speaking Inca settled around Cuzco, and in the mid-15th cent. they established by conquest a large, well-organized empire that included most of present-day Peru and Ecuador and parts of Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. Their fortress city of Machu Picchu is perhaps the most extraordinary ruin in the Americas. Around 1530 the empire was weakened by civil war initiated by Atahualpa and Huáscar, who had been designated as dual heirs by their father, Huayna Capac.

The Spanish Conquest

Atahualpa had defeated Huascar for control of the Inca empire by 1532, when Francisco Pizarro, a Spaniard, arrived on the coast of Peru with a small band of adventurers. Atahualpa agreed to meet Pizarro at Cajamarca, where he was imprisoned after refusing to accept Spanish suzerainty and Christianity. Although the emperor's followers collected a huge ransom in gold and silver for his release, the Spaniards executed him in mid-1533. By late 1533, Pizarro had captured Cuzco, the Inca capital, and the empire had disintegrated. In 1535, Pizarro founded Lima, which in 1542 became the center of Spanish rule in South America.

From 1536 to 1544, Manco Capac, who had succeeded Atahualpa as emperor, led several unsuccessful uprisings against the Spaniards. At the same time, Pizarro and his brothers and companions (including Sebastián de Benalcázar) were unsuccessfully challenged by Pedro de Alvarado and then by Diego de Almagro and his son, who was defeated (1542) by Vaca de Castro, a representative of the Spanish crown sent to restore order. Pizarro forced the natives held in encomienda to work in the mines, on the lands of Spanish landlords, and in the small textile mills (obrajes).

The New Laws of 1542, which would have ended the abuses of the encomienda system, caused Gonzalo Pizarro to revolt (1544). He defeated the viceroy, Blasco Núñez Vela, but was in turn defeated (and executed) by Pedro de la Gasca in 1548. However, the New Laws were never administered for the benefit of the native peoples.

Francisco de Toledo, who was viceroy from 1569 to 1581, improved administration, defeated a revolt under the Inca Tupac Amaru, and resettled the natives in new villages, or reductions. The viceroyalty of Peru was expanded to include all of Spanish-ruled South America except Venezuela, and the mining of silver and gold increased. Lima was the administrative, religious, economic, and cultural center of the viceroyalty.

In the 18th cent. Peru was drastically reduced in size by the creation of the viceroyalty of New Granada and a viceroyalty centered at Buenos Aires (see Argentina); as a result, Lima lost control over considerable trade and mineral wealth. At the same time, government in Peru was reformed, but Spaniards retained almost complete control in the viceroyalty, and the indigenous peoples and creoles (persons of Spanish descent born in Peru) remained powerless and poor. Led by a man who called himself Tupac Amaru in reference to his alleged Inca ancestor, the native inhabitants revolted in 1780, but were defeated by 1783. There were a few additional uprisings in the early 19th cent.


The ideas of the French Revolution, and Napoleon I's conquest (1808) of Spain, led to strong independence movements in all of Spain's Latin American holdings except Peru. Peru's loyalty to Spain was due to the relatively large number of Spaniards who resided there, to the concentration of Spanish power at Lima, and to the efficiency of the government in the viceroyalty. As a result, Peru achieved independence (1821) largely because of the efforts of outsiders, notably José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar.

After he had ended Spanish rule in Chile in 1818, San Martín captured the Peruvian port of Pisco in 1820. Shortly thereafter the viceroy evacuated Lima, and on July 28, 1821, San Martín proclaimed the independence of Peru. However, Spanish forces remained in the interior. Bolívar took over the leadership of the liberation movement in 1822, and in 1824 he and his aides Antonio José de Sucre and Andrés Santa Cruz assured Peru's independence by defeating Spain at the battles of Junín and Ayacucho.

Santa Cruz left Peru to govern Bolivia in 1828, and government in Peru became confused as several military leaders vied for power. Taking advantage of the disorder, Santa Cruz joined Bolivia and Peru in a confederation in 1836. Fearing the power of the new state, Chile intervened militarily and the confederation was terminated (1839) after the battle of Yungay. Peru continued to be torn by civil strife until the emergence of Gen. Ramón Castilla, who was president from 1844 to 1850 and from 1855 to 1862. Under Castilla, Peru enjoyed stability and economic development.

The Late Nineteenth Century

A republican constitution was promulgated in 1860 and remained in effect until 1920. After Castilla, Peruvian politics again were in turmoil, due to corruption, growing foreign indebtedness, and an attempt by Spain to regain Peru. Claiming that Peru had not met its financial obligations, Spain seized the guano-rich Chincha Islands in 1863. Aided by Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador, Peru defeated the Spanish at Callao in 1866; a truce was signed in 1871 and in 1879 Spain recognized Peru's independence. Meanwhile, President José Balta (1868–72) undertook a costly program of public works, including the building of Peru's first railroad, between Mollendo and Arequipa. Foreign debt had risen dramatically by the time the country's first civilian president, Manuel Pardo (1872–76), inaugurated a series of economic reforms.

In 1873, Peru signed a secret defensive alliance with Bolivia, which led to war with Chile (see Pacific, War of the) in 1879. Chile badly defeated the allies and by the Treaty of Ancón (1883) Peru had to yield the province of Tarapacá and also to surrender the other southern coastal provinces of Tacna and Arica to Chilean administration for a period of 10 years, when a plebiscite was to be held. There ensued the Tacna-Arica Controversy, which was not resolved until 1929, and tensions over the border have periodically flared since. Peru emerged nearly bankrupt from the war. President A. A. Cáceres (1886–90) created a syndicate of foreign capitalists to manage the guano deposits and the railroads, and foreign influence and holdings in Peru grew stronger.

Twentieth-Century Peru

The first third of the century was dominated by President Augusto B. Leguía (1908–12, 1919–30), who for much of his tenure was a virtual dictator; he promoted economic development in the interest of the country's dominant oligarchy. In 1924 a new political party, the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA), was founded by Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre; it called for radical reform, especially of the condition of native peoples. The party was banned by Leguía and was again outlawed after Sánchez Cerro overthrew Leguía in 1930.

The 1930s were marked by bitter rivalry between leftists and rightists, with the latter dominating politics for most of the decade. However, a more moderate course was followed by President Manuel Prado y Ugarteche (1939–45). Peru was involved in a serious boundary dispute with Ecuador in 1941 and sided with the Allies in World War II. APRA was allowed to take part in the 1945 elections and backed the victorious moderate, José Luís Bustamante y Rivero. However, APRA split with Bustamante in 1947, and the resulting disputes led to a military coup by Manuel Odría in 1948. Odría, a conservative, was president until 1956, when Prado was again elected, this time with APRA support.

In the 1962 presidential elections Haya de la Torre won by a small plurality, but did not receive the required one third of the total vote. The military seized power and conducted elections in 1963 that were won by Fernando Belaúnde Terry, a moderate reformer. Belaúnde opened up the interior of the country by constructing a highway system through the Andes, but his regime was plagued by budgetary deficits and spiraling inflation. In 1968 he was deposed by a military junta, which installed General Juan Velasco Alvarado as president. Velasco suspended the constitution and assumed dictatorial powers, seeking to diversify the country's economy by exploiting its natural resources (especially petroleum) with foreign help but without foreign control.

In 1970 a severe earthquake in N Peru killed about 50,000 people. In 1975, Gen. Francisco Morales Bermúdez headed a new junta, and in 1980, a new constitution came into force and civilian government was restored. Both Morales and his successor, Belaúnde, instituted austerity programs to aid the failing economy. Inflation soared, leading to civil unrest, much of it led by a Maoist guerrilla group based in the Andes Mts. known as the Shining Path and by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Alan García Pérez, elected president in 1985, instituted a broad range of social and economic reforms, but the cost of military actions against the insurgents continued to strain the economy, which suffered from rampaging inflation. His term was also marred by cronyism and corruption and charges of army abuses in actions against the Shining Path, and he left office widely discredited.

In 1990, Alberto Fujimori defeated author Mario Vargas Llosa for the presidency. Insurgent violence continued, and in Apr., 1992, Fujimori suspended the constitution, claiming that emergency action was necessary to fight guerrillas, drug traffickers, and corruption. By Sept., 1992, many Shining Path leaders had been captured and jailed, and the rebel group no longer posed a serious threat to the government. After three years of economic liberalization, hyperinflation was eliminated, and the economy was growing at a good rate. In 1993 voters approved a new constitution that allowed Fujimori to run for a second consecutive term; he was easily reelected in 1995, and his party won a large majority in the new congress. There was, however, international criticism of his authoritarian policies and concern over the power of the Peruvian army. In 1995 Peru and Ecuador clashed in a brief border war; the dispute was resolved by treaty in 1998.

On Dec. 17, 1996, a group of MRTA guerrillas infiltrated a reception at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima and took about 600 hostages, many of whom were soon released; the MRTA's demands included freedom for their jailed comrades. Following months of failed negotiations, Peruvian forces stormed the building on Apr. 22, 1997, saving all but one of the remaining 72 hostages and killing 14 guerrillas. In the late 1990s, Fujimori continued with his privatization program as Peru struggled with a recession due in part to the effects of a particularly damaging El Niño and a financial crisis in Asia; the economy began recovering in 1999.

In the 2000 presidential contest, his government orchestrated widespread media attacks on his opponents, but despite this Alejandro Toledo Manrique, a business-school professor, forced Fujimori into a runoff election. The election commission was accused by observers of vote tampering and trying to steal the first-round election, and Toledo withdrew from the runoff, expecting Fujimori's campaign to engage again in fraud. In the congressional elections, Fujimori's party, Peru 2000, lost control of the congress but remained the largest bloc, with more than 40% of the seats.

In September his chief adviser and head of the intelligence service, Vladimiro Montesinos, was revealed to have bribed opposition lawmakers, and Fujimori abruptly offered to hold new presidential elections in which he would not run. Ongoing political instability and the possibility of a corruption investigation led Fujimori to resign in November while traveling in Japan, where he remained in exile. The congress, however, refused to accept his resignation and declared him morally incapacitated and the presidency vacant.

Congress speaker Valentín Paniagua became interim president, and new congressional and presidential elections were scheduled for the following year. In June, 2001, Toledo was elected president, after defeating former president Alan García in a runoff. Although the electorate showed no great enthusiasm for either candidate, the election was notable for being nearly free of irregularities. Toledo sought to purge Peru's military and security forces of supporters of Fujimori and Montesinos; the latter was arrested in mid-2001 and later convicted of corruption, plotting to overthrow Fujimori, and other charges.

Toledo's popularity subsequently evaporated, however, as a result of political promises that went unfulfilled and ethical scandals involving several ministers in his government. Elections in Nov., 2002, for the newly established regional governments were a victory for Alan García's APRA party. In July, 2004, Toledo was charged by a former aide with taking a $5 million bribe from a Colombian company. Toledo denied the accusation, but the charge further eroded what little public standing he had. In Jan., 2005, a group of 150 army reservists staged an abortive uprising in Andahuaylas, in S central Peru, and called for Toledo's resignation; they surrendered after four days. Charges that Toledo and his party had been involved in forging signatures to register for the 2000 elections led in 2005 to a congressional committee investigation that, after splitting along party lines, accused Toledo of electoral fraud. The congress, however, did not vote to impeach Toledo.

In Oct. 2005, voters rejected a goverment proposal to consolidate 25 of Peru's regions into five "macroregions." An ambush by Shining Path guerrillas in December led to the declaration of a two-month state of emergency in E Peru, and the group experienced something of a resurgence beginning in 2007 due to payments it derived from protecting the illegal cocaine trade. Peru accused Venezuelan president Chávez of interfering in its politics in Jan., 2006, when he met with and offered support to Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala, a leftist nationalist who had led an abortive military uprising in 2000 (and whose brother had led the 2005 uprising). The two nations subsequently (April) recalled their ambassadors, but agreed to resume ties eight months later. Also in January, an attempt to register Fujimori, who had visited Chile and was arrested there at Peru's request, as a presidential candidate was denied.

Humala finished first in the Apr., 2006, presidential election, but fell well short of a majority of the vote. Humala was forced into a runoff with former president Alan García, who won the post after the June vote largely because he was regarded by many as the lesser of two evils. Humala's party, however, won the largest bloc of seats in the Peruvian congress. In Dec., 2006, Humala was charged with rebellion in connection with the 2005 Andahuaylas uprising.

An earthquake in Aug., 2007, caused extensive devastation in the Ica region of SW Peru; more than 500 persons were killed. Fujimori was extradited from Chile to Peru in Sept., 2007, and he was subsequently convicted (2007, 2009, 2015) in five cases arising from his presidency. In Oct., 2008, seven members of García's cabinet lost their posts over their possible involvement in a corruption scandal in which a Norwegian oil exploration company was accused of paying kickbacks in return for government contracts. The cabinet changes were also partially prompted by demonstrations over the regional distribution of mining revenue.

In Apr., 2009, there were demonstrations and blockades in Peru's Amazonian region against laws passed by decree in 2007–8 that governed the economic development of government lands; indigenous peoples feared that the laws would permit businesses to gain control of their lands. In June, following a deadly clash between government forces and protesters in which dozens died, the laws were repealed, and the prime minister resigned in July. The incident was the worst of a series of confrontations with indigenous groups over resource development that marked the last half of García's second term.

In Apr., 2011, Humala again won the first round of the presidential election, with about one third of the vote; Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the former president, placed second. In the June runoff, Humala defeated Fujimori by a relatively narrow margin. The new government subsequently faced massive antimining protests that turned violent and deadly, and led to a declaration of a state of emergency. One of Humala's two vice presidents, Omar Chehade, resigned in Jan., 2012, after he faced impeachment over corruption charges; Chehade had resisted Humala's call that he resign. In Apr., 2012, the government said a remnant Shining Path group operating in central Peru had been defeated; other remnants, in SE Peru, were more successful in resisting government forces. Revelations in 2015 that Peru's intelligence agency had been spying for years on prominent politicians, business leaders, and others led the congress to censure the prime minister and force her resignation.


A classic narrative of the Spanish conquest is that of W. H. Prescott. See also J. Descola, Daily Life in Colonial Peru, 1710–1820 (tr. 1968); J. M. Lockhart, Spanish Peru, 1532–1560 (1968) F. L. Tullis, Lord and Peasant in Peru (1970); G. Hilliker, The Politics of Reform in Peru (1971); T. E. Weil et al., Area Handbook for Peru (1972); R. Rachowiecki, Peru (1986); J. Haas et al., ed., The Origins and Development of the Andean State (1987); R. W. Keatinge, Peruvian Prehistory (1988); D. Pion-Berlin, The Ideology of State Terror (1989); J. Meyerson, Tambo: Life in an Andean Village (1990).

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Peru has a population of 26 million people, of whom 72 percent are concentrated in urban areas. Poverty is a major characteristic, with half of the population (48% in 2000) living in poverty. Even this striking statistic hides the extreme situations, especially in the mountains and rural areas of the Andes Mountains. According to 2000 data, 37 percent of people in urban areas live under the poverty line and 4 percent experience extreme poverty. Conversely, in rural areas, 70 percent of people live under the poverty line, and 36 percent are extremely poor (INEI 2000).

Peru is also characterized by its structural heterogeneity and its cultural pluralism. The Indian population make up between one-third and twothirds of the population (Le Bot 1994; Weismantel 1998). Socioeconomic inequalities, including those based on class, race, and gender, are present in the social order and daily life (Henríquez 1995).

In the social history of the country, the colonial period gave rise to ethnic and cultural discrimination against the Indian population. The colonial period also saw the beginning of the domination of an oligarchic elite in the political and economic sectors. This domination is reflected today by the Lima centralism and the dominance of the coast over the mountains. The dichotomies of white/Indian, rich/poor, exploiter/exploited began with the same root, which over time, produced different inequalities (Figueroa et al. 1996).

One form of inequality is reflected in the monthly average income. The upper stratum have incomes of between US$2,200 to $4,700 monthly, the low and the very low levels earn only US$270 and $123 monthly (Henríquez 1995). In another example of inequality, although illiteracy decreased, on average, from 18 percent to 12 percent between 1981 and 2000, large differences in literacy rates persist between men (6%) and women (17%). These differences are more pronounced between urban women who are not poor (6%) and poor rural women (43%) (INEI 2000).

Family Representation

The ideal historical model of family is monogamous and patriarchal. That is, in the urban culture, the sexual division of work is based on separate and complementary spheres. The father is the authority of the family and represents it in the public space, while the wife is responsible for the education of children and is subordinate to her husband's authority (Fuller 1997).

Men must adhere to the ethics of protection and responsibility; women must remain chaste. These aspects constitute the global concept of family honor. The lack of chastity in women endangers the honor of the family. From this belief emerges the image of Marianismo, that in Peru is associated with the Virgin Mary and represents the notion of the moral superiority of women, the elevation of motherhood, the denial of sexuality, and the spirit of sacrifice (Fuller 1993).

In contrast, masculinity is based on the idea that sexuality is uncontrollable and that men must affirm their virility through its free exercise and the control of the sexuality of the women in their families. Men can establish sexual relationships throughout their lives without a conjugal or reproductive commitment. This double standard of morality, along with the strict ethnic and class hierarchy, allows the head of the family in the middle- and upper-class sectors (who already has his "official wife" and his "official children") to have sexual relationships with women of lower classes and thereby form secondary families (Fuller 1993).


Fertility. The total fertility rate in Peru has decreased from an average of seven children per family at the beginning of 1950 to three children per family in 2002. This reduction is primarily a result of a sharp decrease in fertility among urban women, who had a fertility rate of 2.4 in 2002, compared with 4.6 among rural women (INEI 2002).

Some qualitative studies reveal that patriarchal ideology and the low status of women in Peruvian society have a direct effect on the fertility of women. There is a general belief, held particularly by men, that giving birth to many children is a sign of faithfulness in a woman and that family planning is strongly associated with infidelity (Ruiz-Bravo 1995). In addition, a large number of children is believed to attest to male virility (Chueca 1985).

Moreover, having children is a way for women to keep their husbands, whom they need for financial support. Children are a means for men to keep women at home and to prevent them from being approached by other men. Some women consider wife-beating (which is common especially when a man has been drinking or when he is having affairs outside the home) to be an accepted part of heterosexual relationships. At the same time, women see the sexual freedom of their partners as a normal reflection of men's "different nature" (Sara-Lafosse 1998; Fort 1989).

Furthermore, children represent an economic value, an investment for the future. Having many children is important for parents' security in later years. Sons will support them, and daughters will provide company and care. This is especially important in a country such as Peru where organized social security plans cover only a small proportion of the population. (Chueca 1985; Fort 1989).

Female-headed households. Women head at least 20 to 25 percent of families in Peru. Some authors define a household as headed by a female if the father is absent, the result of the father abandoning the family (Sara-Lafosse 1995; Fuller 2000). The census definition of "head of the family" considers the head to be "the person, man or woman, who other members of the family recognize to be the head" (p.16). It has been argued that this definition is subjective, given that it is based on the perception of the other members of the family, and it does not consider the shared responsibility of heading a family. Furthermore, given the patriarchal ideology, the very presence of a man (i.e., a retired father, a partner, or an unemployed uncle) would be enough to declare him the head of the family even the woman has the major economic responsibility (Ponce and Francke 1985).

Violeta Sara-Lafosse (1998) associated female-headed households with the subculture of machismo, which is internalized and legitimized by the family as well as by the social, legal, and police institutions. Machismo is "a form of masculine behavior which comprises the man's desire to take sexual advantage of women, the failure to assume responsibility for the consequences of such actions, and the self-praise for sexual exploits within the subculture of the peer group" (p.107). Machismo and patriarchy are forms of sexist behavior; they treat the women as sexual objects, subject to domination. But while the patriarch becomes responsible for his children, the macho man does not take care of them or simply does not recognize them as his offspring.

One characteristic of families abandoned by fathers is the informal nature of the couple's conjugal arrangement, which was established on a verbal or implied common agreement. Under these circumstances, children face the stigma of illegitimacy (Sara-Lafosse 1995; 1998). Marcella Chueca (1985) argued that rather than divorcing or leaving their original families, men form other families parallel to their original families. By doing this, they are able to avoid the economic burden because there is no formal desertion.


Sara-Lafosse's thesis (1995, 1998), supported by other authors' (Burkett 1985; Stein and Stein 1979; Montecino 1993; Mannarelli 1993), is that irresponsible fatherhood in Latin America and the Caribbean has its origins in the colonial conquest. Rape of indigenous women was used to subjugate and oppress. Violence was continuous during this period. After the conquest (1492 to the early 1800s), violence manifested itself in other forms of oppression. During the fifteenth century, to facilitate pacification, the Spanish Crown encouraged Spanish men to marry the Indians' daughters. This policy changed in the 1600s, when Indians and Spaniards were prohibited from marrying one another. In addition, the ratio of immigrant Spanish men to immigrant Spanish women was nine to one, pushing men toward interracial relationships. Furthermore, children of European fathers could not be considered Indians and therefore, they were not subject to the oppression, prohibitions, or taxes imposed on the conquered population. Although the father did not recognize his offspring, the son had progressed in social position and brought his mother on this relative ascent.

Cecilia Blondet (1990) argues that, for women who migrate from rural to urban Peru, children played a determinant role for developing roots and constructing a social identity in Lima. The possibility of having a partner and children was an incentive to settle down in their new situation, given that for a woman, forming a family meant having something belonging to her and gave her courage to go ahead. Thus, even though marriage was an ideal for immigrant women, to have children was the ultimate goal of these unions. In this way, faced with the difficulty of having or retaining partners, women accepted the irregular presence or the absence of the family father.

Fatherhood and femininity in urban areas. The second half of the twentieth century brought changes that particularly affected urban areas in Peru. Since the early 1960s, urban women have increasingly entered the labor market. By the beginning of the 1990s, women made up 40 percent of the active workforce (INEI 2000). They also reached secondary and postsecondary education and decreased their fertility rate. Other factors that have influenced changes in representations of masculinity and femininity and raised questions the traditional model of male-female relations include the equality of the genders established by the political constitution of 1981, as well as the cultural globalization of new images of paternity and discourses about women (feminism, citizenship, sexual liberation, etc.) (Fuller 1993). Machismo is criticized, and the image of the distant and authoritarian father has been replaced with the image of the close and loving father (Fuller 1997).

