|Official language||Spanish, Quechua, Aymara|
|Form of government||Presidential Republic|
|Telephone area code||005 (Source: ALLCITYCODES)|
The Republic of Peru is the third largest country in South America, with an area of 1 285 216 km² it is more than twice the size of France. It borders Ecuador in the north, Colombia in the northeast, Brazil in the east, Bolivia in the southeast, Chile in the south and the Pacific in the west. Peru is divided into three large landscapes: coastline (Costa), central Andean region (Sierra) and the lowlands of the Amazon bordering to the east.
The Pacific coast of Peru is approx. 2,300 km long and takes up around 10% of the total national area. In the northern area it is up to 160 km wide, in the south it narrows to just under 30 km. It is a desert and steppe landscape that is crossed by over 50 rivers that come from the Andes into the Pacific.
The Andean region consists of three mountain ranges that run approximately parallel to the coast: In the western Cordillera, which forms the continental divide between the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, there is the highest mountain in Peru, the Huascar¨¢n at 6 768 m. The volcanic peaks of Yerupaja and Coropuna are almost the same height. Separated by the valley of the R¨ªo Marañon, the mountain ranges of the Central Cordilleras and the Eastern Cordilleras rise further south. In this area lies Lake Titicaca at an altitude of 3 812 m, the southeastern part of which belongs to the neighboring country of Bolivia. Overall, the Andean region takes up about a quarter of the area of Peru.
The two large rivers R¨ªo Marañon and R¨ªo Ucayali merge (with numerous other smaller rivers) in the northeastern lowlands to form the Amazon. The heavily forested and mountainous forestland (Montaña, up to about 3 500 m high) connects to the eastern Andean chain. The Amazon lowlands and Montaña occupy around two thirds of the country’s area.
The capital Lima is located on the Pacific coast.
The climate in Peru is predominantly tropical with balanced temperatures, which can vary widely depending on the altitude. There is a dry (May-October) and a rainy season (November-April). The Pacific coast is influenced by the cold Humboldt Current, the average temperatures in Lima on the coast are 23 °C in January and 16 °C in July. The average annual rainfall is less than 50 mm. The western flanks of the Andes are also very dry, up to 800 mm annually fall on the plateaus during the rainy season, partly in the form of heavy rain. The temperatures decrease with increasing altitude, the zone of eternal ice begins above 5,000 m. Up to 3,800 mm of precipitation is measured on the eastern slopes of the Andes.
Flora and fauna
In the rainy eastern lowlands of the Amazon there is a rich tropical rainforest. On the eastern slopes of the Andes (Montaña) there is initially mountain forest at a height of approx. 1,000 to 2,000 m, which merges into cloud forest above 2,000 m (up to approx. 3,500 m). Grasses, dwarf shrubs and upholstery plants grow above 3 500 m. Succulents and thorny shrubs are found on the low-precipitation western flanks of the coastal cordillera. In the dry coastal strip, there is predominantly desert vegetation outside the river regions and irrigated areas.
Especially in the forested areas of Peru, the wildlife is very diverse. Typical representatives of the densely forested lowlands are jaguars, monkeys, peccaries, tapirs, snakes, caimans and numerous bird species. The ocelot is considered endangered. In the highlands of the Andes live Andean bear, various llama species (such as alpacas, guanacos, vicuñas) and the condor, which is the largest vulture on earth with a wingspan of over three meters. The coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean are very rich in fish due to the plankton-rich Humboldt Current. Over 1,400 different species of fish are found here. The population of seabirds is correspondingly large, including albatrosses, cormorants, seagulls, pelicans and gannets.
A total of around 27.91 million people live in Peru, around 70% of them in cities. The largest city is the capital Lima on the Pacific coast, in whose metropolitan area around 7.85 million people live. Other cities with over a million residents are Trujillo, Chiclayo and Arequipa. Almost half of the entire population lives in the coastal region, only about 10% in the eastern areas of the country, the rest in the highlands. Check ALLCITYPOPULATION to see other large cities in Peru by population.
According to COUNTRYAAH, 46% of the Peruvian population are Indians. The largest ethnic groups are the Quechua and the Aymara, who mainly live in the highlands. The eastern lowlands are home to around 250,000 Amazon Indians who belong to a large number of different ethnic groups. A third of the total population are mestizo, about 12% whites. Minorities form blacks, mulattos and Asians.
The official languages are Spanish, Quechua and Aymara. Quechua is spoken by around 40% of the population, Aymara especially in the region of Lake Titicaca. There are also numerous Amazon languages spoken by small minorities. Religious freedom has existed in Peru since 1973, over 92% of the population are committed to the Roman Catholic Church, and about 3% to the Protestant Church. Traditional religions are also sometimes practiced.
The population growth rate is 1.1% and life expectancy averages 70 years. Adequate medical care is guaranteed in cities, but not in rural areas. School attendance is compulsory for children from six to 15 years, the literacy rate is around 90%.
According to the 1993 constitution, Peru is a presidential republic. The head of state and the holder of the executive with far-reaching powers is the President (Ollanta Humala since July 2011), who is directly elected for five years (no direct re-election possible). The President is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, appoints the Prime Minister (since February 2014 Ren¨¦ Cornejo), who has no executive powers, and the Cabinet and can dissolve the Parliament.
The parliament (congreso) consists of a chamber with 130 deputies, who are elected for a term of five years.
Peru is divided into 24 districts (Departementos) and the administrative district of Callao.
Peru has had considerable success in the macroeconomic area for years. The economic upturn continued after a slowdown in economic growth caused by the global financial and economic crisis in 2009 (GDP growth in 2012: 6.3%). This puts Peru at the top in Latin America. However, this does not solve the Andean state’s biggest problems: a high number of unemployed and underemployed people, especially in rural areas, and the great poverty of the population. Peru’s informal sector is strong and coca bush is an important part of the shadow economy. Peru is now the world leader in coca cultivation, ahead of Colombia and Bolivia.
Only 1% of the workforce is employed in agriculture, which contributes 6% to the gross domestic product (GDP). Agricultural land can be found mainly in the river oases in the coastal area (cotton, rice, sugar cane, fruit) and in the Andean highlands: here, mainly coffee, potatoes, corn and grain are grown in terraced fields. In the highlands, the focus of cattle breeding is (llamas, alpacas, sheep, goats, cattle). Coffee and cotton are important export goods. Fishing is also an important area of the economy, since the Humboldt Stream, rich in plankton, ensures a large wealth of fish off the coast. In good fishing years, Peru’s fish meal production is the largest in the world. The extraction of rubber and quinine (from the Chinese bark tree) is particularly important in forestry.
Peru is rich in mineral resources and their exploitation is one of the most important economic sectors. The export of copper, gold, zinc, lead, silver and oil generates around half of the export earnings. Oil deposits are mainly found off the northwest coast and in the Amazon lowlands. Industry generates 38% of GDP, the most important branches are the food processing and textile industries, furthermore the steel industry and the chemical industry. Over 70% of the country’s energy needs are met by hydropower.
The most important trading partners for exports (raw materials, food, non-ferrous metals, petroleum, textiles) and for imports are the USA, China, the countries of the EU and the Andean countries. The main imports are crude oil, machinery, transport accessories, food, chemical and pharmaceutical products.
The infrastructure is poorly developed due to the difficult natural conditions. A total of around 73,000 km of roads are available. The most important north-south connection with a length of around 3 400 km is the “Panamerican Highway”, the most important connection inland is the “Carretera Central” from Lima to the interior. The railway network covers almost 2,300 km and is made up of several independent sections. There is an international airport near Lima.
Currency is the new sol.