Peru

BRIEF HISTORY

Peru was once apart of the Incan Empire and later the major vice-royalty of Spanish South America. Bordering on Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, and the Pacific Ocean. Peru has a climate that varies from tropical in the Amazon jungle region in the east of the country to temperate on the coastline, with areas of arid desert in the west. The land has devastating effects of El Nino. The population 30.1 million (2014 estimate) consists of 45% indigenous peoples and about 37% mestizo; the remainder is white and of other ethnicities. More than 84% of the population professes Roman Catholicism. The capital of Peru is Lima.

ECONOMY

After Fujimori's economic reforms, Peru's economy rebounded into a position as one of South America's strongest; the World Bank boosted Peru's overall income ranking to "upper-middle class," and the number of people living in poverty dropped to between 25% and 30%. Much of the growth has been driven by foreign investment in mining some of Peru's rich deposits of copper, silver, lead, zinc, and gold. The United States, the U.K., and Spain are three of the country's top trading partners. Peru has long been one of the world's largest suppliers of coca (the base product of cocaine); an aggressive eradication program reduced the area of coca cultivation by 64% between 1996 and 2001, but since then cultivation has rebounded. A natural gas pipeline, with the potential to generate up to $6 billion in revenue over 30 years, came online in 2004.

COCA LEAF VENDORS

RELIGION

While a diversity of pantheistic and polytheistic religions were present in ancient Peru, one of the most powerful legacies of Spanish colonialism was the near-complete transformation of the nation's religion to Christianity—specifically, Catholicism. Most of what is known about Peru's pre-Spanish religious beliefs and practices comes from Spanish historical documents. Because of this, the historical record provides more information about the practices of the Inca and the Andean people living in Peru at the time of Spanish contact than about their predecessors. The degree to which Inca beliefs and practices adopted by the various people they ruled was highly variable, and it has been difficult for religious historians to differentiate between Incan and other Andean religions. The social relations of Andean people were often framed in terms of gender, as was their religion, which incorporated beliefs in the spiritual forces embodied in nature. Andean deities tended to be grouped into gender-distinct domains. For example, they contrasted the powers of the earth with those of the heavens. The powers of the earth were associated with such female deities such as Pachamama (the earth mother), who resembled her human counterparts and embodied procreative forces, with powers of the sky and mountains. The heavens were the domain of masculine gods who represented political forces. 

FOOD

Peruvian cuisine involves a variety of foods prepared according to long tradition. Common dishes include sopa a la criolla (a soup of beef, potatoes, and noodles), lomo saltado (strips of beef served with fried potatoes and fresh tomatoes and onions), and papas a la huancaina (potatoes served in a creamy cheese sauce with garlic and hot sauce). Anticuchos is a Peruvian specialty for which pieces of beef heart are prepared in a rich and savory marinade then grilled on skewers over an open flame. The long coastline of Peru has inspired its cooks to become experts on ceviche, the method of preparing fresh fish marinated in lemon juice, usually with red onion, the Peruvian chilies called rocotos, and sometimes avocado. Sea bass, octopus, shrimp, or salmon may all become ceviche, which is traditionally presented on a plate with a lettuce leaf, a slice of sweet potato, and a spoonful of white corn.

Citation

Political Map. Map. (2014). In World Geography: Understanding a Changing World. Retrieved November 1, 2014, from http://worldgeography.abc-clio.com/

Peru: Country Overview. (2014). In World Geography: Understanding a Changing World. Retrieved November 1, 2014, from http://worldgeography.abc-clio.com/

Coca leaf vendors. Photos/Illustrations. Corel. (2014). In World Geography: Understanding a Changing World. Retrieved November 1, 2014, from http://worldgeography.abc-clio.com/

Peru: Food and Holidays. (2014). In World Geography: Understanding a Changing World. Retrieved November 1, 2014, from http://worldgeography.abc-clio.com/

Baletti, Brenda. (2014). Peru: People. In World Geography: Understanding a Changing World. Retrieved November 1, 2014, from http://worldgeography.abc-clio.com/



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