Peru is situated on the west coast of South America, just 13 degrees below the equator. It has a population of 30 million people, 29.132 million in 2009. The country is 496,230 square miles in size, shy of the 663,267 square-mile State of Alaska, bigger than Texas (268,580 square miles) and California (163,695 square miles) combined. It’s the third largest South American country after Brazil and Argentina. And it vies bragging rights for Pisco Sours with Chile to the south.
Peru has both mineral-rich mountains and brimming sea life. It is the world’s fifth largest producer of gold and has one of the world’s largest copper and zinc mines. The ocean is chilled by the Humboldt Current. Peru is the world’s second largest fishing nation after China. Peru is the leading fish meal producer.
A third of all Peruvians cultivate crops, but arable land is only 3% of the land area. Fully 60% of the country’s land mass is made up of jungle regions, the headwaters of the Amazon. It has the fourth largest area of tropical forest in the world, after Brazil, Congo, and Indonesia.
Peru is home to 84 of the Earth’s 114 “life zones.” Ten percent of the world’s mammals are found in Peru, and 20% of the world’s birds with 1,816 specified. The country has 25,000 species of plants, 30% of which are found only in Peru. It is rich in butterflies and orchids, preserved by 71 parks, reserves, and sanctuaries.
Two-thirds of all Peruvians live along its dry 1,500 mile coastline, hemmed in by the soaring Andes mountain range. A third, or ten million, live in the capitol city of Lima. But 97% of the country’s fresh water flows east, away from its population centers, challenging urban planners.
Peru was the 93rd country to sign and ratify the Kyoto Protocol and is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). It signed in 1998, then ratified in 2002, as have 190 states and one supranational union (the European Union) of the world’s 196 countries.
Peru’s national commission on the environment, CONAM, prepared a climate action strategy in 2002. Concurrently, Peru is exploiting an 11 trillion cubic foot natural gas field discovered by Shell in 1986 in the southeastern Amazon jungle, electrifying the country, and advancing its infrastructure, taxing its climate commitment.