Machismo and marianismo persist in many practices and attitudes of the Peruvian middle-class culture, but they have lost legitimacy as absolute values. Female representations are now characterized by the coexistence of different models of femininity. Their values and their representations are modern but their practices and some fundamental definitions of femininity, including the relationship between the sexes and motherhood, remain traditional and correspond to the marianismo code (Fuller 1993).

Families and migration. Female-headed families experience more difficult economic conditions. They have inferior legal protection given that women are especially concentrated in the informal sector of the labor market. Social security affiliation rates are higher in male-headed families. Families headed by women tend to live in inferior housing, and they have less access to public services (Velez and Kaufmann 1985). As a result of these conditions, a large number of women are involved in the international migration process (Chant and Radcliffe 1992).

The following findings are based on a qualitative study of the way of life of Latin American women who live illegally in Switzerland (Carbajal 2002). The findings are based on the life histories of these women, who work in domestic service and childcare.

In Europe various social changes have influenced the family structure of Latin American immigrants. Changes in demographics and women's social and economic roles have brought increased demand for migrant female work in the domestic service, babysitting, and the care of seniors. These changes include an increase in employment among middle-class European women, the decline of the extended family in southern Europe and the reduction of the welfare state in northern Europe. Employing migrant women appears to be a strategy to combine work and family. (Henshall 1999; Ackers 1998; Sassen, 1984; Stier and Tienda 1992; Kofman 1999). In this way, the double burden of middle-class working European mothers is reduced at the expense of the work of domestic immigrant employees who, themselves, are frequently mothers.

Women and illegality. "Illegality means to live always with limits. Illegality marginalizes you, for example related to the type of work: I can't think of being a secretary in a firm. . . . Illegality is the psychological insecurity of always thinking that the police watch us" (Carbajal 2002). The closure of national borders to immigrants since the 1970s by European Union countries because of the economic crisis produced illegal immigrants, people who do not have a legal resident status and who lack all rights. The possibilities of having a legal status are thus reduced for non-European people, and they are often in illegal situations.

The study focused on women who work with the goal of saving money to improve living conditions for their families. They want to provide for their children's education, pay debts, build a house, establish a small savings, and have economic independence for the future. These women also want to send money regularly to their parents, children, or husbands.

Myrian Carbajal Mendoza distinguished between two profiles of illegal women: First, there are women with primary or secondary education, who are mothers, forty to fifty years old, come from the lower classes, and entered the labor market during their adolescence doing domestic work, babysitting, or working in the public market.

An example of this group are Peruvian women who are in Switzerland with their families (partners and children), as well as single mothers whose children stayed in their countries of origin.

Being in Switzerland represents the opportunity to escape insufficient living conditions and replace them with improved conditions. Women relate this to their role and identity as mothers: "We can't regret the fact of having come to Switzerland; a mother wants always to give the best to their children . . . it's for my children" (Carbajal 2000). This accomplishment, as they understand it, enables a woman to feel able to face poverty and to believe that the "sacrifice" she made was worthwhile, "Despite the fact of being far from my children I always have money to send them, they are not going to suffer because of a lack of meals or housing." They justify and validate their experience by defining the hardships and sacrifices, including being far from their children, in another country where they do not speak the language, as making it possible for their children to have another type of life, especially better education.

In the second profile are women with a higher educational level, twenty to thirty-five years old, who come from the middle class, and have professional training, higher education (secretary, university student, etc.) or who were occupying positions in public administration.

These women are single mothers whose children stayed in their origin country or single women who are responsible for helping their parents. These women feel a loss of their professional and social status: "In my country, I had a position at work where I was esteemed; here, I am a domestic. Just to think that in my house, we had somebody who worked for us, it's very hard."

Nevertheless, this identity is viewed as temporary. They do not use Switzerland but their country of origin as their reference. In this way, they construct an identity as courageous mothers who sacrifice themselves to give their children the possibility of a better life or an identity of the oldest courageous daughters who sacrifice their studies to help their parents. In addition to benefiting the family economically, these women also look to have some personal benefits such as the opportunity to travel, to save their own money, and to buy things for themselves.


It is from their role of mother that this identity is constructed. However, this role of mother is lived with tension. Even when economic needs are met, emotional needs are not. Consequently, these women work to bring their children to Switzerland, even though their children will share their illegal status. "I have always wanted to take my son with, until today I couldn't do it but the majority of my friends have already done it. They are here with two children and me, who has only one, why would I be the only one who is without her son?" (Carbajal 2002).

The children either have to face the absence of their mothers or their illegal status without understanding the reasons. Finally women, who are away from their own children may project their maternal love on others' children for whom they are paid to care. In this way, they accomplish the fact of being mothers from a distance, "I am always around children and I take care of them as if they were my son; they fill my life and it is more bearable." To Latin American immigrant women, motherhood continues to be an important aspect of their identity.

See also:Hispanic-American Families; Latin America


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Other Resource

instituto nacional de estadística e informática del perú (inei). available from http: //

myrian carbajal mendoza

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Baked Papas (Potato) Skins.......................................... 92
Palta Aji Sauce (Avocado Chili Sauce) .......................... 93
Picarones (Pumpkin Fritters)........................................ 93
Choclo con Queso (Corn on the Cob with Cheese) ..... 95
Frozen Orange Delight................................................ 95
Flan............................................................................. 97
Papas a la Huancaína (Potatoes with Cheese) .............. 97
Ceviche (Marinated Seafood) ...................................... 99
Arroz con Leche (Rice and Milk) .................................. 99


Peru is South America's third-largest country, with an area of 496,226 square miles (1,285,220 square kilometers), slightly smaller than the state of Alaska. Peru is divided into three contrasting topographical regions: the coast, the Andean highlands, and the Amazon rainforest to the east, with 18 rivers and 200 tributaries. The Peruvian Andes are divided into three chains. The western mountain chain runs parallel to the coast and forms the Peruvian continental divide. Less regular are the Cordillera Central and Cordillera Oriental. Lake Titicaca (Lago Titicaca), the highest navigable lake in the world (about 12,500 feet/3,800 meters high), lies partly in Peru and partly in Bolivia.


The first inhabitants of Peru are believed to have migrated from Asia around 6000 b.c. These early nomadic (roaming) tribesmen relied on the hunting of animals and the gathering of fruits and plants to survive. By 5000 b.c., small communities were established and the early cultivation of cotton, chili peppers, beans, squash, and maize (similar to corn) began. Most of the early settlers lived near the coast, where the wet climate allowed for planted seeds to grow.

One of the world's most popular vegetables, papas (potatoes), were first grown in Peru. The earliest remains of potatoes have been discovered at archeological sites in southern and eastern Peru, dating as far back as 400 b.c. However, it was not until the 1400s that Europeans first came in contact with the potato. They took the vegetable back to Europe, where it was slow to gain acceptance. Europe now cultivates the largest number of potatoes, but Peru continues to produce the largest potato varieties and has been referred to as the "Potato Capital of the World." Potatoes were not the only vegetable in ancient Peru, however. Avocado pits have been discovered buried with mummies dating as far back as 750 b.c.

The Incas came to power in the 1400s. They survived mostly on maize and potatoes that they planted on terraces that they carved out of steep hillsides (which can still be seen today). Their empire was short-lived, however. In 1528, the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro discovered Peru and was intrigued by the riches of the Inca Empire. The Spanish helped to introduce chicken, pork, and lamb to the Incas. In return, the Incas introduced the Spanish to a wide variety of potatoes and aji (chili peppers). As the Spanish gained control, they demanded that the natives grow such European crops as wheat, barley, beans, and carrots. As European disease struck the Incas and a shortage of labor arose, slaves from Africa were brought over to work on the new plantations. Africans contributed such foods as picarones (anise-sweetened, deep-fried pastries made from a pumpkin dough), to the Peruvian cuisine, as did Polynesians from the Pacific Islands, the Chinese, and the Japanese.

Baked Papas (Potato) Skins


  • 8 baking (russet) potatoes, scrubbed and pat dry
  • Olive oil, to brush on potato skins
  • Sweet paprika, to sprinkle on potato skins
  • Salt (coarse preferred)
  • Sour cream, for topping


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Prick the potatoes a few times with a fork and bake them in the middle of the oven for 1 hour.
  3. Let the potatoes cool, halve them lengthwise, and scoop them out, leaving a ¼-inch shell; reserve the potato pulp for another use.
  4. Cut each shell lengthwise into 6 strips and arrange the strips on a baking sheet.
  5. Brush the strips with the oil, sprinkle them with paprika, salt, and pepper, to taste, and bake them again at the same temperature for 20 to 25 more minutes, or until they are crisp and golden brown.
  6. Serve the potato skins with the sour cream.

Serves 6.

Palta Aji Sauce (Avocado Chili Sauce)


  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled, pit removed, and mashed
  • cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely diced
  • 3 hard boiled eggs, grated
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • ½ lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Combine ingredients in a medium-size bowl; mix well.
  2. Serve with fresh vegetables.

Picarones (Pumpkin Fritters)


  • 1 package dry yeast
  • ¼ cup lukewarm water
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (16-ounce) pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • Oil, for frying
  • Maple syrup


  1. In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the lukewarm water and stir to dissolve.
  2. Add the sugar, egg, pumpkin, and salt; combine thoroughly.
  3. Add the flour, ½ cup at a time, until the dough becomes too stiff to beat with a wooden spoon.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead in enough of the remaining flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers.
  5. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes).
  6. Shape it into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  7. Punch down the dough and tear off pieces, shaping into doughnut-like rings, about 3 inches in diameter.
  8. Heat about 1-inch of oil in a deep skillet and fry the fritters for about 5 minutes, turning them once, until crisp and golden brown.
  9. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with warm maple syrup.

Makes 12 servings.


The Peruvian cuisine largely consists of spicy dishes that originated as a blend of Spanish and indigenous foods. Such dishes are often referred to as Criolla, or Creole. Aji (chili) is the most popular spice in Peru and is used in a variety of ways to give food extra flavor. Mint, oregano, basil, parsley, and cilantro are also included in Peruvian dishes, particularly soups and stews. Aside from spices, however, potatoes, rice, beans, fish, and various grains are essential staples (foods eaten nearly everyday) in the Peruvian diet.

Peru's unique variety of climates and landscapes has helped to make the Peruvian menus some of the most diverse in South America. Such geographical variety gives Peru distinct culinary regions that are divided into coastal, mountainous/highland, and tropical. In addition, the impact of various ethnic influences can be seen through indigenous (native), Spanish, Asian, and African cooking styles and dishes.

The Pacific Ocean provides Peru with a wide variety of seafood, particularly for those who live near the coast. Ceviche fish, shrimp, scallops, or squid marinated in a lime and pepper mixturemight be considered one of the country's national dishes, due to its overwhelming popularity. It is often served with corn-on-the-cob, cancha (toasted corn), or sweet potatoes. Salads in this region are also common, particularly huevos a la rusa (egg salad) and palta rellena (stuffed avocado).

The mountainous/highland diet closely resembles food the Incas prepared hundreds of years ago. Basic staples of potatoes, corn, rice, and various meats (especially beef and pork) are common ingredients in the highland cuisine. Choclo con queso (corn on the cob with cheese) and tamales (meat-filled corn dumplings) are popular corn dishes. Lechón (suckling pig), cuy (guinea pig), chicharrones (deep-fried pork and chicken), and pachamanca (meat cooked over a hot stone pit) are common meat dishes in this area. Soups containing an abundance of spices, onions, and eggs, as well as freshly caught fish from Lake Titicaca (particularly trout), help satisfy the highlanders' appetites.

Meats and fresh fruits and vegetables are the basis of the tropical Peruvian diet. Bananas, plantains (similar to the banana), and yucca (similar to a yam) are readily available, and therefore are eaten in great quantities. Inhabitants of the tropical region also enjoy a variety of fish, wild game (such as boars, monkeys, pigs, deer, and chickens), and plenty of rice.

Choclo con Queso (Corn on the Cob with Cheese)


  • Corn on the cob (one with the largest kernels you can find)
  • Monterey jack cheese, cut into small cubes
  • Box of toothpicks


  1. Boil corn on the cob in salted water in a large pot, about 15 minutes.
  2. Let cool and remove kernels from cob by standing the cob on an end and slicing downward with a knife.
  3. Place a few kernels of corn with one cube of cheese on each toothpick (or as fits). Serve cold.

Makes about 3 dozen.

Street vendors throughout the country often sell some of Peru's most beloved food and drinks. Coconut-, chocolate-, and lemon-flavored tortas (cakes) are sweet and loved by Peruvians of all ages. Helado (ice cream) is a favorite among children. Snacks such as fried plantain and chifles (banana chips) are widely available, as is Inka Cola, a Peruvian bubble-gum-flavored soft drink. What is not available from vendors will likely be sold at a local meat or produce market or a local panaderías (bakery).

Frozen Orange Delight


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • Rind of 1 orange, grated


  1. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in the sugar until it has completely dissolved.
  2. Allow the sweetened water to cool for about 20 minutes.
  3. Mix in the orange juice, lemon juice, and orange rind.
  4. Pour this mixture into 2 ice cube trays with the dividers removed, or use a freezer-proof bowl, pie plate, or cake pan.
  5. Freeze until solid, and serve like ice cream or sherbet.

Makes about 2 pints.


As a result of Peru's heavy Spanish influence, most Peruvians (90 percent) are devout Catholics. Christian holidays such as Easter, Christmas, and All Saints' Day are joyously celebrated throughout the country, often with fireworks, bullfights, dancing, and roast pig. The remainder of the population adheres to indigenous beliefs, believing in the gods and spirits the Incas once did hundreds of years ago. Many Christian holidays coincide with existing traditional festivals, allowing most Peruvians, regardless of differences in beliefs, to celebrate together.

Christmas brings great joy to the Christians of Peru, especially children who await the arrival of Santa Claus. Families use the holiday time to travel to the homes of family and close friends. Because of the number of people rushing about through Peru's streets, vendors rush to sell holiday foods and other goods to passing people. Sweet mango juice, bakery rolls, and homemade doughnuts coated with sugar and syrup are Christmas favorites. Flan, caramel custard enjoyed throughout Central and South American countries (as well as Spain, the Philippines, and the United States), is also a dessert enjoyed by Peruvians.



  • ¼ cup sugar, plus ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 drops lemon juice
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat ¼ cup sugar and drops of lemon juice over low heat until mixture is dark brown, like caramel syrup. (Don't worry if syrup burns a little.)
  3. Pour into a flan mold (oven-proof straight-sided souffle dish or individual molds work nicely), covering all sides and bottom with the sugar syrup.
  4. Place in the refrigerator while preparing flan.
  5. Bring milk and vanilla to a boil in a small pot over low heat.
  6. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the eggs and ¾ cup sugar, beating well.
  7. Slowly add the egg and sugar mixture to the boiled milk.
  8. Pour into refrigerated mold. Place flan mold into a larger baking dish. Add water to a depth of about one inch, and carefully place in the oven.
  9. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Flan is done when knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool and remove from mold. Serve chilled.

Serves 4 to 6.

Carnavales (kar-nah-VAH-lays; Carnival) is an elaborately celebrated national holiday that takes place a few days before Lent. It is the last opportunity for people to drink and dance before the fasting period of Lent begins, when such activities are not allowed. During these few days, some practice native traditions of rounding up wild game to present to a priest or mayor, who in return provides chichi and cocoa leaves. The offering of the animals dates back several hundred years to the Incas, who used to give offerings of food to the gods in hope for a good harvest. Papas a la huancaína (potatoes with cheese) is a popular meal during Carnival.

Papas a la Huancaína (Potatoes with Cheese)


  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • teaspoon ground red pepper, or to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cups Monterey Jack or Swiss cheese, shredded
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 6 potatoes, drained, peeled, and quartered
  • 1 to 2 hard-boiled eggs, for garnish


  1. Scrub the potatoes, place them in a saucepan, cover with water, and boil until tender (about 20 minutes). Drain, allow the potatoes to cool. Peel them, cut them into quarters, and set aside.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice, red pepper, and salt. Add onion slices and coat them with the mixture. Stir well and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over low heat.
  4. Add cheese, turmeric, and heavy cream. Stirring constantly, continue cooking over low heat until cheese melts and mixture is smooth.
  5. Add the cooked potatoes and gently stir to heat through, about 5 minutes. Do not allow mixture to boil, or it will curdle.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with hard-boiled eggs.
  7. Sprinkle onion mixture over the potatoes. Serve immediately while potatoes are hot.

Serves 6.


Peruvians are extremely hospitable and enjoy preparing and eating meals with company. Guests often consider being invited for dinner as a semiformal occasion. Nice clothes are worn and a small gift of flowers, chocolates, or wine is offered to the host on such occasions.

Most of the time, however, Peruvians simply prepare meals for themselves. Meals consumed by a typical village family often depend on the altitude of their village and what crops can thrive there. People living in mountainous areas can grow potatoes and select grains, as well as raise llamas, sheep, goats, and cattle. At lower altitudes, fruits and vegetables such as lemons, limes, palta (avocados), and aji (chilies) can be cultivated.

Villagers are often responsible for their own land and must spend much of the day tending to it. As a result, a villager's day begins early, usually around dawn. The woman of the house will begin her day preparing an herbal tea called mate (MAH-tay) and various foods for her family. A light desayuno (breakfast) may include triangular-shaped rolls, roasted wheat kernels, mote (boiled dried corn), bread, andte (tea) or cafe (coffee). The main meal of the day is almuerzo (lunch), which the woman of the house typically begins preparing while her family eats desayuno in the early morning. Almuerzo is important so workers will not be hungry in the fields. It may consist of a thick broth of potatoes, corn, and barley, palta aji sauce (avocado chili sauce) with vegetables, and cool beverages. Adults may enjoy chicha, a beer made of fermented maize, while children might prefer jugos (fruit juice), gaseosa (soft drink), or hot cocoa.

Cena (dinner) is often the most filling, despite almuerzo typically being the main meal of the day. Potatoes will almost always make up one of the two to three dishes served for cena. Mote (boiled dried corn) with meat or the popular ceviche (marinated seafood) may complete lunch or dinner. Children may drink chicha morada (a soft drink made from maize) as a refreshing accompaniment to most meals.

Peruvians enjoy sweets, whether it is an extra-sweet soft drink or honey-filled dessert. Churro, a deep-fried, honey-filled pastry, revolución caliente (crunchy, spicy cookies), and arroz con leche (rice and milk) are sold by street vendors throughout the country. Shish kebabs, seafood, fruit juice, empanadas (meat- or cheese-filled pies), and other popular Peruvian fare are also sold by vendors.

Many Peruvian children do not eat at midday during school hours. However, a combination of mote, noodles, beans, and potatoes is commonly eaten among school children.

Ceviche (Marinated Seafood)


  • 2 pounds white fish fillet (preferably sea bass), cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (or more, if needed)
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 to 2 chilies, finely chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Mix the lime juice with the onion slices, oil, cilantro, garlic, chilies, pepper, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Place the fish in a shallow glass or ceramic dish just large enough to hold it in a single layer. Pour the lime-juice mixture over it. The fish must be completely covered with the mixture. Add more lime juice if necessary.
  3. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours (or overnight) until the fish is "soft cooked." (Make certain it has marinated long enough.) Serve on lettuce leaves garnished with onion rings, thin strips of pepper, and sweet potatoes and/or corn on the cob.

Serves 4 to 6.

Arroz con Leche (Rice and Milk)


  • ½ cup white rice, uncooked
  • Cinnamon powder (plus cinnamon sticks, optional)
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • ½ cup raisins


  1. Boil the rice in 2 cups of water with the sugar, sticks of cinnamon (if available), and cloves, and cook according to package directions.
  2. After the rice has finished cooking, add the milk, butter, and raisins. Let cool, and then refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
  3. Sprinkle cinnamon powder on top and serve in dessert bowls.

Makes 4.


About 19 percent of the population of Peru are classified as undernourished by the World Bank. This means they do not receive adequate nutrition in their diet. Of children under the age of five, about 8 percent are underweight, and over one-quarter are stunted (short for their age).

In a 19921993 census, it was found that nearly 22 percent of children aged 4-years-old and younger suffered from a serious Vitamin A deficiency. A lack of this vitamin can lead to blindness. In addition, iodine deficiencies have caused nearly one-third of school age children to develop goiter, an inflammation of the thyroid gland (usually in the neck). Protein deficiencies are declining, thanks to the introduction of high-protein maize, according to the United States Mission to the European Union. High levels of protein can prevent malnourishment in children growing up in developing nations, such as Peru. Organizations such as PROKID (also known as Help for Poor Peruvian Children) are helping to make a difference. Established in October 2000, one of the goals of the organization is to educate mothers about the nutritional needs of their children.



Falconer, Kieran. Peru: Cultures of the World. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 1995.

King, David C. Peru: Lost Cities, Found Hopes. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Benchmark Books, 1998.

Peru. 4th ed. Victoria, Australia: Lonely Planet Publications Pty. Ltd., 2000.

Peru Handbook. 2nd ed. Bath, England: Footprint Handbooks, 1999.

The Rough Guide to Peru. 3rd ed. London: Rough Guides Ltd., 1997.

Traveler's Peru Companion. Old Saybrook, CT: The Globe Pequot Press, 1999.

Web Sites

Authentic Peruvian Cuisine. [Online] Available (accessed April 18, 2001).

Christmas in Peru. [Online] Available (accessed April 18, 2001).

LAPA (Latin American Parents Association). [Online] Available (accessed April 19, 2001).

Peru: The Land of the Incas. [Online] Available (accessed April 18, 2001).

The WorldSchool 2000: Peru. [Online] Available (accessed April 18, 2001).

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Official name: Republic of Peru

Area: 1,285,220 square kilometers (496,226 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Nevado Huascarán (6,768 meters/22,205 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Southern and Western

Time zone: 7 a.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 1,287 kilometers (800 miles) from southeast to northwest; 563 kilometers (350 miles) from northeast to southwest

Land boundaries: 5,536 kilometers (3,440 miles) total boundary length; Bolivia 900 kilometers (559 miles); Brazil 1,560 kilometers (969 miles); Chile 160 kilometers (99 miles); Colombia 1,496 kilometers (930 miles); Ecuador 1,420 kilometers (882 miles)

Coastline: 2,414 kilometers (1,500 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 370 kilometers (200 nautical miles)


Peru is located on the western coast of South America, just south of the equator. It is the third-largest country in South America and shares borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile. With a total area of about 1,285,220 square kilometers (496,226 square miles), the country is slightly smaller than the state of Alaska. Peru is divided into twenty-four departments and one constitutional province.


