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, country, South America

Peru (pəro͞oˈ), Span. Perú (pāro͞oˈ), officially Republic of Peru, republic (2015 est. pop. 31,377,000), 496,220 sq mi (1,285,210 sq km), W South America. It borders on the Pacific Ocean in the west, on Ecuador and Colombia in the north, on Brazil and Bolivia in the east, and on Chile in the south. Lima is the capital and largest city.


Peru, which varies greatly in climate and topography, falls into three main geographical regions—a narrow strip of desert along the coast, a region of high mountains in the center, and a large area of forested mountains and lowlands in the east. The desert region stretches the entire length (1,410 mi/2,269 km) of Peru's Pacific coastline and owes its aridity to the cold Humboldt, or Peru, Current, which acts as a barrier to the moist air over the Pacific. A persistent warm current (El Niño; see El Niño–Southern Oscillation) appears off the coast every two to seven years, bringing torrential and damaging rainstorms. The coastal and mountainous regions also are frequently shaken by severe earthquakes.

Within the desert are about 40 oases where most of Peru's commercial farming takes place; the principal oases are near Lima, Chiclayo, and Trujillo. Callao (near Lima) and Matarani, Peru's leading ports, are also in the desert region. Near Pisco and Ica are large vineyards. Off the coast are small islands, notably the Lobos and Chincha islands, where guano (used as fertilizer) is harvested.

The central region (c.200 mi/320 km wide) is made up mostly of three ranges of the Andes Mts., the Cordillera Occidental in the west and the Cordillera Central and its continuation, the Cordillera Real, in the east. The Cordillera Occidental includes the loftiest peaks, notably Huascarán (22,205 ft/6,768 m, Peru's highest point) and El Misti (19,150 ft/5,837 m). The rugged eastern ranges receive considerable rainfall and are drained by numerous rivers, which have cut deep canyons. Subsistence agriculture is practiced in the upper parts of the valleys. Between the eastern and western ranges of the Andes in the south, and extending into Bolivia, is the Altiplano Plateau, which includes small, scattered basins of arable land and pastureland and also part of Lake Titicaca. The central region includes about 60% of Peru's population; its main cities are Arequipa, Huancayo, Ayacucho, and Cuzco, an old Inca center.

The eastern region includes more than half of the country's land area. It is made up of the highly forested Cordillera Oriental of the Andes and low-lying tropical plains, covered by rain forests and drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries. The region is generally inaccessible and sparsely inhabited in the north; it is used for the illegal cultivation of coca. Iquitos is the chief city of the eastern region.


About 45% of Peru's population is indigenous, while mestizos make up about 37% and whites 15%. There are also small numbers of persons of Japanese, Chinese, and African descent. Most of the native inhabitants speak Quechua (an official language) or Aymara; they live in the Andes and have retained much of their traditional way of life. Small groups of indigenous peoples live in the isolated rain forest of E Peru and speak a variety of languages. Most other Peruvians speak Spanish (the other official language) and are Roman Catholic. Power and wealth in the country have traditionally been monopolized by the European-descended inhabitants and by a small number of the mestizos; the bulk of the mestizos and virtually all of the indigenous people are laborers or subsistence farmers. The leading universities are at Lima, Arequipa, Trujillo, and Cuzco.


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.


Under the 1993 constitution as amended, Peru's head of state and of government is the president, who is directly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. Legislative power is vested in a 120-seat unicameral Congress whose members are popularly elected for five-year terms. Adminstratively, Peru is divided into 25 regions and one province (Lima).


Early History

Peru has been inhabited since at least the 9th millennium B.C., and the earliest known American civilization, sometimes called the Caral-Supe, emerged there in the Norte Chico region by c.3200 B.C. Peru was later the center of several developed cultures, including the Chavín (see Chavín de Huántar), the Moche, the Chimu, and the Nazca. In the 12th cent. A.D., the Quechua-speaking Inca settled around Cuzco, and in the mid-15th cent. they established by conquest a large, well-organized empire that included most of present-day Peru and Ecuador and parts of Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Colombia. Their fortress city of Machu Picchu is perhaps the most extraordinary ruin in the Americas. Around 1530 the empire was weakened by civil war initiated by Atahualpa and Huáscar, who had been designated as dual heirs by their father, Huayna Capac.

The Spanish Conquest

Atahualpa had defeated Huascar for control of the Inca empire by 1532, when Francisco Pizarro, a Spaniard, arrived on the coast of Peru with a small band of adventurers. Atahualpa agreed to meet Pizarro at Cajamarca, where he was imprisoned after refusing to accept Spanish suzerainty and Christianity. Although the emperor's followers collected a huge ransom in gold and silver for his release, the Spaniards executed him in mid-1533. By late 1533, Pizarro had captured Cuzco, the Inca capital, and the empire had disintegrated. In 1535, Pizarro founded Lima, which in 1542 became the center of Spanish rule in South America.

From 1536 to 1544, Manco Capac, who had succeeded Atahualpa as emperor, led several unsuccessful uprisings against the Spaniards. At the same time, Pizarro and his brothers and companions (including Sebastián de Benalcázar) were unsuccessfully challenged by Pedro de Alvarado and then by Diego de Almagro and his son, who was defeated (1542) by Vaca de Castro, a representative of the Spanish crown sent to restore order. Pizarro forced the natives held in encomienda to work in the mines, on the lands of Spanish landlords, and in the small textile mills (obrajes).

The New Laws of 1542, which would have ended the abuses of the encomienda system, caused Gonzalo Pizarro to revolt (1544). He defeated the viceroy, Blasco Núñez Vela, but was in turn defeated (and executed) by Pedro de la Gasca in 1548. However, the New Laws were never administered for the benefit of the native peoples.

Francisco de Toledo, who was viceroy from 1569 to 1581, improved administration, defeated a revolt under the Inca Tupac Amaru, and resettled the natives in new villages, or reductions. The viceroyalty of Peru was expanded to include all of Spanish-ruled South America except Venezuela, and the mining of silver and gold increased. Lima was the administrative, religious, economic, and cultural center of the viceroyalty.

In the 18th cent. Peru was drastically reduced in size by the creation of the viceroyalty of New Granada and a viceroyalty centered at Buenos Aires (see Argentina); as a result, Lima lost control over considerable trade and mineral wealth. At the same time, government in Peru was reformed, but Spaniards retained almost complete control in the viceroyalty, and the indigenous peoples and creoles (persons of Spanish descent born in Peru) remained powerless and poor. Led by a man who called himself Tupac Amaru in reference to his alleged Inca ancestor, the native inhabitants revolted in 1780, but were defeated by 1783. There were a few additional uprisings in the early 19th cent.


The ideas of the French Revolution, and Napoleon I's conquest (1808) of Spain, led to strong independence movements in all of Spain's Latin American holdings except Peru. Peru's loyalty to Spain was due to the relatively large number of Spaniards who resided there, to the concentration of Spanish power at Lima, and to the efficiency of the government in the viceroyalty. As a result, Peru achieved independence (1821) largely because of the efforts of outsiders, notably José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar.

After he had ended Spanish rule in Chile in 1818, San Martín captured the Peruvian port of Pisco in 1820. Shortly thereafter the viceroy evacuated Lima, and on July 28, 1821, San Martín proclaimed the independence of Peru. However, Spanish forces remained in the interior. Bolívar took over the leadership of the liberation movement in 1822, and in 1824 he and his aides Antonio José de Sucre and Andrés Santa Cruz assured Peru's independence by defeating Spain at the battles of Junín and Ayacucho.

Santa Cruz left Peru to govern Bolivia in 1828, and government in Peru became confused as several military leaders vied for power. Taking advantage of the disorder, Santa Cruz joined Bolivia and Peru in a confederation in 1836. Fearing the power of the new state, Chile intervened militarily and the confederation was terminated (1839) after the battle of Yungay. Peru continued to be torn by civil strife until the emergence of Gen. Ramón Castilla, who was president from 1844 to 1850 and from 1855 to 1862. Under Castilla, Peru enjoyed stability and economic development.

The Late Nineteenth Century

A republican constitution was promulgated in 1860 and remained in effect until 1920. After Castilla, Peruvian politics again were in turmoil, due to corruption, growing foreign indebtedness, and an attempt by Spain to regain Peru. Claiming that Peru had not met its financial obligations, Spain seized the guano-rich Chincha Islands in 1863. Aided by Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador, Peru defeated the Spanish at Callao in 1866; a truce was signed in 1871 and in 1879 Spain recognized Peru's independence. Meanwhile, President José Balta (1868–72) undertook a costly program of public works, including the building of Peru's first railroad, between Mollendo and Arequipa. Foreign debt had risen dramatically by the time the country's first civilian president, Manuel Pardo (1872–76), inaugurated a series of economic reforms.

In 1873, Peru signed a secret defensive alliance with Bolivia, which led to war with Chile (see Pacific, War of the) in 1879. Chile badly defeated the allies and by the Treaty of Ancón (1883) Peru had to yield the province of Tarapacá and also to surrender the other southern coastal provinces of Tacna and Arica to Chilean administration for a period of 10 years, when a plebiscite was to be held. There ensued the Tacna-Arica Controversy, which was not resolved until 1929, and tensions over the border have periodically flared since. Peru emerged nearly bankrupt from the war. President A. A. Cáceres (1886–90) created a syndicate of foreign capitalists to manage the guano deposits and the railroads, and foreign influence and holdings in Peru grew stronger.

Twentieth-Century Peru

The first third of the century was dominated by President Augusto B. Leguía (1908–12, 1919–30), who for much of his tenure was a virtual dictator; he promoted economic development in the interest of the country's dominant oligarchy. In 1924 a new political party, the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA), was founded by Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre; it called for radical reform, especially of the condition of native peoples. The party was banned by Leguía and was again outlawed after Sánchez Cerro overthrew Leguía in 1930.

The 1930s were marked by bitter rivalry between leftists and rightists, with the latter dominating politics for most of the decade. However, a more moderate course was followed by President Manuel Prado y Ugarteche (1939–45). Peru was involved in a serious boundary dispute with Ecuador in 1941 and sided with the Allies in World War II. APRA was allowed to take part in the 1945 elections and backed the victorious moderate, José Luís Bustamante y Rivero. However, APRA split with Bustamante in 1947, and the resulting disputes led to a military coup by Manuel Odría in 1948. Odría, a conservative, was president until 1956, when Prado was again elected, this time with APRA support.

In the 1962 presidential elections Haya de la Torre won by a small plurality, but did not receive the required one third of the total vote. The military seized power and conducted elections in 1963 that were won by Fernando Belaúnde Terry, a moderate reformer. Belaúnde opened up the interior of the country by constructing a highway system through the Andes, but his regime was plagued by budgetary deficits and spiraling inflation. In 1968 he was deposed by a military junta, which installed General Juan Velasco Alvarado as president. Velasco suspended the constitution and assumed dictatorial powers, seeking to diversify the country's economy by exploiting its natural resources (especially petroleum) with foreign help but without foreign control.

