Find a Security Clearance Job!


Peru - People

Latin Americas fifth largest nation has historically been, and continues to be, divided along linguistic and class lines. Lima, the national capital, is the apex of the hierarchy and smaller settlements and rural areas are at its base.

Peru is an Andean country with poverty concentrated in rural areas. The total population for July 2008 was 29,180,900, and 30,444,999 (July 2015 est.) most of whom lived in urban areas. Overall life expectancy was estimated to be 70.4 years in 2008. The Peruvian population is multicultural and multiethnic, including Amerindians (45%), mestizo-mixed Amerindian and white (37%), white (15%), black, Japanese, Chinese, and other (3%). The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua or other native languages.

Peru's urban and coastal communities have benefited much more from recent economic growth than rural, Afro-Peruvian, indigenous, and poor populations of the Amazon and mountain regions. The poverty rate has dropped substantially during the last decade but remains stubbornly high at about 30% (more than 55% in rural areas). After remaining almost static for about a decade, Peru's malnutrition rate began falling in 2005, when the government introduced a coordinated strategy focusing on hygiene, sanitation, and clean water. School enrollment has improved, but achievement scores reflect ongoing problems with educational quality. Many poor children temporarily or permanently drop out of school to help support their families. About a quarter to a third of Peruvian children aged 6 to 14 work, often putting in long hours at hazardous mining or construction sites.

Peru was a country of immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but has become a country of emigration in the last few decades. Beginning in the 19th century, Peru brought in Asian contract laborers mainly to work on coastal plantations. Populations of Chinese and Japanese descent - among the largest in Latin America - are economically and culturally influential in Peru today.

In the late lgth and early 20th centuries, expanding agriculture in Latin America attracted surplus skilled farm labor from Japan; by 1923 almost 20,000 ]apanese had settled in peru alone. During the 1930's, economic depression in Japan and restricted immigration to the United Statesa drew more Japanese to Latin America.

The Peruvian Japanese formed ethnic business associations and social organizations and, although some Japanese married Peruvians and the typicar family joined the Roman Catholic church, many kept a love of Japan, nursed feelings of cultural superiority and sent their children to Japan for formal education. In Peru, most Japanese immigrants steadfastly refused Peruvian citizenship. This history fueled peruvian resentment against them; economic competition, including fears of Japanese farmers and merchants monopolizing fertile land and some service industries, aggravated prejudice. Peru severely restricted Japanese immigration in 1936 and followed up by restricting the right to citizenship of some Peruvian Japanese, including Kibei. In 1940, when about 26,000 Japanese lived in Peru, including 9,000 Nisei, riots broke out. Japanese businesses were destroyed and homes ransacked, and restrictive laws muzzled the Japanese press.

Peruvian emigration began rising in the 1980s due to an economic crisis and a violent internal conflict, but outflows have stabilized in the last few years as economic conditions have improved. Nonetheless, more than 2 million Peruvians emigrated in the decade 2005-2015, principally to the US, Spain, and Argentina.

The history of the Peruvian people dates back to as early as 10,000 BC and the oldest complex civilization, Norte Chico, flourished along the coast of the Pacific between 3000 and 1800 BC. Later cultures emerged including the Cipisnique, Chimu, Wari, Chavin, Paracas, Mochica, Nazca as well as the Incas who in the 15th Century formed the most powerful empire in Pre-Columbian America.

A large part of Peru's complicated modern social system started with the hierarchical principles set down in colonial times. They remain as powerful guidelines for intergroup and interpersonal behavior. Peru's ethnic composition, however, is mixed. In the early 1990s, Europeans of various background made up 15 percent of the population, Asians from Japan and China and Africans formed 3 percent, the mestizo population constituted 37 percent, and the native Americans made up 45 percent, according to various United States and British reference sources.

The ingrained attitudes and stereotypes held by the mistikuna (the Quechua term for mestizo people) toward the runakuna (native peoplethe Quechua term for themselves) in most highland towns have led to a variety of discriminatory behaviors, from mocking references to "brute" or "savage" to obliging native Americans to step aside, sit in the back of vehicles, and in general humble themselves in the presence of persons of higher status. The pattern of ethnoracist denigration has continued despite all of the protests and reports, official policies, and compelling accounts of discrimination described in Peruvian novels published since the beginning of the twentieth century.

Although a thing of the past, the numbing effects of four centuries of peonage on Peruvian society should not be underestimated. One archetypical Andean estate operated at Vicos, Ancash Department, from 1594 to 1952, before it became part of Peru's first landreform experiment. The 17,000-hectare estate and the landlord's interests were managed by a local administrator, who employed a group of straw bosses, each commanding a sector of the property and directing the work and lives of the 1,700 peons (colonos) attached to the estate by debt.