Peru has no territories or dependencies.


Peru has two seasons that correspond to rainfall rather than to temperature. Summer is from January through March and winter is during the remainder of the year. Because of extremes in topography, average temperatures vary greatly between regions.

In the La Sierra region, temperatures average 8°C (47°F) all year. To the east in the montaña forests, the temperature is warmer but still fairly moderate. To the south, in La Selva and the jungles of the Amazon Basin, temperatures average 20°C (68°F) and can soar as high as 35°C (95°F) during the hottest months. The Coast (La Costa) is also warm all year, averaging 20°C (68°F). Despite being a desert area, these relatively moderate temperatures are credited to nearly constant cold air movement. The Peru (Humboldt) Current is a wind blowing from the very cold waters, located in the Peru-Chile Trench of the Pacific Ocean, toward the equator.

In addition to the chilly Peru Current, Peru is affected by a second weather phenomenon: El Niño. Every four to ten years, El Niño presents the strongest climate-changing phenomenon on Earth. El Niño is a warm current originating from the central Pacific Ocean along the coasts of Peru and Ecuador that, among other effects, brings flooding rains and unusually warm temperatures to Peru. Peruvian fishermen chose the name El Niño, which refers to the infant Christ, because the weather system begins near Christmas. El Niño has strong worldwide effects on climate, as well as on fishing, agriculture, and animal and plant life.

Most rain and moisture originates from trade winds to the east, blowing across the Amazon Basin. Because the mountains trap nearly all the rains, the coastal plain is relatively dry year-round, averaging less than 2.5 centimeters (one inch) of annual rainfall in Lima. During the winter season, however, a nearly constant mist, the garua, shrouds the coast. In extreme contrast, the eastern forests receive an average annual rainfall of 245 centimeters (100 inches); in some years, these areas are inundated with up to 350 centimeters (140 inches).


Peru is a country of geographic extremes. Consider, for example, that two canyons in Peru are each twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the United States. Peru also has the highest navigable lake in the world and has some of the world's highest and most spectacular mountains. Off the Pacific Ocean shoreline is a trench as deep as the Andes Mountains are high, and the driest desert on earth is located in Peru.

Peru has three major topographic regions running from north to south: La Costa, La Sierra, and La Selva. La Costa, bordering the Pacific Ocean, is a 2,414-kilometer- (1,500-mile-) long desert; it is only 16 kilometers (10 miles) wide at one point, but it widens to about 160 kilometers (100 miles) in both the north and the south. La Sierra is the Peruvian portion of the Andes, a vast mountain range crossing Peru and parts of Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador. La Selva covers roughly 60 percent of Peru. It is the rainforest region of the Amazon Basin, between the mountains of La Sierra and the eastern foothills.

Peru has occasional volcanic activity and earthquakes from the effect of the offshore Nazca Tectonic Plate moving under the South American Plate, on which Peru sits.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

The western border of Peru is the Pacific Ocean. Offshore, the ocean floor drops quickly into the Peru-Chile Trench, a trench that is 1,770 kilometers (1,100 miles) long and averages a depth of 5,000 meters (16,400 feet), as deep as the Andes Mountains are tall. Cold water rising in the underwater trench generates the chilly coastal winds named the Peru Current.

Sea Inlets and Straits

A section of the north coast near Ecuador has two inlets: Bahía de Paita (Paita Bay) and the larger Bahía de Sechura (Sechura Bay).

Islands and Archipelagos

The Islas de los Uros, in the Peruvian part of Lake Titicaca, may be the most unique inhabited islands in South America. The Uros are made of reeds that float; consequently, they are also called Islas Flotantes. The largest islands in the group are Toranipata, Huaca Huacani, and Santa Maria. Lake Titicaca also surrounds more than thirty normal islands on each side of the Peru/Bolivia border. On the Peruvian side, two important islands, both to the east of Islas de los Uros, are Isla Taquile and Isla Amantani; the latter contains Inca ruins. A third, Isla Esteves, is connected to the mainland town of Puno by a causeway.

Because the ocean floor is so steep, few islands appear off the Pacific coast of Peru, and those that do are relatively small. Starting from the north, a few kilometers from the shore of the Sechura Desert, are Isla Lobos de Tierra and Islas Lobos de Afuera, the latter of which actually is composed of two tiny islands. Much further south, near the mouth of the Pisco River within Reserva Nacional de Paracas, are several islands notable for the rare sea animals and birds that live there, including the most northern habitat of penguins. From north to south they are the Chin-cha Islands, Islas Ballestas, Islas de Sangayán, and Isla de la Independencia.

Coastal Features

The coastline is somewhat featureless, with few ports, bays, or dramatic points. The Pacific coast begins at the border with Ecuador in the Gulf of Guayaquil. Punta Negra on the northern coast separates Bahía de Paita and Bahía de Sechura. Further south, the Paracas Peninsula juts out below Lima near the town of Pisco.


Dozens of small lakes filled by milky-blue glacial water speckle the Peruvian Andes. One notably large lake, Lake Titicaca, is by far the largest lake in the country. At 3,856 meters (12,650 feet) above sea level, Titicaca is the world's highest navigable lake. It is situated in the mountains, in Peru's southeastern corner on the border with Bolivia. The lake is nearly equally shared between the two countries. Titicaca is 220 kilometers (136 miles) long and 60 kilometers (37 miles) at its widest. Its surface covers a total area of 8,320 square kilometers (3,212 square miles) and its maximum depth is 360 meters (1,181 feet).

In 1998, the especially severe El Niño created Peru's newest lake. It is located in the northern desert district of Piura and was formed from rainfall and drainage off the western mountains. It has become the second-largest lake in Peru, but it has not yet been named. Experts expect the lake will dry out in a few years unless another El Niño occurs.


About sixty rivers flow generally westward through the coastal plains to empty into the Pacific. They are relatively short and low-volume. The rivers swell during the few rainy months, then diminish or even dry up during the arid season. Rio Santa is an exception. It is larger in volume than the other rivers flowing into the Pacific and flows mostly from north to south for 160 kilometers (100 miles). Other rivers that empty into the Pacific include the Chicama, the Huaura, the Pisco, and the Ica Rivers.

Scores of rivers flow eastward into the Amazon Basin. Because of heavy rainfall, these rivers carry a tremendous volume of water. Many of these rivers are tributaries that create the Amazon. The Amazon is the second-longest river in the world with a total length of about 6,570 kilometers (4,080 miles). In 2000, a National Geographic expedition established the precise source of the Amazon to be a stream running from Nevado Mismi, an 5,597-meter (18,363-foot) mountain in the Cordillera del Chila of the central-south Andes. It is the farthest point from which water flows year-round into the Amazon. Less than one-tenth, or a total of 592 kilometers (368 miles), of the Amazon flows through Peru, however. The river flows through Colombia and Brazil before reaching the Atlantic Ocean. It has eighteen major tributaries, including ten that are larger than the Mississippi River. The river is also known as having the world's largest flow of water, emptying about 80 million gallons of water per second into the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon Basin is home to the world's largest tropical rainforest area.

Major northeastern Peruvian rivers that contribute to the Amazon include the Marañón, the Ucayali, and the Yavarí. The Marañón flows northeast from the Andes and the Ucayali flows north from central Peru; both tributaries join the Amazon in the northeast. The Marañón has many tributaries of its own, including the Napo, Mantaro, Huallaga, Tigre, and Pastaza. Rivers that feed into the Ucayali include the Urubamba and the Apurímac. The Urubamba River flows through El Valle Sagrado (The Sacred Valley), beside and below the ancient city of Machu Picchu. The Yavarí River flows somewhat parallel and to the east of the Urubamba and makes up most of Peru's border with Brazil. The Putu-mayo River, which forms the border with Colombia, later joins the Amazon in Brazil.

In southeastern Peru, there are several important rivers. The Purús, Río de las Piedras, Madre de Dios, and Inambari drain the region north of Lake Titicaca. They all flow northeast and join the Amazon thousands of miles later, in Brazil.

Besides various estuaries, one remote large wetland in the northeast Selva region is especially interesting. Reserva Pacaya Samiria (20,800 square kilometers/8,031 square miles) is a complex expanse of alluvial terraces and floodplains covered by tropical rainforest. It contains two river basins, permanent freshwater lakes, and seasonally flooded, forested wetlands.


The western side of Peru, bordering the Pacific Ocean, is desert. One particularly inaccessible area in the far northwest is the Sechura Desert. This desert consists of shifting sand dunes and borax lakes. It is a national reserve area.

The driest area anywhere on Earth is at Peru's far south near the Chilean border. This region marks the beginning of the Atacama Desert, an area that virtually never receives rain and is measurably drier than the Sahara Desert.


Some of the world's most spectacular forests are in Peru. An enormous band of tropical cloud forests (montaña ) form a natural border between the Andes and the Amazon Basin to the east. Starting at about 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) and below, the mountain vegetation changes from grasses to bushes, shrubs, and then trees. This transition in vegetation is sharply noticeable, hence the Spanish name for it: ceja de la montaña (eyebrow of the forest). Further east and south, toward Brazil, is La Selva, the lowland forest and rainforest region of Peru. Over some areas of this region, the forest is so dense that access to it exists only along the rivers.


The Nazca lines, created by the ancient Nazca people of southern Peru, continue to mystify archaeologists. The elegant lines are really a series of over three hundred pictures or drawings of animal and plant figures (called biomorphs) and geometric figures (also called geoglyphs) that were created in the desert plains on the southern coast of Peru, about 400 kilometers south of Lima. Since the lines of the pictures extend for hundreds of meters, the images are only completely recognizable from the air; because of this, they were not discovered until the 1920s as airplanes began to fly over the area. The Nazca people created the lines by moving aside the dark stones of the desert to reveal the lighter-colored sands beneath.

Since the climate there is very dry and relatively windless, the pictures have remained for centuries. Archaeologists have not yet agreed on why the Nazca people drew the pictures. One theory indicates that the images were created as part of rituals involving the worship of sky gods and ancient astronomy or astrology practices.


The Andes Mountains (Cordillera de los Andes) is the world's longest continuous mountain chain. At about 8,045 kilometers (5,000 miles) long, it stretches down the entire western coast of South America, from Venezuela to the Tierra del Fuego of Argentina. The Andes is the second-highest mountain range in the world, with some peaks rising more than 6,096 meters (20,000 feet).

Covering the greater part of the country, the Andes Mountains in Peru are subdivided into three main parallel ranges. From west to east, they are the Cordillera Occidental, the Cordillera Central, and the Cordillera Oriental. The Cordillera Occidental is further divided into the adjacent Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Huayhuash. Nevado Huascarán, Peru's highest mountain, towering to 6,768 meters (22,205 feet), is in the Cordillera Blanca about 97 kilometers (60 miles) inland from the coastal city of Chimbote. The Cordillera Huayhuash is lower but includes Nevada Yerupajá at 6,634 meters (21,765 feet) and Cerro Jyamy at 5,197 meters (17,050 feet). In the south are two of the highest volcanoes in the world: Volcán Misti, which rises to 5,801 meters (19,031 feet) at the edge of Arequipa, and the slightly shorter Volcán Yucamani, which reaches 5,444 meters (17,860 feet).


Cañon del Colca (Colca Canyon), in southwest Peru, is 3,182 meters (10,607 feet) deep, twice as deep as the United States' Grand Canyon. Unlike the Grand Canyon, however, parts of Colca Canyon are inhabited. The canyon attracts visitors who not only want to view the magnificent canyon itself, but also wish to watch the Andean condors, which hunt and nest in the canyon. Only recently has the canyon been fully traversed. Nearby Cañon del Cotahuasi is less explored. Some observers think that Cotahuasi is deeper than Colca, and ultimately may prove to be the world's deepest canyon.


The Altiplano (meaning "high plain") is a high plateau within the Andes that is shared by Peru and Bolivia. Lake Titicaca is located here. The high level plain is densely populated. Open land is used mainly as pasture for sheep, goats, alpacas, and llamas. The Mato Grosso plateau extends from Brazil into southeast Peru and northwest Bolivia. This is a sparsely populated area of forests and grasslands.


Peru's Valley of the Pyramids, or the Pyramids of Tucume, is the most significant artificial geographic feature. The Valley of the Pyramids is located between the cities of Chiclayo and Trujillo. Twenty-six step-type pyramids, built sometime before 1,100 a.d., serve as tombs for ancient Peruvians. One pyramid honors the Lord of Sipan, believed to have been a revered leader of the Moche people, who were prominent from about 3 a.d. to 700 a.d. Archaeologists have discovered artifacts of gold, silver, copper, and semi-precious stones in his tomb, as well as several sets of human remains. Scientists speculate these remains were unfortunate subjects of the king, who may have been entombed alive at the time the pyramid was closed for the king's burial.



Barrett, Pam. Insight Guide: Peru. London: Geocenter International, 2003.

Pearson, David, and Beletsky, Les D. Peru: The Ecotravellers' Wildlife Guide. Burlington, MA: Academic Press, 2000.

Landau, Elaine. Peru. New York: Children's Press, 2000.

Lyle, Gary. Peru. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 1998.

Wright, Ruth M, and Alfredo Valencia Zegarra. The Machu Picchu Guidebook: A Self-Guided Tour. Boulder, CO: Johnson Books, 2001.

Web Sites

Virtual Peru. (accessed April 3, 2003).

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The first reference to psychoanalysis in Peru dates from a thesis presented in 1914. The following year, Honorio Delgado published an article on the new discipline in the country's most important daily. In 1918 he and Hermilio Valdizán founded the Revista de psiquiatría y disciplinas conexas (Review of psychiatry and associated disciplines), the first mouthpiece for psychoanalysis in Latin America. In 1919 he wrote the first Spanish work on the subject. That same year he received a letter from Freud, the first in an epistolary exchange that was to last until 1934.

Although Freud was interested in enlisting Delgadowhom he cited as an example of his influence in Spanish-speaking countries, and whose articles and reports appeared in Imago, the Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse, Psychoanalytic Review and the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis the Peruvian physician, on the other hand, manifested some reticence. He attended the Berlin Congress on Freud's invitation. He arrived late but nevertheless managed to meet the founder of psychoanalysis. In 1926 Delgado published Freud's biography and paid homage to him in the National Academy of Medicine. Paradoxically, in 1927, just as he was beginning to manifest a much more critical attitude, he was made a member of the British Psychoanalytic Society (BPS), attended the Innsbruck congress, and visited Freud at Semmering.

Having been a major figure in Peruvian psychiatry for more than thirty years, Delgado changed position from that of an exponent to that of a detractor. He was the architect behind the enthusiastic welcome that psychoanalysis received in the 1920s, when the discipline was introduced into psychiatry lectures and when the most important reviews published translations of Freudian textsin 1926 one of them devoted an entire issue to Freud and psychoanalysis. José Carlos Mariátegui, the most eminent Peruvian thinker of the 20th century and founder of the Peruvian Communist Party, devoted an article to psychoanalysis as well as a chapter in one of his books. In 1929, one year before his premature death, he wrote a psychoanalytically informed article on literature.

Delgado's opposition in the 1930s was an obstacle to the expansion of the psychoanalytic movement, which was suspended for another four decades. With the exception of some isolated articles and a few theses, the psychiatric milieu lost all interest in the discipline. It disappeared from the scene for several years, until reintroduced through the influence of Carlos Alberto Seguin. The science journalist, Oscar Miró Quesada (RACSO), nevertheless devoted several articles to Freud and psychoanalysis, as well as a book in 1937.

In 1940 Seguin published a book in Buenos Aires on Freud. He later went into analysis and frequented the New York Psychoanalytic Institute. For many years he was director of the first psychiatry department attached to a general hospital in Latin America and contributed to promoting dynamic psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine on psychoanalytic bases. He was president of the psychoanalytic section of the Peruvian committee at the first World Congress on Psychiatry. His influence was of major importance: ninety percent of psychiatrist members of the Peruvian Psychoanalytic Society studied under him.

Saúl Peña's return to Peru in 1969 marked the beginning of active work in university and clinical circles, which continued with the returns of Carlos Crisanto in 1973 and Max Hernández in 1974, the year of the foundation of the Center for the Development of Psychoanalysis. In 1979 the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) recognized this institution as a provisional study group and appointed a sponsoring committee which admitted the three analysts as training analysts and selected the first candidates.

Founded in 1980, the Peruvian Psychoanalytic Society was accepted as a study group in 1981. Peña, Crisanto, Hernández and the new sponsors made up the joint training committee of the brand new Peruvian Institute of Psycho-analysis. In 1985 the group acquired the status of a provisional society and that of a member society in 1987.

With Sara Flores as president, the Society had forty-eightassociate and full members as of 2004, to which we must add the twenty-two candidates and students from the Institute directed by Jorge Kantor, and the eleven candidates from the seventh group to begin training. The many influences from psychoanalysts trained abroad and the foreign personages associated with the society have contributed to representing very different schools (British-independent and Anna Freud, East and West Coast United States, Argentina, France, and Frankfurt).

The society has organized and/or sponsored eight national congresses and other events, mainly international and inter-disciplinary, which have contributed to forging a role in cultural life for psychoanalysis as well as having an influence on artists, specialists in the social sciences, educators, historians, writers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. The 1998 international conference "On the Threshold of the Millennium" and "At the End of the Battle" (2001), both co-sponsoredby the IPA and UNESCO, also aroused the interest of politicians, economists, captains of industry, diplomats, and the general public.

Since 2001 the most prestigious private university of the country has a Master's Program in Psychoanalytic Theoretical Studies, organized by Max Hernández and Moisés Lemlij, whose second class is about to graduate. Also the most widely read weekly in the country has a column presenting a psychoanalytic point of view and a psychoanalyst heads a radio program where people seek advice and consultation.

Max Hernández is one of the leading intellectuals in contemporary Peru and a major personality in the Peruvian Society. His influence extends beyond the discipline and his contributions have been rewarded with the Sigourney prize. During his presidency of the FEPAL, Saúl Peña, the first president and honorary president of the Peruvian society, organized the first Latin American Congress of Child and Adolescent Psychoanalysis and presented the contributions of Latin American psychoanalysis in the form of various publications.

César Rodríguez Rabanal, a former member of the Peruvian Society and an important leader of opinion, made a renowned contribution on the subject of how to approach marginalized and under-privileged populations. As an active promoter on an international level of culture in general and psychoanalysis in particular, Moisés Lemlij has twice been vice-president and treasurer of the IPA.Álvaro Rey de Castro, current President of FePAL, stands out for his active participation in the war against corruption .

The main psychoanalytically-informed institutions in Peru are: the Center for Psychosocial Development and Counseling (1976), the Lima Center for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies (1983), the Association for Child Psychotherapy (1986), the Center for Psychoanalysis and Society (1986), the Interdisciplinary Seminar on Andean Studies (1987), the Center for Human Development and Creativity (1995), the Center for the Development of Art Therapy (1997), and the School of Applied Clinical Psychotherapy (1999). The Lacanian movement is still at an embryonic stage.

The leading works are published by the Biblioteca Peruana de Psicoanálisis and the Fondo Editorial SIDEA. Directed by Moisés Lemlij, these publishing centers have together published more than thirty works sice the early 1990s. Also worthy of note is the Libro anual de psicoanálisis (Annual book of psychoanalysis), published by Gustavo Delgado (The Peruvian Society publishes a journal, Psicoanálisis, every two years).

MoisÉs Lemlij

See also: Delgado, Honorio; Revista de psiquiatria y disciplinas conexas ; Valdizán, Hermilio.


Delgado, Honorio. (1989). Freud y el psicoanálisis. (J. Mariátegui, Comp.). Lima: University Cayetano Heredia.

Hernández, Max. (1992). Memoria del bien perdido. Identidad, conflicto y nostalgia en el Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Lima: Instituto de estudios peruanos y biblioteca peruana de psicoanálisis.

Hernández, Max, et al. (1996). Entre el mito y la historia. 3d. ed. Lima,:Fondo Sidea. (Original work published 1987)

Rey de Castro,Álvaro. (1991). Freud y Honorio Delgado: una aproximación psicoanalítica a la prehistoria del psicoanálisis peruano y sus escuelas, el múltiple interés del psicoanálisis-77 años después. (p. 203-237). Talleres de Artes Gráficas Espino.

Rodríguez, Rabanal César. (1989). Cicatrices de la pobreza. Caracas, Venezuela : Nueva Sociedad.

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Country statistics


1,285,220sq km (496,223sq mi) 26,748,972

capital (population):

Lima (7,497,000)


Multi-party republic

ethnic groups:

Quechua 47%, Mestizo 32%, White 12%, Aymara 5%


Spanish and Quechua (both official), Aymara


Roman Catholic 93%, Protestant 6%


New sol = 100 centavos

Republic in w South America. The Republic of Peru, in w South America, divides into three geographical areas. Along the Pacific coast lies a narrow strip of desert. Peru's major urban areas, such as the capital, Lima, lie beside oases. Three ranges of the Andes mountains dominate the centre. In the foothills of the Cordillera Occidental lies Peru's second-largest city, Arequipa. The range includes Peru's highest peak, Mount Huascarán, at 6768m (22,205ft). The Cordillera Central merges into the Cordillera Oriental, site of Cuzco and the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. Between the e and w ranges lies the Altiplano Plateau, site of many lakes, including Lake Titicaca. In the e lie forested highlands and the lowlands of the Amazon basin.

Climate and Vegetation

Lima has an arid climate. El Niño brings infrequent violent storms. Inland, there is more frequent precipitation. The high Andes are permanently snowcapped. The e is hot and rainy. The coastal desert oases form Peru's major growing region. Grassland lies on the higher slopes of the Andes. The e is a region of selva, tropical rainforest with trees such as rosewood and rubber. Here the major crop is coca.