In 1970 a severe earthquake in N Peru killed about 50,000 people. In 1975, Gen. Francisco Morales Bermúdez headed a new junta, and in 1980, a new constitution came into force and civilian government was restored. Both Morales and his successor, Belaúnde, instituted austerity programs to aid the failing economy. Inflation soared, leading to civil unrest, much of it led by a Maoist guerrilla group based in the Andes Mts. known as the Shining Path and by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Alan García Pérez, elected president in 1985, instituted a broad range of social and economic reforms, but the cost of military actions against the insurgents continued to strain the economy, which suffered from rampaging inflation. His term was also marred by cronyism and corruption and charges of army abuses in actions against the Shining Path, and he left office widely discredited.

In 1990, Alberto Fujimori defeated author Mario Vargas Llosa for the presidency. Insurgent violence continued, and in Apr., 1992, Fujimori suspended the constitution, claiming that emergency action was necessary to fight guerrillas, drug traffickers, and corruption. By Sept., 1992, many Shining Path leaders had been captured and jailed, and the rebel group no longer posed a serious threat to the government. After three years of economic liberalization, hyperinflation was eliminated, and the economy was growing at a good rate. In 1993 voters approved a new constitution that allowed Fujimori to run for a second consecutive term; he was easily reelected in 1995, and his party won a large majority in the new congress. There was, however, international criticism of his authoritarian policies and concern over the power of the Peruvian army. In 1995 Peru and Ecuador clashed in a brief border war; the dispute was resolved by treaty in 1998.

On Dec. 17, 1996, a group of MRTA guerrillas infiltrated a reception at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima and took about 600 hostages, many of whom were soon released; the MRTA's demands included freedom for their jailed comrades. Following months of failed negotiations, Peruvian forces stormed the building on Apr. 22, 1997, saving all but one of the remaining 72 hostages and killing 14 guerrillas. In the late 1990s, Fujimori continued with his privatization program as Peru struggled with a recession due in part to the effects of a particularly damaging El Niño and a financial crisis in Asia; the economy began recovering in 1999.

In the 2000 presidential contest, his government orchestrated widespread media attacks on his opponents, but despite this Alejandro Toledo Manrique, a business-school professor, forced Fujimori into a runoff election. The election commission was accused by observers of vote tampering and trying to steal the first-round election, and Toledo withdrew from the runoff, expecting Fujimori's campaign to engage again in fraud. In the congressional elections, Fujimori's party, Peru 2000, lost control of the congress but remained the largest bloc, with more than 40% of the seats.

In September his chief adviser and head of the intelligence service, Vladimiro Montesinos, was revealed to have bribed opposition lawmakers, and Fujimori abruptly offered to hold new presidential elections in which he would not run. Ongoing political instability and the possibility of a corruption investigation led Fujimori to resign in November while traveling in Japan, where he remained in exile. The congress, however, refused to accept his resignation and declared him morally incapacitated and the presidency vacant.

Congress speaker Valentín Paniagua became interim president, and new congressional and presidential elections were scheduled for the following year. In June, 2001, Toledo was elected president, after defeating former president Alan García in a runoff. Although the electorate showed no great enthusiasm for either candidate, the election was notable for being nearly free of irregularities. Toledo sought to purge Peru's military and security forces of supporters of Fujimori and Montesinos; the latter was arrested in mid-2001 and later convicted of corruption, plotting to overthrow Fujimori, authorizing death-squad killings, and other charges.

Toledo's popularity subsequently evaporated, however, as a result of political promises that went unfulfilled and ethical scandals involving several ministers in his government. Elections in Nov., 2002, for the newly established regional governments were a victory for Alan García's APRA party. In July, 2004, Toledo was charged by a former aide with taking a $5 million bribe from a Colombian company. Toledo denied the accusation, but the charge further eroded what little public standing he had. In Jan., 2005, a group of 150 army reservists staged an abortive uprising in Andahuaylas, in S central Peru, and called for Toledo's resignation; they surrendered after four days. Charges that Toledo and his party had been involved in forging signatures to register for the 2000 elections led in 2005 to a congressional committee investigation that, after splitting along party lines, accused Toledo of electoral fraud. The congress, however, did not vote to impeach Toledo.

In Oct. 2005, voters rejected a goverment proposal to consolidate 25 of Peru's regions into five “macroregions.” An ambush by Shining Path guerrillas in December led to the declaration of a two-month state of emergency in E Peru, and the group experienced something of a resurgence beginning in 2007 due to payments it derived from protecting the illegal cocaine trade. Peru accused Venezuelan president Chávez of interfering in its politics in Jan., 2006, when he met with and offered support to Peruvian presidential candidate Ollanta Humala, a leftist nationalist who had led an abortive military uprising in 2000 (and whose brother had led the 2005 uprising). The two nations subsequently (April) recalled their ambassadors, but agreed to resume ties eight months later. Also in January, an attempt to register Fujimori, who had visited Chile and was arrested there at Peru's request, as a presidential candidate was denied.

Humala finished first in the Apr., 2006, presidential election, but fell well short of a majority of the vote. Humala was forced into a runoff with former president Alan García, who won the post after the June vote largely because he was regarded by many as the lesser of two evils. Humala's party, however, won the largest bloc of seats in the Peruvian congress. In Dec., 2006, Humala was charged with rebellion in connection with the 2005 Andahuaylas uprising.

An earthquake in Aug., 2007, caused extensive devastation in the Ica region of SW Peru; more than 500 persons were killed. Fujimori was extradited from Chile to Peru in Sept., 2007, and he was subsequently convicted (2007, 2009, 2015) in five cases arising from his presidency. In Oct., 2008, seven members of García's cabinet lost their posts over their possible involvement in a corruption scandal in which a Norwegian oil exploration company was accused of paying kickbacks in return for government contracts. The cabinet changes were also partially prompted by demonstrations over the regional distribution of mining revenue.

In Apr., 2009, there were demonstrations and blockades in Peru's Amazonian region against laws passed by decree in 2007–8 that governed the economic development of government lands; indigenous peoples feared that the laws would permit businesses to gain control of their lands. In June, following a deadly clash between government forces and protesters in which dozens died, the laws were repealed, and the prime minister resigned in July. The incident was the worst of a series of confrontations with indigenous groups over resource development that marked the last half of García's second term.

In Apr., 2011, Humala again won the first round of the presidential election, with about one third of the vote; Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the former president, placed second. In the June runoff, Humala defeated Fujimori by a relatively narrow margin. The new government subsequently faced massive antimining protests that turned violent and deadly, and led to a declaration of a state of emergency. One of Humala's two vice presidents, Omar Chehade, resigned in Jan., 2012, after he faced impeachment over corruption charges; Chehade had resisted Humala's call that he resign. In Apr., 2012, the government said a remnant Shining Path group operating in central Peru had been defeated; other remnants, in SE Peru, were more successful in resisting government forces.

Revelations in 2015 that Peru's intelligence agency had been spying for years on prominent politicians, business leaders, and others led the congress to censure the prime minister and force her resignation. The 2016 elections resulted in a narrow victory for Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the Peruvians for Change candidate and a prime minister under President Toledo, over Keiko Fujimori, who had been well ahead in the first round; her Popular Force party, however, won a majority of the congressional seats. Relations between the president and congress were difficult in 2017, and in September the congress dismissed Kuczynski's cabinet, forcing him to re-form his government.

Former presidents Toledo and Humala were both accused by prosecutors of corruption in 2017; the charges in both cases stemmed in part from the Odebrecht corruption scandal, which involved illegal payments by a Brazilian construction firm. Revelations that Kuczynski and a firm he owned had received fees for Odebrecht-related work (after he had denied receiving any payments from Odebrecht) led the Popular Force to attempt unsuccessfully to impeach him; he then pardoned Alberto Fujimori for health reasons, a move that many criticized as a political deal (the pardon was overturned by the supreme court in 2018). When a video showed his allies apparently offering deals in return for opposition support in a second impeachment vote made it likely he would be removed, he resigned (Mar., 2018).

Kuczynski was succeeded by Martín Vizcarra, the first vice president. Vizcarra, not associated with a political party, ultimately won strong public support as a result of his anticorruption stance, and secured adoption in Dec., 2018, of three constitutional amendments (concerned with the selection of judges, campaign financing, and legislators' terms) that were intended to reduce corruption in the national government. In 2018 hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing their nation's economic crisis entered Peru, leading Peru to limit the number who could receive temporary residence.

Corruption scandals and conflicts with the congress over reforms led Vizcarra in 2019 to call for early legislative and presidential elections, and after legislators voted against on an issue that he declared a vote of confidence, he declared congress dissolved and called for new elections in Jan., 2020, a move that legislators denounced as unconstitutional (it was later upheld). The congress then tried to suspend the president and appoint the vice president (who later resigned) as interim leader, but Vizcarra, with the support of the government, military, and the people, remained in office.

The Jan., 2020, legislative elections resulted in a divided congress, with no party, out of the nine that won seats, winning more than a fifth of the seats, but centrist reformers made gains and the Popular Force suffered significant losses. Vizcarra's relations with the congress, however, remained troubled. In September, Vizcarra's opponents in the congress tried to impeach him over accusations of obstructing an investigation into government contracts awarded to a singer, but the attempt collapsed. In November, however, he was impeached over unverified allegations of corruption dating to when he was governor of Moquegua, but in voting to remove him legislators accused him of failings in his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vizcarra's removal prompted protests in Lima. Manuel Arturo Merino de Lama, the president of Congress and a member of Popular Action, succeeded Vizcarra, but soon resigned amid persistent protests. Francisco Sagasti, Merino's successor as Congress president, an opponent of Vizcarra's removal, and a member of the Purple party, then succeeded Merino as president. The country experienced significant economic and health problems in 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19.

The 2021 presidential elections resulted in a near tie, with the leftist candidate Pedro Castillo narrowly beating the right-wing's Keiko Fujimori in early June. However, Fujimori continued to contest the election results, until in mid-July Castillo was declared the winner .


A classic narrative of the Spanish conquest is that of W. H. Prescott. See also J. Descola, Daily Life in Colonial Peru, 1710–1820 (tr. 1968); J. M. Lockhart, Spanish Peru, 1532–1560 (1968) F. L. Tullis, Lord and Peasant in Peru (1970); G. Hilliker, The Politics of Reform in Peru (1971); T. E. Weil et al., Area Handbook for Peru (1972); R. Rachowiecki, Peru (1986); J. Haas et al., ed., The Origins and Development of the Andean State (1987); R. W. Keatinge, Peruvian Prehistory (1988); D. Pion-Berlin, The Ideology of State Terror (1989); J. Meyerson, Tambo: Life in an Andean Village (1990).


, city, United States
Peru (pəro͞oˈ), city (1990 pop. 12,843), seat of Miami co., N Ind., on the Wabash River; inc. 1847. It is a trade, processing, and rail center for a fertile agricultural area. Among its products are furniture, plastic and metal items, stationery, machinery, processed foods, and electrical equipment. The International Circus Hall of Fame, with its museum and summer performances, commemorates the seven circuses that once wintered there. Peru is the birthplace of Cole Porter. Grissom Air Reserve Base is to the south.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(República del Perú).

