U.S. Department of State Background Note
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When the Spanish landed in 1531, Peru's territory was the nucleus of the highly developed Inca civilization. Centered at Cuzco, the Incan Empire extended over a vast region from northern Ecuador to central Chile. In search of Inca wealth, the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro, who arrived in the territory after the Incas had fought a debilitating civil war, conquered the weakened people. The Spanish captured the Incan capital at Cuzco by 1533, and consolidated their control by 1542. Gold and silver from the Andes enriched the conquerors, and Peru became the principal source of Spanish wealth and power in South America.
Pizarro founded Lima in 1535. The viceroyalty established at Lima in 1542 initially had jurisdiction over all of the Spanish colonies in South America. By the time of the wars of independence (1820-24), Lima had become one of the most distinguished and aristocratic colonial capital and the chief Spanish stronghold in the Americas.
After independence, Peru and its neighbors engaged in intermittent territorial disputes. Chile's victory over Peru and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific (1879-83) resulted in a territorial settlement in which Peru ceded the department of Tarapaca and the provinces of Tacna and Arica to Chile. In 1929, Chile returned Tacna to Peru. Following a clash between Peru and Ecuador in 1941, the Rio Protocol--of which the United States is one of four guarantors (along with Argentina, Brazil and Chile)--sought to establish the boundary between the two countries. Continuing boundary disagreement led to brief armed conflicts in early 1981 and early 1995, but in 1998 the governments of Peru and Ecuador signed an historic peace treaty and demarcated the border. In late 1999, the governments of Peru and Chile likewise implemented the last outstanding article of their 1929 border agreement. Peru and Chile still dispute the sea boundary.
Military Rule and Return to Democracy (1968-1980)
Because of Velasco's economic mismanagement and deteriorating health, he was replaced in 1975 by Gen. Francisco Morales Bermudez. Morales Bermudez tempered the authoritarian abuses of the Velasco administration and began the task of restoring the country's economy. Morales Bermudez presided over the return to civilian government under a new constitution and in the May 1980 elections, President Belaunde Terry was returned to office by an impressive plurality.
Instability in the 1980s (1982-1990)
Amid inflation, economic hardship, and terrorism, the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) won the presidential election in 1985, bringing Alan García Pérez to office. The transfer of the presidency from Belaunde to García on July 28, 1985, was Peru's first transfer of power from one democratically elected leader to another in 40 years.
The Fujimori Decade (1990-2000)
Fujimori's constitutionally questionable decision to seek a third term, and subsequent tainted electoral victory in June 2000, brought political and economic turmoil. A bribery scandal that broke just weeks after he began his third term in July forced Fujimori to call new elections in which he would not run. Fujimori fled the country and resigned from office in November 2000. A caretaker government under Valentin Paniagua presided over new presidential and congressional elections in April 2001. The new elected government, led by President Alejandro Toledo, took office July 28, 2001.
The Toledo Administration (2001-2006)
Under President Toledo, Peru signed a Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) with the U.S., to replace the Andean Trade Preferences and Drug Eradication Act, which was due to expire in December 2006. Toledo also unveiled the construction of a road that will connect Brazil and Peru's isolated interior to the Pacific coast.
Toledo's economic management led to an impressive economic boom in Peru that remains strong. Poverty reduction has been uneven, however. Although poverty in some areas has decreased by up to 37% over the last five years, nationally it has only decreased by 5% and over half of Peruvians are still considered to be living below the poverty line (living on less than $2 a day). In 2005 the government implemented "Juntos," a program to double the income of people living under extreme poverty (less than $1 a day).
2006 Elections and Transition to the Garcia Administration
Constitution and Political Institutions
The legislative branch consists of a unicameral Congress of 120 members. In addition to passing laws, Congress ratifies treaties, authorizes government loans, and approves the government budget.
The judicial branch of government is headed by a 16-member Supreme Court. The Constitutional Tribunal interprets the constitution on matters of individual rights. Superior courts in departmental capitals review appeals from decisions by lower courts. Courts of first instance are located in provincial capitals and are divided into civil, penal, and special chambers. The judiciary has created several temporary specialized courts in an attempt to reduce the large backlog of cases pending final court action. In 1996 a human rights ombudsman's office was created.
Peru is divided into 25 regions. The regions are subdivided into provinces, which are composed of districts. High authorities in the regional and local levels are elected. The country's latest decentralization program is in hiatus after the proposal to merge departments was defeated in a national referendum in October 2005.
Principal Government Officials
Peru maintains an embassy in the United States at 1700 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. (202) 833-9860/67, consular section: (202) 462-1084). Peru has consulates in Atlanta, New York, Paterson (NJ), Miami, Chicago, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Hartford.
Peru's economy has shown strong growth over the past five years, helped by market-oriented economic reforms and privatizations in the 1990s, and measures taken since 2001 to promote trade and attract investment. GDP grew 8.0% in 2006, 6.7% in 2005, 4.8% in 2004, 4.0 in 2003, and 4.9% in 2002. President Alan Garcia and his economic team have continued these policies. GDP is projected to grow by more than 7% in 2007. Recent economic expansion has been driven by construction, mining, export growth, investment, and domestic demand. Inflation is projected to remain under 2% in 2007, and the fiscal deficit is only 0.6% of GDP. In 2006 external debt decreased to $28.3 billion, and foreign reserves were a record $17.3 billion at the end of 2006.
