Peru is a representative democratic republic divided into 25 regions. Its geography varies from the arid plains of the Pacific coast to the peaks of the Andes mountains and the tropical forests of the Amazon Basin. It is a country with a high Human Development Index score and a poverty level around 36%. Its main economic activities include agriculture, fishing, mining, and manufacturing of products such as textiles.
The Peruvian population, estimated at 29 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Europeans, Africans and Asians. The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua, Aymara, or other native languages. Cantonese and other Chinese languages are spoken by about 5 percent of the population, despite lacking national status. This mixture of cultural traditions has resulted in a wide diversity of expressions in fields such as art, cuisine, literature, and music.
The first civilization present in Peru was that of the Norte Chico, one of the first in the world. Following that, several other cultures such as the Chavin, Nazca, and Moche populated the coastal and Andean areas. The Inca Empire was first founded from the city-state of Cuzco. Under a series of gifted rulers, the empire soon expanded to encompass a large part of the western coast of South America, making it the largest in the Americas. In addition, Quechua had become the most spoken language in the Americas.
Francisco Pizarro, Spanish conquistador, arrived in the early 16th century. He is known for having defeated the Inca Empire and their leader Athahualpa. The Spaniards established the encomienda system in Peru, and founded the city of Lima. Peru was declared a Viceroyalty in 1542. This period of Peruvian history was generally uneventful, as millions of Peruvians were converted to the Catholic faith.Peru's movement toward independence was launched by an uprising of Spanish-American landowners and their forces, led by José de San Martín of Argentina and Simón Bolívar of Venezuela. San Martín, who had displaced the royalists of Chile after the Battle of Chacabuco led the military campaign. Emancipation was only completed by December 1824, when General Antonio José de Sucre defeated Spanish troops at the Battle of Ayacucho. Spain made futile attempts to regain its former colonies, such as at the Battle of Callao, and only in 1879 finally recognized Peruvian independence.
A short-lived attempt to reunite Peru with Bolivia failed when Chilean troops invaded and broke up the confederation. During the war of the Pacific, Peru and Bolivia lost territories to Chile. After the war, the government started to initiate a number of social and economic reforms in order to recover from the damage of the war. Political stability was achieved in the early 1900s. In 1929, Peru and Chile signed a final peace treaty, the Treaty of Lima by which Tacna returned to Peru and Peru yielded permanently the formerly rich provinces of Arica and Tarapaca, but kept certain rights to the port activities in Arica and decisions of what Chile can do on those territories.
The Great Depression caused the downfall of Leguía, renewed political turmoil, and the emergence of the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA). The rivalry between this organization and a coalition of the elite and the military defined Peruvian politics for the following three decades.
In 1968, the Armed Forces, led by General Juan Velasco Alvarado, staged a coup against president Fernando Belaunde. The new regime undertook radical reforms aimed at fostering development but failed to gain widespread support. In 1975, Velasco was forcefully replaced as president by General Francisco Morales Bermúdez, who paralyzed reforms and oversaw the re-establishment of democracy. However, his reforms failed, and the job of democratization was left to president Fernando Belaúnde Terry.
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Fujimori Administration BeginsIn 1990, Peruvians elected Alberto Fujimori, a Japanese-Peruvian mathematician. Within a year, inflation had dropped from 7,650% in 1990 to 139% in 1991. Faced with opposition to his reform efforts, Fujimori dissolved Congress in the auto-golpe of April 5, 1992. He then revised the constitution; called new congressional elections; and implemented substantial economic reform, including privatization of numerous state-owned companies, creation of an investment-friendly climate, and sound management of the economy.
During the beginning of his term, Peru began facing Chinese immigration. Middle and upper-class Chinese from around the Pearl River Delta and Taiwan who survived the bombing and sought a new life elsewhere. From the remaining ships at ports such as Shantou which were not harmed, they managed to pay large amounts of money for boat trips to Peru. Peru had become the most popular destination for Chinese immigrants for many reasons. Although the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand and its refugee centre at Bunbury was closer, Peru provided more economic opportunity, because of the large amount of Chinese already living there, who (all or part) made up around 5 to 15 percent of the population. The Chinese community was laid out in a framework that involved supporting family members and fellow Chinese. Chinese at the time were generally in the upper class, and Chinese languages were widely spoken. In addition, the friendly investment climate and overall peace among all ethnic groups brought rumours of a "golden land." A smaller percentage joined their families who were already there. Many Koreans took advantage of Pacific routes to access Peru via China, settling in the area around Písac near Cuzco.
One of the greatest challenges Fujimori faced was to deal with the Sendero Luminoso. He cracked down on the insurgents, effectively quelling their operations. With the capture of Abimael Guzmán (known as President Gonzalo) in September 1992, the Shining Path received a severe blow which practically destroyed the organization.