Peru is a state in the western part of South America. It is bounded on the northwest by Ecuador, on the northeast by Colombia, on the east by Brazil and Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west and southwest by the Pacific Ocean. Including offshore islands, Peru has an area of 1,285,000 sq km. Population (1973), 14.9 million. The capital is Lima. Administratively, Peru is divided into 23 departments and one province (see Table 1).

Table 1. Administrative divisions of Peru
DepartmentArea (sq km)Population (1972)Administrative center
Amazonas ......41,300196,500Chachapoyas
Ancash ........36,300726,700Huaráz
Arequipa .......63,500530,000Arequipa
Ayacucho .......45,500459,700Ayacucho
Callao (province) .....70315,600Callao
Cuzco .........84,100708,700Cuzco
Huancavelica ....22,900331,200Huancavelica
Huánuco .......35,300420,800Huánuco
Junín .........32,400691,200Huancayo
La Libertad......23,200806,400Trujillo
Madre de Dios ....78,40022,000Puerto Maldonado
Moquegua ......16,20074,600Moquegua
Pasco .........21,900176,800Cerro de Pasco
Piura .........33,100854,700Piura
Puno .........72,400779,600Puno
San Martín......53,100224,300Moyobamba
Tacna .........14,80095,600Tacna

Peru is a republic, although its 1933 constitution is only partially in effect. After a military coup in 1968 (see below: Historical survey), the Peruvian parliament, called Congress, was dissolved. All power passed to the military leaders, headed by the president, General J. Velasco Alvarado.

Three principal natural regions may be distinguished: a coastal zone, or costa, in the west; a mountainous, chiefly steppe zone, called sierra, in the center; and the selva, comprising the eastern foothills, covered with rain forests, and plains.

Terrain. The costa —maritime coastal plains ranging in width from 80 km to 180 km—constitutes 12.5 percent of Peru’s area. Along the coast, south of 14° S lat., are the massifs of the Coastal Cordillera, rising to 1,800 m. The sierra consists of the mighty Peruvian Andes, which occupy 30.2 percent of the country’s territory. In the north, as far as 11° S lat., the sierra is dissected by the longitudinal valleys of the headwaters of the Amazon River into the Cordillera Occidental, whose highest point is Mount Huascarán (6,768 m) in the Cordillera Blanca; the Cordillera Central; and the Cordillera Oriental. The Cordillera Central and Cordillera Oriental consist of several mountain ranges rising to 4,000 m, divided by wide, deep river valleys. South of 12° S lat. the Andes are divided into the Cordillera Occidental and Cordillera Oriental, the latter being a continuation of the Cordillera Central. The Cordillera Occidental, with elevations exceeding 6,000 m, has many volcanoes. The most famous active volcanoes are Solimana (6,117 m) and Misti (5,821 m), and extinct volcanoes include Coropuna (6,425 m) and Ampato (6,310 m).

Adjoining the Cordillera Occidental on the east are intermon-tane plateaus with elevations of 3,000-4,000 m. In northern and central Peru the plateaus are cut by narrow and deep (as much as 2 km) canyons, and in the south they merge into the broad, enclosed semidesert plateau known as the puna. The selva, consisting chiefly of plains and having a dense river network, occupies more than half of the country’s territory. In the northeast it includes the western part of the Amazon Lowland, which in the south gives way to the upland piedmont plain known as the Montaña.


Geological structure and mineral resources. Eastern Peru is part of the Amazon syneclise of the South American Platform, composed primarily of marine Paleozoic deposits and continental Mesozoic and Cenozoic deposits more than 4 km deep. A Cenozoic foredeep separates the Amazon syneclise from the folded structure of the Andes, formed by late Proterozoic (Brazilian), late Paleozoic, and late Mesozoic (Laramide) folding and subsequent Cenozoic mountain building. The Andes are divided into three zones: the Cordillera Oriental, composed of terrigenous Paleozoic and Mesozoic deposits; the altiplano intermon-tane depression (with Lake Titicaca), tapering to the northwest and filled with Cenozoic molasse; and the Cordillera Occidental, consisting chiefly of thick terrigenous-carbonate Mesozoic deposits breached by granitoid batholith. Acidic Cenozoic volcanic rocks (Andes volcanic zone) lie unconformably on the Mesozoic deposits of the Cordillera Occidental.

The coastal zone is composed of Precambrian and Paleozoic rocks and of Mesozoic eugeosynclinal sedimentary and volcanic rocks. In the northwestern part of the country this zone is covered by a thick Cenozoic terrigenous complex. Within this complex (near the ecuador border), as well as in the Cretaceous deposits of the Andean foredeep (the Ucayali region), are petroleum deposits. The Cordillera Occidental has large deposits of copper ore (Toquepala, Cuajone), cupric polymetals (Cerro de Pasco, Morococha), and lead and zinc ores (Chilete).


Climate. The costa region and the western slopes of the Andes have a desert climate with almost no precipitation. Average monthly temperatures along the coast range from 15°C to 25°C. The sierra has a high-mountain climate with wet summers. In the north the sierra is subequatorial, with an annual precipitation of up to 1,000 mm, and in the south it is tropical, receiving 700-800 mm of precipitation. Average monthly temperatures on the plateaus range from 12°C to 16°C in the north and from 5°C to 9°C in the south; during a 24-hour period temperatures may change by as much as 20°C. On the eastern slopes of the Andes and in the selva the climate is equatorial and humid. On the plains temperatures are high throughout the year (from 24°C to 27°C), with up to 3,000 mm of rainfall annually.

Rivers and lakes. Most rivers belong to the Amazon system. The Marañón River, which rises on the eastern slopes of the Cordillera Occidental, is the principal source of the Amazon. The Marañón and its tributaries, the Huallaga and the Ucayali, another source of the Amazon, are Peru’s largest rivers. Many rivers flow from the western slopes of the Andes to the Pacific Ocean, but they are short and shallow. Of these rivers the largest are the Piura, Santa, Tumbes, and Chira. In the puna is a basin with interior drainage from Lake Titicaca. The Andean rivers are a source of hydroelectric energy. Waters from the Marañón basin are being diverted to the northern part of the costa and the eastern part of the Sechura Desert for irrigation.

Soils and vegetation. In the costa region the soil is poor and the vegetation meager. The western slopes of the Andes support only sparse shrubs and cactus. The inland plateaus are occupied by a high-mountain tropical steppe (jalca), growing on mountain-steppe soil, in the north and east and by a semidesert (puna) in the southeast. The eastern slopes of the Andes and the plains of the selva are covered with humid evergreen forests containing valuable rubber, chinchona, and coca trees.

Fauna. There is little wildlife in western Peru, where jaguars, foxes (Dusicyon gymnocercus), and pumas are occasionally encountered. Marine birds make guano deposits on the islands. The coastal waters abound in fish, including anchovies. The sierra is inhabited by guanacos and vicuñas, as well as many birds. Arboreal species, especially monkeys, are typical of the selva, where anteaters, sloths, tapirs, and peccaries are also found. Birds (including parrots and hummingbirds), reptiles and insects are numerous in the selva. Certain species are threatened with extinction. Because of their valuable fur, chinchillas, which inhabit the high Andes, have been almost completely exterminated, and the number of vicuñas has decreased sharply. The Pampa de Galeras national park was established in 1966 to protect wildlife.


Spanish-speaking Peruvians constitute about half of the country’s population, and most of the remaining inhabitants are Indians. The most numerous Indian peoples—the Quechua and the Aymará—inhabit the mountains. Most of the Indians speak their own languages, and some are bilingual. The Oriente region is inhabited by various Indian tribes speaking languages of the Pano, Arawak, Jivaro, Zaparo, Tucano, and other families. There are also tens of thousands of immigrants, including Japanese, Chinese, and Spaniards. Spanish is the official language, and Catholicism is the dominant religion. Among the Quechua and Aymará Indians, Christianity has been blended with ancient beliefs, such as the worship of the sun god. The official calendar is the Gregorian.

Between 1963 and 1972 the population grew at an average annual rate of 3.1 percent. In 1970, Peru had a work force of 4,269,000, of whom 45.1 percent were engaged in agriculture, lumbering, and fishing (as compared with 58.9 percent in 1950); 2.1 percent in mining (2.2 percent); 14.4 percent in manufacturing (13 percent); 4.3 percent in construction (2.7 percent); and 34.1 percent in commerce, services, and other sectors (23.2 percent). Peasants and farm laborers constitute the bulk of the population. In 1972 the average population density was 11 persons per sq km. Some 39 percent of the population lives along the coast, 52 percent in the mountains, and 9 percent in the forested eastern regions. There has been a noticeable migration of the population from the sierra to the cities of the costa and selva. In 1972 about 59.6 percent of the population lived in urban areas. The largest cities are Lima, with 2.8 million inhabitants in 1972 (3.5 million including the suburbs), Arequipa, Callao, Trujillo, Chiclayo, and Piura.

Primitive communal system and the formation of an early class society (8000 B.C. to the 14th century A.D.). Man appeared on the territory of Peru in the eighth millennium B.C. The cultivation of corn, domestication of the llama, and the building of irrigation systems date from the second millennium B.C. At the end of the second and during the first millennium B.C. a large tribal confederation arose, known as the Chavín culture, which established an early class state by the first millennium A.D. The Chavín culture was replaced by city-states. During the first millennium A.D. another major confederation, called Tiahuanaco, emerged and formed a state encompassing part of modern Bolivia and southern Peru. After the disintegration of Tiahuanaco, a number of small tribal groupings were formed.

Tawantin-Suyu state (15th and 16th centuries). During the 15th century a confederation of Indian tribes headed by the Incas, who had inhabited Peru since the 11th century, conquered neighboring tribes and states and incorporated them into a caste state known as Tawantin-Suyu in 1438. The state had a population of between 8 and 15 million, and Quechua became the common language. The state’s economy was based on the exploitation of communes, and the rents (taxes) that were collected from the communes were divided by the central government among the Inca caste, local tribal chiefs, called curacas, and priests. Roads and irrigation systems were built in Tawantin-Suyu. The Incas excelled in such crafts as the working of precious metals, weaving, and ceramics. They made notable progress in mathematics and medicine and used a “knot” writing system called quipu. Worship of the sun and a supreme deity named Viracocha coexisted with the cult of tribal ancestors. The conquered tribes rebelled against the domination of the Incas. Internecine strife within the ruling caste itself brought Tawantin-Suyu to the verge of collapse.

Spanish conquest and the creation of a multilevel colonial society (16th to early 19th century). The Spanish conquistadors led by F. Pizarro and D. Almagro who landed in Peru in the early 16th century conquered Tawantin-Suyu between 1532 and 1536 despite the Indians’ heroic resistance and pressed most of the Incas and tribal chiefs into their service. However, the Indians, under the leadership of Tupac Amaru, continued to struggle against their conquerors. In 1543, Peru became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, which included most of South America. From 1540 land was distributed among the Spanish colonialists. The Spanish crown strengthened the system of communes that had existed under the Incas. A large number of communes were directly supervised by Spanish officials, called corregidors, and paid numerous taxes. A certain amount of land was granted to the Catholic Church and its missions. In 1570, Peru had a population of 1.5 million, including more than 8,000 Spaniards.

