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Peru, located on the western coast of South America facing the Pacific Ocean, is the third largest and the fifth most populous country of the continent. It shares borders with most of the major countries in Latin America namely Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia.
The first inhabitants of Peru were nomadic hunters who lived in caves and coastal regions leading to genesis of the Norte Chico civilization around 12,000 BC and later the Inca Empire. Europeans first arrived with the Spanish setting foot in 1531. Modern day Peru came into existence when Jose de San Martin declared it an independent nation in 1821 and Simon Bolivar put an end to the War of Independence in 1824.
Peru can be broadly divided into three distinct geographic regions - the central high sierra of the Andes, the narrow, lowland coastal region (a northern extension of the Atacama Desert) and the dense forests that surround the headwaters of the Amazon beneath the eastern slopes of the Andes. Each varied from another in its climate and topography. Monsoons being the only constant which start around January and last all the way up to March.
The country is divided into 25 regions (as per the Regionalization Law passed in 2002) with Lima as the capital. These regions are further divided into provinces and districts. Power has been decentralised to the respective regions in the form of an elected President and its Council serving a 4 year term.
Government and Politics
Peru is a ‘presidential-representative, democratic, republic’ wherein the government is divided into three branches - the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. The President is elected for a 5 year tenure based on popular mandate and all citizens above the age of 18 years are free to vote in what is a ‘universal, secret and direct ballot’. Since 2006, even the military and the police have joined fellow countrymen in electing their respective representatives - they were previously exempted from voting fearing a new military regime!
Currently Gana Perú (whose political ideology is characterized by left-wing nationalism and populism and democratic socialism) is at the helm of power. The party is led by President Ollanta Humala in coalition with the Socialist Party, the Peruvian Communist Party, the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Political Movement Socialist Voice.
The Peruvian education system comprises of four levels - Basic Education (crèches (under 3 years) and nursery schools (from 3-5 years)), Primary Education (6-11 years - students need an average mark of 11 out of 20 and must pass in either language or mathematics), Secondary Education (adolescents (12-16 years) and adults (over 16 years)) and Higher Education (provided in higher postgraduate centres and universities).
According to the Peru Education Policy drafted in mid-nineties, education in Peru is compulsory for children aged 7-16 years. In other words, Secondary Education in the government institutions is provided free of cost. As a result, the literacy rate has shot up considerably in the last few years to an impressive 89.59% as of 2007.
Visiting Peru is a must for tourists all around the world. Places like the lost city of Machu Picchu - the most iconic symbol of the Incan Empire hidden amidst the Andes (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Lake Titicaca (the world's highest navigable lake) are the cynosure of all eyes. No trip to Peru is complete without visiting Lima, the capital, to experience its rich nightlife as well as an eclectic mix of people from all walks of Peruvian culture living together in harmony.
Other places of attraction include - Chan Chan (impressive set of ruins of an ancient Chimor mud city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Manú National Park (the hotbed of all variants of flora and fauna found in the country), Nazca Lines (world famous for its geometrical figures and giant drawings in the desert sand), Chavín de Huántar (a UNESCO World Heritage Site from the pre-Incan Chavin culture of around 900BC) and Máncora (a small town with the best beaches around).
Culture and Traditions
Peru boasts of a proud history and a rich blend of history and traditions. It has two official languages i.e. Spanish and Quechua. Aymara is another language that is widespread and popular among the locals. The oldest newspaper in South America (El Peruano), the finest cottons in the world (Pima and Tanguis), the highest train pass in the world (Ticlio, at 4815 meters), the deepest canyons in the world Cotahuasi (3600 meters deep) and Colca (3400 meters deep) are all unique to Peru.
Vegetables like potato and tomato were first grown here. It is also the biggest producer of gold, zinc and lead in Latin America and the second largest producer of copper in the world. With 1701 species of birds, 84 of the 103 ecological zones in the world, Peru is a heaven for environmentalists and ecologists alike.
The Sun Festival or Inti Raymi (the largest celebration behind only the Rio Carnival in Brazil) is by far the biggest celebration in Peru. Many Peruvian traditions have been passed from one generation to another and continue to fascinate the minds and hearts of tourists who are lucky to visit one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Last Updated On : Aug 13, 2013
Major RegionCatholic Church
Form of GovernmentUnitary presidential constitutional republic
Vice PresidentMarisol Espinoza
Prime MinisterRen? Cornejo
CurrencyNuevo Sol (PEN)
GDP$370.735 billion 2014 estimate
Time ZonePET (UTC?5)