Peru

Peru

Once the heart of the Inca Empire, before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, Peru lies on the Pacific coast of South America, just south of the equator.

 Geography: Coastal plain rises to Andes Mountains. Uplands, dissected by fertile valleys, lie east of the Andes. Tropical forest in extreme east.

 Climate: Coast is mainly arid. Middle slopes of the Andes are temperate; higher peaks are snow-covered. East is hot, humid, and very wet.

 People and Society: Though most people are Amerindians or mixed-race mestizos, society is dominated by a small group of Spanish descendants. Amerindians, and the small black community, suffer discrimination in towns, but access to information and political power are growing; the first Amerindian president was elected in 2001–2006. Clashes with left-wing militants killed almost 70,000 people between 1980 and 2000.

 The Economy: Abundant mineral resources: notably copper and gold. Rich Pacific fish stocks. Illegal cocaine producer.

Insight: Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake

 Fact-File:

 Official Name: Republic of Peru

 Date of Formation: 1824

 Capital: Lima

 Population: 29.2 million

 Total Area: 496,223 sq. miles (1,285,200 sq. km)

 Density: 59 people per sq. mile

 Languages: Spanish*, Quechua*, Aymara

 Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, other 5%

 Ethnic Mix: Amerindian 50%, Mestizo 40%, White 7%, other 3%

 Government: Presidential system

 Currency: New sol = 100 céntimos

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