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Whitaker's Almanack: Peru

Information on Peru

See also QFINANCE article

República del Perú – Republic of Peru

Whitaker's Almanack Definitions

  • Area – 1,285,216 sq. km
  • Capital – Lima; population (including Callao), 8,769,350 (2009 est)
  • Major cities – Arequipa, Chiclayo, Iquitos, Piura, Trujillo
  • Currency – New sol of 100 centimos
  • Population – 29,549,517 rising at 1.01 per cent a year (2012 est)
  • Religion – Christian (Roman Catholic 81 per cent, Protestant 13 per cent) (2007 est)
  • Language – Spanish, Quechua (both official), Aymara, other Amerindian languages
  • Population density – 23 per sq. km (2010)
  • Urban population – 71.6 per cent (2010 est)
  • Median age (years) – 26.2 (2011 est)
  • National anthem – 'Himno Nacional del Perú' ['National Anthem of Peru']
  • National day – 28 July (Independence Day)
  • Death penalty – Retained for certain crimes (last used 1979)
  • CPI score – 3.4 (2011)

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Climate and Terrain

Peru has three main regions: the Costa, the coastal desert plain west of the Andes; the Sierra (mountain range) of the Andes, which runs parallel to the Pacific coast; and the Montaña (or Selva), a vast area of jungle stretching from the eastern foothills of the Andes to the country's eastern and north-eastern borders. Elevation extremes range from 6,768m (Nevado Huascaran) to 0m (Pacific Ocean). The climate is arid in the west, temperate in the mountains and tropical in the east. Occasionally, due to the El Niño weather system, the northern districts experience a period of higher temperatures accompanied by torrential rain. Average temperatures in Lima range from 18°C from June to October to 23°C in February.

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History and Politics

The Inca Empire centred on Cuzco superseded earlier civilisations in Peru and flourished from the 13th to the 15th century, when the empire reached its zenith before falling to Spanish conquistadores led by Francisco Pizarro in 1532–3. The territory formed the Viceroyalty of Peru and its gold and silver mines made Peru the principal source of wealth in Spain's American empire. After 1810, Peru became the centre of Spanish colonial government as its other colonies rebelled. Although Peru declared its independence in 1821, this was achieved only with the final defeat of Spanish forces in 1824.

Peru entered into several border disputes with its neighbours in the 19th and 20th centuries, including the Pacific War (1879–83) in which it lost three southern coastal provinces to Chile. A border dispute with Ecuador was renewed in 1981, leading to a short, inconclusive war in 1995, but was resolved in 1998 following adjudication. A border dispute with Chile ended in 1999 with the implementation of accords first agreed in 1929.

Following independence, Peru alternated between periods of military dictatorship and democratic rule. Two left-wing insurgencies, by the Maoist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the Movimento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA), began in the 1980s. The activities of the Sendero Luminoso in particular destabilised the government and the economy; the conflict caused about 69,000 deaths and saw human rights abuses by both the security forces and the guerrillas. By the late 1990s both insurgencies had been overcome, although a few Maoists remain active. The conflict has left a legacy of criminal violence, much of it related to drug production and trafficking.

Alberto Fujimori, elected president in 1990 on a platform of economic reform, subverted democratic institutions in Peru during his decade in power, suspending the legislature for three years, sacking judges and imposing order through an 'emergency national reconstruction government'. He fled to Japan in 2000 to escape corruption charges, but was extradited and convicted in 2007 of abuse of power and in 2009 of human rights abuses.

In the 2011 legislative election, the Peru Wins alliance gained the most seats but without a majority. The presidential election was won in the second round in June 2011 by the Peruvian Nationalist Party candidate Ollanta Humala.

Political System

Under the 1993 constitution, the executive president is directly elected for a five-year term, renewable once. The unicameral legislature, the Congress of the Republic, has 130 members, directly elected for a five-year term. The president, who is responsible to the legislature, appoints the council of ministers.


