Peru, South America

Peru or officially the Republic of Peru is a country in western South America. It is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, Bolivia to the southeast, Chile to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.



Peru is located in a geography bounded by Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, Bolivia to the southeast, Chile to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

Natural regions

Peru has completely different climatic zones.

Costa (Coastal) – About 11% of the country
Sierra (Andes, Highlands) – about 15%
Selva (Rain Forest) and Montaña (Fog Forest) – about 64%


It is largely a coastal desert under the influence of the Costa Humboldt Current, where agriculture is possible only along rivers from the Andes and in river oases.

In the south of Peru, on the border with Chile, begins the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world. In the southern parts of the Costa up to the capital Lima, about half of the coastline, year-round rainfall is unusually rare.

Ground quality and rain fall slightly improve north of Lima so that farming is possible outside of the river oases. The temperature fluctuates between 12 °C in winter and 35 °C in summer.

Besides Lima, major coastal cities (from north to south) are Tumbes, Sullana, Piura, Chiclayo, Trujillo, Chimbote, Huaral, Pisco, Ica, Nazca.


Behind the thin coastal zone begins the Sierra. It consists of numerous Andes mountain ranges interrupted by long valleys (isp. callejón or valle). Typical of the entire Andes region are the ridges (isp:Pongo) on the eastern and western sides of the Cordillera, formed by deep-cut valleys (Canyons) and large rivers in mountain chains.

The typical Andes section shows itself in the central region of Ancash. From west to east it follows the „Black Cordillera“ (Cordillera Negra, about 5,000 m) Callejón de Huaylas (around 3,000 m). The next mountain range is the “White Cordillera” (Cordillera Blanca). Here is Peru’s highest mountain, Huascarán (6,768 m). Continuing eastward, the Callejón de Conchucos stretches (together with the Marañón, a source river of the Amazons). It then continues with other mountain chains.

The highest mountains are Nevado Huascarán (6,768 m), Yerupajá (6,634 m), Coropuna (6,425 m), Ampato (6,310 m), Chachani (6,075 m) and volcano Misti (5,822 m).

In the north of the country, the Andes do not reach the snow border and the vegetation is very rich (Páramo Climate Zone), while in the central regions it manifests itself as very steep, partially wide valleys and high mountains covered with perpetual snow and glaciers. In the central south of Peru (from the latitude of the capital, Lima), nature reveals itself as hilly between 3,000 and 4,000 meters. The number of remarkable snow-capped massive mountains higher than 5000 m is rare.

From this latitude to the south, the partially active conical volcano Ubinas takes the stage, accompanied by less steep mountain ranges and the chains of the Andes with the appearance of a hilly high plateau between them. In the south of the country (in the Arequipa, Puno, Moquegua and Tacna Regions) a certain flat part of the high plateau is especially evident. In Burafa, a plateau called the Altiplano is formed, which takes its typical appearance around Lake Titicaca.

The average annual temperature is 11 °C at an altitude of 3,300 m. Occasionally, heavy rains can be expected from October to April in rain-poor areas. Major cities in this region (from north to south) are Cajamarca, Huaraz, Cerro de Pasco, Huancayo, Ayacucho, Cusco, Puno and Arequipa.

Near Cusco is Machu Picchu, the legendary Inca city ruin.


To the east of the Andes begins the Rainforest region „Selva“. Since there is a tropical mountain forest where the temperate climate prevails, the transition here is smooth.

In regions with low temperature differences, the annual average temperature is about 26 °C and the annual precipitation reaches 3,800 mm. Here arise the other source rivers of the Amazon, which flow from the Amazon Basin towards Brazil.

In Peru, the rainforest is dense and almost uninhabited. The rivers flowing from the Andes into the Amazon with wide curves are the only vessels of transportation that pass through the forest depths.

The major cities of this region and important for tourism are Iquitos and Puerto Maldonado. It is not possible to reach Iquitos from Lima by road, but by plane or ferry. Puerto Maldonado can be reached by plane (1½ hours from Lima; ½ hours from Cuzco), ferry or land. Other major cities in the region (from north to south) are Tarapoto, Tingo María and Pucallpa.


Peru’s major rivers are the Amazon River and its source rivers, the Río Apurímac, Río Urubamba, Río Ucayali, and Río Marañón, and the Amazonian tributaries Napo, Putumayo, and Huallaga.

