|Facts & Figures|
President: Ollanta Humala (2011)
Prime Minister: Pedro Cateriano (2015)
Land area: 494,208 sq mi (1,279,999 sq
km); total area: 496,223 sq mi (1,285,220 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 30,147,935 (growth
rate: 0.99%); birth rate: 18.57/1000; infant mortality rate: 20.21/1000;
life expectancy: 73.23
Capital and largest city (2011 est.):
Lima, 9.13 million
Other large city:
Monetary unit: Nuevo sol (1991)
More Facts & Figures
Peru, in western South America, extends for nearly 1,500 mi (2,414 km)
along the Pacific Ocean. Colombia and Ecuador are to the north, Brazil and
Bolivia to the east, and Chile to the south. Five-sixths the size of
Alaska, Peru is divided by the Andes Mountains into three sharply
differentiated zones. To the west is the coastline, much of it arid,
extending 50 to 100 mi (80 to 160 km) inland. The mountain area, with
peaks over 20,000 ft (6,096 m), lofty plateaus, and deep valleys, lies
centrally. Beyond the mountains to the east is the heavily forested slope
leading to the Amazonian plains.
Peru was once part of the great Incan Empire and later the major
vice-royalty of Spanish South America. It was conquered in 1531–1533
by Francisco Pizarro. On July 28, 1821, Peru proclaimed its independence,
but the Spanish were not finally defeated until 1824. For a hundred years
thereafter, revolutions were frequent; a new war was fought with Spain in
1864–1866, and an unsuccessful war was fought with Chile from 1879
to 1883 (the War of the Pacific).
Peru emerged from 20 years of dictatorship in 1945 with the
inauguration of President José Luis Bustamente y Rivero after the
first free election in many decades. But he served for only three years
and was succeeded in turn by Gen. Manuel A. Odria, Manuel Prado y
Ugarteche, and Fernando Belaúnde Terry. On Oct. 3, 1968,
Belaúnde was overthrown by Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado. In 1975,
Velasco was replaced in a bloodless coup by his prime minister, Gen.
Francisco Morales Bermudez, who promised to restore civilian government.
In elections held on May 18, 1980, Belaúnde Terry, the last
civilian president, was elected president again.
The Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path, or Sendero Luminoso, began
their brutal campaign to overthrow the government in 1980. The military's
subsequent crackdown led to further civilian human rights abuses and
disappearances. A smaller rebel group, Tupac Amaru, also fought against
the government. About 69,000 people were killed during the 1980–2000
wars between rebel groups and the government. The deaths were carried out
by the rebels (54%) as well as the military (30%); other militias were
responsible for the remainder.