GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT PERU
NameRepublic of Peru
Peru is located in the western central coast of South America. It shares borders with Ecuador (N), Colombia (NE), Brazil (E), Bolivia (SE) and Chile (S). The West side, shared with the Pacific Ocean, is the main border that has a length of 3,079.5 km. There are four major natural regions: the 200 miles Peruvian Sea, a narrow coastal strip, the high Andes Mountains and the vast and plain Amazon basin.The Peruvian Sea area is called to that 200 miles (370km) of territorial sea that runs parallel to the coast. Here, the Pacific Ocean spreads a wealth of marine life, produced specially by the effect of the Humboldt Current cold water that encounters with the warm water of the El Niño Current.
Peru is the third largest country in South America with an area of 1'285,216 km2. Comparing with some European countries, Peru is twice the area of France, five times the size of the UK, more than 30 times Netherlands or Switzerland and the size of Norway, Sweden and Finland together
In the Coast,la Costa,
Here is settled the biggest part of the population and the major cities. It is mainly a desert area that is crossed by valleys of more than 40 rivers that run down from the western Andes. This makes the coast an important region for advanced agriculture. It was the stage of the main pre-Inca cultures. With the years it became the commercial centre of the country and an important input place for inland areas. The main products are cotton, rice, sugar, fruits, wine and metallic minerals.
The Andes or Sierra
Is the high region that goes from 2,000 metres to 6,768 meters above sea level (Huascarán Mountain). It is divided in two main ranges: the Cordillera Occidental and the Cordillera Oriental. The Andean area has an average altitude of 3,000 meters and is full of plateaus, mountains, glaciers, valleys, canyons and rivers. The mountains give shape to an incredibly rugged surface. The Andes is a hard place, but offers one of the best sceneries in the world. The main products are potatoes, cereals and vegetables, and activities like cattle-raising, mining and weaving.
The Amazon Basin or Selva
Comes down from the eastern slopes of the Andes (2,000 to 84 meters) and covers more than 60% of the country’s area with rainforest. It is a tropical and almost uninhabited zone (no more than 5% of pop.) with the most biodiversity, jungle and full-flowing rivers in the world. In the dense forest there is an explosion of life conformed by thousands of species of flora and fauna, most of them, unknown until today. The Amazonía is drained by the three biggest rivers: Marañon, Huallaga and Ucayali that together give birth to the Amazonas rive, some kilometers before Iquitos city. Wood is the principal product, as well as rubber, rice, fruits, coffee, tea, petroleum and natural gas.
Area 1,285,216 sq. km (496,225 sq. mi.)
Capital City Lima (12 million )
Currency unit Nuevo Sol
Density 40.7 persons/sq. mi.1986 estimate)
Urban-rural population 70.2 % urban, 29.8% rural
Highest point 22,205 ft (Huascaran)
Main cities Arequipa, Trujillo, Chicalyo, Cusco,lima
National Holiday Independence Day, 28-29 July
The wealth imported by the Spanish nobility immigrated to Peru, made Lima originally the City of Kings. All gold was exported via this city to Spain. Many of the original colonial houses do still exist, but caused by the population explosion in the beginning of this century, Lima has lost a lot of its charm. Lima stayed a small city for almost 400 years. In the twenties the city population multiplied three times. Since the Second World War, Lima multiplied by a factor 10 (!). Today almost 12 million people live in the metropolis, almost a third from the total population of Peru (26 million). The population density has all extremes in Peru. For example: the tropical rainforest covers over 60% of the country's territory and only 5% of the population lives in this immeasurable forest. Most of the emigrants come from the Andes, Looking for a better life they move to Lima with little possessions and encounter themselves even in a worse situation and poverty. Some are lucky and have a good life now and can afford to send their children to university, etc. Peru has a wide ethnic mixture composed mainly by a 54% Indian, 32% Mestizo, 12% White and Spanish descent, 2% Black and Asian minority. The minorities, who live basically in the city of Lima and the coast, are immigrants who came from Asia (China, Japan), Africa (western coast), Europe (Spain, Italy, England, Germany, France, Switzerland, Israel, Poland, Belgium and Yugoslavia), North America (United States) and Middle East (Arabia).
Political economic shape
In recent years and influenced by the stable political situation, foreign companies invest in Peru and create of new jobs. The financial climate seems to improve, but as in everywhere in the world, all money is in the hands of a few. Many of the poorer people start a small business as street vendor and make their living by selling cigarettes and chewing gum but earn just enough for their food. Since the new political climate in Peru a lot of investment has been done in hospitals, schools and universities. Most of the roads in bad quality were renewed. Many universities are private and expensive. Almost everybody that can afford university do their best to convert them into professionals. This is one of the only ways to secure future in Lima and earn good money.
