History of PeruPeru

When the Spanish landed in 1531, Peru's territory was the nucleus of the highly developed Inca civilization. Centered at Cuzco, the Inca Empire extended over a vast region from northern Ecuador to central Chile. In search of Inca wealth, the Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro, who arrived in the territory after the Incas had fought a debilitating civil war, conquered the weakened people. The Spanish had captured the Incan capital at Cuzco by 1533 and consolidated their control by 1542. Gold and silver from the Andes enriched the conquerors, and Peru became the principal source of Spanish wealth and power in South America.

Pizarro founded Lima in 1535. The viceroyalty established at Lima in 1542 initially had jurisdiction over all of South America except Portuguese Brazil. By the time of the wars of independence (1820-24), Lima had become the most distinguished and aristocratic colonial capital and the chief Spanish stronghold in America. Peru's independence movement was led by Jose de San Martin of Argentina and Simon Bolivar of Venezuela.


The president is popularly elected for a 5-year term, and the 1993 constitution permits one consecutive re-election. The first and second vice presidents also are popularly elected but have no constitutional functions unless the president is unable to discharge his duties. The principal executive body is the Council of Ministers, headed by a prime minister, all appointed by the president. All presidential decree laws or draft bills sent to Congress must be approved by the Council of Ministers. The legislative branch consists of a unicameral Congress of 120 members.

In addition to passing laws, Congress ratifies treaties, authorizes government loans, and approves the government budget. The president has the power to block legislation with which the executive branch does not agree. The judicial branch of government is headed by a 16-member Supreme Court seated in Lima. The Constitutional Tribunal interprets the constitution on matters of individual rights.

Superior courts in departmental capitals review appeals from decisions by lower courts. Courts of first instance are located in provincial capitals and are divided into civil, penal, and special chambers. The judiciary has created several temporary specialized courts, in an attempt to reduce the large backlog of cases pending final court action. In 1996 a Human Rights Ombudsman's office was created to address human rights issues.

Peru is divided into 24 departments and the constitutional province of Callao, the country's chief port, adjacent to Lima. The departments are subdivided into provinces, which are composed of districts. Authorities below the departmental level are elected.

President--Valentin PANIAGUA CorazaoFirst Vice President--none in interim governmentSecond Vice President--none in interim government MinistersPresident of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister)--Javier PEREZ DE CUELLARForeign Relations Minister--Javier PEREZ DE CUELLARDefense--Walter LEDESMAEconomy and Finance--Javier SILVA RueteInterior--Antonio KETIN VidalJustice--Diego GARCIA SayanEducation--Marcial RUBIO CorreaHealth--Eduardo PRETELL ZarateAgriculture--Carlos AMAT Y LEON Labor--Jaime ZAVALA CostaIndustry, Tourism, Integration and International Trade Negotiations--Juan INCHAUSTEGUI VargasTransportation and Communications--Luis ORTEGA NavarreteEnergy and Mines--Carlos HERRERA DescalziFisheries--Ludwig MEIERPromotion of Women and Human Development--Susana VILLARAN de la PuentePresidency--Emilio NAVARRO CastañedaAmbassador to the United States--Carlos ALZAMORAPermanent Representative to the United Nations--Jorge VALDEZ CarrilloAmbassador to the Organization of American States--Manuel RODRIGUEZ Cuadros Peru maintains an embassy in the United States at 1700 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel. 202-833-9860/67, consular section: 202-462-1084). Peru has consulates in New York; Paterson, NJ; Miami; Chicago; Houston; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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