The Spanish colonialists regarded the conquered territories as a source of agricultural products and other raw material for the mother country. They imported cattle and horses into Peru, introduced the cultivation of wheat and rice, and improved mining technology. In the 16th century they established textile and other manufactures, but the Spanish authorities hampered their development in the interest of the mother country. The colonial system established in Peru combined elements of disintegrating feudalism with incipient capitalist relations.

During the 17th and 18th centuries the mining industry became the mainstay of the economy. The members of the communes were forced to work in mines, a practice that decimated the Indian population. Negro slaves were also imported from Africa to work in the mines. The 18th century was marked by many peasant and urban uprisings against colonial oppression. A peasant war led by J. G. Condorcanqui, who called himself Tupac Amaru, lasted from 1780 to 1783. As a result the Spanish authorities abolished the encomienda system and promulgated a number of social and administrative reforms that strengthened the position of the local landowners and permitted trade among the colonies. The estates along the Pacific coast began to specialize in industrial crops, and the farms of the plateau region concentrated on raising livestock. In 1795 the viceroyalty had a population of about 1.5 million, including 1.1 million Indians, about 250,000 Spaniards, creoles, and mestizos, and more than 50,000 Negro slaves and mulattoes.

War of Independence; strengthening of the bourgeois state (1810-83). The War of Independence of the Spanish-American colonies, which broke out in 1810, became a long civil war in Peru. From 1811 to 1813 peasants and artisans constituted the nucleus of the anti-Spanish uprisings, and in 1814-15 they began an insurgent movement led by the Indian M. García Pumaca-hua. The resistance of the Spaniards and the Peruvian royalists (landowners and merchants) was broken by Peruvian patriots supported by Argentine troops led by General San Martin and S. Bolívar’s Colombian corps. In 1821, San Martin proclaimed Peru’s independence and formed the country’s first government. The next year a constituent congress declared Peru a republic and adopted the country’s first constitution. After the defeat of the colonialists at the battles of Junín and Ayacucho in 1824, Peru finally freed itself from Spanish oppression. In 1825 southeastern Peru, called Upper Peru, became the independent republic of Bolivia. Between 1835 and 1839, Peru was a part of the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation.

The great landowners of the coastal area, who exported cotton and other industrial crops, remained the dominant force in the country. Conflicts between them and the landowners of the plateau precipitated frequent civil wars and coups that weakened the country. Spain, Great Britain, and the USA took advantage of the unrest to force loans on the country and to plunder it through military expeditions. Peru, in alliance with Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile, repulsed Spanish aggression during the War of the Pacific of 1864-66. In the mid-19th century, under President R. Castilla, a number of reforms were promulgated: the church’s tithe was abolished, slaves were freed with compensation to their owners, civil and criminal law codes were adopted, and many laws dating from colonial times were abolished. Railroads and textile factories were built, and iron foundries were established. The first trade union organizations of artisans and workers were founded in the 1860’s. A banking system, affiliated with British and German banks, was established, and by 1874, 11 banks were operating in Lima. The bankers and capitalist landowners along the Pacific formed a united front against the conservative great landowners of the plateau. In 1873 the liberal-bourgeois government of M. Pardo (1872-76) took steps to ensure the government’s purchase of saltpeter and prohibited the sale of land on which saltpeter was extracted to private individuals. These measures enabled the government to take control of two-thirds of the saltpeter mines, but they also provoked the active opposition of foreign capitalists. At the end of the 1870’s British and German capitalists persuaded Chile, which sold them land freely, to declare war on Bolivia and Peru (War of the Pacific of 1879-83). Weakened by internal conflicts and the machinations of its foreign creditors, Peru was defeated. It lost the province of Tarapacá, and the departments of Arica and Tacna were placed under Chilean administration for ten years, after which a plebiscite was to be held to determine the fate of the departments. In 1929, Tacna was returned to Peru, and Arica remained a part of Chile.

Intensified penetration of foreign monopolies; Peru’s transformation into a dependent state (1884-1917). Taking advantage of Peru’s defeat, foreign monopolies, chiefly British, North American, and German, imposed unequal agreements on Peru and took over most of its natural resources (petroleum, copper, and guano deposits), cotton and sugarcane plantations, and textile and other industrial enterprises. The introduction of foreign capital was accompanied by the growth of large landed estates at the expense of the communes, whose land was expropriated. There were many peasant uprisings, the largest of which occurred in 1885 and from 1895 to 1899 and from 1910 to 1924. The labor movement grew stronger; strikes were held in 1883, 1887, 1901, 1905-06, and 1911.

In 1891 the petit bourgeois, anti-imperialist movement founded its own organization, the National Union, whose ideologist was the revolutionary democrat M. González Prada. In 1913, G. Billinghurst’s liberal-bourgeois government sought to limit the arbitrary use of power by the foreign monopolies and the local oligarchy. It issued decrees providing for an eight-hour workday and legalizing strikes. But in 1914 the government was overthrown by a military coup. Peru did not take part in World War I, but the war undermined its economy, which was dependent on imperialist monopolies and therefore was oriented toward the foreign market. Unemployment increased, the cost of living rose, and working conditions deteriorated. The situation became critical.

General crisis of capitalism (to 1968). The Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia inspired workers, peasants, and all Peruvian patriots to struggle for their rights and for the strengthening of national sovereignty. In 1918-19 there were strikes by miners, textile workers, and dock workers which sometimes grew into armed conflicts with government troops. The workers were supported by students, who called for educational reforms, as well as by patriotic military men. In these circumstances the financier A. Leguía, who was involved with American monopolies, staged a military coup and established a personal dictatorship that lasted from 1919 to 1930. The Leguía government encouraged the expansion of American monopolies, especially oil companies, but it was obliged to impose some limitations on the rights of foreign capitalists. In accordance with the 1920 Constitution, mineral resources were declared state property, and landownership was to be regulated exclusively by Peruvian laws. Peasant communes became legal persons, and a progressive income tax and social insurance for workers were introduced.

During the upswing in the labor and anti-imperialist movement that began in 1927, the Peruvian Communist Party (PCP) was founded (1928), although it was called the Socialist Party until 1930. It was headed by J. C. Mariátegui. The Communists led strikes at the copper mines and oil fields owned by North American monopolies, and they organized the General Confederation of Workers, which had 90,000 members, and the Federation of Farm Laborers and Indians. The worldwide economic crisis of 1929-33 had an especially ruinous effect on the mining industry. In 1930 there were major strikes by workers and office employees, peasant uprisings, and disturbances in the navy and army touched off by the traitorous policies of the ruling oligarchy. The right-wing leaders of the petit bourgeois Aprista Party (officially called the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana, APRA) thwarted the efforts of the Communists and other patriots to create a national anti-imperialist front. In 1932 the Congress adopted a number of laws directed against the democratic elements. The authorities obtained the right to prohibit meetings and rallies and to close down newspapers. A new constitution adopted in April 1933 established a presidential and parliamentary regime. O. R. Benavides’ government, which came to power in May, served the interests of the financial and landowning oligarchy and was friendly toward fascist Italy.

With the outbreak of World War II, the antifascist movement grew stronger, and the oligarchic government of M. Prado y Ugarteche (1939-45) was obliged to democratize the political system. It broke off relations with the Axis powers in 1942 and declared war on them in 1945. As a result of a war with Ecuador in 1941-42, Peru recovered most of the disputed territory in the Amazon Basin. On the initiative of the Communists, the Confederation of Peruvian Workers, the Peruvian-Soviet Cultural Association, and the National Democratic Front were organized in 1943-44. The National Democratic Front was victorious in the presidential elections of 1945. The government of J. Bustamante, in power from 1945 to 1948, extended civil liberties, legalized the Communist Party, and attempted to improve the living standard and social position of the working people. It introduced price controls, restricted the sending of profits abroad, strengthened the state sector of the economy, and succeeded in closing down US military bases on Peruvian territory. Nevertheless, under pressure from foreign monopolies, the government began to yield to reactionaries, and in 1948 it was overthrown. The proimperi-alist dictatorship of General M. Odría (1948-56) abolished fundamental civil liberties, banned democratic parties and trade unions, adopted policies that eroded the living standard of the working people, and granted land concessions totaling more than 3 million hectares to foreign monopolies.

During the 1950’s the country was engulfed by a strike movement. In 1950 an armed uprising broke out in Arequipa, and a people’s government was established in the city. After the suppression of the uprising in 1954-55, general political strikes occurred, compelling the ruling classes to abolish the most repressive decrees and resulting in the collapse of the Odría dictatorship in 1956. The government of M. Prado y Ugarteche took power and restored civil liberties. Trade union associations were permitted to function. Patriotic military men, Communists, and other democrats formed the Petroleum Defense Front, headed by General C. Pando Egusquiza, which demanded the return of petroleum resources to Peru. The movement for solidarity with revolutionary Cuba gained strength. The Committee for Trade Union Unity, founded in 1962, became the basis for the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers, organized in 1968. Between 1960 and 1963 peasants seized and divided up some of the great landed estates. In 1962 the military government headed by General R. Pérez Godoy issued a decree on agrarian reform and created the National Institute of Planning. A bourgeois government headed by F. Belaúnde Terry came to power in 1963. It announced a reform program, but instead of carrying it out, the government compromised with the large landowners and foreign monopolies. A guerrilla movement arose in 1965, but it was quickly suppressed.

Since 1968; development of the anti-imperialist and anti-oligarchic revolutionary process. The ruling circles had discredited themselves by their national treachery and corruption, and their policies provoked the indignation of the masses, who demanded changes. In October 1968 patriotic military men headed by General J. Velasco Alvarado came to power. After establishing the Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces, they proceeded to carry out revolutionary anti-imperialist and anti-oligarchic changes. The revolutionary government nationalized the petroleum industry, controlled by American monopolies, and formed a state petroleum company. The concessions granted to foreign monopolies were canceled, and some mining enterprises were nationalized.

State companies were created in the mining, metallurgical, cement, fishing, and electric power industries. The government established control over foreign trade, banks, the financial system, transportation, and communications. Reforms in agriculture and water-resources management were initiated in accordance with laws adopted in 1969. A four-sector economy was established, consisting of a state sector, a reformed private sector, a public sector, and a private sector of small property owners. Most heavy industry enterprises were transferred to the state sector. In the reformed private sector the popular masses, through labor communes, were able to control production and to own property jointly with the entrepreneurs. The government pursued a policy aimed at raising the workers’ standard of living, reducing unemployment, and democratizing public education.

The Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces initiated an independent, peace-loving foreign policy. After establishing diplomatic relations with the USSR and other socialist countries, the government expanded economic and cultural cooperation with them. It also sought to establish friendly relations with Cuba; in 1972 it restored diplomatic relations with the country. The democratization of political life strengthened the influence of trade unions and other mass workers’ organizations. The Peruvian Communist Party and other democratic parties and organizations exhorted the masses to take an active part in the revolutionary changes and to cooperate with the government. The proimperialist forces, represented by the traditional bourgeois parties, committed subversive acts, resorting to sabotage and inciting disturbances. Relying on the support of foreign monopolies and Peruvian oligarchic circles, they made use of ultraleft organizations, especially those of the Maoist persuasion.