History and Politics

Native American civilizations developed more than 10,000 years ago. In 1200, the Inca established a capital at Cuzco. By 1500, their empire extended from Ecuador to Chile. The Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro captured the Inca ruler Atahualpa in 1532, and by 1533 conquered most of Peru. In 1535, he founded Lima. In 1544, Lima became capital of Spain's South American empire. Spain's rule caused frequent native revolts, such as that of Tupac Amaru. In 1820, José de San Martín captured coastal Peru. In 1821, Peru declared independence. Spain still held much of the interior, and Simón Bolívar completed liberation in 1826. In 1836, Peru and Bolivia formed a short-lived confederation. In the War of the Pacific (1879–84) Peru lost some of its s provinces to Chile. The early 20th century was characterized by dictatorship, and the growing gap between a wealthy oligarchy and the impoverished native population. From 1968 to 1980, a military junta failed to carry out democratic reforms. Austerity measures, introduced by the civilian government during the 1980s, caused civil unrest. Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) waged an insurgency campaign that claimed more than 30,000 lives. Promising tough anti-terrorist measures, Alberto Fujimori became president in 1990 elections. In 1992, he suspended the constitution and dismissed parliament. The army captured many guerrilla leaders. A new constitution was adopted in 1993, and Fujimori was re-elected in 1995. In 1996, MRTA guerrillas captured the Japanese Embassy in Lima. A four month-long siege ended when the army stormed the complex, killing all the guerrillas. In 1998, Peru and Ecuador signed a peace treaty resolving a protracted border dispute. In 2000, after a series of corruption scandals, Fujimori resigned. Alejandro Toledo became president in 2001 elections.


Peru is a lower-middle income developing country (2000 GDP per capita, US$4550). Agriculture employs 35% of the workforce. Major crops include beans, maize, potatoes and rice. Coffee, cotton and sugar cane are major exports. Peru lands the world's third-largest fish catch and is the eighth-largest producer of copper ore. Since 1990 a number of free-market reforms that have reduced inflation and foreign debt.

Political map

Physical map


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Culture Name



Identification. Peru has a long and rich history. The Spanish conquistadors Francisco Pizarro (c.14751541) and Diego de Almagro (14751538) received news of a mighty and rich empire lying just south of the present territory of Central America. The indigenous population of Panama referred to this powerful state as the land of Piru or Peru (word meaning "land of abundance" in the region's native Quechua tongue). The northern and central part of the South American continent was described as such in all the early chronicles and ethnohistoric accounts. Although the name Peru was used by foreigners to describe the indigenous Inca population, they called themselves the Tahuantinsuyu (meaning "the four-quarters" in Quechua). To this day, one of the most powerful groups to challenge Peruvian national identity is that of the contemporary Indian population, which at different times in history has seen itself as the rightful heirs of the Inca empire and has resisted European influence on its culture. The name Peru was pervasive during the colonial period and was used to denominate the larger sections of the powerful viceroyalty of Lima. Upon independence, Peru was the name given to the country.

Location and Geography. Peru has an approximate land area of 496,225 square miles (1,285,223 square kilometers) and is located in the central western section of the South American continent. It borders Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, Chile to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Peru's capital, Lima, is located on the coast, about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Pacific Ocean. Lima is home to almost a third of Peru's total population, with a total of two-thirds of the country's population living in the coastal region.

Peru is divided into three major regions. The western coast contains dry, desertlike regions to the north as well as to the south, with more agriculturally productive lands along the major valleys formed by the western-draining Andean rivers. The Central Andes run as the backbone of Peru and are comprised of two large mountain ranges with spectacular snow-capped volcanoes and temperate mountain valleys. The Andean mountains were the traditional home of the ancestral Inca kingdom. To this day, the Andes support many of the current surviving indigenous populations, some still claiming a direct Inca ancestry. Finally, in the northeast, the large region of Amazonian tropical forest has recently been the scene of oil exploration and political colonization projects. Peru's tropical forest basin also is the source of three of the major tributaries of the Amazon River, the Ucayali, Huallaga, and Marañón Rivers.

Since the 1980s, there has been the growing of impact of the El Niño (the child) current. This strong southern current, called El Niño because it occurs around Christmas, is responsible for a warming of the water temperature off the Peruvian coast that leads to great rainfalls, large-level floods along the coast, and periods of drought along the southern highlands.

Demography. Peru's population in 2000 was approximately 25 million. At the moment of conquest (mid-1500s), the original indigenous population numbered around 12 million. Only in the last forty years of the twentieth century was Peru once again able to reach that initial number, since the indigenous population had been almost completely decimated. Two-thirds of Peru's population is concentrated along the major urban centers of the coast and the rest is in the Andes, making the Amazon the least populated of its regions. There are four major ethnic groups in Peru: (1) whites (of European ancestry); (2) mestizos (of mixed European and Indian ancestrypejoratively referred to as cholos ); (3) Indians (of Native American ancestry); and (4) Afro-Peruvians (of African descent). Accurate statistics for each of these four populations are difficult to collect because of the fluidity and arbitrariness in defining people as members of each community. The following rough estimates are usually given for each group: the Indian population is the largest, comprising almost 45 percent of the overall population; the mestizo population is second, with around 40 percent; and whites and blacks are a distant third and fourth with 10 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

In the late twentieth century, the Asian-Peruvian community (mainly of Chinese and Japanese descent) gained greater public recognition, especially with the election of a Peruvian president of Japanese ancestry (Alberto Fujimori). Both Asian populations have similar migration histories starting in the late 1800s and tend to be incorporated into the same racial/ethnic category.

Linguistic Affiliation. Spanish and Quechua are both recognized as official languages in Peru. Spanish, however, is the language enforced by both the education system and the government. Introduced by the Spaniards, Spanish was forced upon the indigenous population throughout the colonial period by the Spanish Crown. This enforced linguistic practice continued throughout Peru's republic period (from the 1830s to the present). The Spanish spoken in Peru is also unique to the region, combining the Castillian tongue with many native Quechua and Aymara terms.

Although Quechua is spoken by most of Peru's Indian population, a significant amount of the Indian population speak Aymara as their native language. Aymara speakers are typically located in the southern region of the country along the shores of Lake Titicaca, which Peru shares as a border with Bolivia. Because of large migration within the country, Aymara and Quechua speakers are also found throughout the major urban centers of Peru.

Originally spoken by the Incas, Quechua was imposed upon all the populations conquered by them, allowing the Incas an easier medium of communication and domination. After the Spanish conquest, Quechua gained recognition as the indigenous lingua franca and also took on a characteristic of resistance rather than domination. There are also several other dozen languages spoken by other indigenous groups, most of which live in Peru's Amazon basin. The rich African influence also has contributed to a culturally and stylistically distinct variation of Peruvian Spanish.

Symbolism. The archaeological remains of the royal Inca estate of Machu Picchu is one of the most striking images emblematic of Peruvian culture. The majestic image of this ancient ruin perched high in the Andes is used to symbolize the resilience of Peruvian traditions. The fact that Machu Picchu lies on an 8,000-foot (2,440 meter) mountaintop and that it escaped destruction by the Spaniards looms large in the imaginations of Peruvians and tourists. The ruins evoke the nation's Indian past and legitimizes both Peru's historical heritage and cultural tradition.

Other emblematic figures of Peru are that of the Lake Titicaca and the island of the sun. The island of the sun is the largest of the islands in Lake Titicaca and was considered sacred by the Incas. As a result of this sacred status, the Incas maintained a temple to the sun on the island and a group of religious servants including celibate women (called acllas ) year round. The highest navigable lake in the world at 12,500 feet (3,810 meters) above sea level and with an extension of 3,200 square miles (8,300 square kilometers), Titicaca is a natural border between Peru and Bolivia. The temperate waters of Lake Titicaca, as well as the different Indian communities that still make their livelihood off the lake's resources, are reminders of Peru's ancient traditions. Like other South American countries, Peru also imbues its flag, national anthem, and national coat of arms with sacred value. These three national symbols are held in enormous esteem and provide a common ground for Peruvians to memorialize their country's political and military struggles.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The current configuration of Peru took form on 28 July 1821 when it declared its independence from Spanish rule. The declaration followed the occupation of Lima by the Argentinian general José de San Martín and the fleeing of the royalist forces to the interior of the country. But it really was not until 1824 and the battles of Ayacucho and Junín that the royalists were defeated and Spanish power in the whole continent was finally overthrown. These final battles were led not by San Martín, but rather by the Venezuelan generals Simón Bolívar and Antonio Joséde Sucre. San Martín had already retired to Europe after seeking Bolívar's support to secure Peru's independence. In this manner, Peruvian independence was obtained a couple of years later than most other South American states. This tardiness was due to the politically and religiously more conservative nature of the Peruvian aristocracy, the large presence of Spaniards in the territory, and the solid Spanish military stronghold of Lima.

National Identity. Peruvians maintain a very strong sense of national identity supported by a series of common characteristics such as language, religion, food, and music. Spanish and Catholicism have historically provided a zealous sense of national belonging and cultural identity. These national characteristics have also enabled a national ethos to withstand the regional and ethnic differences inherent in the Peruvian population. Before the advent of roads or railways, the sheer difficulty in traversing Peru's geography was one of the greatest obstacles to solidifying a national identity. Since the 1960s, and especially due to a large internal migration toward the major urban centers, regional differences have seemed to present less of a destabilizing peril. This same migration phenomenon also has provided some relief to the divisive hierarchical structure of racial and ethnic differences. Since independence, mainly Indians and blacks, and mestizos to a lesser degree, have suffered the brunt of racial discrimination. This uneven ethnic structure has made it difficult for these groups to fully participate as national citizens and to identify solely as Peruvians. Nevertheless, even with these regional and ethnic differences, a national identity is still solidly in place, most probably also due to the centralized nature of the education system and bureaucratic structures.

Ethnic Relations. A Peruvian identity is most firmly found among the white elite and large mestizo communities. The three other ethnic groupsIndians, blacks, and Asianstend to have much more complex identity formations as Peruvians. Indians above all have faced five centuries of ethnically discriminatory and genocidal practices against its population. Even after independence their general treatment was not radically different. Indians are still portrayed as backwards and inferior and perform the hardest and less remunerative forms of labor. The more than sixty Amazon Indian groups still face cultural extinction as a result of oil exploration, agricultural production, and mining colonizing campaigns.

Afro-Peruvians also have suffered the brunt of racial and cultural discrimination since their emancipation in 1854. Through the lack of opportunities to improve their social situations, most Afro-Peruvians have been limited to rural work or domestic labor. The black community has traditionally occupied the coastal parts of the nation and has its major concentrations along the areas of Chincha (three hours south of Lima) and the neighborhoods of La Victoria and Matute within Lima. Meanwhile, black men in Peru have been particularly enabled to excel as national icons within both local and national soccer teams. This iconization of Afro-Peruvian athletes as national sports heroes stands in sharp contrast with the friction that the community has on the whole encountered as part of Peruvian culture.

Chinese and Japanese immigrants came to Peru in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Both groups were brought in to work as rural laborers in the large hacienda/estate holdings. Japanese migrants have experience a more difficult integration because of their lesser tendency to marry outside their culture. The election of a Peruvian president of Japanese ancestry, however, has brought into question many of the traditional assumptions regarding the friction between Asian-Peruvians and their national counterparts. Some analysts have argued that Fujimori was voted into power by Indians and mestizos who saw themselves being closer to an Asian-Peruvian candidate than to one representing the traditional white elite.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

There are three major architectural traditions in Peru. The pre-Hispanic tradition represents all those indigenous architectural traits existing in the territory before the Spanish conquest. The ruins of places such as Machu Picchu in Ayacucho, the temple of the sun in Cuzco, and the ruins of Sacsahuamán, also in Cuzco, solemnly stand as testimonials to a non-Western form of architecture and space dynamics. Pre-Hispanic buildings are made out of stone masonry and are fitted expertly with each other, to such a degree that not even a needle can be pushed in between them. The main constructions of all Inca urban centers are the Inca's palace, the main temple of the sun, and the house for the Acllaconas (females virgins selected for religious service).

The Spanish conquest brought with it a completely different architectural sensibility. In most places pre-Hispanic buildings were destroyed and Catholic churches were built on top of the major Indian temples, such as the convent of Santo Domingo that was built over the temple of the sun in Cuzco. This colonial architecture brought with it many of the styles in vogue in the European courts of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, including that of the Baroque. Some of the best examples of this colonial period are the cathedrals in both Lima and Cuzco, as well as the Church of San Agustín and the residence of the Marqués de Torre Tagle in Lima. Traditionally, the colonial architectural sensibility impacted the whole urban space, creating a central plaza surrounded by the most important buildings in the administration of the city, such as the government palace, the cathedral, the archbishop's palace, and the city government building. The oldest Peruvian cities such as Arequipa, Cuzco, and Lima are the best examples of this colonial style.

Since the nineteenth century, however, a wider notion of modernist tradition has become popular in Peruvian culture. This has meant the expansion of the urban space and the construction of much more architecturally modern buildings and housing throughout Lima, but more strikingly in the adjacent city of Miraflores. Banks and other financial institutions throughout the country also are reflective of this modernist trend. These financial towers and their glass constructions are very much indicative of a dramatic shift in the architectural style of Peru.

The urban space, especially that of Lima, changed rapidly in the last three decades of the twentieth century. Lima has experienced a significant increase of its population as a result of inner migrations and the creation of shanty towns (pueblos jóvenes ) around its perimeter. People take over abandoned lands just outside the city limits and overnight construct flimsy homes of aluminum steel, plywood, and other malleable materials. Only after the pueblos jóvenes have survived possible forceful removal at the hands of the police will cement and sturdier materials be used for reconstructing the residences.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Peru is known for its distinct cuisine. The daily food customs are marked regionally between the coast and the highlands even though both rely heavily on soups and rice as dietary staples. In this manner seafood and plantains are typical of the coastal diet, while different kinds of meat, corn, and potatoes are much more frequently consumed in the highlands. Ceviche, fish marinated in ají, a hot sauce made mainly from spicy peppers, tomato, onions and lemon, is an example of a particular Peruvian delicacy. African dishes such as the cau cau (tripe casserole) and the mazamorra (chicha drink made from maize) are particular Peruvian dishes that reflect this tradition more than others. Meanwhile, roasted guinea pig is also an Andean delicacy dating most probably to pre-Hispanic days.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. All Peruvian festivities are accompanied by large levels of eating and drinking, a practice that seems to have a long tradition in both indigenous and Spanish cultures. Typical indigenous celebrations, such as the Inti Raymi (summer solstice), are accompanied by large roasting of meats (such as llama, guinea pig, pork, and lamb) and the ritual drinking of chicha de jora (maize beer). Another Peruvian ceremonial occasion, the observation of holy week, has strong food restrictions. During this time the consumption of meat is religiously restricted, providing for a whole array of seafood-based dishes. High on this list of alternative foods are fish and bean dishes, mainly the consumption of cod fish (bacalao ), as well as fanesca, and the infamous humitas (corn and cheese cakes). Humitas are highly regarded since they were originally made only for the holy week observation, but in the last couple of years have become part of the national cuisine found at restaurants and food shops.

Basic Economy. Peru is traditionally portrayed as a country with a developing economy dependent upon the export of raw materials and the import of manufactured goods. It is also one of the leading fishing countries in the world and ranks among the largest producers of bismuth, silver, and copper. Traditionally, Peru has also been an agricultural-based society with almost a third of its workforce involved in farm labor. Until the 1980s, Peru had been able to be more or less self-sufficient in terms of food; since then, however, the nation began the large-level importation of wheat, corn, rice, vegetable oils, dairy products, and meat to feed its population. Since the 1980s there also has been a concerted effort, with limited success, to create nontraditional export industries (such as fish meal, shrimp, minerals, and oil) and to manufacture certain consumer goods rather than importing them.

Land Tenure and Property. After independence, land ownership remained in the hands of the traditional family elites that had governed the colonial territory. These large landholders maintained the traditional hacienda structure in which the indigenous population and other rural workers labored almost as indentured servants. Since the 1960s large projects of agrarian reform have been implemented, and these radical land transformations have significantly altered the traditionally skewed land accumulation practices. The lack of modern agricultural techniques as well as the limited size of the land plots, however, have impacted negatively on the overall production of these new farming strategies.

Commercial Activities. Hernando De Soto's book, The Other Path (1989), was quite influential in making explicit the large place occupied by the informal economy in Peru. According to some, over half of Peru's population is part of this informal economy as noncontractual workers making a living off the streets or in nonregulated small business ventures in addition to street vendors who sell anything from food to flowers, with some of the most typical jobs in the informal sector include car cleaning, windshield wiping, and working in family-owned stores and businesses. But even the other half of the workforce that labors under signed legal contracts must also rely on informal labor (such as selling jewelry, and driving taxis) in their spare time to make enough for themselves and their families to survive.

Major Industries. Most of Peru's industries are located within the greater radius of the capital, Lima, even after concerted efforts from the state to disperse their location. Traditionally Peru had provided the labor force and minor raw materials for its assembly industry. However, the recent state tendency has been to provide wider support for industries that meet the national demand for consumer goods, as well as in the laws that regulate the production of cement, steel, fertilizers, processed food, textiles, and petroleum. The support has come in the form of tax relief and trade protection policies that have allowed manufacturing to become one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. The demand for increased manufacturing has been met to some degree, although the fact that many of these incipient industries still fall within the ranks of the informal economy makes it quite difficult for the state to regulate their growth and secure the complete benefits.

Trade. Because of Peru's colonial past, trade has always played a major role in the economymainly the export of raw materials and the importing of manufactured goods. The United States is by far Peru's most important trading partner, accounting for-one third of all its imports and exports. Western Europe, Japan, Colombia, and Brazil comprise most of the rest of the country's trading relationships. The main products sold to these countries are minerals (silver, lead, copper, bismuth, and zinc) and agricultural products (cotton, sugar, and coffee). Oil has also become a major export item since the 1980s when a large reserve was found in the Amazon basin along with the reserves already being exploited along Peru's northern coast. Both shrimp and other types of fish (anchovies and tuna, for example) also figured high in Peru's exports in the late twentieth century.

Division of Labor. In general, the most menial forms of labor in rural and urban settings are reserved for those populations with the lowest social status: Indians, blacks, and mestizos. It is not a coincidence that these populations are the ones with the least amount of formal schooling or secondary education. Meanwhile, political office and high-level financial positions are traditionally occupied by both the white and mestizo elite. These individuals tend to have at least a secondary school education, although the majority of the time the positions are much more a result of family relationships than personal merit. Peru also suffers from a "brain exodus" (fuga de cerebros ) since many of its most capable and educated professionals have left the country for better paying and more secure jobs abroad.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Peru does not recognize any official form of caste system but in fact its treatment of the indigenous population can be seen in many ways as an implicit caste arrangement. In this implicit caste system, race and/or ethnicity is the major variable to divide the population into strongly (and after five centuries, voluntarily) enforced groupings. In Peru's racial hierarchy, very much a remnant of its colonial past, whites occupy the highest rung of the ladder while the rest of the population clings to the lowest part depending on their skin color and implied cultural status. Class also plays a significant role in the social structure, superimposing itself upon the skewed racial hierarchy of the country. Not surprisingly, whites tend to occupy the highest positions in the country and also posses the greatest amount of schooling. The class arrangement, however, is somewhat more fluid and has allowed for traditionally discriminated individuals to occupy high status positions either in politics or in the arts (nationally recognized writers such as César Vallejo and José María Arguedas were of Indian ancestry). But to a great degree these are individual exceptions that testify to, rather than question, the harsh caste and class arrangement present in Peru.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Language and dress are the most common symbols to designate either caste or class differences in Peru. Native American communities still maintain their indigenous languages such as Quechua, Aymara, and the lesser known Indian languages spoken by the Amazon groups. Many of these Indian communities have also maintained some form of traditional dress that identifies them as belonging to their group of origin. Both the colonial legacy and the contemporary market economy have contributed to widespread competition for Western status markers. The ownership of cars, expensive clothing, knowledge of English or other foreign languages, and modern appliances are typical markers of elite status in contemporary Peru. Meanwhile lower-class Peruvians can be seen wearing secondhand clothes and battling to survive almost on a day-to-day basis.

Political Life

Government. The constitution decrees a popularly elected president serving a five-year term. The president selects the prime minister who presides over the rest of the ministers, who comprise the cabinet. The country also possesses a unicameral legislature of 120 senators, popularly elected to five-year terms. Meanwhile judges are elected to the Supreme Court by the president himself from a list of nominees submitted by the National Justice Council. The judges must be approved by the Senate before they are sworn into office and are allowed to serve until they reach seventy years of age.

Leadership and Political Officials. Peru, not unlike most other South American nations, is very prone to populism, that is, to vote for and support the most charismatic figures of the political leaders. In the last three decades of the twentieth century alone, there were four such figures who were able to achieve the presidency: Alberto Fujimori (both reelected president and ousted of power in 2000), Alan García Pérez, Fernando Belaúnde Terry, and Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre. Haya de la Torre founded the APRA party (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana), which was also the party of the socialist García, who gained the presidency in 1985. Candidates rather than parties or ideologies, however, are the key voting elements in electing people into office. It is also typical for parties to be formed or rallied around individuals considered to have good chances of being elected.

Social Problems and Control. Peru has faced the serious challenge of one of the most ruthless guerrilla groups on the continent, popularly known as the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso). Since erupting in the early 1980s, the armed struggle between the Shining Path and the Peruvian state has cost over thirty thousand lives and has helped to justify the increasing police and military repression. This has meant a greater military presence in the cities and a significant increase in the incarceration of both males and females. In the 1990s jails also became a target of military crackdowns since in several prisons their educational administrations were controlled by the inmates rather than by the police. Also during this decade, because of the increasingly violent threats made on judges, secret trials (where the judges remained hooded) were carried out.

The increase of the cocaine drug trade also contributed to a greater United States presence in the country and more military activity in the eastern Andean slopes where 80 percent of the world's coca used in cocaine production is harvested. Between the guerrilla presence (including that of other groups, such as the Tupac Amaru), drug trafficking, and general conditions of poverty, the judicial system is continuously under attack for its real deficiencies and questionable practices.

