Ancient Peru was the seat of several prominent Andean civilizations, most notably that of the Incas whose empire was captured by Spanish conquistadors in 1533. Peruvian independence was declared in 1821, and remaining Spanish forces were 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, which led to his ouster in 2000. A caretaker government oversaw new elections in the spring of 2001, which installed Alejandro TOLEDO Manrique as the new head of government - Peru's first democratically elected president of indigenous Quechuan ethnicity. The presidential election of 2006 saw the return of Alan GARCIA Perez who, after a disappointing presidential term from 1985 to 1990, oversaw a robust economic rebound. In June 2011, former army officer Ollanta HUMALA Tasso was elected president, defeating Keiko FUJIMORI Higuchi, the daughter of Alberto FUJIMORI. Since his election, HUMALA has carried on the sound, market-oriented economic policies of the three preceding administrations.
volcanic activity in the Andes Mountains; Ubinas (elev. 5,672 m), which last erupted in 2009, is the country's most active volcano; other historically active volcanoes include El Misti, Huaynaputina, Sabancaya, and Yucamane
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
Peru's urban and coastal communities have benefited much more from recent economic growth than rural, Afro-Peruvian, indigenous, and poor populations of the Amazon and mountain regions. The poverty rate has dropped substantially during the last decade but remains stubbornly high at about 30% (more than 55% in rural areas). After remaining almost static for about a decade, Peru's malnutrition rate began falling in 2005, when the government introduced a coordinated strategy focusing on hygiene, sanitation, and clean water. School enrollment has improved, but achievement scores reflect ongoing problems with educational quality. Many poor children temporarily or permanently drop out of school to help support their families. About a quarter to a third of Peruvian children aged 6 to 14 work, often putting in long hours at hazardous mining or construction sites.
Peru was a country of immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but has become a country of emigration in the last few decades. Beginning in the 19th century, Peru brought in Asian contract laborers mainly to work on coastal plantations. Populations of Chinese and Japanese descent - among the largest in Latin America - are economically and culturally influential in Peru today. Peruvian emigration began rising in the 1980s due to an economic crisis and a violent internal conflict, but outflows have stabilized in the last few years as economic conditions have improved. Nonetheless, more than 2 million Peruvians have emigrated in the last decade, principally to the US, Spain, and Argentina.
chief of state: President Ollanta HUMALA Tasso (since 28 July 2011); First Vice President Marisol ESPINOZA Cruz (since 28 July 2011); Second Vice President (vacant); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government:
President Ollanta HUMALA Tasso (since 28 July 2011); First Vice President Marisol ESPINOZA Cruz (since 28 July 2011); Second Vice President (vacant)
note:Prime Minister Juan Federico JIMENEZ Mayor (since 23 July 2012) does not exercise executive power; this power rests with the president
Council of Ministers appointed by the president
president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for nonconsecutive reelection); presidential and congressional elections last held on 10 April 2011 with runoff election held on 6 June 2011 (next to be held in April 2016)
Ollanta HUMALA Tasso elected president in runoff election; percent of vote - Ollanta HUMALA Tasso 51.5%, Keiko FUJIMORI Higuchi 48.5%
unicameral Congress of the Republic of Peru or Congreso de la Republica del Peru (130 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
last held on 10 April 2011 (next to be held in April 2016)
percent of vote by party - Gana Peru 25.3%, Fuerza 2011 23%, PP 14.8%, Alliance for Great Change 14.4%, National Solidarity 10.2%, Peruvian Aprista Party 6.4%, other 5.9%; seats by party - Gana Peru 47, Fuerza 2011 37, PP 21, Alliance for Great Change 12, National Solidarity 9, Peruvian Aprista Party 4; note - defections by members of National Assembly are commonplace, resulting in frequent changes in the numbers of seats held by the various parties
highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of 16 judges and divided into civil, criminal, and constitutional-social sectors)
judge selection and term of office:
justices proposed by the National Council of the Judiciary or National Judicial Council (a 7-member independent body), nominated by the president, and confirmed by the Congress (all appointments reviewed by the Council every 7 years; justices appointed for life or until age 70
Court of Constitutional Guarantees; Superior Courts or Cortes Superiores; specialized civil, criminal, and mixed courts; two types of peace courts in which professional judges and selected members of the local communities preside
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 (representing fauna), a cinchona tree (the source of quinine, signifying flora), and a yellow cornucopia spilling out coins (denoting mineral wealth); red recalls blood shed for independence, white symbolizes peace
