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
FUJIMORI's 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; his presidency has been hampered
by allegations of corruption.
Western South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and
Total Area: 1,285,220 sq km
Land Area: 1.28 million sq km
Comparative Area: slightly smaller than Alaska
Independence Day, 28 July (1821)
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