Peru is the third largest country in South America, after Brazil and Argentina.
The country is divided into three regions. The narrow coastal strip is a desert because of the trade winds. The mountainous region, the plateau between the eastern and western ranges of the Andes, is commonly referred to as the "roof of South America". The jungle to the east is in the headwaters of the Amazon and is accessible only by river and air.
Since 1960, Peru has averaged 6.9% annual economic growth, the highest of any South American nation. Its manufacturing, mining and fishing industries were booming.
About 46% of its inhabitants are Indians, 43% mestizo, and 11% white.
The northern desert regions are periodically affected by torrential rains. And the entire coast is prone to earthquakes.
The climate varies greatly with altitude. In the subtropical lowlands, the climate above 3,000 feet is temperate, and above 10,000 feet it is quite cold.
The Inca Empire controlled Peru and all the territories from Ecuador to Bolivia, parts of Chile, Colombia and Argentina for centuries before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. A colony of Spain for 300 years, Peru finally gained independence in 1824.
Peru, the world's third largest producer of silver, is also a major producer of copper, zinc, lead and iron. When it comes to fishing, Peru has no equal. The annual amount of fish caught in the 1970s in the Pacific, the Amazon and Lake Titicaca totalled 11 million tonnes. Among the varieties of fish that abound in the water are anchovies (for making fishmeal), bonito, tuna and mullet.