Military Activity. The Peruvian military is composed approximately of 180,000 persons, divided as follows: the army, 75,000; the navy, 18,000; the air force, 15,000; and paramilitary personnel, 70,000. Almost 2 percent of the gross domestic product is spent on defense. Peru has had major wars with two neighboring countries: Chile and Ecuador. Its first war with Chile (called the Pacific War) in the late 1800s was a great reversal and resulted in a loss of territory for Peru. Its more recent armed struggles with Ecuador in the 1940s, 1980s, and 1990s had a much more positive territorial and diplomatic outcome for Peru. Because of the unstable social conditions, guerrilla warfare, and the drug trade, however, Peru's military in the late twentieth century concentrated more on maintaining internal order than in fighting national wars.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

The Peruvian government has traditionally been involved with national health and social security benefits; however, the government has had very limited success in providing Peruvian citizens with adequate care in both areas. In terms of national health programs, the lack of sufficient doctors and nurses, adequate hospital facilities, competent rural medicine agenda, and general funding has contributed to a deficient health system. Meanwhile, shortages of affordable housing, stable labor conditions, and retirement benefits has also impacted negatively with the increase of informal economy and the construction of shanty towns (pueblos jóvenes) around Lima. Modernization, which looks to privatize many of the social services provided by the Peruvian state, has also had a negative impact on social welfare programs.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

The main nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Peru are strongly linked to human rights, ethnic identity, and women's issues. There has also been concerted efforts to encourage and support social welfare programs but they have met with limited results. Among these programs the three most successful have been the comedores populares (soup kitchens), vaso de leche (glass of milk), and wawa wasis (child care centers). There have also been social organizations such as the asentamientos humanos linked to the pueblos jóvenes (shanty towns) around Lima. Guerrilla activities (mainly from the Shining Path), however, have seriously limited these organizations' activities by threatening and killing several of its most popular leaders, including María Elena Moyano, an Afro-Peruvian grassroots activist. These scare tactics have even impacted international NGOs making them less willing to support development programs in Peru.

Gender Role and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Men and women have traditionally occupied different labor roles. Since Incan times, women customarily (but not exclusively) were in charge of weaving and minor agricultural obligations while men took care of road construction, farming, and military obligations. A division of labor by gender is even further reinforced today. There are also areas, however, where this division is being blurred. As women gain more training and formal education, traditional occupations such as in business, politics, and the police are becoming viable options. At the same time the large local and international migration has left women in charge of households and forced them to get involved in social movements and in the fight for progressive change.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Although some would argue otherwise, Peru could be described as a patriarchal society. Men are preferentially treated in most, if not all, aspects of society. Sons are preferred over daughters, are given more freedom, and are less burdened with household chores and family obligations. In theory men are expected to marry and provide for their families. There are, however, large numbers of female-run households where the mother has to work and provide for her children. Meanwhile, it is a common social practice for men to have other female lovers and children outside of their initial marriage.

Marriage, Family and Kinship

Marriage. In general, Peruvians have free choice about who they can or cannot marry, with class and money being the two most significant variables in terms of marriage decisions. Many couples decide to live together (as opposed to getting married) because of their lack of resources for carrying out both the legal and religious ceremonies. Lack of economic resources is also a key reason for couples to continue to live with one of the spouses' families until they are financially secure enough to move out on their own. Heterosexual and monogamous marriages are the only ones sanctioned by the state and the Catholic Church, although men having more than one household is tolerated and even expected. Divorce and remarriage are very much a legal possibility but the Catholic Church and the conservative society strongly frowns upon remarriage following a Catholic (or other) religious ceremony.

Domestic Unit. The Peruvian model for a domestic unit is the Western nuclear family. Nevertheless, because of traditional indigenous traditions and scant resources, extended kin can also be the norm. Men in general have the highest authority within the house, although women also have much of the decision-making power, especially concerning children and family matters, even though it tends not to be explicitly recognized.

Inheritance. Males and females have equal legal rights in regard to inheritance, although in some instances women must either work harder or get legal representation because their claims might not be taken seriously.

Kin Groups. Unlike most urban Peruvians (over two-thirds of the country), the rural populations still maintain strong ties to their extended kin. Many rural populations, even when they have moved to urban centers, recognize their ties to large extended kin groups known as ayllus. Since pre-Hispanic times ayllus have defined land distributions, social obligations, and authority figures within each kin group. At present, ayllus still play a powerful part in defining people's roles and obligations in village social structures.


Infant Care. The greatest differences in child rearing practices are between the indigenous and white/mestizo populations. Indian mothers tend to carry their infants in colorful slings upon their backs even while performing trying agricultural labor. Indian mothers also openly nurse their children in public places, seeing it as a natural function, a practice that is shunned by the more Westernized mestizo and white mothers.

Child Rearing and Education. Boys and girls are strongly encouraged to attend grade and high school although either lack of money or the need for a child's labor at home persuades many lower-class families to keep their children from attending public schools. In general children are brought up to be respectful of their elders, obedient, and hard working.

Higher Education. The oldest university in South America is located in Peru. The Universidad Nacional de San Marcos in Lima was founded 12 on May 1551. Public universities have recently suffered from a credibility crisis because of their large graduation numbers and the increasing infiltration of leftist political groups. This has also contributed to the emergence of several private (including Catholic) universities, which have developed much more discriminating characteristics for admissions and graduation.


Possibly as a legacy of the strongly hierarchical pre-Hispanic cultures or European colonialism, self-discipline is strongly advocated among Peruvians. The control of one's emotions and feelings is highly valued among all Peruvians, but especially among men. Respect for elders, shown through such actions as giving up one's seat for elderly people on buses, also has a strong place among public values. These values of discipline and respect for others are in sharp contrast to a political scene marked with great levels of authoritarianism and widespread corruption. Youths are also responsible for providing a strong alternative counterculture to main normative values. This counterculture is mainly expressed through musical outlets, such as the national adaptation of rock and punk music, and North American tastes in fashion and popular culture. Public expressions of sexuality, including that of homosexual behavior, is strongly discouraged.


Religious Beliefs. Peru prides itself on being a Catholic country since the late 1500s. At present, about 90 percent of the population are Catholics while the other 10 percent belong to Protestant faiths, the most important being Evangelists, Adventists, and Mormons. Indigenous communities have also created a symbiotic form of religion not really recognized with any other name than a popular form of Catholicism. Indian groups have mixed Catholic saints with pre-Hispanic traditions, thus allowing them to maintain ancient forms of worship under the guise of Catholic rituals. For example, the indigenous feast of the Inti Raymi (summer solstice) is celebrated in many communities as the feast days of Saints Peter and Paul.

Religious Practitioners. In the Catholic tradition male priests, especially bishops and archbishops, still demand an enormous amount of respect and authority. Nuns come in second place and are well respected for their religious commitment to sexual abstinence, obedience, and poverty. Among Indian communities the shamans, or brujos/curanderas are deemed the local counterparts of priests in terms of religious and spiritual authority.

Rituals and Holy Places. Huacas (sacred mountain places) are still deemed sacred deity dwellings that demand the respect and veneration of the indigenous populations. The Spanish Catholic missionaries were very aware of these Andean practices, which is why many Catholic churches were built on top of huacas and other pre-Hispanic temples.

Death and the Afterlife. Peruvians' notion of an afterlife very much follows Catholic notions of heaven, purgatory, and hell. Even indigenous groups have been heavily influenced by the Christian notions of Armageddon and rebirth. In Indian communities there are long-standing traditions of millenarians and of the second coming of the Inca ruler to punish the white colonizers. This symbiotic Christian/Andean second-coming myth initially gained strength in the resistance movement of Tupac Amaru that initially challenged Spanish colonialism in the seventeenth century.

Medicine and Health Care

Life expectancy in Peru is sixty-seven years, which is quite high considering the serious deficiencies in the country's public health systems. Only two-thirds of its population has access to public medical attention, and only 25 percent of those living in conditions of extreme poverty. In general, misinformation, poverty, and malnutrition are the greatest impediments to improving the country's health conditions. Since the mid-1980s there has been a concerted effort to combat infant mortality and to implement national infant vaccination campaigns that have proven quite successful. Along with Western medicine there is still a tradition of curanderos (natural healers), and parteras (midwives) who are still regularly consulted, especially by the rural and Indian population.

Secular Celebrations

The major secular Peruvian celebrations are National Independence Day (celebrated three consecutive days, 28, 29, and 30 July); the Battle of Arica (7 June); and Carnival (a movable holiday celebrated on the three days just before Catholic Lent). Religious festivities with the exception of Christmas used to have a greater level of public celebration than they do in modern times. All holidays tend to be celebrated with large quantities of food, alcoholic beverages, sports (mainly soccer and volleyball), and general gaiety and relaxation.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Because of the difficult economic conditions of the country, the arts in general are one of the areas the government least supports.

Literature. Peru boasts a world-class literary selection of authors, starting with writers such as Ricardo Palma (18331919) who was the first to utilize Peruvian themes in his writing. In the twentieth century alone Peru produced such accomplished authors as Ciro Alegria, José María Arguedas, Alfredo Bryce Echenique, and probably the country's best-known literary figure, Mario Vargas Llosa. Meanwhile César Vallejo is hailed as Peru's most gifted poet, and is for many second on the continent only to the Chilean nobel laureate, Pablo Neruda.

Graphic Arts. Peru has a long artistic tradition, starting with the famous colonial painting and sculpture schools of Lima, one of the most accomplished schools on the continent. Contemporary artists, such as Fernando de Szyszlo (a painter) and Joaquín Roca Rey (a sculptor), have continued a more abstract tradition.

Performance Arts. Theater had an early start in the colonial period and the country also maintains a National Symphony Orchestra, a national ballet company, as well as folk dance companies. Meanwhile, the popular music genre has offered such singing giants as Lucho Barrios, Jesús Vasquez, Chabuca Granda, and Susana Baca, to mention a few.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

The sciences in Peru had an early development closely tied to the foundation of the Universidad Nacional de San Marcos in Lima. The social sciences more than the physical have had a more prestigious development, with the work of intellectuals such as Gustavo Gutiérrez (liberation theologist and philosopher), Julio C. Tello (archaeologist), and José Carlos Mariátegui (political philosopher). The country's difficult political conditions as well as the limited resources of the universities have seriously limited the general advancement of the physical and social sciences.


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Peru (city, United States)

Peru (pərōō´), city (1990 pop. 12,843), seat of Miami co., N Ind., on the Wabash River; inc. 1847. It is a trade, processing, and rail center for a fertile agricultural area. Among its products are furniture, plastic and metal items, stationery, machinery, processed foods, and electrical equipment. The International Circus Hall of Fame, with its museum and summer performances, commemorates the seven circuses that once wintered there. Peru is the birthplace of Cole Porter. Grissom Air Reserve Base is to the south.

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Between 30 and 45 percent of the inhabitants of Peru are Amerindian (native), about 30 percent mestizo (mixed Spanish and Amerindian), 15 percent white, and 3 percent black, Asian, or other. The Asháninka and Quechua are two Amerindian groups, but there are a number of other tribes. There are small groups of Germans, Italians, and Swiss, as well as Chinese and Japanese.

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Peruaccrue, adieu, ado, anew, Anjou, aperçu, askew, ballyhoo, bamboo, bedew, bestrew, billet-doux, blew, blue, boo, boohoo, brew, buckaroo, canoe, chew, clew, clou, clue, cock-a-doodle-doo, cockatoo, construe, coo, Corfu, coup, crew, Crewe, cru, cue, déjà vu, derring-do, dew, didgeridoo, do, drew, due, endue, ensue, eschew, feu, few, flew, flu, flue, foreknew, glue, gnu, goo, grew, halloo, hereto, hew, Hindu, hitherto, how-do-you-do, hue, Hugh, hullabaloo, imbrue, imbue, jackaroo, Jew, kangaroo, Karroo, Kathmandu, kazoo, Kiangsu, knew, Kru, K2, kung fu, Lahu, Lanzhou, Lao-tzu, lasso, lieu, loo, Lou, Manchu, mangetout, mew, misconstrue, miscue, moo, moue, mu, nardoo, new, non-U, nu, ooh, outdo, outflew, outgrew, peekaboo, Peru, pew, plew, Poitou, pooh, pooh-pooh, potoroo, pursue, queue, revue, roo, roux, rue, screw, Selous, set-to, shampoo, shih-tzu, shoe, shoo, shrew, Sioux, skean dhu, skew, skidoo, slew, smew, snafu, sou, spew, sprue, stew, strew, subdue, sue, switcheroo, taboo, tattoo, thereto, thew, threw, thro, through, thru, tickety-boo, Timbuktu, tiramisu, to, to-do, too, toodle-oo, true, true-blue, tu-whit tu-whoo, two, vendue, view, vindaloo, virtu, wahoo, wallaroo, Waterloo, well-to-do, whereto, whew, who, withdrew, woo, Wu, yew, you, zoo

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PERU , republic in South America; general population (2005) 27,000,000, Jewish population (2004) 2,600.

Colonial Period

The discovery of Peru and its mineral potential attracted a large number of *Crypto-Jews known as "Portuguese," who disregarded the restrictions on the immigration of *New Christians and arrived in the capital *Lima which was founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535. On February 7, 1569, Philip ii, king of Spain, issued the decree that ordered the establishment of the Inquisition in Lima, which started the persecution of Crypto-Jews and descendants of Jews. Until 1595 the number of victims was very small, and the Crypto-Jews were able to prosper, especially in commerce of import and export. The first auto da fé in Lima was carried out on December 17, 1595, with ten "Judaizers," four of whom were freed, but one, Francisco Rodríguez, who was burned alive. On December 10, 1600, 14 Crypto-Jews were punished, and on March 13, 1605, another 16. After that date the frequency and numbers declined. This was due to the general declaration of pardon for "Judaizers" declared in 1601 that consequently attracted a large number of New Christians, many of them Crypto-Jews, who attained important status in the economic life of the Spanish colony. Thus the sensational trials against Crypto-Jews were generally directed against the rich and wealthy, with the Holy Office confiscating their properties after their condemnation. This was the case of Antonio Cordero – local representative of a merchant from Sevilla – who was denounced by a local trader for not being prepared to sell to him on Saturday and for refusing to eat pork. The case was investigated secretly with torture, and later led to the great auto da fé of January 23, 1639, in which 70 persons were accused as Judaizers. The most famous among them was Francisco Maldonado de Silva, who during the 12 years that he spent in prison remained loyal to the Jewish faith and also converted two Catholic prisoners to Judaism. All the rest were members of what the Spanish authorities called "The Great Conspiracy" Crypto-Jewish congregation in Lima. The last victim of this congregation was Manuel Enríquez, burnt at the stake in 1664, together with the effigy of doña Murcia de Luna who died under torture. This display of severity was accompanied by the menace of total expulsion in 1646 which was evaded through the payment of the tremendous sum of 200 thousand ducats; this was the final episode of many years of offenses against Crypto-Jews. According to unsubstantiated sources there were 6,000 Crypto-Jews in Peru.

The last victims accused as "Judaizers" were Ana de Castro, on December 23, 1736, and Juan Antonio Pereira on November 11, 1737. The final activity of the Inquisition in Lima was recorded in 1806. By that time persons recognized as Crypto-Jews had disappeared.

One of the famous Crypto-Jewish families in colonial times was the "León Pinelo" family whose name was adopted by the Jewish school in Lima in 1946.

Contemporary Period

early immigration, 19thcentury

There are no archival records on the early immigration of Jews to Peru in the Republican period, yet their presence can be traced through the search in directories of social clubs of foreign residents or in the advertisements of Jewish business firms that started to appear in the newspapers and in the commercial directories from the middle of the 19th century. In 1852, in the daily El Comercio, the photographer Jacobo Stein and Co., a Polish Jew from New York, with "a daguerreotype at the disposal of the beauties of Lima," advertised his services. Other advertisements publicized the confectionery Phailes and Blanc (1853) and the tobacco shop José Cohen and Brothers (1855). The director of the English Club was E. Bergman (1857) and several German Jews were members of the Club Germania from 1863. Other Jewish names, such as Alsop, Isaac, Villiers, and Michael appear in the 1864 directory of the Sociedad de Carreras (Professionals Association) that later became the Jockey Club of Peru. These names are the evidence of the presence of Jewish professionals and merchants in Peru, many of whom were born in Alsace Lorraine and other places in Germany and France, escaping from Europe following the failure of the 1848 revolution, as a result of the economic and political crises and of antisemitism. Other Jews arrived from England and the United States, representing construction companies, railways, and other industries that traded with Peru. In 1875 there were around 300 Jews in Lima, 55% of them were Germans, 15% French, 10% English, 10% Russians, and 20% others. They were industrialists, bankers, diamond dealers, jewelers, engineers, merchants, and professionals. Among them were representatives of the famous French firms of Rothschild (first exchange and stock agents), Dreyfus (jeweler and guano dealer), and others.

the cemetery

In 1868 10 Jews fell victim to the yellow fever epidemic that caused the deaths of 6,000 Peruvians. The Jews were buried in the old Britannic Cemetery of Callao (Protestant). In total, 25 Jews were buried in the Britannic Cemetery between 1861 and 1871. The need to bury Jewish dead and to assist their widows and orphans motivated the Jewish residents in Lima to establish a beneficiary association. In April 1869 they created a provisional directory called Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita (Jewish Beneficiary Association), presided over by Jacobo Herzberg and Miguel Badt. This association was officially founded in July 1, 1873, under the presidency of Natazzius Hurwitz, with deputies Paul Ascher and Jacobo Brillman. In March 1875 they laid the cornerstone for the Jewish cemetery of Baquíjano (Campo Santo Israelita de Baquíjano), in the same ground occupied today by the Jewish cemetery of Bellavista. The land was bought from Enrique Meiggs, and the license was obtained by two American Jewish engineers who worked with him in the railway company through their diplomatic legation.


The Jewish population, however, started to decrease, and by 1898 only 43 Jews remained in Peru. Jewish immigration was discontinued owing to the economic consequences of Peru's defeat in the war with Chile in 1879. In addition, almost all the Jewish immigrants were men, and the majority married non-Jewish Peruvian women, thus losing the Jewish tradition in their homes and among their descendants. Towards the end of the 19th century there was hardly any Jewish activity in Lima, and only elderly persons preserved their Jewish identity.


At the same time that European Jews settled in the coast city of Lima, about 1870 a different wave of Jewish immigrants reached the Peruvian jungles. These were young Jewish men, arriving from the Brazilian cities Manaos and Belém (State of Pará), who had come originally from Tangier (Morocco) and were sailing to explore the Amazon River. They settled in the city of *Iquitos, especially during the rubber boom. Later, penetrating along the Amazon River, they opened new routes in the jungle. It is estimated that 200 Jews arrived in Iquitos during those years. In 1895 they purchased a plot of land in the General Cemetery of Iquitos in which they buried their dead. In 1909 they founded the Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita de Iquitos (Jewish Beneficiary Association of Iquitos) with 38 members. Among the most frequent names are Benzaquén, Alexander, Cohen, Edery, Toledano, Bendayán, Abensur, etc. The 1912 crisis and the fall of rubber prices caused a large movement of emigration, and very few Jews, married to local women, remained in Iquitos. By 1949 there were only 17 of the original Jewish immigrants. Today there is a small community composed of their descendants, who convene to celebrate Friday nights and the Holy Days. Some of them made aliyah and settled in Israel. (For the contemporary history of this community see *Iquitos.)

second migratory wave, 20th century

Sephardi immigration to Peru started around the beginning of the 20th century with the arrival of Jews from Turkey (108 from Istanbul, Smyrna, and Edirne), a few from Greece (12 from Salonica), Morocco (eight from Tangier), and Egypt (six from Cairo). Among them were the Calvo, Levi, Sarfaty, Alalú, Varón and Alcabés families. They joined the Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita that was founded by the German Jews, but in November 1920 they established their own institution. This Sephardi communal organization, the Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita Sefaradí, was constituted officially on November 24, 1925, and on September 17, 1933, it inaugurated its synagogue and social premises at the same location it still occupies in the early 21st century.

Ashkenazi Jews started to immigrate to Peru around 1912, coming principally from Romania (55%) and Poland (25%), and the rest from Russia (10%), Hungary (5%), and other European countries. Among them were the Eidelman, Gans, Vainstein, Gleiser, and Waisman families. They settled in the neighborhood of Chirimoyo and, on June 11, 1923, founded the Unión Israelita del Perú that was officially recognized on November 16, 1929. After moving among rented places they purchased a plot in 1933, inaugurating their synagogue and social premises on July 29, 1934.

German-speaking Jewish refugees arrived in Peru between 1933 and 1939 from Germany (70%), Austria (25%), and other countries. In 1935 they revived the old Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita that received a new legal status as the Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita de 1870. They inaugurated their own building on September 24, 1948.

The majority of the Jews, Sephardim and Ashkenazim, dedicated themselves to peddling, traveling in the provinces to buy and sell merchandise, introducing the use of credit that was little known at the time. Many of them settled in the different provinces of Peru, particularly near the important intersections of highways and railways or near the port cities Callao, Huancayo, Trujillo, Arequipa, Piura, Lambayeque, and Ica. German Jews who were musicians, professionals, or scientists tended to settle in Lima, where they could work in their profession. Some of them, however, went to the provincial towns, where it was easier to validate their European title and exercise their profession as doctors, pharmacists, engineers, and professors. It is estimated that in 1947 there were 2,800 Jews in Lima and 1,200 in the provinces.

Towards the end of the 1950s the Jewish families left the provinces and concentrated in Lima, in order to provide Jewish education to their children in the León Pinelo School (founded in 1946) and to facilitate their studies in the universities of the capital. Moreover, in Lima they could find a Jewish social framework in which they could meet a potential mate. By the end of the 1960s practically no Jews were left in the provinces of Peru.

institutional development

The Zionist Federation was founded in 1925 by Ashkenazim and Sephardim, and its first president was Sassone Sarfaty. In 1935 the Comité de Protección al Immigrante Israelita (Comité for the Defense of the Jewish Immigrant) was founded, being affiliated to hicem, the jdc, and later to hias and ica. The committee took care of the legal and illegal immigrants, obtained visas for them, sought employment for them, helped establish their relatives, sent money and packages to Europe. It also provided services to immigrants in transit to other countries, maintained a Home for Immigrants (1939–41) and Spanish courses. After the war it took care of the remittances of war reparations from Germany.