Peruvians work in general a lot and workdays of 12 hours are not exceptional. Saturday is also a working day till 1pm. Every year employees got from two weeks to 1 month of paid vacation. The government is working on social security, especially for pensioners. The tax system is the only constitution that is really working well (SUNAT). They are rigorous to companies not paying taxes. Often small businesses as shops are closed with the well-known big red stickers. Don't be surprised when you ask a beer at the bar and they give you a receipt.
To give you an idea how young the economy is in Peru, the stock market of this country exists since the late 80s and stock values rose 10 times in 8 years. For the moment is the market relative stable and inflation depends upon the world market. Peru wants to attract more labor-intensive industry.
Peru is ruled by democracy. A constitutional President, the chief of Executive Power, is elected every five years and can be re-elected one term more. By time of writing, the president was Alan Garcia. He was already president many years ago before Fujimori.The president before was Toledo ,the fist Andean president but did not last for long.He promised a lot but did nothing the people on the street will tell you. The president before Toledo was the Japanese one Fujinori, he had to escape the country after discovery of a lot of drugs money, now he’s in Chili preparing himself for the new elections ,,,,,,The Legislative Power is based on a Congress of 120 members. The Judicial Power is composed by two Courts. Voting is compulsory for every citizen between 18 and 60 years old (militaries and police not allowed). The country is divided in 24 departments and a Constitutional Province, Callao.
GDP US$ 30 billion /Inflation 6.5% in 1997 (the highest inflation was 7,649.7% in 1990)/Annual Growth 7.2% (figure refers to 1997)
Crime & Violence
Although physical violence in Peru is not as extreme in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Bogotá or New Orleans, we cannot deny that it has problems with security. Thieves are "available" as pickpockets, muggers, bag and watch snatchers, razor-blade pack cuts. Lima and big cities like Arequipa, Trujillo, Huaraz and Cusco are safe in average but offer their risks when care is not taken , especially in crowded, dark and lonely areas and bus stations. There have been a border dispute with Ecuador since 1942 but On October 1998, Ecuador and Peru signed a peace treaty to end with the long dispute and complete the settlement of landmarks along the border.
Almost disappeared, terrorism is no longer a threat for citizens. The last isolated action was the "Hostage Crisis" which was completely controlled by the Peruvian government. A strong fight has been held by the government since 1990 to reduce terrorism. The two groups Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and Movimiento Túpac Amaru are entirely dismounted and have all their leaders in jail.
Women traveling solo
In fact, there are no great risks besides the ones mentioned in the topic of Violence & Theft. The general rule is to avoid these areas and to have a minimum common sense to by pass these situations. Some travelers have commented that it is really a matter of bad luck than a risk. There is the strong belief that blonde hair attracts the attention of the South American men. This is partly true as they are not accustomed to see a blonde woman in their culture (only by TV). As long as visitors are increasing in number these fact would change in some years. But, this does not hide the matter that South American men are machos in great percentage (especially in lower classes). So, do not feel ashamed or get annoyed unless it is a bothersome one (also for men!). Anyway, it is a fact of their own culture that you should learn to accept.
If you travel to Peru and think to recover your money by taking some "white stuff" to your country, please forget this, because these customs officers are the best hounds in the world!! The punishment for carrying, purchasing or using drugs (especially cocaine) is up to 15 years in a Peruvian cold jail. Also, reject any intention of someone sending packs with you (to/from Peru), unless you know very well this person or what is inside the pack.
Risks are few out of these tropical infectious diseases like malaria, yellow fever and hepatitis which are present in the Amazon Basin and Tumbes (malaria). If you are planning to visit the lowlands of the Amazon Basin is preferable to be vaccinated against yellow fever and malaria.(malaron pills are the best ) Altitude mountain sickness, called soroche, happens at the higher Andean areas, relax the first days on high altitude ,drink a lot of water and coca thee. If you plan to bike for long distances, would be a good idea to have a rabies vaccination, because of the great number of dogs in each town and village. Travelers who follow the proper precautions will not have problems with food and drink. But don’t drink tap water.
Spanish and Quechua (Inka´s language) are the two official languages in Peru. Although Spanish is the main one, Quechua is widely spoken in the Andes as well as Aymara in the southern Andes in the area of Lake Titicaca. In the Amazon there are more than 70 natives’ languages, belonging each one to a ethnic group. Some of the Andean people are bilingual (Quechua or Aymara and Spanish). English is spoken in the main touristy destinations and places but is generally poor.