Peru’s largest and most important lakes are Lake Titicaca and Lago Junín between the Andes Mountains.

Flora and fauna

Peru’s flora is very variable and multifaceted. Only small amounts of grasses and shrubs grow on arid and sandy coastal plains. In contrast, a great abundance of vegetation is found in the rainforest region. The main representatives of this vegetation are rubber, rosary trees, vanilla plants. Due to natural conditions, there is little plant diversity in the high mountain areas. There are mainly arid region plants (Xerophyt) such as cacti and mesquites.

Peru’s animal world is equally as diverse as its flora. Seagulls, warblers, scorpions, pinnipeds and penguins live on the coastal plains and on the shores of the coastal islands. The coastal waters of Peru mainly contain sardines, lobsters, and mackerel. Animals in fertile areas in the east are armadillos, crocodiles, jaguars, cougars, and flamingos, for example. Peru’s national animal, the Andean rock cock (Rupicola peruviana), is found in Manu National Park.

Administrative structure and cities

Peru is divided into 26 departments (Departamentos), 195 provinces (Provincias), and 1,828 districts (Distritos). Since the country’s regionalization in 2002, departmentamentos are autonomous administrative units with elected bodies. The first regional elections nationwide were held in November 2002. Although it was also planned to divide the country into regions (Regiones), in the referendum on 30 October 2005, 78% of the people of the 16 depertamentos were a member of 5 regions (Norte, Nor Centro Oriente, Ica-Huancavelica-Ayacucho, Cusco-Apurímac and Arequipa-Puno-Tacna). He declared that he was against the meeting.

1 – Amazonas
2 – Ancash
3 – Apurimac
4 – Arequipa
5 – Ayacucho
6 – Cajamarca
7 – Callao
8 – Cusco
9 – Huancavelica
10 – Huanuco
11 – Ica
12 – Junín
13 – La Libertad
14 – Lambayeque
15 – Lima
16 – Lima
17 – Loreto
18 – Madre de Dios
19 – Moquegua
20 – Pasco
21 – Piura
22 – Puno
23 – San Martin
24 – Tacna
25 – Tumbes
26 – Ucayali

Peru’s major cities are: Lima (7,363,069 inhabitants), Trujillo (861,044), Arequipa (860,000), Callao (824,329), Chiclayo (634,600), and Iquitos (400,000).


With a population of around 30 million, Peru is one of the three countries with a majority Indian population, alongside Bolivia and Guatemala. 45 percent of the population is of Native American descent. They belong predominantly to Quechua (40%) and Aymará (5%) speaking peoples. 37% of the people are mestizo, 15% of them are of European origin, the remaining 3% are partially African and partially Asian.

The high number of migration to the capital, where approximately one-third of the population is concentrated, resulting from the escape from the countryside brings with it great social problems. A substantial proportion of the indigenous population live in Lima, below or on the edge of the poverty line. Due to the contrasts of ethnic cultures and socio-political inequality, the people’s poor livelihood and supply conditions occur. This is followed by imports of basic necessities and foreign exchange expenditures.

Two and a half million Peruvians live abroad, mainly in the USA, Europe and Japan, in permanent immigration status.


Peru is a country with a Pre-Inca culture for millennia. The first immigrant settlers arrived in the region of present-day Peru between 20,000 and 10,000 BC. In 4000 BC, they started to establish fields and raise animals. The oldest culture still distinguishable today is the Chavín de Huántar, which existed from around 800 BC to 300 BC. Tiahuanaco culture is formed around Lake Titicaca from the 1st century BC until 1000 AD. On the coast, in the wetlands of the Andean rivers, different cultures arose around the Lambayeque Region in the first millennium AD, such as the Mochica. Prior to the Inca Kingdom, Chanchan was the capital of Chimú, a developed urban culture.

The Inca Kingdom formed around 1200 and by 1532 had expanded to much of present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. Located on Peru’s high plateau, the city of Cusco was the capital of the Inca Kingdom.

The Spanish conquered this country from 1532 and established the Governorate of Peru on behalf of the Spanish Kingdom, which, when it reached its peak, reached from present-day Panama to the southernmost point of the continent.

