Peru Geography, Population and Economy

By | December 21, 2021

Peru is a State of South America, bordered to the North with Ecuador and Colombia, to the East with Brazil and Bolivia, to the South with Chile ; to the West it is bathed by the Pacific for 2270 km.

Physical characteristics

The territory of Peru is stretched in a NW-SE direction, between the Pacific Ocean and the Amazon basin, and is divided into three natural regions. The coast is arid, from 150 km wide to the North to 50 to the South, alternating high and rocky stretches with sandy strips; about 40 irrigated oases open up there, at the mouth of the Andean valleys. The Sierra (Andes) is a succession of chains, divided by valleys and plateaus, produced by the overthrow of the South American plate on the oceanic one of Nazca ; at the limit between the two plates a deep ocean trench stretches, and frequent earthquakes are generated on the sliding surface. AN the Sierra is divided into the Western (Huascarán, 6768 m, maximum height of Peru), Central and Eastern Cordillera. AS the Western Cordillera still exceeds 5000 m, then widens into a plateau with isolated volcanoes (Coropuna, 6425 m; Ampato, 6312 m), the Eastern one fragments into several chains (Cerro Salcantay, 6271 m; Ausangate, 6384 m). Further to the South, the sinking basin of Lake Titicaca opens up. La Montaña, E of the Andes, extends into the Amazon basin.

The climatic picture of Peru is very complex. Aridity characterizes the coastal edge, while the eastern Andean side is humid. In Lima the average temperature is 18 ° C (25 ° C in February and 15 ° C in August); rainfall is irrelevant (20 mm per year). In the Andean section, the belt above 4800-5000 m has average temperatures below zero (−5 ° C); between 4800 and 3800 m, the averages do not differ from 4-8 ° C and the rainfall ranges from 150 to over 600 mm. The temperate bands, on the slopes, have average temperatures from 10 ° to 15 ° C. The warm belts, called yungas (“valleys”), below 2800 m, have average temperatures over 16 ° C and, on the humid Amazonian flank, rains over 1000 mm per year. The rainforest to E, below 500 m, it has constant conditions, with temperatures above 23 ° C and rainfall above 1500 mm.

The waters of about 3/4 of the surface of the Peru reach the Atlantic Ocean through the Amazon River, which has its spring branches in the country; the rest of the territory, excluding the 50,000 km 2of the endorheic basin of Lake Titicaca, flows into the Pacific. Main rivers are the Marañón, which originates from Lake Lauricocha and receives the Huallaga; and Ucayali, resulting from the union of Apurímac and Urubamba. The rivers that go to the Pacific are short, poor in water and torrential regime. The lakes, in the central-southern section of the country (Junín, Saracocha, etc.), are generally of glacial origin. The Titicaca, on the other hand, occupies a tectonic depression in the center of the plateau, at 3810 m.

The coastal region is partly desert and partly covered by xerophilous scrub; the western slopes of the Sierra are covered at the bottom by xerophilous scrubs, at the top by steppes strewn with shrubs, and then by the puna (high mountain prairie); the eastern slopes are covered by tropical mountain forest and below by equatorial forest. The fauna, neotropical, includes among the Mammals various species of Platyrrhine monkeys (Mycetes, Cebus etc.); many Bats; among the Carnivores, felines such as the ocelot, the jaguar etc. The ornate bear is found in the mountain areas. Characteristic of the Sierra are llamas, guanacos, vicuñas and alpacas. Rodents are well represented, including the dipper, the aguti and various species of mice. The Toothless are well represented, such as the common anteater and the tamandua. The avifauna is rich with flies, toucans, macaws, etc. In the coastal region there are numerous seabirds. Reptiles are present with many species of Sauri and Ophidians, as well as Amphibians including the nototrema. Among the Arthropods, Insects abound, especially Beetles, with characteristic species of Longicorns and Scarabs.