In 1940 wizo was created (headed by Teresa Topf), in 1944 ose-ort (headed by Max Heller), in 1949 the Pioneer Women Organization (headed by Charna Goldemberg). From 1941 there was a permanent Campaign for the War Victims, in which several members of wizo, ose, the British Red Cross, and other groups of women from the three congregations were active. In 1945 the jta (Jewish Telegraphic Agency) was established.

The growing influence of antisemitism throughout the world, including in Peru, and the news on the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jews motivated the decision of the Jews of Lima to form an association for common civil objectives. On February 4, 1942, they founded the "Directory of the Jewish Community of Peru," headed by Max Heller, Jacobo Franco, and Leopoldo Weil, that on June 20, 1944, was registered as the Asociación de Sociedades Israelitas del Perú (Association of the Jewish Organizations of Peru). Also merged under this umbrella organization were all the activities of the cemetery that had been conducted since 1940 by one ḥevra kaddisha. Created during the same year was also the Bikur Cholim society and the Hogar de Ancianos (old age home).

The umbrella organization changed its name in 1975 to Asociación Judía del Perú, under which it still functions. During the war years, the main tasks of this representative organ were concentrated on the external front in the struggle against antisemitic manifestations that occasionally appeared in the press and in Peruvian public life. Likewise they collected products and money which they sent to Europe to assist Jewish survivors, and they took care of the few Jewish families that were able to immigrate to Peru.

During the Holocaust period, immigration to Peru was affected by the official negative policy towards the admission of non-white and non-Christian immigrants. Despite the sympathy expressed by the Peruvian representative in the Evian Conference towards the Jewish refugees, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prohibited its consuls in Europe from issuing visas to Jews. This discriminatory policy was the main reason that between 1933 and 1943, when Peru broke relations with Germany, legal Jewish immigration numbered only around 500 persons.

In June 27, 1945 the Comité Peruano Pro Palestina Hebrea (Peruvian Committee in Favor of a Jewish Palestine) was established, headed by the president of the Senate, José Gálvez Barrenechea, with distinguished members, such as Luis Valcárcel, Gerardo Klingue, Manuel Beltroy, and César Miró. The committee's mission was to disseminate among intellectuals, journalists, and politicians the idea of the Jewish people's need to obtain its own state and to gain the sympathy of the Peruvian people in this cause. This led to Peru's vote in favor of the Partition of Palestine in the un Assembly of November 29, 1947. The main Jewish activists who supported this task were Marcos Roitman, Marcos Perelman, Walter Neisser, and Isaac Wecselman.

In recognition of his Zionist activities, Marcos Roitman was nominated in 1951 as the honorary consul of Israel in Peru, inaugurating the consulate in 1953. In 1956 diplomatic relations between Israel and Peru were raised to the level of legations and in 1958 to that of embassies, with Tuvia Arazi as the first ambassador of Israel in Peru.

On the internal front the Jewish community was active in creating youth movements, a home for golden agers, assistance to the needy, a social club, synagogues, a cemetery, and in particular to provide Jewish education. In 1934 a Peruvian branch of Maccabi was opened, followed in 1936 by the Sephardi youth movement Hashachar and in 1942 by Hashomer of the German Jews. In 1938 Betar was founded and in 1943 all the youth movements (except Betar) were merged in the Asociación Juvenil Israelita – aji (Association of Young Jews) that identified itself with the Zionist movement and in 1947 was affiliated to Ha-No'ar ha-Ẓiyyoni. In 1962 the German Jews established the apolitical group Kineret. A Communist youth movement, Juventud judía vanguardista-comunista (Jewish Youth of Communist Avant-Garde) was founded in 1945 but existed only for two years.

In March 1945 the Comité Pro Colegio Hebreo (Committee for a Jewish School) was founded, headed by Israel Brodsky, who inaugurated the Leon Pinelo School on April 24, 1946. (On the history of the school, see *Lima.) Since 1954 the school has been located in the same building, educating the great majority (over 90%) of the Jewish population from kindergarten to high school.

later demographic and institutional development

The demographic and economic experience of the Peruvian Jews resembles the expansion and contraction of an accordion, but, arriving at the limits of their possible contraction, they risk facing extinction (see table below). Starting with a small group of very poor individual Jews who immigrated in the 1910s, they grew into a prosperous community in the 1950s and 1960s. Later, however, started a process of decrease and decline that brought them to a crossroad at which they had to choose between the reorganization of the community and its adaptation to the actual economic and demographic reality, or the continuity of the institutional inertia, that might lead to the loss of attraction of communal frameworks, especially the synagogues and the prestigious Jewish Leon Pinelo school.

Year No. of Jews Places Total in Peru
1875300 / 50Lima / Iquitos350
189843 / 200Lima / Iquitos243
19472,800 / 1,200Lima / Provinces4,000
19685,300 / 150Lima / Provinces5,450

The 1960s were a period of generational change in which the Jews of the second generation, most of whom were born and educated in Peru, assumed the leadership of the community. Communal prosperity continued, relations with Israel were strengthened, Keren Hayesod increased its campaigns, more people went on aliyah to Israel, and the Jewish school attracted more than 80% of the Jewish children in Lima with sheliḥim (emissaries) from Israel acting as director and teachers.

Hebraica (the social club) appointed a director of activities from abroad, and three new rabbis were nominated for the three congregations. While the communities in the provinces were disappearing, the community in Lima was growing until it reached 5,500 persons.

In the 1970s, however, the contraction of the Jewish community began, both economically and demographically, due to the military coup d'état of General Velasco (1968–80) that affected the land owners (agrarian reform), industry (industrial community), and real estate (law of renting). The national economic crisis, the politicization of the universities with strikes and decline in level of quality scared the young Jews who started to emigrate in order to study abroad, particularly in Israel and the United States. The number of mixed marriages increased, and there appeared the first manifestations of open antisemitism through an anti-Zionist attitude and support of the Palestinians. At the same time there was an increase in delinquency and insecurity that motivated the beginning of emigration of Jewish families who made aliyah or sought other destinations on the American continent. The Jewish population fell to 4,500 in the late 1970s.

The 1980s were a period of communal weakening, with a growing emigration that resulted from the economic crisis caused by the external debt, the delinquency, the kidnappings, the terrorism of the underground guerrillas Sendero Luminoso ("Shining Path") and the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amarú – mrta (Revolutionary Movement Tupac Amaru), all of which generated pessimistic future expectations. The birth rate of the Jews declined and, combined with the above-mentioned factors, the school population, which in 1976 comprised 1,024 pupils fell to 540 in 1990. The Jewish institutions suffered from economic impoverishment. The proliferation of children of mixed marriages started the debate on "who is a Jew." At the end of the 1980s the number of Jews was reduced to 3,200.

In the 1990s the communal decline became evident. The country's economic deterioration continued, and unemployment and Jewish poverty grew in the community. The dictatorship of Fujimori, in its second administration, created tension, fear, and confusion. Aliyah decreased because of the problems in Israel and the feeling of marginalization of the immigrants from Latin America with respect to the Russians. Mixed marriages increased, as did emigration to the United States. The number of pupils in the Jewish school was reduced to 430. After 18 years, towards the end of this decade the annual trip to Israel of the school children was suspended due to economic reasons, as well as to the security situation in Israel. There was a constant decline of Jewish donors. At the same time there started a religious revival in certain sectors of middle-aged Jews; a rabbi of Chabad joined the Peruvian Jewish community, being supported by part of the few disposable donations, particularly of the Ashkenazi Unión Israelita. The number of Jews fell to 2,700.

While the religious revival is a general phenomenon in the world, in the case of Peru it coincides with the repetition of a well-known historical situation, in which Jews who feel instability and uncertainty in the future come closer to religion in search of refuge and answers.

In the 2000s, in an atmosphere of a certain national optimism for the recuperation of democracy that followed the election of President Alejandro Toledo, there emerged the demand for an urgent regeneration of the community in order to reorganize its large patrimony that contains superfluous services.

Over the years the Jews who were born and educated in Peru started to occupy important places in the professions, art, business, and finances of the country, and more recently in its political life. Within the Jewish community, the highest rank was achieved by the engineer Eduardo Bigio, who was president of the Committee of Human Relations of the Jewish community, from its foundation in the 1970s until his aliyah in 2001. Bigio was also president of the Committee of the Third World in the World Jewish Congress, having worked for more than 40 years in the defense of Jewish causes in the public life of Peru. In the sphere of national politics, the highest level was achieved by Efraim Goldemberg, as minister of foreign affairs and later minister of economy, under the administrations of Alberto Fujimori; the second vice president David Waisman, under the administration of Alejandro Toledo; and the Member of Congress Jacques Rodrich. The fact that Eliane Karp, the wife of President Toledo, is a Jew who had lived in Israel is also significant for the Jewish community.

current problems

The Jews of Peru, like other communities who share similar characteristics, are confronting problems and tensions both on the level of each individual family and on that of the whole community. Each family has to find the balance between the cost of communal affiliation and the benefits it expects to receive (from the school, clubs, social assistance, etc.). It is evident that discontinuity of affiliation may lead to assimilation in the present generation or in that of their children. A second problem concerns the confrontation between the expectations of a universal and international English-speaking education and an education that gives priority to the Jewish dimensions. The preference for non-Jewish schools endangers the subsistence of the community, which is incapable of maintaining a Jewish school for a small number of students. A third problem is the capacity of the Jewish community to organize itself, in view of the demographic decline and the deterioration of the average family income. The cost of maintenance of Jewish institutions, with their administration and professional leadership, is becoming very steep. Communal services are often based on the donations of a few philanthropists, so that they depend on the good will and economic situation of individual persons more than on their capacity to institutionally balance their costs. The last and most serious problem is the "elitization" that results from the division of the Jews according to their economic capacities. While the economic burdenof maintaining the unity and homogeneity of the community is becoming very heavy, particularly among families who are less devoted to Jewish solidarity, the economic elite becomes more preoccupied with its economic well-being, weakening the communal spirit. This leads to a polarization of the community, a situation in which only the rich can enjoy the expensive services and the impoverished families drop out.


N. Lorch, Ha-Nahar ha-Lohesh (1969); Asociación Filantrópica Israelita, Buenos Aires, Zehn Jahre Aufbauarbeit in Suedamerika (Ger. and Span., 1943); Sociedad de Beneficencia Israelita de 1870, 25 Jahre Hilfsverein deutschsprechenden Juden (1960); J. Shatzky, Yidishe Yishuvim in Latayn Amerike (1952), 175–80; A. Monk and J. Isaacson, Comunidades Judías de Latino-américa (1968), 109–12; J. Toribio Medina, Historia de la Inquisicion de Lima, 2 vols. (19562); M.A. Cohen, in: The Jewish Experience in Colonial Latin America (1971), introd. add. bibliography: L. Trahtemberg, La Inmigración Judía al Perú 18481948 (1987); idem, Los Judíos de Lima y de las Provincias del Perú (1989); idem, Participación del Perú en la Partición de Palestina (1991).

[Leon Trahtemberg (2nd ed.)]

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Compiled from the July 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Republic of Peru



Area: 1.28 million sq. km. (496,225 sq. mi.). Peru is the third-largest country in South America and is approximately three times the size of California.

Cities: Lima (capital), Arequipa, Chiclayo, Cuzco, Huancayo, Ica, Trujillo, Ayacucho, Piura, Iquitos, Chimbote.

Terrain: Western arid coastal plains, central rugged Andean mountains, and eastern lowlands with tropical forests that are part of the Amazon basin.

Climate: Arid and mild in coastal area, temperate to frigid in the Andes, and warm and humid in the jungle lowlands.


Nationality: Peruvian.

Ethnic groups: Indigenous (45%), mixed background (“mestizo”) (37%), European (15%), African, Japanese, Chinese, and other (3%).

Population: (July 2007 est.) 28.6 million. Approximately 30% of the population lives in the Lima/Callao metropolitan area.

Annual population growth rate: (2007 est.) 1.28%.

Religions: Roman Catholic (81%), other (10%).

Languages: Spanish is the principal language. Quechua, Aymara and other indigenous languages also have official status.

Education: Years compulsory—11. Attendance—92% ages 6-11, and 66% ages 12-16. Literacy—95% in urban areas, 77% in rural areas.

Health: Infant mortality rate (2006)—29.96/1,000. Life expectancy (2007)—68.33 years male; 72.04 years female.

Unemployment in Lima: (2006) 8.5%; underemployment (2006) 49.5%.


Type: Constitutional republic.

Independence: July 28, 1821.

Constitution: December 31, 1993.

Government branches: Executive—President, two Vice Presidents, and a Council of Ministers led by a Prime Minister. Legislative—Unicameral Congress. Judicial—Fourtier court structure consisting of Supreme Court and lower courts.

Political subdivisions: 25 departments subdivided into 180 provinces and 1,747 districts.

Political parties: Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA), National Unity (UN), Peru Posible (PP), Popular Action (AP), Union for Peru (UPP), Solucion Popular, Somos Peru (SP).

Suffrage: Universal and mandatory for citizens 18 to 70.


GDP: (2006) $93.3 billion.

Annual growth rate: (2006) 8.0%.

Per capita GDP: (2006) $3,368.

Natural resources: Iron ore, copper, gold, silver, zinc, lead, fish, petroleum, natural gas, and forestry.

Manufacturing: (16.7% of GDP, 2006) Types—Food and beverages, textiles and apparel, nonferrous and precious metals, nonmetallic minerals, petroleum refining, paper, chemicals, iron and steel, fishmeal.

Agriculture: (9.2% of GDP, 2006) Products—Coffee, asparagus, paprika, artichoke, sugarcane, potato, rice, banana, maize, poultry, milk, others.

Other sectors: (by percentage of GDP in 2006) Services: (44.9%), mining (6.8%), construction (5.8%), fisheries (0.6%).

Trade: Exports (2006)—$23.7 billion: gold, copper, fishmeal, petroleum, zinc, textiles, apparel, asparagus and coffee. Major markets (2005)—U.S. (30%), China (11%), Chile (6.6%), Canada (6.0%), Switzerland (4.6%), Japan (3.6%), Spain (3.3%), Netherlands (3.1%). Imports (2005)—$14.9 billion: machinery, vehicles, processed food, petroleum and steel. Major suppliers (2005)— U.S. (17.7%), China (8.5%), Brazil (8.2%), Ecuador (7.3%), Colombia (6.2%).


Peru is the fifth most populous country in Latin America (after Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina). Twenty-one cities have a population of 100,000 or more. Rural migration has increased the urban population from 35.4% of the total population in 1940 to an estimated 74.6% as of 2005.

Most Peruvians are either Spanish-speaking mestizos—a term that usually refers to a mixture of indigenous and European/Caucasian—or Amerindians, largely Quechua-speaking indigenous people. Peruvians of European descent make up about 15% of the population. There also are small numbers of persons of African, Japanese, and Chinese ancestry. Socioeconomic and cultural indicators are increasingly important as identifiers. For example, Peruvians of Amerindian descent who have adopted aspects of Hispanic culture also are considered mestizo. With economic development, access to education, intermarriage, and large-scale migration from rural to urban areas, a more homogeneous national culture is developing, mainly along the relatively more prosperous coast. Peru's distinct geographical regions are mirrored in a socioeconomic divide between the coast' mestizo-Hispanic culture and the more diverse, traditional Andean cultures of the mountains and highlands.


The Inca Empire and Spanish Conquest

When the Spanish landed in 1531, Peru's territory was the nucleus of the highly developed Inca civilization. Centered at Cuzco, the Incan Empire extended over a vast region from northern Ecuador to central Chile. In search of Inca wealth, the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro, who arrived in the territory after the Incas had fought a debilitating civil war, conquered the weakened people. The Spanish captured the Incan capital at Cuzco by 1533, and consolidated their control by 1542. Gold and silver from the Andes enriched the conquerors, and Peru became the principal source of Spanish wealth and power in South America.

Pizarro founded Lima in 1535. The viceroyalty established at Lima in 1542 initially had jurisdiction over all of the Spanish colonies in South America. By the time of the wars of independence (1820-24), Lima had become one of the most distinguished and aristocratic colonial capital and the chief Spanish stronghold in the Americas.


Peru's independence movement was led by Jose de San Martin of Argentina and Simon Bolivar of Venezuela. San Martin proclaimed Peruvian independence from Spain on July 28, 1821. Emancipation was completed in December 1824, when Venezuelan General Antonio Jose de Sucre defeated the Spanish troops at Ayacucho, ending Spanish rule in South America. Spain subsequently made futile attempts to regain its former colonies, but in 1879 it finally recognized Peru's independence.

After independence, Peru and its neighbors engaged in intermittent territorial disputes. Chile's victory over Peru and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific (1879-83) resulted in a territorial settlement in which Peru ceded the department of Tarapaca and the provinces of Tacna and Arica to Chile. In 1929, Chile returned Tacna to Peru. Following a clash between Peru and Ecuador in 1941, the Rio Protocol—of which the United States is one of four guarantors (along with Argentina, Brazil and Chile)—sought to establish the boundary between the two countries. Continuing boundary disagreement led to brief armed conflicts in early 1981 and early 1995, but in 1998 the governments of Peru and Ecuador signed an historic peace treaty and demarcated the border. In late 1999, the governments of Peru and Chile likewise implemented the last outstanding article of their 1929 border agreement. Peru and Chile still dispute the sea boundary.

Military Rule and Return to Democracy (1968-1980)

The military has been prominent in Peruvian history. Coups have repeatedly interrupted civilian constitutional government. The most recent period of military rule (1968-80) began when Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado overthrew elected President Fernando Belaunde Terry of the Popular Action Party (AP). As part of what has been called the “first phase” of the military government's nationalist program, Velasco undertook an extensive agrarian reform program and nationalized the fishmeal industry, some petroleum and mining companies, and several banks.

Because of Velasco's economic mismanagement and deteriorating health, he was replaced in 1975 by Gen. Francisco Morales Bermudez. Morales Bermudez tempered the authoritarian abuses of the Velasco administration and began the task of restoring the country's economy. Morales Bermudez presided over the return to civilian government under a new constitution and in the May 1980 elections, President Belaunde Terry was returned to office by an impressive plurality.

Instability in the 1980s (1982-1990)

Nagging economic problems left over from the military government persisted, worsened by an occurrence of the “El Nino” weather phenomenon in 1982-83, which caused widespread flooding in some parts of the country, severe droughts in others, and decimated the fishing industry. The fall in international commodity prices to their lowest levels since the Great Depression combined with the natural disasters to decrease production, depress wages, exacerbate unemploy-

ment, and spur inflation. The economic collapse was reflected in worsening living conditions for Peru's poor and provided a breeding ground for social and political discontent. The emergence of the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in rural areas in 1980—followed shortly thereafter by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in Lima—sent the country further into chaos. The terrorists were financed in part from alliances with narcotraf-fickers, who had established a stronghold in the Peruvian Andes during this period. Peru and Bolivia became the largest coca producers in the world, accounting for roughly four-fifths of the production in South America.

Amid inflation, economic hardship, and terrorism, the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) won the presidential election in 1985, bringing Alan Garcia Pérez to office. The transfer of the presidency from Belaunde to Garcia on July 28, 1985, was Peru's first transfer of power from one democratically elected leader to another in 40 years.

The Fujimori Decade (1990-2000)

Economic mismanagement by the Garcia administration led to hyperinflation from 1988 to 1990. Concerned about the economy, the increasingterrorist threat from Sendero Luminoso, and allegations of official corruption, voters chose a relatively unknown mathematician-turned-politician, Alberto Fujimori, as president in 1990. Fujimori felt he had a mandate for radical change. He immediately implemented drastic economic reforms to tackle inflation (which dropped from 7,650% in 1990 to 139% in 1991), but found opposition to further drastic measures, including dealing with the growing insurgency. On April 4, 1992, Fujimori dissolved the Congress in the “auto-coup,” revised the constitution, and called new congressional elections. With a more pliant Congress, Fujimori proceeded to govern unimpeded. Large segments of the judiciary, the military and the media were co-opted by Fujimori's security advisor, the shadowy Vladimiro Montesinos. The government unleashed a counterattack against the insurgency that resulted in countless human right abuses and eventually quashed the Shining Path and MRTA. During this time he also privatized state-owned companies, removed investment barriers and significantly improved public finances.

Fujimori's constitutionally questionable decision to seek a third term, and subsequent tainted electoral victory in June 2000, brought political and economic turmoil. A bribery scandal that broke just weeks after he began his third term in July forced Fujimori to call new elections in which he would not run. Fujimori fled the country and resigned from office in November 2000. A caretaker government under Valentin Paniagua presided over new presidential and congressional elections in April 2001. The new elected government, led by President Alejandro Toledo, took office July 28, 2001.

The Toledo Administration (2001-2006)

The Toledo government successfully consolidated Peru's return to democracy, a process that had begun under President Paniagua. The government undertook initiatives to implement the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which had been charged with studying the circumstances surrounding the human rights abuses and violations committed between 1980 and 2000. Criminal charges for corruption and human rights violations were brought against former President Fujimori, who is in Chile fighting efforts to extradite him to Peru. Despite being a frequent target of media criticism, Toledo maintained strong commitments to freedom of the press.

Under President Toledo, Peru signed a Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) with the U.S., to replace the Andean Trade Preferences and Drug Eradication Act, which was due to expire in December 2006. Toledo also unveiled the construction of a road that will connect Brazil and Peru's isolated interior to the Pacific coast.

Toledo's economic management led to an impressive economic boom in Peru that remains strong. Poverty reduction has been uneven, however. Although poverty in some areas has decreased by up to 37% over the last five years, nationally it has only decreased by 5% and over half of Peruvians are still considered to be living below the poverty line (living on less than $2 a day). In 2005 the government implemented “Juntos,” a program to double the income of people living under extreme poverty (less than $1 a day).

2006 Elections and Transition to the Garcia Administration

On June 4, 2006, APRA candidate Alan Garcia Pérez was elected to the presidency by 52.5% of the voters in his runoff with Ollanta Humala, who ran under the Union for Peru, with the support of his Peruvian Nationalist Party. With 36 seats, APRA has the second largest bloc—next to the Union for Peru Party's 45 seats—in the 120-seat unicameral Congress which was sworn in July 2006. After a disappointing presidential term from 1985 to 1990, García returned to the presidency with promises to improve Peru's social condition, balancing economic stability with increased social spending. His stated primary goal is to decrease poverty through job creation, especially in Peru's southern highlands where poverty is most acute. He has sought to improve relations with Peru's South American neighbors and with the United States, and to present Peru's democratic and pro-free trade path as a model for the region.