President, Ollanta Humala, elected 5 June 2011, sworn in 28 July 2011
First Vice-President, Marisol Espinoza


President of Council of Ministers, Juan Jimenez
Defence, Pedro Cateriano
Economy and Finance, Luis Castilla Rubio
Foreign Affairs, Rafael Roncagliolo


52 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9SP
T 020-7235 1917 E W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Vacant


PO Box 854, Torre Parque Mar (Piso 22), Avenida José Larco 1301, Lima
T (+51) (1) 617 3000 E W
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, HE James Dauris, apptd 2010

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All aged 16–49, 2010 estMalesFemales
Available for military service7,385,5887,727,623
Fit for military service5,788,6296,565,097

Military expenditure – US$1,978m (2011)

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Economy and Trade

The economy has grown steadily since 2002, driven by increased agricultural, fisheries and mining exports, major infrastructure developments and tourism. Poverty remains widespread, but the benefits of economic growth are starting to be felt in the poorer regions and the poverty rate has declined by 19 per cent since 2002. Economic growth slowed in the global downturn, owing to reduced demand for exports and lower commodity prices, but recovered strongly in 2010 and continued to grow in 2011 due partly to private investment.

Mineral resources, including copper, gold, silver, zinc, oil and natural gas, are abundant, and extracting and refining these is the mainstay of the economy, although this makes it vulnerable to global price fluctuations. Other industries include steel and metal fabrication, fishing and fish processing, textiles and clothes manufacture and food processing. Agriculture is centred on asparagus, coffee, cocoa, cotton, sugar cane, rice, cereals, vegetables, fruit, coca, medicinal plants, meat and dairy products. Services contribute 54 per cent to GDP, industry 38 per cent and agriculture 8 per cent.

The main trading partners are the USA, China, Switzerland, Japan, other South American countries and Canada. Principal exports are copper, gold, zinc, tin, crude oil and petroleum products, natural gas, coffee, vegetables and fruit. The main imports are oil and petroleum products, chemicals, plastics, machinery, vehicles, telecommunications equipment, iron and steel, and food.

GNI – US$146,999m; US$4,700 per capita (2010)
Annual average growth of GDP – 6.2 per cent (2011 est)
Inflation rate – 3 per cent (2011 est)
Population below poverty line – 31.3 per cent (2010 est)
Unemployment – 7.7 per cent (2011 est)
Total external debt – US$37,690m (2011 est)
Imports – US$28,818m (2010)
Exports – US$35,565m (2010)


Trade – US$6,747m surplus (2010)
Current Account – US$2,315m deficit (2010)

Trade with UK20102011
Imports from UK£119,231,578£146,561,870
Exports to UK£221,149,418£242,061,748

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Airports and waterways – There are over 210 airports and airstrips, including the international airport at Lima; there are 8,808km of inland waterways and the main seaports are Callao and Matarani

Roadways and railways – There are 137,327km of roads, including sections of the east-west Andean Highway, linking the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and the north–south Pan-American Highway running along the Pacific coast. The state-run railways have 1,906km of track

Telecommunications – 3.16 million fixed lines and 29.11 million mobile subscriptions (2010); there were 9.16 million internet users in 2009

Internet code and IDD – pe; 51 (from UK), 44 (to UK)

Media – The state-owned Television Nacional de Peru broadcasts alongside a number of commercial television channels; daily newspapers include El Bocon and La Republica

WPFI score – 30,00 (109)

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Education and Health

Education is free and compulsory for 11 years.

Literacy rate – 89.6 per cent (2007 est)
Gross enrolment ratio (percentage of relevant age group) – primary 109 per cent; secondary 92 per cent (2009 est)
Health expenditure (per capita) – US$201 (2009)
Hospital beds (per 1,000 people) – 1.5 (2004–9)
Life expectancy (years) – 72.73 (2012 est)
Mortality rate – 5.95 (2012 est)
Birth rate – 19.13 (2012 est)
Infant mortality rate – 21.5 (2012 est)

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