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Peru
Facts
Area: 1.28 million sq km
Population: 29.2.million
Languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, Guarani
Religions: Christian
GNI per capita: US$3,990
Currency: 1nuevo sol = 100 centimos
 
Ancient Peru was the seat of several prominent Andean civilizations, most notably that of the Incas whose empire was captured by the Spanish conquistadors in 1533. Peruvian independence was declared in 1821, and remaining Spanish forces defeated in 1824. After a dozen years of military rule, Peru returned to democratic leadership in 1980. 
 
The Andes Mountains and the Amazon River are significant natural features of this region. The mountains create three distinct geographic areas within Peru. To the west of the Andes lie the coastal lowlands. To the east is the upper Amazon basin. In the middle are the Andean highlands or Sierra.
 
Peru's climate varies considerably by region, although January through March tends everywhere to be the wet season. The coastal areas, which are quite hot and humid during those months, are cooled during the rest of the year by La Garuùa.  
 
Peru is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, and its people have long suffered the effects of a struggling economy. Inflation has been as high as 8,000 percent in recent years and, at times, more than half of Peru’s work force has been unemployed or underemployed. The financial crisis has created hardships for residents.
 
Poverty is a serious problem afflicting half of all residents. Twenty percent of the families are extremely poor and do not have enough food to properly feed their children. Peruvians typically try to earn a living from mining, fishing, or agriculture—the key components of the nation’s economy.
 
Peru is one of South America's biggest producers of coca - the raw material for cocaine. The UN children's fund, UNICEF, has found that most of the pickers in the coca-growing areas in the north-east and south-east are children. 
 
Many families live without adequate sanitation or a source of safe water, and more than half of the population lacks access to health care services. 

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