The latter brought real terror to Peru, notably in the 1980's-1990's when tens of thousands lost their lives in the country's war with communist Maoist rebels, among whom were the notorious Shining Path group.
With a long - and extremely arid - Pacific coastline, soaring Andean mountains, the world's highest navigable lake, and tropical landscapes in the eastern borders with Brazil and Colombia, Peru has equally varied natural resources, from fisheries to minerals. Many people rely on these industries for employment. Peru's economy has grown significantly in recent years, although over-reliance on minerals leaves it vulnerable to price fluctuations on the world market.
There is also a significant divide between rich and poor, with most wealth and power in the hands of a small elite of Spanish descent, and much poverty among Peru's own peoples, the indigenous Amerindians.
The drugs trade is also a major problem in Peru. The country is a key producer of coca, from which cocaine is produced. The UN has reported many children are employed picking coca crops in the north-east and south-east of the country.
Christians in Peru
With many of Peru's indigenous Amerindian peoples still following traditional ethnic religions, and the Roman Catholic Church (which holds a special place under the Constitution) in decline, there has been significant growth in Protestant denominations and movements in Peru in recent decades.
This growth came despite opposition from the the State at times. Relationships with the Roman Catholic Church have also sometimes been difficult. Resolution of these issues is a key need for all Christians in Peru in the future.