In 1975 the division general F. Morales Bermúdez became president. In June and July 1976 the Armed Forces Government was reorganized, and its policy was revised. Foreign investments and private capital were encouraged, labor legislation was modified to promote cooperation between labor and capital, the rights of trade unions were restricted, wages were frozen, and an austerity program was imposed. Traditional bourgeois parties and reactionary organizations opposing the revolutionary process were legalized and gained access to the mass media.


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The People’s Party (Partido del Pueblo), founded in 1924 and called the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA) until 1945, reflects the interests of bourgeois circles linked with the Peruvian financial oligarchy and US imperialism. The Popular Action Party (Acción Popular), founded in 1956, is supported by a small part of the bourgeoisie and the middle strata of the intelligentsia. In 1968 the Popular Action Party split into two factions—a right wing and a left wing. The right wing, composed of the supporters of former President Belaúnde Terry, was hostile to the revolutionary process. The left wing formed in 1971 the Socialist Popular Action Party, which supports the revolutionary process. The Christian Democratic Party (Partido Demócrata Cristiano), founded in 1956, includes a few members of the intelligentsia, university circles, and some strata of the peasantry. It participates in the revolutionary process. The Revolutionary Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Revolucionario), founded in 1976, includes the revolutionary democratic faction among the retired military men, the revolutionary-minded petit bourgeois intelligentsia, and members of some peasant organizations and trade unions. The party is anti-imperialist and antioligarchic. The Peruvian Communist Party (Partido Comunista Peruano), founded in 1928, was called the Socialist Party of Peru prior to 1930.

The Confederation of Peruvian Workers, founded in 1944, had a membership of about 100,000 in 1974. The General Confederation of Peruvian Workers, established in 1968, belongs to the World Federation of Trade Unions. It had 500,000 members in 1974. The Trade Union Center of the Working People of the Peruvian Revolution, founded in 1972, had 200,000 members in 1974. The National Confederation of Workers, founded in 1968, had a membership of about 100,000 in 1974. The National Agrarian Confederation of Peru, founded in 1974, unites about 3 million peasants. Other important organizations are the Peruvian Communist Youth, the People’s Union of Peruvian Women, established in 1970, the Peruvian-Soviet Cultural Association, founded in 1943, and the Committee for Solidarity with the People of Chile, formed in 1973.


General characteristics. Peru is an agricultural country with well-developed mining and fishing industries. Nonferrous metallurgy is also important. Peru is one of the world’s leading producers of bismuth, silver, zinc, lead, and copper. In 1971, among the capitalist and developing countries, Peru ranked first in the production of bismuth and fourth in the production of silver and zinc. In 1972 agriculture and lumbering contributed 14.9 percent of the gross national product (as compared to 22.2 percent in 1950); fishing 1 percent (0.4 percent); mining 7.7 percent (5.5 percent); manufacturing 21.2 percent (13.7 percent); construction 6.6 percent (5.1 percent); electric power 1.3 percent; and commerce, services, and other sectors 47.3 percent (53.1 percent).

In 1972 the per capita gross national product was $493 (in 1970 prices). The manufacturing industry has a high proportion of branches producing consumer goods. Prior to the late 1960’s an extremely important role in the economy was played by foreign capital, which monopolized the principal export industries, chiefly mining and ferrous metallurgy. Foreign capital investments in these branches amounted to as much as 90 percent, and in the fishing industry they totaled about 40 percent. About three-fourths of all the direct private foreign investments were made by the USA, which dominated the mining industry and nonferrous metallurgy (together accounting for more than 60 percent of all US investments in Peru), as well as the paper-and-pulp, rubber, and fishing industries. The USA also controlled the automotive-assembly, textile, and chemical industries. Major investments in Peruvian industry were also made by Great Britain, chiefly in petroleum extraction and refining, in manufacturing, and in banking. Other important investors were Japan, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, Switzerland, and France. Agrarian relations were dominated by large landholdings.

After 1968 the country embarked on progressive social and economic changes. The government sought to strengthen the country’s economic independence. The exploration and exploitation of the nation’s mineral resources came under state control, as well as the export of mining products and fish meal. The government nationalized the petroleum enterprises, which were exploited by the US-owned International Petroleum Company, transferring them to the state company Petróleos Peruanos S. A. (Petroperu). Enterprises belonging to the American-owned mining company called Cerro de Pasco Corporation were transferred to the state company Centromin-Peru, and enterprises producing fish meal and fish oil were transferred to the state company Pescaperu. Other state companies were also established: Mineroperu in mining, Induperu and Siderperu in metallurgy, Electroperu, responsible for the production, distribution, and sale of electric power throughout the country, and the national railroad company Enafer Peru, which took control of railroads belonging to the British company known as the Peruvian Corporation. The proportion of foreign capital in mixed companies is not allowed to exceed 50 percent. A law was passed strengthening the state’s role in the banking system; by 1973 some 80 percent of bank holdings had been transferred to the state. Thus, the state sector consists chiefly of nationalized enterprises of the petroleum, mining, electric power, fishing, and other industries.

In agriculture, agrarian and water-resources reforms were initiated in June 1969. The reforms provide for the expropriation of land belonging to the great landowners and foreign companies, with compensation paid over 20 to 30 years. The land is to be gradually transferred to large collective farms and to peasants with little or no land. The formation of agricultural cooperatives is encouraged. The government has eased credit for the peasants and has supplied them with farm machinery, seeds, and fertilizer.

Agriculture. According to the 1961 census, 699,400 of Peru’s 843,000 farms were less than 5 hectares (ha); their total area was 1 million ha. In contrast, the country’s 2,100 largest farms (1,000 ha or more), belonging to Peruvian landowners or foreign companies, totaled 12.3 million ha, or about 70 percent of all agricultural land. More than 80 percent of the peasants own no land.

During the implementation of the agrarian and water-resources reforms between June 1969 and May 1974, more than 5.7 million ha belonging to landowners were expropriated (of which 4,280 ha were given to 175,000 peasant families), as well as almost 2 million head of cattle. Peasants have been forming cooperatives. Agroindustrial complexes, including the largest one, Casa Grande in Trujillo, have come under state control. The National System of Support for Social Mobilization (SINA-MOS) and other associations of peasants and farm laborers have played a major role in organizing the cooperatives, giving them financial and technical aid, training personnel, and drawing the peasants into political life. In regions inhabited by Indians, communal ownership of land has been preserved.

Some 2.3 percent of Peru’s territory is plowland or land under perennial crops, and 21.4 percent is occupied by meadows and pastures. The principal export crops are cotton and sugarcane, grown primarily in the costa, and coffee, raised on the eastern slopes of the Andes and in some valleys of the sierra. The basic food crops are wheat, grown in the sierra; rice; cultivated in the costa and selva; corn, raised chiefly in the sierra; barley; and potatoes. Peanuts and tobacco are also cultivated. (See Table 2 for the sown area and yield of the main crops.)

Table 2. Sown area and yield of principal crops
 Sown Area (hectares)Yield (tons)
1 Annual average
Sugarcane (raw) . .32,00053,000——496,000791,000914,000
Cotton (fiber) … .151,000248,000121,00076,000140,00065,000
Cacao .......15,0005,4004,0004,3002,5002,000
Rice (unhulled) . . .51,00080,000118,000191,000324,000427,000

Vegetable and melon growing, viticulture, and fruit growing are all well developed. Livestock raising is an important branch of the economy. The commercially important animals are sheep (17.3 million head in 1973), llamas and alpacas (more than 3.3 million), prized for their fine long fleece, and cattle (4.4 million).

Maritime fishing is a flourishing industry. With a fish catch of 10.6 million tons in 1971, chiefly anchovies, Peru is the world’s leading producer of fish. In 1972-73, the catch decreased by about two-thirds as a result of the migration of fish from Peruvian waters. Paita is the largest fishing port and the main center of fish processing for domestic consumption. The fish resources of the rivers in the Amazon Basin have been little exploited. Peru’s whaling industry took 1,896 whales in 1971-72.

Industry. Copper, silver, lead, zinc, and iron ore account for about 95 percent of the metals mined in Peru (1968). Manganese, antimony, tungsten, vanadium, molybdenum, bismuth, mercury, and gold are also mined. The principal mining regions are in the central sierra and the southwestern costa. The largest worked deposit of nonferrous metals is Cerro de Pasco, containing chiefly zinc and lead, but also copper, silver, and bismuth. The copper mines at Toquepala are important. Most of the gold is mined in the departments of Cajamarca, Junín, and Cuzco; 1,781 kg were produced in 1973. The largest iron-one mines are at Marcona near the port of San Nicolás. Petroleum is extracted from deposits in the northern costa and in the selva. There are guano deposits on the Lobos de Tierra, Chincha, and other islands; 38,000 tons were obtained in 1972. In 1975 a large complex for mining phosphorites was being built near Bayovar in the Piura Department. (For data on mineral production see Table 3.)

Table 3. Production of principal minerals (tons)
1 By metal content 2 1971 3 Estimate
Lead1 ...................99,200149,200192,000
Bismuth ............7002
Iron ore1..................760,00034,975,0006,800,000

In 1971 the installed capacity of Peru’s electric power plants was 1,797 megawatts (MW). About two-thirds of the 6.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity produced in 1972 were generated by hydroelectric power plants. The largest hydroelectric power plants are Mantaro (342 MW) and Huinco (258 MW). Coal mines in the departments of Pasco, Cajamarca, and La Libertad produced 200,000 tons in 1972.

The leading processing industry is fish processing, primarily the production of fish meal; 1.9 million tons were produced in 1972, chiefly from anchovies. There are approximately 130 plants producing fish meal, of which 30 percent is manufactured in Chimbote. The principal seaports for exporting fish meal are Chimbote, Callao, and Puerto Supe. Nonferrous metals are smelted at Ilo and La Oroya and ferrous metals at Chimbote, which has a full-cycle plant. There are oil refineries at Talara and elsewhere. Other industries include paper-and-pulp manufacture, food processing, the production of textiles, chemicals, and building-materials, shipbuilding, and automotive assembly. Approximately 70 percent of the output of manufacturing is produced in Lima and Callao.

Transportation. In 1971, Peru had 2,500 km of railroad tracks and 47,200 km of roads, including 4,700 km of paved roads and 7,900 km with improved surfaces. In 1972 there were 352,900 motor vehicles, including 231,700 passenger cars. There is local shipping on the Amazon and its tributaries and on Lake Titicaca. Peru’s merchant marine totaled 446,000 gross registered tons in 1972. Almost all foreign-trade cargo is carried on Peruvian and foreign ocean-going ships. The principal seaports (with their cargo turnovers in millions of tons in 1970) are San Nicolás (10.7), Callao (3.9), Talara (2.8), and Chimbote (1.3). The state-owned airline Aeroperu, organized in May 1973, carries cargo on domestic and international flights.

