Peru was once part of the great Incan Empire and later the major vice-royalty of Spanish South America. It was conquered in 1531–1533 by Francisco Pizarro.  On July 28, 1821, Peru proclaimed its independence, but the Spanish were not completely defeated until 1824.

Peru is a middle-income country with a growing gross domestic product. It ranks 77th out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Program’s 2012 Human Development Index – a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide.

It is estimated that more than 8 million people remain poor in Peru.  Poverty is deepest among people of indigenous origin living in remote rural areas. In fact, the national rural poverty rate is over 50 per cent, with 20 per cent of people in the Sierra region considered extremely poor.

Lack of opportunities for rural people has caused a massive migration to urban centers, where market activity offers greater livelihood options. Today, three out of four Peruvians reside in and around urban areas.

But while both urban and rural poverty affect Peru, food insecurity is chronic in rural regions, where many smallholder farmers produce basic food crops at a subsistence level. For this reason and others, people born in Lima can expect to live almost 20 years longer than those born in the southern highlands.

Rural poverty in Peru has its roots in:

  • High rates of illiteracy, particularly among women
  • Lack of essential services, such as education and electrical power
  • Insecure rights to land, forests and water
  • Inadequate agricultural research, training and financial services
  • Ineffective animal and plant health services
  • Poor transportation infrastructure and marketing systems
  • Lack of well-defined territorial organization and planning.

The poorest of the poor in Peru are in the arid Andean highlands, where a large majority of the indigenous Quechua and Aymara communities live below the poverty line.

Women are the worst affected. Most rural women are poor or extremely poor, even as they play a central role in the subsistence economy. Women work in agriculture, tend livestock and engage in income-generating activities, representing as much as 80 per cent of a family's labor force. Through these productive activities – along with traditional household tasks and child care – women make it possible for their husbands to migrate in search of temporary work. Source: IFAD

Peru's political development in the 20th century was characterized by parties reflecting the oligarch elements of Peruvian society. The military has been prominent throughout Peruvian history. Military coups have repeatedly interrupted civilian constitutional governments.   After a fierce run-off with Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori, Ollanta Humala was elected as President of Peru in 2011.

Promising the "poor and disenfranchised" Peruvians a fair share of the wealth from Peru's key natural resources and at the same time sympathizing with former president Juan Velasco, a left leaning Peruvian General, who nationalized various Peruvian industries the former Peruvian Army officer and head of the Peruvian Nationalist Party, Ollanta Humala spread joy amongst his followers and fear amongst national and foreign investors.

The day after the announcement of his victory the Lima Stock Exchange dropped dramatically, but stabilized in the following weeks when it became clear that changes would be moderate and that Humala would respect investor's rights, the rule of law and the Peruvian Constitution.

With a 2015 per capita GNI of US$ 6,820, Peru is now classified as an upper middle economy; however, income inequality remains high.  Moreover, over 7 million people (22.7 percent of the population) live in poverty, and more than a million (4.3 percent) in extreme poverty which is most prevalent in rural communities.  

Women make up the majority of the population living in extreme poverty, with as many as 30.4% of women not having access to personal income. Women who do have access to personal income make 30% less per month than their male counterparts.  In the districts Piura, Cajamarca and La Libertad in the north-west, and in Apurímac in the southern central region, extreme poverty affects as many as 25.7 percent - more than three times the national average. 

In the last two or three years, large-scale mining projects have begun production and have increased private and public investment in infrastructure projects.  Looking ahead, major challenges will include achieving more sustainable economic growth and further strengthening linkages between growth and equity.  To this end, the country must take into account the segment of the population that could fall back into poverty as a result of economic fluctuations, which would reverse the progress made over the past decade. 

Message from Our CHOICE Director, Wilmer Vicente Cruz LaMadrid

My name is Wilmer. I was born in a small town named Cerro Mocho of humble and hard-working parents who grew rice. My mother taught me the value of work and study. She always said, “STUDY TO GET A BETTER FUTURE THAN OURS.” Read More

History of CHOICE in Peru

The history of CHOICE Humanitarian and its work in Peru has its beginning on September 15, 2010. This was the date Feed the World/the Institute for Self-Reliant Agriculture (ISRA) was established in Peru. The Institute for Self-Reliant Agriculture began under the direction of Percy Hawkes.  Mr. Hawkes came from the United States and became the first Director in Peru.  He started projects in Cura Mori and New Hope, where they worked with 30 and 12 families respectively. Read More

Meet our staff in Peru

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# of villagers impacted directly:


# of villagers impacted indirectly:


What We Do

Core Programs 

Economic Development


Leadership and Training

  • Village Leadership Training Program


Health Initiatives

  • Nutrition and Food Security Program
  • Family Garden Program
  • Trout Farm


Environment Initiatives

  • Family Clean Stove Program
  • Eco-Tourism Program


Cultural Preservation


Major Projects 

  • Mape Frias
  • Mane Pacaipampa
  • Mane Frias
  • Mane Tambogrande
  • Huarochiri 

Where We Work

Click here to see Peru's area of focus

Peru Provincias –

Piura Region

  • Tambo Grande Distrito
  • La Arena Distrito

Ayabaca Region

  • Frias Distrito
  • Pacaipampa Distrito

Huarochiri Region 

  • Huarochiri Distrito
  • San Damiano Distrito
  • San Andres de Topicocha Distrito

Huancabamba Region

  • San Miguel de El Faique

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Field Blog

Contact Us

CHOICE Office Peru – Phone / Contact Information

Wilmer Vicente Cruz LaMadrid / CHOICE Peru Director