When the Spaniards arrived, the Peruvian territory had perhaps 7 million residents. Then there was a demographic collapse: the 1836 census found just 1,400,000 residents, which rose to 2 million in 1850 and 2.7 million in 1876. The subsequent census (1940) counted 7,023,000 people. Since then, the population has almost quadrupled: the decline in the average annual increase is due to natural movement (2009: birth rate 19.4 ‰; mortality 6.2 ‰, infant mortality 28.6 ‰). The average age is about 26 years and the life expectancy is about 70. The average density is 22.9 residents / km 2 and drops to 1-2 in some eastern departments; high densities are found in the coastal departments of Lambayeque and La Libertad (77 and 60 residents / km 2) and especially of Lima (225). There has been a progressive shift of residents from the Sierra towards the coast. The residents of the cities were less than 1 million in 1940, 3 million in 1960, about 19 in 2008 (71% of the total). The Lima-Callao agglomeration hosts one third (8.6 million) of the population; followed by Arequipa (783,000 residents), Trujillo (645,000), Chiclayo (495,000). The socio-economic situation is contradictory: the gross domestic product per resident is 8400 dollars (2008), but over 44% of the population lives below the poverty line and 12% are illiterate adults. The ethnic group of Quechua prevails (47%), followed by the team of mestizos (32%), the Creoles (12%) and the Aymará (5%).

Almost 90% of the population professes the Catholic religion; 7% are Protestant. For Peru 2011, please check

Economic conditions

The Spanish domination, and then that of foreign (North American) capital, and the alternation in power between the urban bourgeoisie (trade, mines) and landowners have bound the Peru to the role of supplier of raw materials. In the years of the military dictatorship (1968-80), the nationalization of the economy and the agrarian reform had positive results, but the subsequent stagnation, the high public debt and the consequent austerity policy pushed the restored civil governments to liquidate the indebted agricultural cooperatives., privatize the public sector, break down tariff barriers, liberalize imports. Years followed by a decline in real income, very high unemployment, a cut in social spending, an increase in tariffs, inflation and devaluations. At the end of the 1990s the situation had normalized and the gross domestic product had started growing again at high rates; but at the cost of a reduction in imports and consumption, a growing dependence on exports and further internal imbalances. The country is rich in resources valued according to export-oriented logics; general socio-economic development is manifested there as the eventual echo, and not as the aim, of political management.

Agriculture, using 3.3% of the surface, produces 8% of the gross domestic product and occupies 9% of the assets. On the Costa the main products are potatoes, rice, corn, cassava, vegetables, sugar cane (for local consumption), citrus fruits and tropical products (for export). Widespread is the (illegal) cultivation of coca. Forests (cedar, mahogany, rosewood etc.) occupy 51% of the surface. The breeding of sheep (about 15 million heads in 2006) and cattle (5 million), with the traditional one of llamas, alpacas and vicuñas, is practiced on a small scale to integrate the harvest of the land, as well as to obtain wool, leather etc. Fishing is important, for which Peru has been at the top of world production for decades (7 million t in 2006),

Copper (1 million t in 2006), of which Peru is the third largest producer in the world, fuels exports; oil production is down (3.9 million tonnes) and does not meet internal demand. There are considerable quantities of silver (first world producer) and gold, zinc (1.2 million t, third producer), tin (third producer), lead (fourth producer), iron (over 7 million t); rare materials are also extracted such as bismuth, antimony, molybdenum, vanadium, tungsten, selenium. Electricity production, half of which is hydroelectric, is being expanded, as is the enhancement of natural gas reserves. Industry occupies just 18% of the assets, contributing 26% to the formation of the gross domestic product. Aside from mining, related metallurgy and petroleum refining, the chemical, mechanical (shipbuilding, motor vehicle) and textile (cotton) sectors are developed; the rest processes agri-food products for internal consumption, except for the conservation and processing (flours) of fish. Oversized (73% of employees for 66% of gross domestic product) is the tertiary sector, largely a refuge sector for the disadvantaged urban classes. Tourism is important, with around 1.6 million visitors (2006).For some years, the trade balance has recorded a moderate export surplus.

The railways extend over just over 2000 km; the road network (just 79,000 km) is less than 15% asphalted; fluvio-lacustrine navigation is modest. The maritime fleet is also not very important, while internal air traffic is increasing (4.2 million passengers in 2006).

Peru Catholic religion