Dressed in unique homespun woolen clothing that identified them as vicosinos (residents of Vicos), each colono family lived in a house it built but did not own. Rather, it owed the estate three days of labor per week, and more if demanded, in exchange for a small subsistence plot and limited rights to graze animals on the puna. Grazing privileges were paid for by dividing the newborn animals each year equally between colono and landlord. For the work, a symbolic wage (temple) of twenty centavos (about two cents in United States currency of the time) and a portion of coca and alcohol were given to each peon.

In addition, peons were obliged to provide other services on demand to the administrator and landlord, such as pasturing their animals, serving as maids and servants in their homes, running errands of all types, and providing all manner of labor from house construction to the repair of roads. The landlord might also rent his peons to others and pay no wage.

The riberefios of Peru have been called the "forgotten Amazonians." Considering their demographic predominance in the lowland Peruvian Amazon, and the importance of their environmental knowledge of a greatly varied area, the paucity of studies of these non-tribal peoples is surprising. When they have been noticed, riberefios have often been mistaken for recent immigrants and have been erroneously labelled colonists. Most riberefios are the descendants of detribalized natives and of immigrants who arrived in the Amazonian lowlands of Peru in generations past, many during the great rubber boom of the turn of the century. Many riberefio communities are located within the floodplain of the Amazon River or its major tributaries and their agricultural activities include the farming of seasonally inundated lands. A great many riberefio villages also make use of terra firme areas, that is, lands that stand above the river's flood.

Population Control

The Peruvian health system is split between public and private provision with significant barriers (economic, geographical, cultural, etc) which restrict access to health services. Approximately, 20% of the population has access to the Peruvian Social Security System (EsSalud); 12% has access to private services; and 3% has access to health care services provided by the Armed Forces and the National Peruvian Police. Overall, approximately 65% of the population access public services (MINSA) and an estimated 25% of the population had no access to health care.

Peru is a heavily Roman Catholic country with one of the lowest per capita incomes in the Western Hemisphere. Its population density is also relatively low. Until 1995, the family planning program operated by the Government of Peru was not a particularly high priority among that government's health programs. Sterilization was illegal except when necessary to preserve health.

In July 1995 President Fujimori announced that family planning would be a major priority for the government. Shortly thereafter, the Congress legalized sterilization as a method of family planning. In spring and summer of 1996 government health workers began to conduct sterilization campaigns, often styled ''ligation fairs'' and, to a lesser extent, ''vasectomy fairs'', primarily in areas that were poor and/or rural.

When the Peruvian Congress (1995) approved Voluntary Surgical Contraception (VSC) as a contraceptive method, the Ministry of Health (MOH) recalculated the number of surgical interventions it would have to perform to fulfill the unmet need for sterilizations. Meeting this need became the Program's central objective and more than 71,000 were performed in 1996 and almost 97,000 in 1997, mainly through VSC campaigns ("jornadas").

Reports began to appear shortly thereafter of sterilizations without consent or without informed consent. These reports came from the Catholic Church, from human rights organizations, from feminist groups, and eventually from the government's own ombudsman. Complaints of coercion exerted by providers eager to sterilize emerged, some deaths were attributed to VSC; religious, feminist, and human-rights groups intervened, and the crisis exploded in the Peruvian and international media.

Human rights organizations estimated that 300,000 women were subjected to forced sterilization during that period. In March 1998 Peru's Ministry of Health (MOH) introduced changes in its service delivery strategy. Quantitative contraceptive method targets/quotas were eliminated and Voluntary Surgical Contraception (VSC) campaigns forbidden.

Tubal ligations and vasectomies have been a legal method of contraception in Peru only since September 1995. Previously surgical contraception was allowed only in cases where a woman's health would be in danger from an additional pregnancy. After legalization, the Peruvian Government moved to respond to what it perceived would be a pent-up demand for access to tubal ligation and vasectomies.

Perus demographic profile reflects dramatic declines in fertility and mortality since the mid-1970s. The countrys crude birth rate has been reduced by over one-fourth of its 1975 level; its crude death rate, by half. As a result, Perus population is increasingly concentrated in the labor force age range (ages 15 to 64). During the two decades 2000-2020, the ratio of dependent-age population1 to working age population would decrease by over one-fifth of its 1998 level.

Within the country, regional and urban-rural variations in fertility and mortality are pronounced. Demographic variations reflect disparities in wealth, resources, and availability of government services. Access to maternal health care and family planning services, like other health care services, is significantly better for urban than for rural couples.

The fertility decline central to Perus demographic transition has been made possible by an increase in the use of family planning and a shift to more effective methods of contraception. Contraceptive prevalence has risen from about 41 percent of married women in the late 1970s to 46 percent in 1986 and to 64 percent in 1996. Adoption of more efficient, modern methods of contraception since 1986 accounts for nearly all of this increase.

Join the mailing list