While services and industry are growing segments of the economy, farming still provides a livelihood for many Peruvians, some of whom remain outside the money economy. The chief farm commodities produced are asparagus, cotton, coffee, sugarcane, rice, potatoes, corn, plantains, grapes, and oranges. Although Peru is one of the world's largest producers of coca leaves, production was cut in half between 1995 and 1999 due to a determined government eradication program. However, much coca leaf and paste is still exported, primarily to Colombia, where it is used to make cocaine. Large numbers of poultry, cattle, sheep, llamas, and alpacas are raised. Guinea pigs are also raised for export. The country has a significant fishing industry, centered mainly on anchovies that are processed into fish meal for use as animal feed. Logging is also an important economic activity.
Peru has a large mining industry, the most valuable minerals being copper and silver. Gold, iron ore, coal, and phosphate rock are also extracted. Petroleum is produced along the northern coast and in the Amazon basin, and there is a large refinery at Talara. Natural gas is also produced. Peru's other principal industries include food processing and the manufacture of steel and other metals, textiles, and clothing. There is also a substantial tourist industry. Economic development has been hindered by the country's poor transportation network, which has left large blocks of Peru isolated.
The main exports are copper, gold, zinc, petroleum, coffee, potatoes, asparagus, textiles, and guinea pigs. The main imports are petroleum products, plastics, machinery, vehicles, iron and steel, wheat, and paper. Peru's chief trade partners are the United States, China, Chile, and Brazil. Peru is a member of the Andean Community, an economic organization of South American countries.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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