Peru's economy is well managed, and better tax collection and growth are increasing revenues, with expenditures keeping pace. Private investment is rising and becoming more broad-based. The government has had success with recent international bond issuances, resulting in ratings upgrades. The Garcia administration is studying decentralization initiatives, and is focused on bringing more small businesses into the formal economy.
Peru registered a trade surplus of $8.8 billion in 2006. Exports reached $23.7 billion, partially as a result of high mineral prices. Peru's major trading partners are the U.S., China, EU, Chile and Japan. In 2006, 23.0% of exports went to the U.S. ($5.9 billion) and 16.0% of imports came from the U.S. ($2.9 billion). Exports include gold, copper, fishmeal, petroleum, zinc, textiles, apparel, asparagus and coffee. Imports include machinery, vehicles, processed food, petroleum and steel. Peru belongs to the Andean Community, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Mining and Energy
Peru is the world's second-largest producer of silver, sixth-largest producer of gold and copper, and a significant source of the world's zinc and lead. Mineral exports have consistently accounted for the most significant portion of Peru's export revenue, averaging around 50% of total earnings from 1998 to 2005 and 62% in 2006.
Peru generally enjoys friendly relations with its neighbors.
In November 1999, Peru and Chile signed three agreements that put to rest the remaining obstacles holding up implementation of the 1929 Border Treaty. (The 1929 Border Treaty officially ended the 1879 War of the Pacific.) In late 2005, a declaration of maritime borders by Peru's Congress set off a new round of recriminations with Chile, which claims that the maritime borders were agreed to in fishing pacts dating from the early 1950s. In contrast, the Garcia administration has recently made overtures to Chile, aimed at improving that relationship.
In October 1998, Peru and Ecuador signed a peace accord to resolve once and for all border differences that had sparked violent confrontations. Peru and Ecuador are now jointly coordinating an internationally sponsored border integration project. The U.S. Government, as one of four guarantor states, was actively involved in facilitating the 1998 peace accord between Peru and Ecuador and remains committed to its implementation. The United States has pledged $40 million to the Peru-Ecuador border integration project and another $4 million to support Peruvian and Ecuadorian demining efforts along their common border.
In 1998, Peru became a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, facilitating closer ties and economic relations between Peru and Asian nations. Peru will host the APEC Summit in 2008.
Peru has been a member of the United Nations since 1949, and is a member of the Security Council. Peruvian Javier Perez de Cuellar served as UN Secretary General from 1981 to 1991.
Peru maintains 210 troops in peacekeeping operations in Haiti under the UN's MINUSTAH.
The United States enjoys strong and cooperative relations with Peru. Relations were strained following the tainted re-election of former President Fujimori in June 2000, but improved with the installation of an interim government in November 2000 and the inauguration of the government of Alejandro Toledo in July 2001. Relations with President Garcia's administration are positive. The United States continues to promote the strengthening of democratic institutions and human rights safeguards in Peru and the integration of Peru into the world economy.
The United States and Peru cooperate on efforts to interdict the flow of narcotics, particularly cocaine, to the United States. Bilateral programs are now in effect to reduce the flow of drugs through Peru's port systems and to perform ground interdiction in tandem with successful law enforcement operations. These U.S. Government-supported law enforcement efforts are complemented by an aggressive effort to establish an alternative development program for coca farmers in key coca growing areas to voluntarily reduce and eliminate coca cultivation. This effort is funded by the Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
U.S. investment and tourism in Peru have grown substantially in recent years. The U.S. is Peru's number one trade partner, and economic and commercial ties will deepen if the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) is passed by the U.S. Congress.
About 200,000 U.S. citizens visit Peru annually for business, tourism, and study. About 16,000 Americans reside in Peru, and more than 400 U.S. companies are represented in the country.
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
The embassy is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday, except U.S. and some Peruvian holidays. The mailing address from the United States is American Embassy Lima, APO AA 34031 (use U.S. domestic postage rates). The American Citizen Services section is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
The Consular Agency in Cuzco is located at Anda Tullamayu 125 (tel. (51) (84) 224112 or (51) (84) 239451; fax. (51) (84) 233541). The USAID Building is located at Av. Encalada cdra. 17 s/n, Monterrico (Surco) Lima 33, (tel. (511) 618-1200.
Other Contact Information
U.S. Department of Commerce
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.
The Department of State encourages all U.S citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department's travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.
The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight, Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled "Health Information for International Travel" (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Further Electronic Information
Export.gov provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help with the export process, and more.STAT-USA/Internet, a service of the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides authoritative economic, business, and international trade information from the Federal government. The site includes current and historical trade-related releases, international market research, trade opportunities, and country analysis and provides access to the National Trade Data Bank.
Revised: Jul. 2007