About Peru

Here’s some quick facts about Peru, readily available on Wikipedia (my primary source) but thought it would be handy to share some highlights here.

Click here to see a summary of our time in Peru.

Location and Geography: In South America, bordered by Ecuador to the north, Bolivia to the south-east, Chile to the south and Brazil to the east, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. 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.

Size:  1,285,216 km2  (just a little bigger than Ontario which is 1,076,395 km2)

Languages: The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua or other native languages.

Currency: Nuevo Sol (PEN).  Exchange rate on November 28, 2011:  1 PEN = -.38 CAN

$20 soles = ~$7.50 CAN

Population: Estimated at 29.5 million, the population is multiethnic including Amerindians, Europeans, Africans, and Asians.

Major cities in order of size (2011 population):

  1. Lima (Capital) – 6,321,173
  2. Arequipa – 619,156
  3. Trujillo – 509,312
  4. Chiclayo -379,520
  5. Piura – 277,964
  6. Iquitos – 274, 759
  7. Cusco – 255,568


  • Peru is a developing country with a market-oriented economy; its 2010 per capita income is estimated by the IMF at US$5,195 which equals about US$432 per month.
  • Its main economic activities include agriculture, fishing, mining, and manufacturing of products such as textiles.
  • Historically, the country’s economic performance has been tied to exports, which provide hard currency to finance imports and external debt payments. Although they have provided substantial revenue, self-sustained growth and a more egalitarian distribution of income have proven elusive.
  • Peru has a high Human Development Indexscore of 0.723 based on 2010 data.
  • According to 2010 data, 31.3% of its total population is poor, including 9.8% that is extremely poor.
Other interesting facts:
  • Peru is the fourth most populous country in South America.
  •  Literacy was estimated at 92.9% in 2007; this rate is lower in rural areas (80.3%) than in urban areas (96.3%).
  • Primary and secondary education are compulsory and free in public schools,
  • About 81% of the population describe themselves as Catholic. Only 2.9% of people identify themselves as ‘non-religious’.


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