In 1821, the country was liberated and gained independence by José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar. However, rebellions and civil wars hinder the development of a modern state.

The present Peruvian coat of arms was adopted by the law of the national congress on February 25, 1825. The drawing belongs to the parliamentarian José Gregorio.

In 1879, the Saltpeter War broke out. Chile and Bolivia have been in dispute over Antofagasta since they declared their independence. Peru has a large number of guano and mining companies in the disputed territory. Bolivia offers Peru economic concessions in Antofagasta if united. In addition, Peru sees that the political and economic priority position of the Spanish governorship taken over during colonial times is in jeopardy in the South Pacific by Chile.

In 1874, a secret pact was formed with Bolivia against Chile. This pact, however, cannot prevent Chile’s victory. Bolivia withdrew from the war in 1880 after many lost battles and completely gave up its claim to the Antofagasta Territory. Meanwhile, Chile moved to the north and entered the Peruvian region Tarapacá and offered Peru a ceasefire and peace treaty. Peru still refuses to relinquish Tarapacá to Chile. Chile started a new war in the following years and entered the Capital Lima in 1881 after destroying the Peruvian armies. The official government is dissolved and Chilean General Patricio Lynch is appointed as the country’s governor. However, some Peruvian generals such as Miguel Iglesias and Andres Caceres survived; In the Eastern and Northern Sierra, they try to wage an organized guerrilla war of dubious success. Caceres manages to assemble a 1500-man conventional company in July 1883 to fight for one last liberation. Undoubtedly, Chilean Colonel Alejandro Gorostiaga at the Battle of Huamachuco destroys the last hopes. The war is definitively lost. With the Treaty of Ancon in October 1883, the war was ended, Tarapaca and Tacna were left to Chile, and the Chilean Army was withdrawn from Peru.

In 1968, a military junta under Juan Velasco Alvarado took over the government in a bloodless coup and tried to bring a social system with land and economic reforms. General Velasco was brought down by General Francisco Morales Bermúdez in 1975, again taking a pro-enterprising direction. In 1980, Fernando Belaúnde Terry, who was overthrown in 1968, took over as elected president and came to power again. Terry transfers nationalized companies back to private enterprise.

In the 1980s, the pro-left guerrilla organization Aydınlık Yol (“Sendero Luminoso”) started an armed war against the government. Both sides wage a brutal campaign against the civilian population to discipline their side. The activities of the Bright Way continue until the 1990s. The country’s other left-wing guerrilla movement, Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru, rejects violence against the civilian population.


The government is representative, decentralized and structured according to the principle of separation of powers. The primary concern of the state is to defend the security of the country, to protect the security threat of the people and to establish the general welfare. However, despite foreign economic successes, there are political, social and economic problems.

Political reforms are not yet fully sound

Although Peru has been designated as a Presidential Republic since 1980, the democratization process has so far held little solid structure. Therefore, international human rights aid organizations identified considerable irregularities in the 2000 election campaign. Tax revenues were used in the election campaigns and the soldiers were not only in the election places as neutral observers. In addition, the centrifugal-regional management approach of the country in which the effort is made has not gone beyond budding until now. In addition, state revenues still flow to the capital Lima and are distributed to individual communes through state organizations there. With decentralization, the state promises that the abandonment of central government and local independence will have a positive impact on the economic development of the country.

President’s duties

According to the 1993 Constitution, a president is elected by the people every five years, and the president has no right to be elected again. Until July 2006, the head of state was Alejandro Toledo from the Perú Posible party, and Alan García was elected to this office after him. García is still the current president of the country. The President’s broad mandate includes representing the state at home and abroad, conducting general government policy, calling for presidential and congressional elections, and observing the law and the constitution.

Pressure groups in the country

The great landowners of the plateaus and the militarized elite of the coast have ruled the country oligarchically for centuries. With the land reform of General Juan Velasco Alvarado in 1969, the power resources of these people were taken from them. The new pressure groups formed in the following years concentrated on industry and finance activities. These groups, mostly of European origin, lived under the protection of the state. The emergence of Alberto Fujimori on the political scene and the establishment of neoliberal economic policy in the country’s territory led the power blocs to restructuring. While some groups lost their weight, new groups with a competitive spirit appeared on the stage. There are ten economic groups that play a strong influence on the economy and politics today.