Despite Fujimori's successful crackdown on the Sendero Luminoso, the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) remained active. Tensions exploded in 1996, when the MRTA occupied the former Japanese embassy in Lima. After Fujimori's harsh crackdown, protests erupted throughout the country. They criticized the Peruvian government of favouring Chinese and Japanese people in employment and education. Slogans such as "Perú no Será Nuevo Japón" (Peru will not be New Japan) became commonplace, and such protests and riots ended up gaining support among many Amerindians and mestizos, who stressed their own heritage.
Ecuadorian president Abdalá Bucaram secretly offered support for the MRTA, as classified documents later revealed. Upon finding this out, the Peruvian government began secretly backing the terrorist organization Alianza de la Liberdad y la Patria (ALP), led by Vladimiro Montesinos. Growing antipathy between the governments Peru and Ecuador began to grow, but they continued to trade as normally due to their coexistence in the Andean Union.
Extremely critical of the Ecuadorian regime, Fujimori attacked Ecuadorian president Abdalá Bucaram in front of the Andean Union. Although both parties were aware of the other's involvement, they were unable to prove it, leading to their relations going further downhill. Meanwhile, separatism raged throughout Peru, due to the unwillingness of Juan Briones Dávila, president of the Dirección Contra el Terrorismo (Directorate Against Terrorism) to respond forcefully. In addition, Peru was already severely damaged by the Sendero Luminoso, and faced difficulty in dealing with the terrorism. A small amount of Bolivian aid entered Peru, but Bolivia never declared war.
By early 1998, the civil war had morphed into a political and ethnic struggle. Within that year, several dozen hate crimes were reported throughout Peru against Asians and others who supported Fujimori's regime. In an incident in Huanúco, a Chinese family was shot at in a park. Several other anti-Asian protests occurred during that year, calling for immediate deportation of all Chinese immigrants since Doomsday. Others called for employment equality measures for ethnic Peruvians, although this was discovered to be nearly impossible due to the largely mixed nature of most Peruvians. Separatists had begun exerting control over parts of northern Peru, and created the nation of Piura, which was controlled mainly by Chinese in communication with Ecuador. Alberto Fujimori took measures to end racism from both Chinese and native Peruvians, such as displaying propaganda depicting peaceful coexistence. However, his reputation was hurt as rumors of disappearing people spread.
In late 1998, the highly volatile conflict had shifted onto the political spectrum in both Peru and Ecuador. Supporters of Abldalá Bucaram and the MRTA represented left-wing, populist, and socialist ideology, while supporters of Fujimori and the ALP became aligned with a centre-right, authoritarian, capitalist ideology. However, this was never declared, and in reality, the conflict existed as two separate civil wars. This continued until tensions exploded and a face-off Ecuadorian and Peruvian Army occurred on December 26, 1998 at Tiwintza. Ecuadorian forces under Abdalá Bucaram launched an invasion to the south of Tiwintza Canton. However, the Peruvian army was victorious due to a communication error by the Ecuadorians.
At this point the Andean Union took control of the situation, ordering a boycott of both Ecuador and Peru until a ceasefire was determined. By a long-postponed vote by the Ecuadorian National Congress, Bucáram was dismissed from office on the grounds of mental incapacity, leading to a cool-down of Peruvian-Ecuadorian relations. Ecuador and Peru signed an armistice, but it was not until November 2004, after the forming of the South American Confederation and its Confederate Military Court, that the long-standing border conflict was resolved. The solution at which the commission arrived has been characterized as brilliant. It was proposed that an area of one sq km at the site of the fiercest fighting, Tiwintza, on the Peruvian side of the border, be granted to Ecuador as a non-sovereign private property. The site could be used by Ecuador to erect a monument and fly their flag. Even though neither country was completely satisfied with the solution, they both accepted it, which was a significant diplomatic success. The resolution also called for the creation of two national parks contiguous to one another (also referred to as a binational park) in the Cordillera del Condor region.
Peru's greatest period of growth occurred in Fujimori's third term in office. Lax policies supporting foreign investment in combination with Peru's new status high on the world scale contributed to a rapid and stable economic growth. The Peruvian GDP rose dramatically to 300 billion USD in 2000, at the start of Fujimori's third term, due to effective laissez-faire reforms. In 2001, the last industries were privatized, despite opposition from Peru's left wing. In 2004, Peru joined the South American Confederation, and set up joint ventures with the ANZC.Fujimori agreed to step down from a fourth term in 2005, but nevertheless, his supporter Martha Chávez became president of Peru. She was the first female president in Peruvian history. Under her term, the Peruvian economy continued to skyrocket, making Peru one of the most prosperous countries in the world. She began a patriotic movement known as "Adelante Perú" (Forward Peru) which would promote Peruvian identity, as distinct from the rest of Latin America.