Constitution and Political Institutions

The president is popularly elected for a five year term. A constitutional amendment passed in 2000 prevents reelection. The first and second vice presidents also are popularly elected but have no constitutional functions unless the president is unable to discharge his duties. The principal executive body is the Council of Ministers, comprised of 15 members and headed by a prime minister. The president appoints its members, who must be ratified by the Congress. All Executive laws sent to Congress must be approved by the Council of Ministers.

The legislative branch consists of a unicameral Congress of 120 members. In addition to passing laws, Congress ratifies treaties, authorizes government loans, and approves the government budget.

The judicial branch of government is headed by a 16-member Supreme Court. The Constitutional Tribunal interprets the constitution on matters of individual rights. Superior courts in departmental capitals review appeals from decisions by lower courts. Courts of first instance are located in provincial capitals and are divided into civil, penal, and special chambers. The judiciary has created several temporary specialized courts in an attempt to reduce the large backlog of cases pending final court action. In 1996 a human rights ombudsman's office was created. Peru is divided into 25 regions. The regions are subdivided into provinces, which are composed of districts. High authorities in the regional and local levels are elected. The country's latest decentralization program is in hiatus after the proposal to merge departments was defeated in a national referendum in October 2005.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Alan GARCIA Perez

First Vice Pres.: Luis GIAMPIETRI Rojas

Second Vice Pres.: Lourdes MENDOZA del Solar

Prime Min.: Jorge DEL CASTILLO Galvez

Min. of Agriculture: Ismael BENAVIDES Ferreyros

Min. of Commerce & Tourism: Mercedes ARAOZ Fernandez

Min. of Defense: Antero FLORES-ARAOZ Esparza

Min. of Economy & Finance: Luis CARRANZA Ugarte

Min. of Education: Jose Antonio CHANG Escobedo

Min. of Energy & Mines: Juan VALDIVIA Romero

Min. of Foreign Relations: Jose Antonio GARCIA BELAUNDE

Min. of Health: Hernan GARRIDO-LECCA Montanez

Min. of Housing: Enrique CORNEJO Ramirez

Min. of Interior: Luis ALVA CASTRO

Min. of Justice: Rosario FERNANDEZ Figueroa

Min. of Labor: Mario PASCO Cosmopolis

Min. of Production: Rafael REY Rey

Min. of Transportation & Communications: Veronica ZAVALA

Min. of Women & Social Development: Susana PINILLA Cisneros

Pres., Central Reserve Bank: Julio VELARDE

Ambassador to the US: Felipe ORTIZ de Zevallos

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Jorge VOTO-BERNALES Gatica

Peru maintains an embassy in the United States at 1700 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. (202) 833-9860/67, consular section: (202) 462-1084). Peru has consulates in Atlanta, New York, Paterson (NJ), Miami, Chicago, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Hartford.


Peru's economy has shown strong growth over the past five years, helped by market-oriented economic reforms and privatizations in the 1990s, and measures taken since 2001 to promote trade and attract investment. GDP grew 8.0% in 2006, 6.7% in 2005, 4.8% in 2004, 4.0 in 2003, and 4.9% in 2002. President Alan Garcia and his economic team have continued these policies. GDP is projected to grow by more than 7% in 2007. Recent economic expansion has been driven by construction, mining, export growth, investment, and domestic demand. Inflation is projected to remain under 2% in 2007, and the fiscal deficit is only 0.6% of GDP. In 2006 external debt decreased to $28.3 billion, and foreign reserves were a record $17.3 billion at the end of 2006.

Peru's economy is well managed, and better tax collection and growth are increasing revenues, with expenditures keeping pace. Private investment is rising and becoming more broad-based. The government has had success with recent international bond issuances, resulting in ratings upgrades. The Garcia administration is studying decentralization initiatives, and is focused on bringing more small businesses into the formal economy.

Foreign Trade

Peru and the U.S. signed the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) on April 12, 2006 in Washington, DC. The PTPA was ratified by the Peruvian Congress on June 28, 2006, but has not yet been ratified by the U.S. Congress. On December 9, 2006, the U.S. Congress extended the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) as amended by the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA)—jointly referred to as ATPA/ATPDEA—through June 2007. On June 30, 2007 the President signed legislation extending ATPA/ ATPDEA for an additional 8 months.

Peru registered a trade surplus of $8.8 billion in 2006. Exports reached

$23.7 billion, partially as a result of high mineral prices. Peru's major trading partners are the U.S., China, EU, Chile and Japan. In 2006, 23.0% of exports went to the U.S. ($5.9 billion) and 16.0% of imports came from the U.S. ($2.9 billion). Exports include gold, copper, fishmeal, petroleum, zinc, textiles, apparel, asparagus and coffee. Imports include machinery, vehicles, processed food, petroleum and steel. Peru belongs to the Andean Community, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Foreign Investment

The Peruvian Government actively seeks to attract both foreign and domestic investment in all sectors of the economy. The registered stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) is over $15.4 billion, with the U.S., Spain, and the United Kingdom the leading investors. FDI is concentrated in telecommunications, mining, manufacturing, finance and electricity.

Mining and Energy

Peru is a source of both natural gas and petroleum. In August 2004, Peru inaugurated operations of the Camisea natural gas project. Camisea gas is fueling an electricity generator and six industrial plans in Lima, with other facilities in the process of switching to gas. In a second phase, liquefied natural gas (LNG) will be exported to the west coast of the United States and Mexico. The gas and condensates from Camisea are equivalent to some 2.4 billion barrels of oil, approximately seven times the size of Peru's proven oil reserves. The Camisea project, when completed, is expected to gradually transform Peru's economy, catalyze national development and turn Peru into a net energy exporter.

Peru is the world's second-largest producer of silver, sixth-largest producer of gold and copper, and a significant source of the world's zinc and lead. Mineral exports have consistently accounted for the most significant portion of Peru's export revenue, averaging around 50% of total earnings from 1998 to 2005 and 62% in 2006.


Peru generally enjoys friendly relations with its neighbors. In November 1999, Peru and Chile signed three agreements that put to rest the remaining obstacles holding up implementation of the 1929 Border Treaty. (The 1929 Border Treaty officially ended the 1879 War of the Pacific.) In late 2005, a declaration of maritime borders by Peru's Congress set off a new round of recriminations with Chile, which claims that the maritime borders were agreed to in fishing pacts dating from the early 1950s. In contrast, the Garcia administration has recently made overtures to Chile, aimed at improving that relationship.

In October 1998, Peru and Ecuador signed a peace accord to resolve once and for all border differences that had sparked violent confrontations. Peru and Ecuador are now jointly coordinating an internationally sponsored border integration project. The U.S. Government, as one of four guarantor states, was actively involved in facilitating the 1998 peace accord between Peru and Ecuador and remains committed to its implementation. The United States has pledged $40 million to the Peru-Ecua-dor border integration project and another $4 million to support Peruvian and Ecuadorian demining efforts along their common border.

In 1998, Peru became a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, facilitating closer ties and economic relations between Peru and Asian nations. Peru will host the APEC Summit in 2008.

Peru has been a member of the United Nations since 1949, and is a member of the Security Council. Peruvian Javier Perez de Cuellar served as UN Secretary General from 1981 to 1991.

Peru maintains 210 troops in peacekeeping operations in Haiti under the UN's MINUSTAH.


The United States enjoys strong and cooperative relations with Peru. Relations were strained following the tainted re-election of former President Fujimori in June 2000, but improved with the installation of an interim government in November 2000 and the inauguration of the government of Alejandro Toledo in July 2001. Relations with President Garcia's administration are positive. The United States continues to promote the strengthening of democratic institutions and human rights safeguards in Peru and the integration of Peru into the world economy.

The United States and Peru cooperate on efforts to interdict the flow of narcotics, particularly cocaine, to the United States. Bilateral programs are now in effect to reduce the flow of drugs through Peru's port systems and to perform ground interdiction in tandem with successful law enforcement operations. These U.S. Government-supported law enforcement efforts are complemented by an aggressive effort to establish an alternative development program for coca farmers in key coca growing areas to voluntarily reduce and eliminate coca cultivation. This effort is funded by the Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). U.S. investment and tourism in Peru have grown substantially in recent years. The U.S. is Peru's number one trade partner, and economic and commercial ties will deepen if the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) is passed by the U.S. Congress.

About 200,000 U.S. citizens visit Peru annually for business, tourism, and study. About 16,000 Americans reside in Peru, and more than 400 U.S. companies are represented in the country.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials Last Updated: 2/19/2008

LIMA (E) Avenida La Encalada Cdra 17-Monterrico, Lima, APO/FPO APO AA 34031, 511-618-2000, Fax 618-2397, INMARSAT Tel Iridium# 8816-7631-1064, Workweek: Monday–Friday, from 8a.m. to 5 p.m., except U.S. and some Peruvian holidays, Website:

DCM OMS:Dorarette Harley
AMB OMS:Carol Johnson
CG OMS:Zelmi Townsend
DHS/CIS:Alonso Gonzalez
ECO:Adam Shub
FCS:John Simmons
FM:Eric Millson
HRO:Marianne X Kompa
MGT:Stephen F Callahan
OMS:Jessica Calvert
AMB:P. Michael McKinley
CG:Charisse Phillips
CON:Charisse Phillips
DCM:James D. Nealon
PAO:Sam Wunder
GSO:Hector Morales
RSO:George Nutwell
AFSA:Rodrigo Garza
AGR:Eugene Philhower
AID:Paul Weisenfeld
APHIS:Gladys Solano
CLO:Robert Delaney
DAO:CAPT Edward Martin
DEA:Frank Franco
EEO:Daniel Siebert
FMO:Dianne Hand
ICASS:Chair Cochairs:Edward Martin/Eugene Philhower
IMO:Harold McKeever
IPO:David Jefferson
ISO:Daniel Siebert
NAS:Susan Keogh
POL:Alexis Ludwig

Other Contact Information

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Western Hemisphere

Office of Andean Affairs (Room 5906)
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520-6263
Tel: 202-647-4177
Fax: 202-647-2628
Home Page:

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Latin America and the

14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20230
Tel: (202) 482-0475
Fax: (202) 482-0464
Home Page:

American Chamber of Commerce
of Peru

Avenida Ricardo Palma 836,
Lima 18, Peru
Tel: (511) 241-0708
Fax: (511) 241-0709
E-Mail: [email protected]
Home Page:


Consular Information Sheet

November 21, 2007

Country Description: Peru is a developing country with an expanding tourism sector. A wide variety of tourist facilities and services are available, with quality varying according to price and location.

Entry Requirements: A valid passport is required to enter and depart Peru. Tourists must also provide evidence of return or onward travel. U.S. citizens may enter Peru for short-term tourist- or business-related visits of up to 90 days; however, the actual period authorized is determined by the Peruvian immigration officer at the time of entry into Peru. After admission, travelers may apply to extend their visa for an additional three months. Persons who remain beyond their period of authorized stay without obtaining a visa extension or a residence visa will have to pay a fine to depart Peru. Visitors for other than tourist or short-term business visit purposes must obtain a Peruvian visa in advance. Business workers (under contract) should ascertain the tax and exit regulations that apply to the specific visa they are granted. Peru does not require any immunizations for entry, although it recommends vaccination against yellow fever.

An international flight airport fee, payable in U.S. or local currency and assessed on a per-person basis, must be paid when departing Peru. There are also separate airport taxes for domestic flights charged at most domestic airports that must be paid before embarking. U.S. citizens whose passports are lost or stolen in Peru must obtain a new passport from the U.S. Embassy and present it, together with a police report on the loss or theft, to the main immigration office in downtown Lima, located at Prolongacion Espana 734, Brena, to obtain permission to depart. An additional immigration office is located within Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport international departure terminal. For further information regarding entry requirements, travelers should contact the Peruvian Embassy at 1700 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036; telephone (202) 833-9860; web

Note: As of June 1, 2004, it is illegal for any person within the United States, as well as U.S. citizens, nationals, and resident aliens elsewhere, to fly on or do business with Aero Continente and its successor, Nuevo Continente, an airline that is currently not in operation. Persons who violate this provision are subject to criminal and civil penalties under U.S. law. Further information on this matter is available on the U.S. Department of the Treasury's web site at FAA safety restrictions placed on Aero Continente are not related to this action.

Safety and Security: The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) terrorist group is still active, and sporadic incidents of Shining Path violence have occurred in the recent past in rural provinces of Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Huanuco, Junin, and San Martin. The Shining Path has previously targeted U.S. interests and there are indications that it continues to do so. Other incidents have included attacks by large, heavily armed groups believed to be members of Shining Path on Peruvian army and police patrols in remote areas, as well as kidnappings of Peruvian and foreign aid workers. None of these incidents occurred in areas normally visited by tourists. Mining prospectors, adventure travelers and others considering travel to remote areas of Peru are strongly advised to contact the U.S. Embassy in Lima for current security information.

A peace treaty ending the Peru/Ecuador border conflict was signed on October 26, 1998. The Peruvian government is working to remove mines and unexploded ordnance left over from the conflict, but crossing or approaching the Peru-Ecuador border anywhere except at official checkpoints can still be dangerous. The entire Peru/Colombia border area is very dangerous because of narcotics trafficking and the occasional incursions of armed guerrilla forces from Colombia into Peru's remote areas.

Political demonstrations and labor-related strikes and marches regularly occur in urban and some rural areas and sometimes affect major highways. They can also cause serious disruptions to road, air and rail transportation. Demonstrations are often—but not always—announced in advance. While these activities are usually peaceful, they can escalate into violent confrontations. As a general rule, it is best to avoid large crowds and demonstrations. Visitors are encouraged to keep informed by following the local news and consulting hotel personnel and tour guides.

The U.S. Embassy restricts travel of U.S. government employees where terrorist groups and narcotics traffickers have recently resorted to violent actions, usually directed against local security forces, local government authorities, and some civilians. Overland travel in or near these areas, particularly at night, is risky.

Apart from the following list of locations restricted because of the danger from terrorist and narcotic groups, Embassy employees are prohibited from nighttime overland travel anywhere outside of major urban areas because of the risks posed from robbery and unsafe road conditions. The only exception is that nighttime travel by commercial bus on the Pan-American Highway is permitted for official or personal travel.

Road travel along this route, by means other than commercial bus service, and nighttime travel via commercial bus service along other routes anywhere in Peru, continues to be prohibited for Embassy employees.

This list below is under continuous review, and travelers may contact the U.S. Embassy for updated information:

Ayacucho: Restricted: Provinces of La Mar and Huanta. Daylight road travel from Ayacucho to San Francisco. Permitted: Daylight road travel from Ayacucho City to the city of Huanta. Staying within the city limits of Huanta. Daylight road travel from Pisco to Ayacucho City.

Cuzco: Restricted: 20-kilometer swath of territory contiguous to the Apurimac River and Ayacucho Department. Permitted: Everywhere else including Machu Picchu area and city of Cuzco.

Huancavelica: Restricted: Provinces of Acobamba, Churcampa, and Pampas. Permitted: Train travel from Huancayo to Huancavelica City. Daylight road travel from Pisco to Ayacu-cho City.

Huanuco: Restricted: All areas. Road travel is no longer permitted in this Department. Permitted: Flying into and staying within the city limits of Huanuco and Tingo Maria.

Junin: Restricted: Provinces of Satipo and Concepcion east of the Rio Mantaro. Permitted: Daylight travel from La Merced to Satipo.

La Libertad: Restricted: Provinces of Pataz and Sanchez Carrión,

Loreto: Restricted: 20-kilometer swath of territory contiguous to the Colombia border. Travel on the Putumayo River.

San Martin: Restricted: Provinces of Bellavista, Huallaga, Mariscal Caceres, and Tocache. Permitted: Flying only into and remaining within the city limits of Bellavista, Juanjui, Saposoa, and Tocache. Daytime road travel from Tarapoto to Juanjui and Bellavista.

Ucayali: Restricted: Provinces of Padre Abad and Coronel Portillo west of Pucallpa City and west of Ucayali River. Road travel from Pucallpa to Aguaytia and all cities west of Aguaytia. Permitted: Flying into and remaining within the city limits of Pucallpa and Aguaytia.

Inca Trail hikers are significantly safer if they are part of a guided group trail hike. To protect natural resources along the Inca Trail, the Peruvian government charges fees for hiking the trail and instituted limits on the numbers of hikers permitted on the trail. Hikers in peak season (June-August) are advised to make reservations for the Inca Trail well in advance via a travel agency. Visitors should always register when entering national parks. Hikers should exercise extreme caution in steep or slippery areas, which are neither fenced nor marked. Several climbers have died or suffered serious injuries after falling while climbing Huayna Pic-chu, a peak near Machu Picchu. Only very basic medical assistance is available at Machu Picchu.

Adventure travelers should be aware that rescue capabilities are limited. In recent years, several hikers have died, and others have had to be rescued after serious accidents in the Huaraz region of the Cordillera Blanca Mountains, where Peru's highest peaks are located. In late June 2006 three American citizens, along with their Peruvian guides, died in Huaraz province after a serious fall while trekking. Most rescues are carried out on foot because helicopters cannot fly to the high-altitude areas where hikers are stranded. U.S. citizens who plan to visit these mountainous areas in Ancash province should contact the Peruvian National Police's High Mountain Rescue Unit (“USAM”) at telephone 51-1-575-4696, 51-1-575-4698, 51-1-575-1555; fax 51-1-575-3036, or e-mail: [email protected] Some USAM officers read and/or speak English.

Swimmers, surfers, rafters, and boaters should be aware of strong currents in the Pacific Ocean and fast-moving rivers. Two American citizens and at least three foreign visitors were killed while white water rafting in 2006 and one U.S. citizen died while surfing. Seasonal rains can exacerbate the already dangerous conditions in Peru. Those considering white-water rafting should consult local authorities about recent weather and the impact on whitewater rafting conditions. Be cautious in relying on those with a commercial interest in gauging conditions.

Companies offering white-water rafting in Peru, their guides, and their equipment may not be held to the same standards as similar companies in the United States. Travelers are advised to seek advice from local residents before swimming in jungle lakes or rivers, where large reptiles or other dangerous creatures may live; caimans, resembling alligators, are found in most jungle areas of Peru. One crocodile species is native to the Tumbes area, but it is limited in numbers and range. All adventure travelers should leave detailed written plans and a timetable with a friend and with local authorities in the region, and they should carry waterproof identification and emergency contact information.

Travelers to all remote areas should check with local authorities about geographic, climatic, and security conditions. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, including the Worldwide Caution Travel Alert, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Crime: Of the approximately 260,000 Americans who visit Peru each year, a small but growing number have been victims of serious crimes. The information below is intended to raise awareness of the potential for crime and suggest measures visitors can take to avoid becoming a victim.

Violent crime, including carjacking, assault, and armed robbery is common in Lima and other large cities. Resistance to violent crime often provokes greater violence, while victims who do not resist usually do not suffer serious physical harm. “Express kidnappings,” in which criminals kidnap victims and seek to obtain funds from their bank accounts via automatic teller machines, occur frequently. Thieves often smash car windows at traffic lights to grab jewelry, purses, backpacks, or other visible items from a car. This type of assault is very common on main roads leading to Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport, specifically along De la Marina and Faucett Avenues and Via de Evitamiento, but it can occur anywhere in congested traffic, particularly in downtown Lima. Travelers are encouraged to put all belongings, including purses, in the trunk of a car or taxi. Passengers who hail taxis on the street have been assaulted. Following the April 2007 armed robbery of a U.S. Embassy employee by a taxi driver, the Embassy's Regional Security Officer advised all Embassy personnel not to hail taxis on the street. It is safer to use telephone-dispatched radio taxis or car services associated with major hotels. Travelers should guard against the theft of luggage and other belongings, particularly U.S. passports, at the Lima airport.

Passengers arriving at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport should be cautious in making arrangements for ground transportation. Upon exiting the airport, travelers may be approached by persons seeming to know them, or who claim that a prearranged taxi has been sent to take them to their hotel. Some travelers have been charged exorbitant rates or taken to marginal hotels in unsafe parts of town. Travelers who are not being met by a known party or by a reputable travel agent or hotel shuttle are advised to arrange for a taxi inside the airport. At least two taxi companies maintain counters inside the international arrival area (between immigration clearance and baggage claim). An additional two companies have agents at the information kiosk just before the exit from the passenger arrival area.

The threat of street crime is greatest in areas that attract large crowds, particularly crowds of tourists or wealthy Peruvians. A crowd allows a thief (or thieves, since petty thieves often operate in a group) the opportunity to select and approach the potential victim without attracting attention. Visitors should be especially careful when visiting tourist areas in Lima such as the Plaza de Armas (Government Square), the Plaza San Martin, Acho Bullring, Pachacamac, and any location in downtown Lima, including areas immediately surrounding the Sheraton Hotel. Additionally, visitors to municipal markets as well as the Gamarra textile district of La Victoria should be extremely cautions. Street crime is also prevalent in cities in Peru's interior, including Cusco, Arequipa, Puno, and Juliaca. American citizens traveling alone or in unescorted groups are more vulnerable to street crime.

Visitors are advised to only carry what they need on their person and to keep cash and identification in their front pockets. Visitors are advised to not carry credit cards or other items that they do not need or intend to use as replacing items such as credit cards, U.S. driver's licenses, and other identification while in Peru can be difficult and time-consuming. Handbags should not be carried, but if they are, they should be tucked into the crook of an arm or, if carrying a bag with shoulder strap, do not allow the bag to hang freely, but keep a hand over the clasp. It is generally recommended that all jewelry be removed prior to going to a market or other crowded areas. Theft of U.S. passports is quite common in Peru. Visitors are advised not to carry their U.S. passports if they are not needed. If the police request identification a copy of the passport is acceptable. A copy of the data page, the page with the Peruvian visa and a copy of the page with the Peruvian entry stamp should be carried.

Counterfeit U.S. currency is a growing and serious problem in Peru. In many areas of the city, moneychangers openly change money on the street. These individuals should be avoided as they are a conduit for counterfeit currency and in many cases, work in league with pickpockets by pointing out potential victims. In addition, these individuals have frequently been the victims of violent robberies in which bystanders have been injured. There have also been several reported incidents of counterfeit currency being paid out as winnings by casinos, though the Embassy has not received reports of this happening at larger, well-known casinos.

