Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Peru a, a South American Republic, having Ecuador N., Chili S., Bolivia and Brazil E., and the Pacific Ocean on the W.. Much diminished by the war with Chili (1879-83), in which it lost territory and much of its valuable guano deposits, it now contains 463,000 square miles. The scenery is grand. The Andes run through the country, presenting a bare wall of rock to the sea, and on the western side only possessing vegetation along the course of scanty rivers. Among the lofty peaks is the almost extinct volcano of Arequipa. The two ranges of the Andes enclose the Sierra plateau, which is the most populous part of the country, and has a diversified surface culminating in the heights of Pasco (14,000 feet), and Cuzco, the city Cuzco being over 11,000 feet above sea-level. Beyond the Sierra is a forest region in which dwell many tribes of wild Indians. The chief river is the Maranon, with its tributaries the Huallaja and Ucayale, with a course of 400 miles, 100 miles of which is through a narrow defile, and 200 miles through a fertile upland valley, till it quits Peru. On it are rapids seven miles long. The great elevation of the Sierra plateau renders breathing difficult, but the whole district is rich in metals. In the river valleys quinoa, sugar, grain, and fruit are cultivated. The lakes are unimportant. The largest, Titicaca, is partly in Peru, partly in Bolivia, and on the plateau of Pasco are two lakes, in one of which the Maranon rises. Lima, with its port Callao, is the capital, other important towns being Arequipa, Cuzco, Puno, and Truxillo. Much of the country is of volcanic formation, and there are large deposits of salt, nitre, and nitrate of soda, especially in the parts ceded to Chili. Gold abounds in the neighbourhood of Truxillo and Lima, and much is found and washed secretly by the Indians. Silver is still more abundant, especially in the Cerro de Pasco and at Hualgayoc. It is computed that since the time of the first occupation by the Spaniards, silver to the value of nearly £3,000,000 has been extracted. Quicksilver, copper, iron, and lead are found, but difficulty of carriage is an obstacle to the successful working of them. Cinchona, coca, the vine, tobacco, sugar, cotton, and fruits are cultivated, and among the exports - two-thirds of which go to Great Britain - are gold and silver, cinchona, guano, nitre, alpaca, chinchilla skins, hides, and straw hats, while manufactured goods are imported. The climate of Peru has a great range. On the coast there is neither rain nor cloud, but the wet seasons send down much water from the uplands, and from this arises thick mists, while the cool currents from the sea and from the Andes temper the atmosphere, the temperature at Lima ranging from 60° to 82°. In the western rainless districts oranges and other fruits abound near the rivers, tropical plants in the mist-laden regions, and in the Sierra are pastures, and cereals are cultivated. The eastern part is tempered by moist equatorial winds and rain, the upper parts being clothed with forest, and the lower fertile valleys enjoying a delightful climate. Peru has suffered much at various times from earthquakes. The constitution is modelled on that of the United States. The army is small, and the navy has almost disappeared. The population is half Indian - the Quichuas in the N. and the Aymara in the S. The rest are Creoles and Mestizoes in equal proportion, and there are many Chinese coolies. The Quichuas speak the Peruvian language proper, and that, together with the dialects of the Ayraaras, represents the language of the Incas, when Peru had attained a high degree of civilisation, as the ruins and relics of that period show. In 1532 Pizarro conquered the Inca Atahualpa, and Spain ruled till the struggle for independence (1821-24). In 1836 Peru and Bolivia united, to separate again in 1839, since which time there have been constant turmoils. In 1879 Peru and Bolivia united against Chili, and were utterly worsted in 1883, Peru having to cede Tarapaca permanently and Tacna and Arica temporarily to Chili.