The most important transportation routes for the country are the Pan-American Highway and the sea routes to North America, East Asia and Europe. Peru has 3,462 km of railway lines, 72,900 km of roads and 234 airports in the country. The enormous height differences of the Andes pose major infrastructure problems, primarily along the west-east axis. The most obvious area where this situ

ation manifests itself is in the low percentage of paved automobile roads. This share of 9,331 km constitutes only 13% of the total roads. This situation further strengthens the secondary and insignificant character of Selva Region, which has very few settlements. The rural people living in this region cannot make a profit from the economic activity of the coastal part.


Market economy

There is a market economy in Peru, which has been increasing in recent years, where restrictions have been lifted and privatizations have taken place. This has resulted in the dominance of the market by mainly North American conglomerates and European companies. Partially, there is a monopoly-style structuring in the market. In this regard, the dominant position of Spanish companies in the field of telecommunications can be given as an example.

On April 12, 2006, Peru signs a free trade agreement with the United States.

The country has rich underground resources, especially gold and copper. These mines are processed and exported by international companies. In addition, fishing and agriculture play an important role. A large amount of coffee is exported alongside sugar cane. These products are mainly grown in the west, in inhabited areas where agriculture is made only with artificial irrigation. On the other hand, large areas of Selva are not used much agriculturally. Here, more wealth economy is carried out.

Industry is concentrated on the coast, primarily in Lima. The remaining regions are in a secondary position, except for underground resources.

Ecological tourism offers a lot, as there is a large amount of untouched nature, especially the Rainforests in the east of the country. It offers sightseeing in the Andes, Huaraz, Cusco, and Machu Picchu, one of South America’s most beloved archaeological sites. Likewise, Lake Titicaca is a peak point for tourists.

While the country is well-patched with a dense road network, most of the roads that remain in the blind spots of the most important traffic routes are unpaved. The location of the mountains and long distances are factors that make travel difficult.

Informal Economy

The informal economy is prominent in Peru. The most important element of the illegal economy is the coca tree. The leaves of this plant serve mainly as a delight and complementary food to the local population. Because chewing this plant suppresses feelings of hunger, fatigue, cold and altitude sickness.

The cultivation area of this plant is about 121,000 hectares. amount. According to the data of DEVIDA (Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo y Vida sin Drogas), the national authority for the fight against drugs, 110,000 tons of coca leaves were harvested in Peru in 2004. With this, Peru takes a 30% share in the worldwide coca harvest (2005) and ranks 2nd behind Colombia with a 54% share, ahead of Bolivia with a 16% share. About 85% of coca cultivation is used in illegal production. Income from illegal exports exceeds the legal one.


Cultural life is especially concentrated in a small number of big cities, the capital city of which is Lima. Today, in the wide area of the cultural structure, there are traces of the culture brought by the Spanish invaders and the religion they represent.


Many religious traditions from Pre-Colombian times are still alive in Peru and are kept alive, especially in rural areas. Most of the people living in the lowlands have their origins in nature religions. The increasing civilization due to the presence of gas and oil companies inevitably leaves these people in a dilemma between their ancient religion and the abundance of their civilization.

About 90% to 95% of Peruvian people are Catholic. This is the result of the missionary work of the Spanish invaders (partly by coercion) and the work carried out by the missionary groups of Peru, USA and Germany after independence. Catholic Christian traditions are mixed with the old traditions of the pre-Christian era (syncretism). This is especially true on religious holidays.

As in many Latin American countries, evangelical and charismatic churches and faith communities such as Seventh-day Adventists, Assemblies of God, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons have lived in Peru for the past few years. They are partially supported financially by the USA. These active congregations sometimes aggressively engage in recruitment campaigns.



Probably the oldest work of Peruvian literature is Ollantay. This work is a drama, came from the Incas and was written in Quechua.

In the 19th century, Ricardo Palma introduced Tradicionesi, a literary variation in which fiction and stories were animated. In the novels of Clorinda Matto de Turner, the traces of the Inca culture can be seen first and foremost. The poet César Vallejo wrote unusual works in the 20th century. Vallejo’s Trilce, first published in 1922, is particularly famous. Other important Peruvian writers of the 20th century are José María Arguedas, Julio Ramón Ribeyro, Manuel Scorza, Sergio Bambaren, Alfredo Bryce Echenique and Mario Vargas Llosa.


