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Country Profiles: Peru


Flag, map and facts courtesy of CIA World Factbook 2002

Background Ancient Peru was the seat of several prominent Andean civilizations, most notably that of the Incas whose empire was captured by the Spanish conquistadores in 1533. Peruvian independence was declared in 1821, and remaining Spanish forces defeated in 1824. After a dozen years of military rule, Peru returned to democratic leadership in 1980, but experienced economic problems and the growth of a violent insurgency. President Alberto Fujimori's election in 1990 ushered in a decade that saw a dramatic turnaround in the economy and significant progress in curtailing guerrilla activity. Nevertheless, the president's increasing reliance on authoritarian measures and an economic slump in the late 1990s generated mounting dissatisfaction with his regime. Fujimori won reelection to a third term in the spring of 2000, but international pressure and corruption scandals led to his ouster by Congress in November of that year. A caretaker government oversaw new elections in the spring of 2001, which ushered in Alejandro TOLEDO as the new head of government.
Location
Map of Peru
Western South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador
Area total: 1,285,220 sq km
water: 5,220 sq km
land: 1.28 million sq km
Area - comparative slightly smaller than Alaska
Climate varies from tropical in east to dry desert in west; temperate to frigid in Andes
Terrain western coastal plain (costa), high and rugged Andes in center (sierra), eastern lowland jungle of Amazon Basin (selva)
Elevation extremes lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m
highest point: Nevado Huascaran 6,768 m
Natural resources copper, silver, gold, petroleum, timber, fish, iron ore, coal, phosphate, potash, hydropower, natural gas
Land use arable land: 3%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 97% (1998 est.)
Natural hazards earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, landslides, mild volcanic activity
Environment - current issues deforestation (some the result of illegal logging); overgrazing of the slopes of the costa and sierra leading to soil erosion; desertification; air pollution in Lima; pollution of rivers and coastal waters from municipal and mining wastes
Geography - note shares control of Lago Titicaca, world's highest navigable lake, with Bolivia; remote Lake McIntyre is the ultimate source of the Amazon River
Population 27,949,639 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure 0-14 years: 34% (male 4,820,892; female 4,671,205)
15-64 years: 61.1% (male 8,598,328; female 8,492,830)
65 years and over: 4.9% (male 627,601; female 738,783) (2002 est.) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate 1.66% (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate 38.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth total population: 70.59 years
female: 73.12 years (2002 est.)
male: 68.18 years
Ethnic groups Amerindian 45%, mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 37%, white 15%, black, Japanese, Chinese, and other 3%
Religions Roman Catholic 90%
Languages Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymara
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 88.3%
male: 94.5%
female: 83% (1995 est.)
Government type constitutional republic
Capital Lima
Independence 28 July 1821 (from Spain)
Legal system based on civil law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Flag description three equal, vertical bands of red (hoist side), white, and red with the coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms features a shield bearing a vicuna, cinchona tree (the source of quinine), and a yellow cornucopia spilling out gold coins, all framed by a green wreath

Flag of Peru
Economy - overview Thanks to strong foreign investment and the cooperation between the government and the IMF and World Bank, growth was strong in 1994-97 and inflation was brought under control. In 1998, El Nino's impact on agriculture, the financial crisis in Asia, and instability in Brazilian markets undercut growth. And 1999 was another lean year for Peru, with the aftermath of El Nino and the Asian financial crisis working its way through the economy. Political instability resulting from the presidential election and Fujimori's subsequent departure from office limited growth in 2000. The downturn in the global economy further depressed growth in 2001. President Toledo, who assumed the presidency in July 2001, is working to reinvigorate the economy and reduce unemployment. Economic growth in 2002 is projected to be 3 to 3.5%.
GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $4,800 (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line 50% (2000 est.)
Labor force 7.5 million (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate 9%; widespread underemployment (2001 est.)
Industries mining of metals, petroleum, fishing, textiles, clothing, food processing, cement, auto assembly, steel, shipbuilding, metal fabrication
Agriculture - products coffee, cotton, sugarcane, rice, wheat, potatoes, corn, plantains, coca; poultry, beef, dairy products, wool; fish
Exports - commodities fish and fish products, gold, copper, zinc, crude petroleum and byproducts, lead, coffee, sugar, cotton
Imports - commodities machinery, transport equipment, foodstuffs, petroleum, iron and steel, chemicals, pharmaceuticals

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