Foreign trade. In 1973, Peru’s exports totaled $1.119 billion and its imports $1.029 billion. The chief exports are ores and metals (47 percent of the value of exports in 1972), fish and fish products (30 percent), sugar (8 percent), cotton (5 percent), coffee (5 percent), wool, and petroleum. Imports include raw materials and semifinished goods (56 percent of the value of imports), machinery, equipment, and building materials (30 percent), and consumer goods (14 percent). Peru’s principal trading partners are the USA (accounting for 33.2 percent of its exports and 30 percent of its imports in 1972), the Federal Republic of Germany (11.2 and 11.9 percent, respectively), Japan (13.9 and 7.7 percent), and the Latin-American countries (7.8 and 16 percent). Peru has also developed trade, economic, and cultural ties with the USSR and other socialist countries. Agreements concluded between Peru and the USSR provide for technical cooperation and assistance in drawing up plans for the Olmos Hydroelectric and Irrigation Complex, which will transport water from the tributaries of the Marañón River from the eastern to the western slopes of the Andes and irrigate land in the north. Other agreements between the two countries provide for assistance in studying the hydroelectric resources of the Ucayali and Huallaga rivers and for technical cooperation in planning and building a fishing and fish-processing center in Paita. The USSR sells Peru metal-cutting machine tools, printing equipment, and electric measuring apparatus, and it buys from Peru sugar, coffee, bismuth, lead, cotton, hides, and other goods. The monetary unit is the sol. In July 1974, 38.7 soles equaled US $1.

Economic regions. Peru has three economic regions—the costa, the sierra, and the selva. The costa, or coastal region, is the most highly developed. Its economic activities include sugarcane and cotton production, livestock raising, and suburban truck farming around Lima and other major cities. Also in the costa are most of the country’s manufacturing enterprises, as well as oil fields and iron ore and copper mines. The economy of the sierra, or mountain region, rests on pasture livestock raising, supplementary agriculture, a mining industry, and crafts. The selva, a poorly developed region, has scattered areas of tropical farming, livestock raising, petroleum extraction, and lumbering.


Dolinin, A. A., and L. I. Doroshkevich. Peru. Moscow, 1964.
Romero, E. Geografia economica del Perú, 5th ed. Lima, 1966.


The armed forces consist of an army, an air force, and a navy. The commander in chief is the president, and the troops are directly supervised by the ministers of the various branches of the armed forces. The army is recruited on the basis of conscription, although there are also volunteers. The draft age is 18, and the term of active military service is one or two years. Officers are trained at academies and military colleges and schools. The country is divided into five military districts. In early 1973 the armed forces totaled more than 54,000 men, excluding the republic and civil guards, numbering 22,000 men. The army of more than 39,000 men is divided into nine brigades, several separate battalions, and units of engineering and other specialized troops. The air force of about 7,000 men is composed of groups and is equipped with some 200 aircraft, including more than 100 combat planes. The navy of about 8,000 men has more than 40 combat ships, including four diesel submarines, three cruisers, five destroyers, and two corvettes. There are naval bases at Callao, Moliendo, and Chimbote. All weapons and armaments are of foreign manufacture.

Medicine and public health. According to statistics provided by the World Health Organization, the average annual birth rate between 1965 and 1970 was 41.8 per 1,000 inhabitants, and the mortality rate was 8.3 (1969). The infant mortality rate in 1970 was 72.2 per 1,000 live births.

Infectious diseases predominate. Tuberculosis (all types), typhus and paratyphoid, dysentery, and various children’s infections have been recorded. Plague and yellow fever are also encountered. About 95 percent of the population has been vaccinated against smallpox since a program to eradicate the disease was launched in 1970. Echinococcosis has appeared in 21 departments. Brucellosis is a serious problem, chiefly in the departments of Lima and lca and in the province of Callao. Leprosy is endemic in the department of Loreto. Diphyllobothriasis is encountered along the northern coast, the only place the disease occurs in the southern hemisphere. Malaria is prevalent in the Amazon Basin and in the Andes. Endemic goiter is found in the mountain regions.

Peru has a mixed system of health care: medical services are provided by state institutions and by various public and private organizations, such as the facilities available to the armed forces and the National Social Insurance Service. In 1972 there were more than 300 hospitals with 31,200 beds (about 2.1 per 1,000 inhabitants), of which 5,300 beds were in private institutions. In 1968 outpatient care was provided by 255 polyclinics, nine dispensaries, and 976 medical and hygiene stations serving primarily the rural population. A laboratory has been established to study public health problems. In 1971 the country had about 8,000 physicians (roughly one for every 2,000 inhabitants), 2,800 dentists, 2,000 pharmacists, and about 15,000 medical assistants. Medical personnel are trained at seven medical schools, three dental schools, and various schools for medical assistants.


Veterinary services. Infectious animal diseases, including some extremely serious ones, are widespread. Cattle, goats, and sometimes horses and pigs suffer from anthrax, and tuberculosis occurs among all farm animals. Brucellosis has been discovered in cattle, sheep, and goats, and rabies is widespread among dogs. Especially dangerous are foot-and-mouth disease (virus types A, O, and C), found among sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, llamas, and wild animals; hog cholera; and Newcastle disease among poultry. Pasteurellosis and salmonellosis have been recorded among all farm animals, and blackleg occurs among cattle. Common parasitic diseases include helminthiases (cysticercosis, echinococcosis, nematodiasis, and taeniasis), demodicidosis, anaplasmosis, babesiasis, coccidiosis, histomoniasis, toxoplasmosis, trichomoniasis, trypanosomiasis, and filariasis. Veterinary services are not available in all parts of Peru. Problems of diagnosing animal diseases are studied at the National Center for Animal Pathology in Lima. As of 1973, Peru had 534 veterinarians.


Prior to 1972 Peru’s education system consisted of compulsory six-year primary schools that admitted children at the age of six, general secondary schools, called colleges, and evening schools and education centers. The colleges offered a five-year course of instruction, divided into two cycles of three and two years; in the second cycle students could specialize in the humanities, natural sciences, or business. Vocational education was provided by technical, agrucultural, and business colleges with a five-year curriculum, open to graduates of primary schools. During the 1970 school year about 2.7 million pupils were enrolled in primary schools and 547,300 in general secondary schools. Some 112,700 students attended vocational schools.

Higher education is provided by universities, higher schools, and institutes. About one-third of the universities are private, and all the institutions of higher learning charge tuition. The leading universities are administered by the state: the National University of San Marcos (founded in 1551) in Lima, the National University of Engineering (1955) in Lima, and the National University of San Agustín (1828) in Arequipa. During the 1970 academic year the institutions of higher learning had an enrollment of 124,700 students.

The educational reforms initiated in 1972 are democratic and meet the needs of the country’s social and economic development. A new education system is being introduced, consisting of preschools for children under six years of age; a compulsory and free nine-year basic school (three cycles), which along with a general education must provide vocational training and prepare the pupils for jobs; and institutions of higher learning. The schools are expected to teach both Spanish and the major Indian languages.

In 1973 a campaign was launched to eradicate illiteracy among adults, 23 percent of whom were illiterate. Some 1,500 teachers and more than 10,000 volunteers are taking part in the campaign. Evening schools and courses for eliminating illiteracy have been organized, as well as on-the-job instruction in basic vocational skills.

The largest libraries are in Lima: the National Library (founded in 1821, with more than 506,000 volumes and 167,000 manuscripts), the Library of the National University of San Marcos (400,000 volumes), and the Library of the National University of Engineering (156,000 volumes). Among outstanding museums are the National Historical Museum (founded in 1921), the National Museum of Peruvian Culture (1946), the Anthropological and Archaeological Museum (1938), and the Javier Prado Natural History Museum.


The first scientific institutions were organized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The most important were the National Academy of Medicine (1884), the Peruvian Academy of Languages (1887), the Lima Geographical Society (1888), the Peruvian Historical Institute (1905), and the Magnetic Observatory (1919). In research the emphasis was on the humanities and certain natural sciences. Applied research in industry and agriculture has developed only since World War II, when the present system of scientific institutions was established. The National Council for Scientific and Technological Research was formed in 1969. The government supervises research and development projects. In 1970 more than 300 million soles, or 0.14 percent of the gross national product, were spent on research and development. About 80 percent of the cost was borne by the government.

In the early 1970’s Peru had about 100 research organizations, employing more than 850 researchers and engineers, excluding specialists in the humanities. Among government research institutions are the Higher Institute of Nuclear Energy under the Atomic Energy Control Committee (1955), the Peruvian Marine Institute (1960), the Geophysical Institute with its five observatories, the Geology and Mining Service (organized in 1967 out of scientific institutions operating since 1950), the Agricultural Research and Advancement Service (1927) with several agricultural stations, and the Institute of Military Geography. The leading university research institutions are the scientific centers at the National University of San Marcos (ten research institutes), at the National University of Engineering (15 research institutes), and at the Agricultural University (two research institutes and agricultural stations). Funds from industrial companies were used in 1970 to establish the decentralized Institute of Industrial and Technological Research and Engineering Standards. Among private research institutions are the industrial laboratories of large enterprises, a biological station in the high Andes, more than 30 learned societies, and five academies, notably the Academy of Exact, Physical, and Natural Sciences (1939) and the National Academy of Medicine.

The leading research institutes in the social sciences are the Institute of Peruvian and American Art (1943), the Peruvian Institute of Indian Affairs (1947), the Institute of Ethnological Studies (1949), attached to the National Museum of Peruvian Culture, the Institute of Peruvian Studies (1964), with its institutes of social research and applied economics, and the National Institute of Culture (1965). Peru is a member of about 20 international and regional research organizations, and it maintains scientific ties with many countries, including the USSR.

In 1977 some 40 daily newspapers with a circulation of 2 million were published in Peru. The most influential of Peru’s dailies are published in Lima. They include El Peruano, published since 1825, a government newspaper with a circulation of 75,000; El Comercio, appearing since 1839, with a circulation of 90,000; La Prensa, founded in 1903, with a circulation of more than 98,000; La Crónica, published since 1912, with a circulation of about 230,000; Ultima Hora, published since 1950, with a circulation of 130,000; Expreso, founded in 1961, with a circulation of 110,000; Correo-Nueva Era, founded in 1963 and called Correo prior to December 1970, with a circulation of 140,000; and Ojo, published since 1968, with a circulation of 180,000. The weekly Unidad, published since 1956, is the organ of the Peruvian Communist Party. A law adopted in July 1974 placed all press organs under the control of public organizations.

There are some 200 radio stations. The government company, Radio Nacional, founded in 1937, operates five radio stations. The largest companies are Radio América and Radio Panamericana. Television was inaugurated in 1958, and at present a government station and three commercial companies are in operation.


