Country of the World Peru

About the country Peru, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Peru occupies the southern portion of the "bulge" on the west coast of South America. A land of truly striking geographical contrasts, Peru's coastal desert strip terminates abruptly in the great mountain range of the Andes, which divides the country in half from north to south. East of the Andes is the montana, a moist, low-lying region which slopes gently eastward into true Amazon lowland. The montana covers about half of Peru's entire territory. The Andes are at their most spectacular in Peru, with 20,000-ft. peaks and high, windswept plateaus. The altiplano of the southern Peruvian Andes is the largest single such plateau--a high, cold, barren region about 5,000 sq. mi. in area, inhabited by Indians who farm potatoes and herd Ilamas as their ancestors have done for generations. Other mountain valleys, notably the Mantaro River valley in south central Peru, are most hospitable and fertile. Northeastern Peru, drained by the upper Amazon River, is true jungle--hot, steamy, and lush.

Size: 496,225 sq. mi. (1,285,216 sq. km.), the third-largest country in South America.

Population: About 17 million.

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 the military, which took control in 1968, following disenchantment with the civilian government's ability to handle a nationalization crisis.

Who REALLY Rules: The military is the single most powerful and important sector in present-day Peru. The oligarchy (Peru's "Forty Families") has taken second place.

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