Country profile: Peru
Peru is a potentially wealthy country with a rich and varied cultural and architectural heritage. Facing the Pacific, it is an important link between southeast Asia and Brazil. But Peru's development has been held back by endemic corruption and the failure of successive governments to address the problems of social and economic inequality.
Peru is rich in deposits of copper, silver, lead, zinc, oil and gold. It also enjoys spectacular and varied scenery, including Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake, and has a strong Inca and pre-Inca heritage, which includes the ancient Incan capital of Cuzco and the lost city of Machu Picchu.
However, Peru's more recent history has seen it switch between periods of democracy and military dictatorship. Also, the country is deeply divided politically and economically. A small elite of Spanish descent controls most of its wealth and political power, while the indigenous peoples are largely excluded from both and make up most of the estimated 30% of Peruvians who live below the poverty line.
Because of these problems, foreign investors have generally given Peru a wide berth. In addition, the preoccupation of successive governments with domestic power struggles has meant that the economy and infrastructure have been neglected, a fact which for years fuelled Peru's guerrilla insurgencies.
Despite the virtual destruction of the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru guerrilla groups, violence, in the form of murders, armed robberies and gang warfare, is still a problem, and Peru has yet to succeed in curtailing the production of coca.
Population: 27 million
Major languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
Major religion: Christianity
Form of government: Multi-party republic
Monetary unit: 1 nuevo sol = 100 centimos
Main exports: Fish and fish products, copper, zinc, gold, crude petroleum and by-products, lead, coffee, sugar, cotton
Internet domain: .pe
Time zone: GMT-5
International dialling code: +51
President (interim): Valentin Paniagua Corazao
Acting president: Valentin Paniagua
A former head of Congress, Valentin Paniagua became acting president in November 2000 after the Congress sacked President Alberto Fujimori on grounds of "moral incapacity".
In Peru, the presidency passes to the head of Congress if the president and his two vice-presidents are all unavailable or unfit to govern. Presidential and congressional elections are due in April 2001 and the new president will take up his post in July.
Widely respected as a moderate skilled in building consensus, Paniagua appointed as prime minister former United Nations Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar.
Prime Minister: Javier Perez de Cuellar,
Defence Minister: Walter Ledesma Rebaza,
Economics Minister: Javier Silva Ruete,
Foreign Minister: Javier Perez de Cuellar,
Interior Minister: Antonia Ketin Vidal
Peru's broadcast media are both private and government-owned.
Under the Alberto Fujimori presidency the state-owned media were strongly pro-government, and journalists with views at variance with the government's often faced harassment.
Furthermore, a number of journalists were imprisoned for defamation or for reporting "false news", while radio programmes were suspended and closed down for "insults".
El Comercio - Lima daily ,
Gestion - Lima daily ,
Ojo - Lima daily ,
El Bocon - Lima daily ,
La Republica - Lima daily ,
Correo de Arequipa - Arequipa daily ,
El Pueblo - independent Arequipa daily
Taken from the BBC website
Other Cool Sites and Portals
Centro Cultural Peru Virtual, at www.perucultural.org.pe
Cyberayllu, at www.andes.missouri.edu/andes/Ciberayllu.shtml
"Caleta" music zine, at caleta.virtualave.net
"Peru Azul" Surf Guide, at www.peruazul.com.pe