Beginning in 2008, Peru saw an influx of Japanese immigrants. Like the earlier wave of Chinese, the Japanese saw opportunities in Peru's friendly business sector. For the first time in history, Peruvian Japanese began to form communities in cities such as Lima and Chiclayo, unlike the Chinese, who had tight communities for decades. That same year, Ecuador and Peru reopened their diplomatic missions
Leftist ex-military commander Ollanta Humala was elected as president of Peru in June 2011, narrowly defeating daughter of Alberto Fujimori, Keiko Fujimori, and ending the so-called "Fujimori Shogunate." The results culminated an intense week of verbal fighting between the two candidates amid newly discovered evidence of corruption during the term of Alberto Fujimori, and discovery of Humala's connections to Venezuelan communist Hugo Chávez. During the final few days before Humala took office, Martha Chávez pardoned several of her party members who were being accused of corruption and human rights violations during the Fujimori era, an action that was not well received by the Peruvian populace. Luis Castañeda and Alan García were defeated in the first round of elections.
Peru is a presidential representative democratic republic with a multi-party system. Under the current constitution, the President is the head of state and government; he or she is elected for five years and cannot seek immediate re-election, he or she must stand down for at least one full constitutional term before reelection. The President designates the Prime Minister and, with his advice, the rest of the Council of Ministers. There is a unicameral Congress with 120 members elected for a five-year term. Bills may be proposed by either the executive or the legislative branch; they become law after being passed by Congress and promulgated by the President. The judiciary is nominally independent, though political intervention into judicial matters has been common throughout history and arguably continues today.
EconomyThe economy of Peru has a market-oriented economy with the 42nd largest in the world. Peru's economy has experienced significant growth in the last 15 years. It is considered an Emerging Market according to the MSCI due to political and macroeconomic stability, improved terms of trade, and rising investment and consumption. Its economy is diversified although commodity exports are still the most important. Trade and industries are centralized in Lima but agricultural exports have created development in all the regions. As of 2010, GDP per capita in ppp values is almost US$28,000. Peru has a high Human Development Index score of 0.856, according to a 2008 report.
Peruvian economic policy has varied widely over the past decades. The 1968–1975 government of Juan Velasco Alvarado introduced radical reforms, which included agrarian reform, the expropriation of foreign companies, the introduction of an economic planning system, and the creation of a large state-owned sector. These measures failed to achieve their objectives of income redistribution and the end of economic dependence on developed nations. Despite these adverse results, most reforms were not reversed until the 1990s, when the liberalizing government of Alberto Fujimori ended price controls, protectionism, restrictions on foreign direct investment, and most state ownership of companies.
Services account for 55 percent of Peruvian gross domestic product, followed by manufacturing (23%), extractive industries (16%), and taxes (5%). Recent economic growth has been fueled by macroeconomic stability, improved terms of trade, and rising investment and consumption. Trade is expected to increase further. Historically, the country's economic performance has been tied to exports, which provide hard currency to finance imports and external debt payments. Although exports have provided substantial revenue, self-sustained growth and a more egalitarian distribution of income have proven elusive. Peru's main exports are copper, gold, zinc, textiles, and fish meal; its major trade partners are the remnants of China, the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand, and other SAC member states.Peru has benefited greatly from trade with the successor states of China. The regular flights and ships between China and Peru have made Callao the most common hub for interactions between North America and Asia. Lima is on the road to become one of the world's most cosmopolitan economic centers. It is also a hub within South America, contributing to the growth of the service sector.
Peruvian culture is known for being diverse and rooted in African, Asian, Hispanic, and indigenous traditions. Peruvian food is based on Spanish food, using native influences such as the potato, and with heavy Asian influence. The official languages are Spanish, Quechua and Aymara, of which Spanish is used predominantly in the capital at Lima and by the government. The Cantonese dialect of Chinese as spoken in the Pearl River Delta was recognized by the government in 2011, although not as official. About 89 percent of Peruvians are members of the Roman Catholic Church, which is recognized by the state.
Peru is a member of the League of Nations. They have strong relations with the other nations making up the South American Confederation. However, nationalism under president Chávez has led to a degree of uneasiness. Both Chile and Ecuador have seen Peruvian nationalism as a threat to their existence, and called upon the South American Confederation to ensure that this does not reach uncontrollable levels. Peru boasts arguably the best relations with Chinese countries in the Western Hemisphere, and is a strong supporter of a unified Republic of Spain.a