Peru: Location, History, Size, Population, & Government

About the location, size, population, and government of the country Peru.



Location--West coast of South America. Neighbors are: Ecuador and Colombia to the north; Brazil and Bolivia to the east; Chile to the south.

How Created-Originally the center of the Incan Empire, which stretched along the coast from Colombia to southern Chile, and then the seat of Spanish power in colonial South America, Peru achieved independence in 1824. Border disputes with Chile over Peru's southern deserts led to loss of territory in the War of the Pacific (1879-1883). In 1942 Peru gained half of the territory of Ecuador, including oil-rich Amazon lands.

Size--496,225 sq. mi. (1,285,216 sq. km.).

Population-Over 15 million: Indian (mainly Quechua and Aymara), 46%; mestizo, 43%; Caucasian (mostly Spanish), 10%; Chinese and black, 1%. 99.3% Roman Catholic.

Who Rules-Peru is technically a republic, whose 1933 constitution provides for a President and bicameral legislature. At present, the Government is in the hands of a military junta, which took power in 1968 following disenchantment with the civilian Government's inability to handle a nationalization crisis.

Who REALLY Rules--Until recently, 3 foreign companies (Cerro Corporation, International Petroleum, and W. R. Grace & Co.) in conjunction with a tiny elite (the "40 families") held virtually all the power in Peru. Since the military take-over of 1968, all 3 of these companies have been nationalized, and the traditional oligarchy, while still present in the life of the country, holds 2nd place to the military.

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