Citation courtesy of the U.S. State Department (September 30, 2010)
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 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’s mestizo-Hispanic culture and the more diverse, traditional Andean cultures of the mountains and highlands and Amazon indigenous communities east of the Andes.
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.
Major cities: Lima (capital), Arequipa, Chiclayo, Cuzco, Huancayo, Ica, Trujillo, Ayacucho, Piura, Iquitos, and 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.
Type: Constitutional republic.
Independence: July 28, 1821.
Constitution: December 31, 1993.
Branches: Executive–president, two vice presidents, and a Council of Ministers led by a president of the Council of Ministers (prime minister). Legislative–unicameral Congress. Judicial–four-tier court structure consisting of Supreme Court and lower courts.
Administrative divisions: 25 regions (sometimes called departments) subdivided into 195 provinces and 1,834 districts.
Political parties: Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA), Popular Christian Party PPC), Peruvian Nationalist Party (PNP), Peru Posible (PP), Popular Action (AP), National Solidarity (SN), Union for Peru (UPP), Somos Peru (SP), National Restoration (RN), and Force 2011.
Suffrage: Universal and mandatory for citizens 18 to 70.
GDP (2009): USD127.22 billion.
Annual growth rate: 9.8% (2008); 0.9% (2009).
Per capita GDP (2009): USD4,365.
Natural resources: Copper, gold, silver, zinc, lead, iron ore, fish, petroleum, natural gas, and forestry.
Manufacturing (2009): 14.33% of GDP. Types–food and beverages, textiles and apparel, nonferrous and precious metals, nonmetallic minerals, petroleum refining, paper, chemicals, iron and steel, fishmeal.
Agriculture (2009): 7.8% of GDP. Products–coffee, cotton, asparagus, paprika, artichokes, sugarcane, potatoes, rice, banana, maize, poultry, milk, others.
Other sectors, by percentage of GDP (2009): Services (54%), mining (5.7%), construction (6.2%), fisheries (0.44%).
Trade (2009 Government of Peru customs statistics): Exports–USD26.66 billion: gold, copper, fishmeal, petroleum, zinc, textiles, apparel, asparagus, coffee, others. Major markets–U.S. (17%), China (15.3%), Switzerland (14.9%), Canada (8.7%), Japan (5.1%), Germany (3.9%), South Korea (2.8%), Chile (2.8%). Imports–USD20.4 billion: petroleum and petroleum products, vehicles, plastics, steel, telephones, wheat, soy oil and soy products, commercial machinery, processed food. Major suppliers–U.S. (19.7%), China (15%), Brazil (7.7%), Ecuador (4.9%), Chile (4.6%), Colombia (4.4%), Japan (4.1%).