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Peru, officially the Republic of Peru, is a country in western South America.  It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.

Peruvian territory was home to the Norte Chico civilization, one of the oldest in the world, and to the Inca Empire, the largest state in Pre-Columbian America.  The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century and established a Vice Royalty, which included most of its South American colonies.  After achieving independence in 1821, Peru has undergone periods of political unrest and fiscal crisis as well as periods of stability and economic upswing. 

The 1980s were a particularly difficult period of time.  Peru faced a considerable external debt, ever-growing inflation, a surge in drug trafficking, and massive political violence.  Some 70,000 people died during the conflict between state forces and the Maoist Shining Path guerrillas.  In the 1990s under the Fujimori Presidency, the country saw a dramatic turnaround in the economy and significant progress in curtailing guerrilla activity.  Nevertheless, Fujimori's increasing reliance on authoritarian measures and an economic slump in the late 1990s generated mounting dissatisfaction with his regime, which led to his resignation in 2000 after controversial elections.  Since the end of the Fujimori regime, Peru has tried to fight corruption while sustaining economic growth.

Peru is a representative democratic republic divided into 25 regions.  Its geography varies from the arid plains of the Pacific coast to the peaks of the Andes mountains and the tropical forests of the Amazon Basin.  The Peruvian population, estimated at 29.5 million, is multi-ethnic, including Amerindians, Europeans, Africans and Asians.  The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua or other native languages.  This mixture of cultural traditions has resulted in a wide diversity of expressions in fields such as art, literature and music.

The economy of Peru is the 42nd largest in the world.  Services account for 53% of Peruvian gross domestic product, followed by manufacturing, and extractive industries.  Recent economic growth has been fueled by macroeconomic stability, improved terms of trade, and rising investment and consumption,  Trade is expected to increase further after the implementation of a free trade agreement with the United States.  Historically, the country's economic performance has been tied to exports.  It's main exports are copper, gold, zinc, textiles and fish meal; its major trade partners are the United States, China, Brazil and Chile.


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