Peru's economy reflects its varied geography - an arid lowland coastal region, the central high sierra of the Andes, the dense forest of the Amazon, with tropical lands bordering Colombia and Brazil. A wide range of important mineral resources are found in the mountainous and coastal areas, and Peru's coastal waters provide excellent fishing grounds. The Peruvian economy has been growing by an average of 6.4% per year since 2002 with a stable/slightly appreciating exchange rate and low inflation, which in 2013 is expected to be below the upper limit of the Central Bank target range of 1 to 3%. Growth has been in the 6-9% range for the last three years, due partly to a leap in private investment, especially in the extractive sector, which accounts for more than 60% of Peru's total exports. Despite Peru's strong macroeconomic performance, dependence on minerals and metals exports and imported foodstuffs subjects the economy to fluctuations in world prices. Poor infrastructure hinders the spread of growth to Peru's non-coastal areas. Peru's rapid expansion coupled with cash transfers and other programs have helped to reduce the national poverty rate by 23 percentage points since 2002, but inequality persists and continues to pose a challenge for the new Ollanta HUMALA administration, which has championed a policy of social inclusion and a more equitable distribution of income. Peru's free trade policy has continued under the HUMALA administration; since 2006, Peru has signed trade deals with the US, Canada, Singapore, China, Korea, Mexico, Japan, the European Free Trade Association, Chile, and four other countries; concluded negotiations with Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Guatemala; and begun trade talks with two other Central American countries and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Peru also has signed a trade pact with Chile, Colombia, and Mexico called the Pacific Alliance that rivals Mercosur in combined population, GDP, and trade. The US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement entered into force 1 February 2009, opening the way to greater trade and investment between the two economies. Although Peru has continued to attract foreign investment, political activism and protests are hampering development of some projects related to natural resource extraction.
mining and refining of minerals; steel, metal fabrication; petroleum extraction and refining, natural gas and natural gas liquefaction; fishing and fish processing, cement, glass, textiles, clothing, food processing, beer, soft drinks, rubber, machinery, electrical machinery, chemicals, furniture
note:data cover general government debt, and includes debt instruments issued by government entities other than the treasury; the data exclude treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data include debt issued by subnational entities
copper, gold, lead, zinc, tin, iron ore, molybdenum, silver; crude petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas; coffee, asparagus and other vegetables, fruit, apparel and textiles, fishmeal, fish, chemicals, fabricated metal products and machinery, alloys
petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, plastics, machinery, vehicles, color TV sets, power shovels, front-end loaders, telephones and telecommunication equipment, iron and steel, wheat, corn, soybean products, paper, cotton, vaccines and medicines
general assessment: adequate for most requirements; nationwide microwave radio relay system and a domestic satellite system with 12 earth stations
fixed-line teledensity is only about 12 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular teledensity, spurred by competition among multiple providers, exceeds 100 telephones per 100 persons
country code - 51; the South America-1 (SAM-1) and Pan American (PAN-AM) submarine cable systems provide links to parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2010)
10 major TV networks of which only one, Television Nacional de Peru, is state-owned; multi-channel cable TV services are available; in excess of 2,000 radio stations including a substantial number of indigenous language stations (2010)
Chile and Ecuador rejected Peru's November 2005 unilateral legislation to shift the axis of their joint treaty-defined maritime boundaries along the parallels of latitude to equidistance lines which favor Peru; organized illegal narcotics operations in Colombia have penetrated Peru's shared border; Peru rejects Bolivia's claim to restore maritime access through a sovereign corridor through Chile along the Peruvian border
until 1996 the world's largest coca leaf producer, Peru is now the world's second largest producer of coca leaf, though it lags far behind Colombia; cultivation of coca in Peru was estimated at 40,000 hectares in 2009, a slight decrease over 2008; second largest producer of cocaine, estimated at 225 metric tons of potential pure cocaine in 2009; finished cocaine is shipped out from Pacific ports to the international drug market; increasing amounts of base and finished cocaine, however, are being moved to Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia for use in the Southern Cone or transshipment to Europe and Africa; increasing domestic drug consumption