Peru & Columbia
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, but experienced economic problems and the growth of a violent insurgency.
President Alberto Fujimoris election in 1990 ushered in a decade that saw a dramatic turnaround in the economy and significant progress in curtailing guerrilla activity. Nevertheless, the president's increasing reliance on authoritarian measures and an economic slump in the late 1990s generated mounting dissatisfaction with his regime. Fujimori won reelection to a third term in the spring of 2000, but international pressure and corruption scandals led to his ouster by Congress in November of that year.
A caretaker government oversaw new elections in the spring of 2001, which ushered in Alejandro Toledo as the new head of government. Peru, the largest in area in the Andean countries, was the cradle of the most advanced indigenous civilizations and most powerful empire in pre-Columbian South America-that of the Incas. Peru was also the focus of Spanish colonial domination for its first two hundred years of rule.
What remained of pre-Columbian America with regard to people, culture, and settlements is perhaps better represented in Peru than in any other country. The country has a 2,400 kilometer (1,500 miles) long coast on the Pacific Ocean and borders Colombia and Ecuador in the north, Brazil and Bolivia on the east, and Chile on the south. It is the only country that borders all the other Andean states.
Area: 1,285,216 sq. km (496,225 sq. mi.)
Capital City: Lima
Gross National Product per capita: $ 1,470 (1987 estimate)
Currency unit: Nuevo Sol
Population: 22,332,000 (1990 estimate)
Density: 40.7 persons/sq. mi. (1986 estimate)
Urban-rural population: 70.2 % urban, 29.8% rural
Natural increase: 2.5% (1985-1990)
Illiteracy rate: 15.2% (1985 estimate)
Highest point: 22,205 ft (Huascaran)
Main cities: Arequipa, Trujillo, Chicalyo, Cusco
National Holiday: Independence Day, 28-29 July
Colombia was one of the three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Ecuador and Venezuela). A 40-year insurgent campaign to overthrow the Colombian Government escalated during the 1990s, financed in part by funds from the drug trade. Although the violence is deadly and large swaths of the countryside are under guerrilla influence, the movement lacks the military strength or popular support necessary to overthrow the government.
An anti-insurgent army of paramilitaries has grown to be several thousand strong in recent years, challenging the insurgents for control of territory and illicit industries such as the drug trade and the government's ability to exert its dominion over rural areas. While Bogota steps up efforts to reassert government control throughout the country, neighboring countries worry about the violence spilling over their borders.
Official Name: Republic of Colombia
Largest Cities: Bogatã, Cali, Medellín, Barranquilla, Cartagena
Languages: Spanish (official)
Official Currency: Colombian Peso
Religions: Catholic (90%)
Land Area: 1,038,700 sq km (401,042 sq miles)
Highest Point: Cristobal Colón (5,797 meters)
South American Maps. Counries, Islands. http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/sa.htm. March 15, 2004.
CIA World Fact Book. http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/. March 12, 2004.
Created By: Colin M. & Patrick C.
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