Peruvian literature has developed for the most part in Spanish. The Quechua and Aymará Indians have preserved their folklore. The most important pre-colonial literary work is the Quechua folk drama Ollantay (published 1853), a major contribution to world literature. Notable works of the colonial period, which lasted from the 16th to the early 19th century, include the chronicles of P. Cieza de Leon (1518-60) and F. H. Poma de Ayala (1526-1613?) and the Royal Commentaries of the Incas (1609-17) by the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (c. 1539-c. 1616), the principal source for the ancient history and culture of Peru. During the 17th and 18th centuries courtly, religious-philosophical, and Enlightenment poems and prose works were written by D. de Ojeda (1571-1615), J. Espinosa Medrano (1632?-88), P. de Peralta Barnuevo (1663-1743), and P. A. de Olavide (1725-1802), all of whom followed Spanish stylistic and ideological traditions. Life in colonial Lima was depicted in the satirical verse, narrative poems, and plays of J. del Valle y Caviedes (1653?—died after 1692), who wrote in the language of the common people. Anti-Spanish sentiments are reflected in the folklore of the colonial period. M. Melgar (1791-1815) blended the traditions of Spanish written poetry and Indian folklore.

During the first years of Peru’s independence, proclaimed in 1821, literature reflected the struggle between conservative and liberal ideas. The foremost conservative writer was the satirist and playwright F. Pardo y Aliaga (1806-68). M. A. Segura (1805-71), who wrote comedies of manners and founded the national theater, denounced the Peruvian military clique and vestiges of colonialism. His best-known plays are Pepa, first published in 1953, and Ña Catita, staged in 1845. Peruvian writers turned to romanticism in the late 1840’s. The poems of C. A. Salaverry (1830-90), J. A. Márquez (1832-1903), and C. Alt-haus (1835-81) dealt chiefly with personal themes. In prose romanticism found expression in the historical, political, and sentimental novels of J. A. Lavalle (1833-93), F. Casós (1828-81), and L. B. Cisneros (1837-1904). Romantic prose often contained costumbrista elements, which marked a transition to realism. N. Arestegui is known for his anticlerical novel of social protest Father Horán (1918). The most important writer of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was R. Palma (1833-1919), the author of Peruvian Traditions (12 series, 1872-1915).

Peru’s defeat by Chile in the war of 1879-83 stimulated the spread of liberal and revolutionary ideas, whose leading exponent was the poet and essayist M. González Prada (1848-1918). In his poetry collections Free Verses (published 1938) and Peruvian Ballads (published 1939) and in his books of essays Free Pages (1894) and Hours of Struggle (1908), González Prada denounced the aristocracy, Catholicism, and the bourgeoisie and championed the Indians, initiating the literary and ideological movement known as indigenismo. C. Matto de Turner (1854–1909) in her novel Birds Without a Nest (1889) showed the exploitation of the natives. Fettered by academic conventions, much of the poetry of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was mediocre. A notable exception, however, was the verse of the folk singer A. Gamarra (1857-1924). The modernista movement that arose at this time combined decadent tendencies and an excessive attention to form with an interest in the natural beauty and culture of Latin America. The most important modernista poet was J. S. Chocano (1875-1934), known for his collections Soul of America (1906) and Let There Be Light! (1908). The poet J. M. Eguren (1882-1942) was influenced by symbolism.

After World War I and the October 1917 Socialist Revolution in Russia, which gave impetus to left-wing activity, a literary revival occurred, associated with the journal Colónida (1916) and the work of the poet and prose writer A. Valdelomar (1888–1919). From about 1925 avant-garde poetry, most of it leftist, became popular. The leading avant-garde poets were J. Parra del Riego (1894-1925), A. Peralta (born 1899), A. Hidalgo (1897-1967), and M. Portal (born 1901). The social and literary thought of Peru and other Latin American countries was greatly influenced by the journal Amauta (1926-30), published by J. C. Mariátegui (1895-1930), the founder of the Peruvian Communist Party. During these years indigenismo was represented by the psychological novels of E. López Albújar (1872-1966) and the “exotic” prose of V. García Calderón (1886-1959). An Indian world view and an antibourgeois ideology infuse the work of the great Communist poet C. Vallejo (1892-1938), the author of the collections Black Heralds (1918), Trilce (1923), and Human Poems (published posthumously in 1939). Vallejo also wrote Tungsten (1931), the first Latin-American proletarian novel. A group of surrealist poets emerged in the 1930’s: X. Abril (born 1905), C. Moro (1904-56), and E. von West-phalen (born 1911). M. Adán (born 1908), Peru’s leading representative of “pure” poetry, was also attracted to surrealism.

During and after World War II indigenista writers produced novels of sharp social criticism. Among the best are Broad and Alien Is the World (1941) by C. Alegría (1909-67) and Deep Rivers (1958) and Blood of All Races (1964) by J. M. Arguedas. A radical literary group called People’s Poets was active from 1943 to 1948. Its most famous member was the communist writer G. Valcárcel (born 1921). During the 1950’s and 1960’s novels of social protest dealing with life in the cities were written by J. R. Ribeyro (born 1929), E. Congrains Martin (born 1932), and M. Vargas Llosa (born 1936), the author of The City and the Dogs (1963), an antimilitarist novel about young people, and the novel The Green House (1966).

Poetry has been dominated by surrealists, such as J. So-loguren (born 1922) and J. E. Eielson (born 1921), but revolutionary-democratic poets are gaining prominence. Foremost among them are W. Delgado (born 1927), A. Romualdo (born 1926), and J. G. Rose (born 1928). The most famous contemporary playwrights are J. Ríos (born 1914), E. Solari Swayne (born 1918), and S. Salazar Bondy (1924-65), who write historical, social, and philosophical plays. A collection of Bondy’s plays entitled Comedies and Bagatelles was published in 1967.


Mamontov, S. P. Ispanoiazychnaia literatura stran Latinskoi Ameriki v XX v. Moscow, 1972.
Sánchez, L. A. La literatura peruana, vols. 1-6. Buenos Aires [1950-51].
Tamayo Vargas, A. Literatura peruana [vols. 1-2]. Lima [1965].
Núñes, E. La literatura peruana en el siglo XX (1900-1965). Mexico City [1965].
Cástro Arenas, M. La novela peruana y la evolucion social. [Lima, 1965.]


The ancient culture of Peru, which extended to Bolivia and northern Chile, was the earliest and most advanced in South America. Pottery was known as early as the 12th century B.C. In the first millennium B.C. several cultures evolved along the Pacific coast (Paracas, Salinar) and in the highlands (Chavín de Huántar). Cultures reflecting an early class society arose in the first centuries A.D.—Nazca, Mochica, with its center at Moche, and Chimú, with Chan-Chan as its capital. In the 15th century these cultures were replaced by the culture of the Inca state, whose capital was Cuzco. The architecture of ancient Peru included cities with rectangular blocks divided by narrow streets, religious centers, fortresses, and necropolises. Among the various types of structures were palaces, temples, amphitheaters for religious ceremonies, “observatories” with sundials, burial towers, stepped pyramids, and man-made caves. Along the coast buildings were generally low, made of adobe, and decorated on the outside with reliefs and on the inside with wall paintings. Massive stone structures were built in the mountains. In Inca times the masonry became increasingly finished and regular, as may be seen from the fortresses at Macchu Picchu and Sacsahua-man.

Few large-scale artworks have survived, but artistic crafts, especially ceramics, are richly represented, including monochrome vessels with stylized reliefs or incised designs from the Chavín culture, figured and painted vases from the Paracas culture, vessels from the Nazca culture with polychrome decorative painting, and ceramics from the Mochica culture, including vases with fine linear designs and strikingly realistic vessels in the shape of humans or animals. Some Mochica head jars are clearly portraits. Fabrics made of wool or cotton (including pile and embroidered tapestries), as well as featherwork articles, were colorful and richly decorated in the Paracas and Nazca cultures. Among artifacts that have survived are gold and silver figurines, masks, vases, and ornaments from the Mochica, Chimú, and Inca cultures.

During the 16th century the development of Peru’s ancient culture was interrupted by the colonial conquest. Nevertheless, Peru’s art continued to be the most highly developed in South America. Several distinct artistic schools arose in the Viceroyalty of Peru owing to the differences between the regions and their isolation from each other. These schools were strongly influenced by the ancient art of Peru, especially in architectural decoration. During the second half of the 16th century and the first half of the 17th, new cities were laid out on a grid pattern, and churches and town houses with inner courtyards were built. The churches had brick Gothic vaults or artesonado wooden ceilings and plateresque portals. The cathedrals in Lima and Cuzco were modeled on Spanish late Gothic cathedrals.

The second half of the 17th and the 18th century saw the flowering of the Peruvian baroque, characterized by a uniformity of technique and combining simple ground plans and solid, precise volumes with intricate and fanciful carving on the building’s surface. On the coast, in Lima and Trujillo, buildings were made of adobe or pisé bricks and had lightweight earthquake-resistant vaulting. The buildings were plastered and painted with bright colors, and their stucco portals and wooden balconies were decorated with carved, often curvilinear designs. Interiors and courtyards were adorned with tiles. The stone architecture of the highlands (Cuzco, Arequipa, Cajamarca) was more massive and static. Its rich carved decoration blended motifs from European art with depictions of local flora and fauna and figures from Indian mythology (mestizo style).

In painting and sculpture, European mannerism was introduced by the sculptor and painter B. Bitti (late 16th century), and the baroque style was imitated by the painter A. Medoro and the sculptor P. de Noguera (first half of the 17th century). There also developed an indigenous mestizo style—the two-dimensional decorative painting of the Cuzco school, which produced genre scenes, portraits, and landscapes with depictions of the saints. The Indian J. T. Tuyri Tupac was an important 17th-century sculptor who tended toward realism.

Nineteenth-century architecture was dominated by French classicism, with Italian eclecticism becoming popular in the 1870’s. The neocolonial style that emerged in the early 20th century was an attempt to revive national traditions. Its leading representatives—R. Marquina and C. Sahut—eclectically decorated buildings with Peruvian baroque motifs. The neo-Peruvian style of the 1920’s, best represented by the architects M. Piqueras Cotolí and E. Harth-Terré, combined the modeling and laconism of ancient Peruvian architecture with the functionalism of small modern apartment houses. Introduced in the late 1930’s, contemporary architecture became the dominant style in the mid-20th century. High-rise administrative and office buildings have been built, along with comfortable hotels, apartment houses, schools, and modern housing developments. Peru’s leading architects are M. Bianco, S. Agurto Calvo, E. Seoane Ros, and L. Miro Quesada Garland. Several cities, including Lima and the resort town of Ancón, are gradually being modernized. In most cities and villages, however, traditional houses of adobe and stone continue to be built.