Street crime is also prevalent in cities in Peru's interior, including Cusco, Arequipa, Puno, and Juliaca, and pickpockets frequent the market areas in these cities. In the recent past, there have been a number of cases of armed robberies, rapes, other sexual assaults, and attempted rapes of U.S. citizens and other foreign tourists in Arequipa and in Cusco city, as well as in the outlying areas in the vicinity of various Incan ruins. These assaults have occurred during both daylight hours and at night.

Some crimes in the city of Cusco and in Arequipa have involved the drivers of rogue (or unregistered) taxis. Travelers should use only licensed, registered taxis such as those available from taxi stands in Cusco displaying a blue decal issued by the municipal government on the windshield of the vehicle. Visitors should not accept offers of transportation or guide services from individuals seeking clients on the streets. In late 2006 there were several reports of U.S. citizens falling victim to ‘express kidnappings’ in Arequipa after taking taxis hailed on the street. On occasion, the victim was bound, beaten, and held for over 24 hours as the assailants attempted to empty cash from bank accounts with the victim's ATM card.

Tourists should be particularly cautious when visiting the Sacsahuay-man ruins outside of Cuzco. They should not travel alone, but do so in as large a group as possible. Visitors should also avoid these areas at dawn, dusk or night, since roving gangs are known to frequent these areas and prey on unsuspecting tourists. U.S. citizen backpackers have also been victims of armed robbery while hiking on trails other than the Inca Trail.

Peruvian law enforcement authorities have responded to rising crime by increasing the number of tourist police officers patrolling Cusco and its outskirts on horseback and motorcycles. The officers have been dispatched to bus and train terminals, taxi stands, automatic teller machine locations, and other sites frequented by tourists, such as discotheques, restaurants, and craft fairs and shops.

Crime also occurs on roads, particularly at night and outside of urban areas. Clandestine, impromptu roadblocks can appear on even major highways, where bus and automobile passengers are robbed. The risk is even greater on rural roads after dark. A number of Americans have been robbed on the road between Tarapoto and Yuriguaymas in recent months. In addition, numerous Americans have reported the theft of passports, cameras, and other valuables on overnight bus rides, by thieves who take advantage of sleeping passengers.

U.S. citizen visitors to Peru should immediately report any criminal activity perpetrated against them to the nearest police station or tourist police (“POLTUR”) office. Immediate action may result in the capture of the thieves and the recovery of stolen property. U.S. citizens should also report crimes to the U.S. Embassy in Lima (telephone 434-3000 during business hours, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or 434-3032 for after-hours emergencies if calling from within Lima; add the prefix 01 if calling from the provinces). Victims of crime in Cusco should contact the Consular Agent there (while in Cusco, telephone 231-474; from Lima, callers must dial the prefix 084 for Cusco).

The telephone number for the tourist police in Lima is 51-1-424-2053 (Lima north) or 51-1-460-4525 (Lima south). There are also tourist police offices in 15 other cities, including all major tourist destinations, such as Cusco, Arequipa, and Puno. Tourists may register complaints on a 24-hour hotline provided by INDECOPI (National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property) by calling 51-1-224-7800 or 51-1-224-7777.

Outside of Lima, callers should dial the prefix (01), then the aforementioned numbers, or call the toll-free number 0-80044040 from any private telephone (the 800 number is not available from public payphones). The INDECOPI hotline will assist the caller in contacting the police to report a crime, but it is intended primarily to deal with non-emergency situations such as poor service from a travel agency or guide, lost property, or unfair charges.

In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products may be illegal under local law. In addition, bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/or fines. More information on this serious problem is available at

Information for Victims of Crime: The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends, and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if neede

Medical Facilities and Health Information: Medical care is generally good in Lima and usually adequate in other major cities, but it is less so elsewhere in Peru. Urban private health care facilities are often better staffed and equipped than public or rural ones. Public hospital facilities in Cusco, the prime tourist destination, are generally inadequate to handle serious medical conditions. Although some private hospital facilities in Cusco may be able to treat acute medical problems, in general the seriously ill traveler should return to Lima for further care as soon as is medically feasible. Visitors to high-altitude Andean destinations such as Cusco (11,000 feet), Machu Picchu (8,000 feet), or Lake Titicaca (13,000 feet) should discuss the trip with their personal physician prior to departing the United States. Travel to high altitudes could pose a serious risk of illness, hospitalization, and even death, particularly if the traveler has a medical condition that affects blood circulation or breathing. Several U.S. citizens have died in Peru from medical conditions exacerbated by altitude. Tourists or business visitors, particularly those who suffer from cardiac-related problems or high blood pressure, who wish to travel to high-altitude areas in Peru, should undergo a medical examination before traveling. New arrivals, even healthy and fit persons, will feel symptoms of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) at high-altitude, and most will need time to adjust to the altitude. Most people will have increased respiration and heart rate. Many will have headaches, difficulty sleeping, lack of appetite, minor gastric and intestinal upsets, and mood changes. To help prevent these complications, consult your personal physician, avoid alcohol and smoking for at least one week after arrival at high altitudes, and limit physical activity for the first 36 to 48 hours after arrival at high altitudes.

In jungle areas east of the Andes mountain range (cordillera), chloro-quine-resistant malaria is a serious problem. Cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis, dengue fever, and other exotic and contagious diseases are also present. Yellow fever is endemic in certain areas of Peru; in general, those areas are located on the eastern side of the cordillera and at lower elevations in jungle areas. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Peruvian government recommend that travelers to Peru receive a yellow fever vaccination and carry documentation of the vaccination with them on their trip. Diarrhea caused by contaminated food or water is very common in Peru, and is potentially serious. If suffering from persistent symptoms, seek medical attention. Local tap water in Peru is not considered potable. Only bottled or treated (disinfected) water should be used for drinking. Fruits and vegetables should be washed and/or disinfected with care, and meats and fish should be thoroughly cooked. Eggs, meat, unpasteurized cheese, and seafood are common sources of the bacteria that can cause travelers' diarrhea, and they should be properly prepared or avoided. Over the last few years, at least five American citizen visitors have died during liposuction operations in Peru. While some of these deaths occurred in ill-equipped, makeshift clinics, travelers are urged to carefully assess the risks of having this type of surgery performed overseas, even when opting for a treatment at one of the better-known clinics.

Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC's website at For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization's (WHO) web site at Further health information for travelers is available at

Medical Insurance: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Peru is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Driving conditions in Peru are very different than those found in the U.S. and can be considerably more dangerous. Visitors are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with local law and driving customs before attempting to operate vehicles. Road travel at night is extremely dangerous due to poor road markings and frequent unmarked road hazards. Drivers should not travel alone on rural roads, even in daylight. Convoy travel is preferable. Spare tires, parts, and fuel are needed when traveling in remote areas, where distances between service areas are great. Fog is common on coastal and mountain highways, and the resulting poor visibility frequently causes accidents. Inter-city bus travel is dangerous. Armed robbers, who force passengers off buses and steal all their belongings, sometimes hold up inter-city buses at night. Bus accidents resulting in multiple deaths and injuries are common, and they are frequently attributed to excessive speed, poor bus maintenance, and driver fatigue. For further information, travelers may contact their nearest automobile club, or (for information in Spanish) the Associacion Automotriz del Peru, 299 Avenida Dos de Mayo, San Isidro, Lima 27, Peru, telephone 51-1-440-0495, or at

Visit Peru's national tourist office and national authority responsible for road safety web site at

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed Peru's Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Peru's air carrier operations. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA's web site at

Special Circumstances: The government of Peru prohibits the exportation of archaeological artifacts and colonial art. These restrictions include archaeological material from the pre-Hispanic cultures and certain ethnological materials from the colonial period of Peru, which are considered protected Peruvian cultural patrimony. U.S. law enforcement authorities can take action even after importation into the U.S. has occurred. For more information, contact Art Historian Dr. Alvaro Roca-Rey Miro Quesada, National Cultural Institute (Instituto Nacional de Cultura—INC), Director of Direccion de Fomento de las Artes at 51-1-476-9900, and/or Archaeologist Ms. Ale-jandra Figueroa Flores, Direccion de Registro de Patrimonio Arqueologico, at 51-1-476-9887. Travelers buying art should be aware that unscrupulous traders might try to sell them articles that cannot be exported from Peru. Peruvian customs authorities may seize such articles, and the traveler may be subject to criminal penalties. In many countries around the world, counterfeit and pirated goods are widely available. Transactions involving such products are illegal and bringing them back to the United States may result in forfeitures and/ or fines.

Visitors who purchase reproductions of colonial or pre-colonial art should buy only from reputable dealers, and they should insist on documentation from Peru's National Institute of Culture (INC) showing that the object is a reproduction and may be exported. Peruvian customs authorities may retain articles lacking such documentation and forward them to INC for evaluation. If found to be reproductions, the objects eventually may be returned to the purchaser, but storage and shipping charges are the responsibility of the purchaser. Vendors in jungle cities and airports sell live animals and birds, as well as handicrafts made from insects, feathers, or other natural products. Under Peruvian law, protecting the country's biodiversity, it is illegal to remove certain flora and fauna items from their place of origin to another part of Peru or to export them to a foreign country. Travelers have been detained and arrested by the Ecology Police in Lima for carrying such items.

Information on U.S. regulations for the importation of plant and animal products is available from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture via the web at Travelers bringing animals to the United States may also wish to consult with U.S. Customs or the Fish and Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of Interior. Travelers wishing to bring animals from the United States into Peru should consult the Peruvian Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Agraria (SENASA) at 51-1-313-3300. Information regarding current restrictions is available on the SENASA web page at

Peruvian customs regulations require that many electronic items or items for commercial use be declared upon entering the country. Failure to make a full and accurate declaration can lead to arrest and incarceration or significant fines.

Philanthropic groups and individuals planning to enter Peru with medical supplies in quantities greater than for personal use are strongly advised to consult closely with a Peruvian consulate in the United States prior to arrival in Peru. Peruvian Customs authorities will seize any merchandise that is not properly documented, even if intended for charitable or philanthropic use. The cost of retrieving seized goods can often exceed the value of the merchandise.

Travelers should be aware that some drugs and other products readily available over-the-counter or by prescription in Peru are illegal in the United States. The prescription sedative flumitrapezan (Rohypnol) is one such drug; others may come on the market at any time. Although coca-leaf tea is a popular beverage and folk remedy for altitude sickness in Peru, possession of these tea bags, which are sold in most Peruvian supermarkets, is illegal in the United States.

Criminal Penalties: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Peru's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Peru are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.

Disaster Preparedness: Peru is an earthquake-prone country. U.S. citizens in areas affected by earthquakes can expect to experience temporary difficulty communicating with family and friends in the U.S. and in securing prompt onward overland transportation out of the affected areas. You are strongly encouraged to register your trip with the Embassy and to contact your family directly or, if unavailable, the U.S. Embassy following a significant disaster. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at

Children's Issues: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children's Issues website at

Registration and Embassy Locations: Americans living or traveling in Peru are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Peru. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy is located in Surco, Monterrico, a suburb of Lima, at Avenida Encalada, Block Seventeen; telephone 51-1-434-3000 during business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), or 51-1-434-3032 for after-hours emergencies; fax 51-1-618-2397, or 51-1-618-2724 (American Citizen Services Unit); web site— The Consular Section is open for American Citizen Services, including registration, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. weekdays, excluding U.S. and Peruvian holidays.

The U.S. Consular Agent in Cusco may be reached at 51-84-231-474; or by email at [email protected] The Consular Agency can provide information and assistance to U.S. citizen travelers who are victims of crime or need other assistance.

International Adoption

May 2006

The information in this section has been edited from a report of the State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Overseas Citizens Services. For more information, please read the International Adoption section of this book and review current reports online at

Disclaimer: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and current understanding. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services.

Please Note: All intercountry adoptions in Peru must be processed through a Peruvian-approved U.S. adoption agency. There is a different process for Peruvian domestic adoptions, which may be requested by Peruvian nationals, some blood relatives, or non-Peruvians who have lived in Peru for more than two years. Please note that these procedures for domestic adoptions do not always comply with U.S. and Peruvian inter-country adoption requirements and often cause problems when Americans who have completed the adoption of a Peruvian child are then applying for the child's U.S. immigrant visa.

Patterns of Immigration: Please review current reports online at

Adoption Authority: The government office responsible for adoptions in Peru is the Ministry for Women and Social Development (Ministerio de la Mujer y Desarrollo Social, or MIMDES). MIMDES is responsible for identifying possible orphans for assignment to prospective adoptive parents, assisting the court's investigation of the child's background, contracting and coordinating with the approved U.S. adoption agencies, certifying the court-issued adoption decree, and establishing post-adoption reporting requirements to ensure the child's adequate development and care in the United States.

Av. Arequipa 381-B
Sta. Beatriz, Lima 1, Peru
(51)(1) 332-0733
E-mail: [email protected]

Eligibility Requirements for Adoptive Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 18 years older than the child to be adopted. In some cases, where applications are filed for children older than 6, groups of siblings, or children with handicaps, the prospective adoptive parents may not be more than 55 years old. Both married and single persons may adopt in Peru. However, married couples must jointly present the adoption application to MIMDES. The presence of both adoptive parents is necessary during the family placement and adjustment phase with the child, which generates a favorable adoption report from MIMDES. Applications from unmarried couples will not be considered. Although Peruvian law allows children up to age 18 to be adopted, it is important to note that U.S. law requires that the 1-600 petition be filed before the child's 16th birthday.

Residency Requirements: There are no residency requirements for intercountry adoptions.

Time Frame: Adopting from Peru can be time-consuming. Recent experience suggests the total time (from the initial inquiry with an approved adoption agency until the child arrives in the U.S.) can take several months and often over one year. Although both adoptive parents do not need to be present in Peru for the entire time, both must be present for the provisional placement, evaluation, and ratification of the adoption through the court. Prospective adoptive parents should plan to stay in Peru for approximately eight weeks, and sometimes longer.

With regard to the U.S. immigration part of the process, only the petitioning parent must be present for the visa interview (with a legal representative), but the U.S. Embassy encourages both parents to attend. The U.S. Embassy tries to expedite petitions and visa applications, but adoptive parents should be prepared for unexpected delays.

Adoption Agencies and Attorneys: Only MIMDES-approved agencies are permitted to initiate foreign adoptions in Peru. Each licensed agency must designate at least one local (Peruvian) representative. MIMDES reviews each agency's status every two years. There are currently eight U.S. adoption agencies approved by MIMDES. The U.S. Embassy in Lima has a list of these agencies. The U.S. Government cannot assume any responsibility for the quality of services provided by these private adoption agencies or their employees.

Adoption Fees: Adoption agencies estimate that the total cost of an adoption in Peru will be $3,000 to $6,000. The fees include:

  • Office of Adoptions (MIMDES): no charges
  • Peruvian Legal Fees: $3,000— $5,000
  • Other Peruvian adoption costs: $500

These fees are subject to change without notice, and will vary according to the exchange rate.

Adoption Procedures: Peruvian law restricts intercountry adoption to children who have been deemed legally abandoned. In effect, this provision prohibits so-called “direct” adoptions, in which a birth parent gives a child directly (or via an intermediary) to specific prospective parent(s) for adoption. It also prohibits adoptive parents from searching for and locating a child on their own.

Although Peruvian law allows children up to age 18 to be adopted, it is important to note that U.S. law requires that the 1-600 petition to classify an adopted child as an immediate relative be filed before the child's 16th birthday.

For prospective parents, the process begins when they apply through one of the approved U.S. agencies to MIM-DES for permission to adopt. When the dossier of the prospective parents is completed and approved by the MIMDES Board of Directors, MIM-DES tentatively assigns a child to those parents and forwards information regarding the assigned child to the parents' adoption agency.

MIMDES assigns the U.S. agency a specific amount of time (usually 15-20 working days) to confirm the prospective parents' intention to adopt the child. The prospective adoptive parents then must travel to Peru for the adoption proceedings. There is no established minimum or maximum time after confirmation of intent during which travel is required, but adoptive parents should confirm with MIMDES before making travel plans that adoption proceedings are ready to move forward. If married, both prospective parents must attend the ratification of the adoption. Provisional custody is awarded to the prospective adoptive parents shortly after their arrival in Peru. After 10-15 days, a social worker assigned to the case will issue a report attesting to the compatibility and bonding of the child and the prospective parents. If the report is favorable, both of the prospective adoptive parents appear in court to ratify their adoption request, after which the judge may issue the final adoption decree.

When completed, the adoption is entered into a national adoption registry maintained by MIMDES. The adoptive parent(s) must also register the child in the municipality where s/ he was born and obtain a birth certificate listing the adoptive parents as the child's parents. In preparation for the U.S. visa process, adoptive parents must also obtain a Peruvian passport for the child. All court documents related to the child's abandonment and adoption must also have an official English translation. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at

Documents Required for Adoption: Required documents include but are not limited to:

  • Prospective adoptive parents' birth and marriage certificates (if applicable);
  • Home study evaluation (I-600A can be used to fulfill this requirement);
  • Physical and psychological health certificates issued by a registered doctor from the state in which they live;
  • Financial and employment certifications;
  • Police clearances.

Peruvian Embassy The Embassy of Peru 1700 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20036 (202) 833-9860

Peru has Consulates General in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Patterson (NJ), and San Francisco.

U.S. Immigration Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. Please see the International Adoption section of this book for more details and review current reports online at

U.S. Embassy
Avenida La Encalada, Cuadra 17 s/n
Monterrico, Surco, Lima 33
(51)(1) 434-3000
Fax (51)(1) 434-3037

Post-Adoption Reporting Requirements: The post-adoption controls for adoptive couples in which both spouses are Americans differ from those for couples in which one parent is a Peruvian citizen. For U.S. citizen couples, the U.S. adoption agency is responsible for conducting post-adoption checks for four years after the adoption takes place, according to the norms established by each adoption agency. For couples in which one parent is a Peruvian citizen, or single-parent households, a U.S.-based entity that has been judged by the Peruvian government to be the general equivalent of MIM-DES is responsible for conducting an initial post-adoption evaluation and an evaluation every six months for the following four years. The U.S. agency in charge of the home study when the 1-600 petition was filed may be used for this purpose, and is not required to be listed on the Peruvian approved adoption agency list. Peruvian law does not require that adopted Peruvian children be registered with a Peruvian Consulate in the United States.

Additional Information: Specific questions about adoption in Peru may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Lima. General questions regarding intercountry adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/ OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.

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Compiled from the December 2005 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:
Republic of Peru




1.28 million sq. km. (496,225 sq. mi.); Peru is the third-largest country in South America and is approximately three times the size of California.


Capital—Lima. Other cities—Arequipa, Chiclayo, Cuzco, Huancayo, Truujillo, Ayacucho, Piura, Iquitos, Chimbote.


Western coastal plains, central rugged Andean mountains, and eastern lowlands with tropical forests.


Arid and mild in coastal area, temperate to frigid in the Andes, and warm and humid in the jungle lowlands.



Noun and adjective—Peruvian(s).


26.2 million (2005 census). The Lima/Callao metropolitan area has a population of 8.27 million. (2000).

Annual growth rate:

1.46% (2005 est.).


Roman Catholic (90%).


Spanish is the principal language. Quechua, Aymara and other indigenous languages also have official status.


Years compulsory—11. Attendance—92% ages 6-11, and 66% ages 12-16. Literacy—95% in urban areas, 77% in rural areas.


Infant mortality rate—30/1,000 (2002). Life expectancy (2002)—67.2 male; 72.3 female.


5.4% (official 2000 figures); Underemployment: 46.4% (2000).

Ethnic groups:

Indigenous (45%), mestizo (37%), European (15%), African, Japanese, Chinese, and other (3%).



Constitutional republic.


July 28, 1821.


December 31, 1993.


Executive—President, two Vice Presidents, and a Council of Ministers led by a Prime Minister. Legislative—unicameral Congress. Judicial—Four-tier court structure consisting of Supreme Court and lower courts.

Administrative divisions:

25 departments subdivided into provinces and districts.

Political parties:

Peru Possible (PP), American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), National Unity (UN), Independent Moralizing Front (FIM), We Are Peru (SP), Change 90/New Majority/Let's Go Neighbor/People's Solution, Union For Peru (UPP), Popular Christian Party (PPC), Popular Action (AP).


Universal and mandatory for citizens 18 to 70.



$67.1 billion (2004).

Annual growth rate:

6% (2005).

Per capita GDP:

$2,777 (2005).

Natural resources:

Iron, copper, gold, silver, zinc, lead, fish, petroleum, natural gas, and forestry.

Manufacturing (14.7% of GDP, 2003):

Types—Food and beverages, textiles and apparel, nonferrous metals, nonmetallic minerals, petroleum refining, paper, chemicals, fishmeal.

Agriculture (9% of GDP, 2003):

Products—sugarcane, potato, rice, banana, maize, poultry, milk, others.

Cultivated land:

1.3 million hectares.

Other sectors (by percentage of GDP in 2003):

Services (64.1%), mining (6.6%), construction (5.2%), fisheries (0.4%).


Exports (est. 2004)—$11.4 billion: gold, copper, fishmeal, petroleum, zinc, textiles, apparel, asparagus and coffee. Major markets (2002)—U.S. (26%), China (9.1%), U.K. (6.4%), Switzerland (5.6%), Japan (5.2%), Chile (3.4%), Germany (3.1%). Imports (est. 2004)—$9.4 billion: machinery, vehicles, processed food, petroleum and steel. Major suppliers (2002)—U.S. (25.3%), Chile (7.7%), Spain (5%), Colombia (4.9%), Brazil (4.5%), Venezuela (4.5%), and Argentina (4.2%).


Peru is the fifth most populous country in Latin America (after Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina). Approximately 19 cities have a population of 100,000 or more. Rural migration has increased the urban population from 35.4% of the total population in 1940 to an estimated 75% today.

Most Peruvians are either Spanish-speaking mestizos—a term that usually refers to a mixture of indigenous and European/Caucasian—or Amerindians, largely Quechua-speaking indigenous people. Peruvians of European descent make up about 15% of the population. There also are small numbers of persons of African, Japanese, and Chinese ancestry. Socioeconomic and cultural indicators