Also See: Major Cities in Peru
Peru, officially the Republic of Peru, sits in western South America. The region has a long history of ancient cultures, including some of the oldest in the world, and finally achieved independence in 1821. Today, Peru's population is very multiethnic.
The current population of Peru in 2013 is estimated at 30,475,144, up from its 2007 census figure of 28.2 million.
Peru Population 2013
The law in Peru requires that the Government hold a census every ten years.
In total, there have been 11 censuses held in Peru since the first in 1836. Generally (see the next paragraph for the exception) the data collected is considered fairly reliable.
The last census in Peru was controversially held in 2007, just two years after the 2005 census. The census was officially held because of inaccuracies in the 2005 census, although many felt that the government's decision to re-run the survey was politically motivated. The decision to make everyone stay at home on the day of the census and for most businesses to close caused a great deal of anger, and was estimated to have cost the country up to $250 million.
If the law is upheld, the next census in Peru should be held by 2017 at the latest.
Based on the latest figures, Peru's 2013 population is estimated at 30,475,144. Its current population density is just 23 people per square kilometer (or 57/square mile), which makes it the 191st densely populated country.
Peru Population History
Peru's a very multiethnic country and it's population has been formed by various groups for more than 500 years. The area was inhabited by Amerindians for thousands of years prior to the Spanish Conquest in the 1500's, and their population decreased from 5 to 9 million in the beginning of the 16th century to just 600,000 one hundred years later due to infectious disease. Spaniards and Africans then moved into the area, mixing with each other and indigenous people of the region, with European immigration from Italy, Germany, Britain and France following behind. Peru freed its black slaves in 1854, then Chinese immigrants began moving into the region to replace the slave workers.
The last census in Peru that attempted to classify its population by ethnicity occurred in 1940, at which point 53% of the population was white or mestizo (white and Amerindian ancestry) with 46% Amerindian. The CIA World Factbook cites the majority of Peruvians as Amerindians, particularly Aymara and Quechua, followed by mestizo people.
In 2006, a survey from the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica e Informatica (INEI), Peruvians self-identified as mestizo (59.5%), Quechua (22.7%), Aymara (2.7%), Amazonian (1.8%), Black/Mulatto (1.6%), white (4.9%) and other (6.7%).
There are estimated to be 15 uncontacted Amerindian tribes in Peru as of 2013.
The further inland, the higher the density of the Amerindian population. The original Amerindian population was devastated by the arrival of colonists from Spain in the 1520s and dropped from an estimated 9 million in the 1520s to around 600,000 a century later. The catastrophe was caused by a mixture of smallpox, to which Amerindians had no natural immunity, war and the economic chaos that followed the collapse of Inca Empire.
Europeans are largely descendants of Spanish and Italian settlers, but following waves of settlers from other European nations also left their mark and there are many descendents of British, German and even Croatian colonists. The highest proportion of Europeans can be found in the northern highlands, in coastal areas and in Peru's major cities.
Asian Peruvian numbers are unclear – the source used in the box above gives figures of both 1% and 3% of the population. The bulk of Peru's Asian population is descended from Chinese and Japanese immigrants. Notably, Alberto Fujimori, Peru’s scandal hit President from 1990 to 2000 was of Japanese descent.
Afro-Peruvians make up around 1-2% of the population and are largely descended from slaves transported to Peru in the 18th and 19th centuries. Like the descendants of European colonists, Afro-Peruvians are largely concentrated in the coastal cities.
Language in Peru
Although Spanish is the official language of Peru, used nationwide, indigenous languages also have official status in areas where they are widely used. Quechua is used widely, particularly in Eastern Peru, and is therefore often quoted as Peru’s second official language. In effect the number of official languages has been limited to two for many years. However, recently Aymara was made an official language in the Puno region in South Eastern Peru.
As well as the official languages listed above, around 150 other indigenous languages are known to be spoken in Peru today (although the exact number cannot be determined as there are still a number of un-contacted or rarely contacted tribes in the country).
Today Spanish is spoken by more than 80% of Peruvians and Quechua by 16%. As it’s urban population increased in the second half of the twentieth century, Peru saw a steady shift towards speaking Spanish. Recently, though, an increased effort has been made to promote the teaching and usage of indigenous languages, so it is possible they will see a resurgence in use.
Largest Cities in Peru
The largest city in Peru is its capital city, Lima. It is home to more than a quarter of Peruvians and the country's largest city by far with a population of more than 8 million.
The city of Lima proper is, according to the 2007 census, home to 7,605,742 people. This makes it the 22nd largest city in the world, equivalent more or less to London.
Lima’s wider metropolitan area is home to 8,472,935 people, making it the sixth largest in South America. The only larger cities are Mexico City (Mexico, 22.6 million), Sao Paolo (Brazil, 20.5 million), Buenos Aires (Argentina, 14.5 million), Rio de Janiero (Brazil, 12.1 million) and Bogota (Columbia (8.5 million).
Peru Population Growth
After a very long period of decline in the country, with its population dropping steadily from the 1960's until just a few years ago, Peru is finally seeing positive growth. According to some estimates, Peru could sustain an average growth rate of 5.5% for 40 years and jump to the 26th most populous country from its current rank of 40th.
Peru is one of the 26 fastest growing countries, and its population is predicted to reach 42 million by 2050.