Updated March 15, 2013
Fast Facts About Peru
- Official Name: Republic of Peru (República del Perú)
- Location: Western South America (Pacific Coast) -- see maps of Peru
- Flag: Vertical triband red-white-red (read more about the flag of Peru)
- Time Zone: The time in Peru is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time
- Population: 29,248,943
- Capital: Lima
- Major Cities: Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura, Iquitos, Cusco (read more about Peru's major cities)
- Total Area: 496,224 square miles (1,285,216 sq km)
- Bordering Countries: Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile
- Total Land Boundary: 4,636 miles (7,461 km)
- Coastline: 1,500 miles (2,414 km)
- Type of Government: Constitutional Republic
- Current President of Peru: Ollanta Humala
Geography and Climate of Peru
- Geographic Regions: There are three distinct geographic regions in Peru: the coastal plains (costa) to the west, the rugged highland region (sierra) running through the center of the country from north to south, and the lowland jungles (selva) to the east.
- Climate: Peru’s geography naturally leads to a varied climate. Much of the western coastal plain consists of dry deserts, while the Andean highlands range from temperate to frigid. The jungle regions of the east are tropical and humid, with distinct rainy seasons.
- Highest Point: Nevado Huascaran (22,205 feet), located in the Cordillera Blanca range of the Andes (read more about the highest mountains in Peru)
- Major Mountain Ranges: Andes
- Major Rivers: Amazon, Ucayali, Madre de Dios, Marañón
- Natural Hazards: Peru is subject to a number of natural hazards, including earthquakes, flooding, landslides and tsunamis. Mild volcanic activity occurs, but rarely poses a threat (the last eruptions were Sabancaya in 2003 and Ubinas in 2009).
- Natural Resources: The CIA World Factbook lists the following natural resources in Peru: copper, silver, gold, petroleum, timber, fish, iron ore, coal, phosphate, potash, hydropower, natural gas.
Peruvian Culture and Society
- Ethnic Groups: Amerindian 45%; mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 37%; white 15%; black, Japanese, Chinese and other 3%.
- Languages: Spanish (84.1%) and Quechua (13%) are the two most common languages of Peru. A large number of native languages exist, including Aymara (1.7%) and Ashaninka (0.3%).
- Religion: Most Peruvians are Roman Catholic (81.3%), with Evangelicalism accounting for much of the remainder (12.5%). Read more about religion in Peru.
- Life Expectancy: 72.47 years at birth, with females outliving males by about four years.
- Median Age: 26.2 years. Peru is a young nation: the USA has a median age of 36.9 years, with the UK at 40 years.
- Population Living in Urban Areas: 77%
- Gross National Income (per capita): US$4,700 (read about the minimum wage in Peru)
- Population Below Poverty Line: 31.3% in 2010, down from 44.5% in 2006 (data from The World Bank).
- Number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 11 (see list)
- Famous Peruvians: see list of famous people from Peru
Facts About Peru’s Economy
- Currency: Peruvian Nuevo Sol
- Economic Growth: Peru had one of the world’s fastest growing economies in 2011 (and the fastest in Latin America). Despite this growth, many Peruvians still live below the poverty line, especially in rural areas.
- Major Exports: Minerals (gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead); natural gas, crude petroleum and petroleum products; agricultural products (including coffee, asparagus and potatoes); fish products; textiles.
- Main Export Partners: United States, China, Japan, Canada
- Cocaine Production: Colombia, Peru and Bolivia are the three largest cocaine-producing countries in the world. In October 2011, Rodney Benson, the DEA’s Chief of Intelligence, announced that Peru had surpassed Colombia in potential pure cocaine production (read the full presentation: “US-Andean Security Operation”).
Transport in Peru
- Air: There are more than 230 airports in Peru, 58 of which have paved runways. Peru’s main domestic airlines (all of which are based at Lima’s Jorge Chávez International Airport) have regular scheduled flights to only 20 or so airports within the country.
- Land: Peru has about 63,931 miles (102,887 km) of roadways. Common forms of public transportation in Peru include buses (for long distance travel), minibuses, taxis and mototaxis. Peru’s train network is limited.
- River: In the Amazon region, roads give way to rivers. According to the CIA World Factbook, there are 5,343 miles (8,600 km) of navigable tributaries on the Amazon system and a further 129 miles (208 km) on Lake Titicaca. Major river ports are located in Iquitos, Pucallpa, and Yurimaguas.