Country Listing

Peru Table of Contents



Population: 22,767,543 in July 1992 with 2.0 percent growth rate; density, 17.8 persons per square kilometer. Projected population growth to 28 million by 2000 with annual growth rate of at least 2.1 percent. Population 70 percent urban in 1991.

Education and Literacy: Three-level, eleven-year educational system based on reforms made after the 1968 revolution. First preprimary level for children up to six years of age. Free, six-year primary education at second level (compulsory) for children between six and fifteen years of age. Five-year secondary education begins at age twelve. In 1990 primary school enrollment ratio 126 percent, but only 58.6 percent of school-age children attended school. Over 27,600 primary schools in 1988; over 5,400 secondary schools in 1990. In 1990 Peru had twenty-seven national and nineteen private universities, all government-regulated and recipients of public funding. Estimated 85 percent literacy rate in 1990 (male 92 percent, female 79 percent) age fifteen and over.

Health: Peru's health indicators poor, with annual public health expenditure per capita of US$18 in 1985-90. In 1992 birth rate 27 births per 1,000 population; infant mortality rate 69 per 1,000 live births; life expectancy 63 years male, 67 years female. Over 25 percent of urban residences and over 90 percent of rural residences lacked potable water and sewerage, resulting in high death rates from infectious diseases. The 1990-91 cholera epidemic ranked behind other more common diseases as cause of death (2,387 cholera deaths as of August 1991). In 1990-92 some 12 million Peruvians suffered extreme poverty. Malnutrition and starvation leading causes of illnesses. In 1991 about 1,200 children died weekly from malnutrition and extreme poverty, while 38 percent of the survivors suffered chronic malnutrition. Total of 21,800 physicians in 1989 (1 per 1,000 persons). In early 1992, abortion considered one of the prime health threats for Peruvian women. According to the Ministry of Public Health, 43 percent of all maternal hospitalizations in Peru resulted from botched abortions. Abortion illegal in Peru except in cases where the mother's life is in danger.

Religion: Predominantly (92.5 percent) Roman Catholic. Protestantism, including Mormonism growing rapidly among urban poor and some indigenous tribes, although accounting for only about 4.5 percent of Peruvians in 1990. Other denominations in 1990 included the Anglican Communion; the Methodist Church, with about 4,200 adherents; and the Bahai Faith.

Official language: Spanish.

Ethnic Groups: Unofficial estimates: Native American, 45 percent; mestizo (mixed native American and European ancestry), 37 percent; white, 15 percent; black, Asian, and other, 3 percent. Other estimates put native Americans as high as 52.5 percent (Quechua, 47.1 percent; Aymara, 5.4 percent).

Data as of September 1992