Music is an important part of Peruvian culture. Quena (also called Andean flute), Panflute (Zampoña or Sicu), Cajón and classical guitar are very common.

Peru’s most famous piece, El Condor Pasa, is a Daniel Alomía Robles composition (1913), which was loved around the world thanks to numerous cover versions, including Simon and Garfunkel’s. Marinera dancing is popular on Peru’s northern coast. Besides traditional music genres, rock music has been very popular since the 50s. Libido serves as a precedent for Peruvian Pop/Rockband. Currently the most popular Peruvian Metal/Grunge/Punk/Rock bands are Ni Voz Ni Voto, Por Hablar, Leuzemia and La Sarita.

The most famous musicians and singers are, for example, Juan Diego Florez, Yma Sumac, Susanna Baca, Chabuca Granda, Lucha Reyes, Cantos del Pueblo, Raúl García Zarate, Sonia Morales, Eva Ayllón and Zambo Cavero.

Among the new era artists are Blu Quartet Faridde Caparo in string instruments and Charlie Parra Del Riego in the pop/rock genre. The duo also covers classical music and rock songs with cello and electric guitar.


In the ’20s and ’30s several silent and black-and-white films were created by directors such as Ricardo Villarán, but these films generally did not find audiences across borders. Peruvian films received little attention for the rest of the 20th century.

Francisco José Lombardi is considered Peru’s most important modern film director. In 1991 he won the Goya award for his drama film The Sky over Lima. His literary film No se lo digas a nadie was a success at international film festivals.

Werner Herzog’s films Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes, were shot in Peru.

Taste and cuisine

Peruvian cuisine is literally considered versatile. The geographical differences between the coast, the plateau, and the rainforest and the associated dietary traditions of Peru’s Pre-Colombian inhabitants are combined with the partially Arab-influenced cuisines of the Spanish conquistadors. Due to the Chinese immigrants in the middle of the 19th century, a special Sino-Peruvian cuisine was formed (Chifa). African elements from black slaves are also brought into Peruvian cuisine.

Typical dishes are:

Ceviche (a dish of fresh raw fish or seafood. Rarely made from meat, marinated with lemon juice and sour onions and served.)
Anticucho (grilled beef heart on a skewer)
Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken) and Arroz con Pato (rice with duck)
Ají de gallina (slightly spicy chicken with creamy Chili sauce)
Rocoto Relleno (beef stuffed paprika)
Estofado (hot cheese-paprika casserole made with meat, potatoes, corn and carrots.)
Papa a la huancaina (potato wedges with spicy cheese sauce)
Carapulcra (dried potato and meat stew)
Albondigas (meat balls)
Pachamanca (Quechua „stew“, meat and vegetables prepared in earthen casserole)
Chicharrón de Chancho (roasted pork with thick fat skin)
Lomo Saltado (fried beef slices with onions and paprika)
Chupe de Camarones (shrimp, potato and minestrone)
Sopa a la Criolla (national pasta soup with meat pieces)
Tacacho (meatballs made from lard and boiled bananas)
Choclo con queso (boiled corn on the cob with cheese)
Cuy Chactado (roasted guinea pig)
Peru’s most famous alcoholic drink, Pisco, is a brandy and is the main ingredient in cocktails such as the Pisco Sour and Perú Libre. Other popular drinks in Peru are Chicha, Chicha Morada and Inca Kola.

Vacation days

In addition to the local harvest holidays, the following holidays are available.

January 1: New Year’s Eve
February/March Carnival (every Sunday)
March/April: Easter
1 May Dia de los Trabajadores (Labor Day)
May/June Dia del Corpus (Catholic feast)
14 June Dia de los Campesinos (Farmers Day)
29 June: Saints Peter and Paul (El Día de San Pedro y San Pablo)
28 July: Independence Day
29 July: National Holiday
August 15 Virgen de la Asuncion (Maria Heir)
August 30: Santa Rosa de Lima
October 8: Navy Day
9 October Dia de la Dignidad Nacional (National Day of Honor)
1/2 November: All Saints’ Day
December 8: Virgen de la Concepcion
December 25: Christmas
31 December Noche de San Silvestre (Saint Silvester)