In the early 19th century J. Gil de Castro painted formal, somewhat popularized portraits of the heroes of the struggle for American independence. European academic painting influenced I. Merino, who painted historical scenes, F. Lazo, who depicted the life of the Indians, the portraitist C. Baca Flor, and D. Hernández, who worked in many genres. Pancho Fierro, a representative of costumbrismo, depicted everyday life in Peru lovingly and with a sense of folk humor. In the 20th century Peruvian painting was revitalized by the indigenista painters of the 1920’s, who opposed both academicism and modernism, believing that art should portray the life of the common people and revive national traditions. The leading indigenistas were J. Sabogal, J. Codesido, C. Bias, and J. Vinatea Reinoso. These tendencies may also be seen in the sculpture of C. Saco and I. Pozo and, to some extent, in the murals of Apurimak, C. Quispez Asín, and J. M. Ugarte Eléspuru. The daily life of Indian peasants was sensitively rendered by the self-taught Indian artist M. Urteaga. Cubism and expressionism have gained a considerable following (R. Grau, S. Gutiérrez), as well as abstract art (F. de Szyszlo, J. Piqueras, and A. Dávila). The sculptor J. Roca Rey was influenced by H. Moore. Indian and Spanish traditions are fused in folk art. Traditional crafts include ponchos with geometric designs, ceramic vessels, grotesque statuettes, figurines of bulls, maté vessels made of gourds on which designs have been burned, and wooden kero vessels with colorful incrustations.


Polevoi, V. M. Iskusstvo stran Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1967.
Kirichenko, E. I. Tri veka iskusstva Latinskoi Ameriki. Moscow, 1972.
Wethey, H. E. Colonial Architecture and Sculpture in Peru. Cambridge, Mass., 1949.
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Anton, F. Alt-Peru und seine Kunst [2nd ed.]. Leipzig, 1972.

The ancient Incas had a highly developed musical culture. Based on pentatonic scales, their music was divided into religious, military, courtly, and folk music. There were also distinct genres, including hymns (haylli), historical songs (taqui), elegaic songs (huanca), lyric songs (harawi), and dances (huaiño, cachua, caruyo). Musical instruments included the percussion group (huancar and tinya drums) and various wind instruments, among them panpipes (sico, or antara), flutes (quena, pinkillo, tarka, and anata), and horns (erque, aykhori). This musical culture was inherited virtually unchanged by the Quechua and Aymará Indians. During the period of Spanish domination, there developed a hybrid “mestizo” music, in which the ancient Indian melodic lines and rhythms were modified under the influence of Spanish music. Peruvian Creole folk music is clearly derived from Spanish music of the 16th to 18th centuries. Song and dance genres include the yaraví, triste, zamacueca, marinera, tondero, zajuriana, and refalosa. The most popular musical instruments are the harp and the guitar and its native variant the charango.

Throughout the colonial period professional composers devoted themselves almost exclusively to sacred music (G. F. Hidalgo, E. de la Serna, and A. Carrasco). The first major secular composer was J. B. Alzedo, who wrote the national anthem in 1821. Among other notable 19th-century composers were J. M. Valle-Riestra, who wrote the first national opera, Ollantay (1900); O. Polar; and D. Oyle. Noteworthy composers of the early 20th century were M. Aguirre, L. Duncker Lavalle, R. Bracesco, F. Urquieta, D. Alomias Robles, and P. Chávez Aguilar. During the first half of the 20th century a Peruvian school of composition emerged. Its leading representatives were T. Valcárcel, A. Sás Orchassal, and C. Sánchez Malaga, who turned for inspiration to national folk music. The work of the foremost Peruvian composers of the early 1970’s—R. Holz-mann, E. Iturriaga, J. Malsio, C. Garrido-Lecca, E. Pinilla, and E. Valcárcel—is marked by aesthetic and stylistic diversity. Several of these composers have been influenced by modern music. The Quechua A. Guevara Ochoa has continued the national traditions, rooted in Indian folk music.

The center of musical life is Lima, the home of the National Conservatory and the Municipal Theater. Also in Lima are the National Symphony Orchestra and several instrumental and choral groups. There are regional music schools in Arequipa, Trujillo, Cuzco, Piura, Huánuco, and Ayacucho.


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Stevenson, R. The Music of Peru: Aboriginal and Viceroyal Epochs. Washington, D.C. 1960.
Stevenson, R. Music in Aztec and Inca Territory. Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1968.


Prior to the Spanish conquest, particularly after the formation of the Inca state, theatrical art was well developed. There were several types of theatrical presentations, accompanied by music and choral singing. Ollantay, a remarkable play in the Quechua language, was banned from the stage in the 18th century. The first plays to be performed in the colonial period were religious dramas, called autos, and tragedies; later, comedies by Spanish authors were introduced. The first secular play was staged in 1548. During the 17th century the companies headed by J. Lelio and G. del Rio became famous for their performances in Cuzco. In 1680 the Principal Theater was built in Lima. During the second half of the 17th and the 18th centuries, the playwrights J. Espinosa Medrano and P. de Peralta Barnuevo and the actress M. Villegas made an important contribution to the theater. Important 19th-century playwrights were M. Moncloa y Covar-rubias and F. Pardo y Aliaga. The prominent Peruvian actors T. Miranda and E. Perez performed in the comedies of the 19th-century playwright M. A. Segura, staged at the Coliseo de Comedia, the Comedia Nacional, and the Principal Theater.

Since the late 1940’s playwrights and directors have stressed patriotism, social consciousness, and innovation. University and other amateur and semiprofessional dramatic groups have been proliferating. Theatrical festivals were held in various cities in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Among the most frequently staged plays today are those of the Peruvian playwrights J. Ríos, S. Salazar Bondy, B. Roca Rey, E. Solari Swayne, J. Ortega, J. Gonzalo, V. Zavala, and A. Alegria. Most of the country’s theaters are in Lima, including the M. A. Segura Theater, La Cabaña, and the Company of the Association of Amateur Actors. The best-known performers are L. Arrieta, A. Puro, E. Zamorano, P. Andreu, E. Travesi, J. Velásquez, L. Irurita, and D. Paredes. The National Institute for Dramatic Arts in Lima trains actors and directors.


The first Peruvian motion pictures were made in 1913, but a national cinematography did not develop until the mid-1930’s, when the first motion-picture company was organized in Lima. Peruvian cinema has become famous through the films of the director A. Robles Godoy, whose No Stars in the Jungle won a prize at the 1967 International Film Festival in Moscow. Among his other fine films are The Green Wall (1969) and Mirage (1973). The documentary films made by J. Huaco, C. Villanueva, E. Ni-shijama, and M. Chambi reveal the acute social problems among the Indians.

The leading film stars are O. Montesco, J. Montoro, J. Mojica, E. Godoy, L. Alvarez, I. Quiroz, G. Marin, L. Valdez, S. Riva, and R. Martin. In 1972 three feature films were released, and 450 motion-picture theaters were in operation. The most popular film magazine is Hablemos de cine.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Official name: Republic of Peru

Capital city: Lima

 Internet country code: .pe

 Flag description: Three equal vertical bands of red (hoist side), white, and red with the coat of arms centered in the white band; the coat of arms features a shield bearing a vicuna, cinchona tree (the source of quinine), and a yel­low cornucopia spilling out gold coins, all framed by a green wreath

National anthem: lyrics by Jose de la Torre Ugarte, music by Jose Bernardo Alcedo

Geographical description: Western South America, border­ing the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador

Total area: 496,225 sq. mi. (1,285,220 sq. km.)

Climate: Varies from tropical in east to dry desert in west; temperate to frigid in Andes

Nationality: noun: Peruvian(s); adjective: Peruvian

Population: 28,674,757 (July 2007 CIA est.)

Ethnic groups: Amerindian 45%, Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 37%, European 15%, African, Japanese, Chinese, and other 3%

Languages spoken: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, and a large number of Amazonian languages

Religions: Roman Catholic 81%, Seventh Day Adventist 1.4%, other Christian 0.7%, other 0.6%, unspecified or none 16.3%

Legal Holidays:

All Saints' DayNov 1
Battle of AngamosOct 8
Christmas DayDec 25
EasterApr 24, 2011; Apr 8, 2012; Mar 31, 2013; Apr 20, 2014; Apr 5, 2015; Mar 27, 2016; Apr 16, 2017; Apr 1, 2018; Apr 21, 2019; Apr 12, 2020; Apr 4, 2021; Apr 17, 2022; Apr 9, 2023
Good FridayApr 22, 2011; Apr 6, 2012; Mar 29, 2013; Apr 18, 2014; Apr 3, 2015; Mar 25, 2016; Apr 14, 2017; Mar 30, 2018; Apr 19, 2019; Apr 10, 2020; Apr 2, 2021; Apr 15, 2022; Apr 7, 2023
Holy ThursdayApr 21, 2011; Apr 5, 2012; Mar 28, 2013; Apr 17, 2014; Apr 2, 2015; Mar 24, 2016; Apr 13, 2017; Mar 29, 2018; Apr 18, 2019; Apr 9, 2020; Apr 1, 2021; Apr 14, 2022; Apr 6, 2023
Immaculate ConceptionDec 8
Labor DayMay 1
New Year's DayJan 1
St. Rose of Lima DayAug 30
Sts. Peter and Paul DayJun 29
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.


a republic in W South America, on the Pacific: the centre of the great Inca Empire when conquered by the Spanish in 1532; gained independence in 1824 by defeating Spanish forces with armies led by San Martín and Bolívar; consists of a coastal desert, rising to the Andes; an important exporter of minerals and a major fishing nation. Official languages: Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara. Official religion: Roman Catholic. Currency: nuevo sol. Capital: Lima. Pop.: 27 567 000 (2004 est.). Area: 1 285 215 sq. km (496 222 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
For example, ITC's intervention in Peru has helped to strengthen institutions that provide trade-promotion services.
To further strengthen its democracy, reduce illegal coca cultivation, and promote socially inclusive market-based economic growth, Peru has committed to broaden economic opportunities and increase the state presence in areas susceptible to the influence and control of narco-traffickers, including the Apurimac, Ene and Montaro River Valley (VRAEM).
In the 44th minute, Peru was awarded a penalty and Guerrero ensured that the opportunity was not wasted as he easily found the net to make it 1-1.
Geological Survey (USGS), initial economic losses are estimated at less than 1% of Peru's gross domestic product.
Karmin Peru is a private closed corporation (a Sociedad Anonima Cerrada) existing under the laws of the Republic of Peru, and held 100% of Karmin's right, title and interest in the mining concessions that form part of, and are known as, the Cushuro Gold Project, located in the Province of Sanchez-Carrion within the Department of La Libertad, Peru.
A lot of citrus fruits, avocado, grapes and quinoa are already here, the envoy of Peru added.
Peru's quest to provide universal identification has led the government to scale the Amazon river on army boats, providing civil registry services to remote communities.
It also means tourists face issues in getting to Peru, especially UAE residents who prefer to fly direct with the country's major airlines."
"I need to thank the players for their great effort, and the fans, who were incredible and supported us all the way," Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said.
Hugo Lloris won his 100th cap Paul Pogba then had Pedro Gallese scrambling when his 25-yard effort bounced just wide and Griezmann combined with Olivier Giroud but his sharp volley was blocked by the Peru goalkeeper.
Denmark settled into the game after the interval and the talismanic Christian Eriksen provided Poulsen with a chance to turn his evening around in the 59th minute, and the 24-year-old made no mistake.Paolo Guerrero came on from the bench following a successful appeal to suspend his 14-month drug ban cleared him to feature, but he could not turn the game in Peru's favour.