Peru Lies on the eastern coast of South America. Lima is it’s capital and is the fastest growing city in the country. In 1940 it had a population of 600,000 people, but today (Year 2000), it has a population of around 5 million. This means that in 60 years, the population has increased by 4,400,000 people. The question is, “Why?”

As the country’s capital, Lima has attracted the interest of many industries and has a growing commercial centre it is in fact Peru’s administrative, commercial, manufacturing, and cultural center. Most of Peru’s large textile and clothing industry is concentrated there; other manufactured goods include motor vehicles, chemicals, and fish and petroleum products. All this means that there is a potential for employment for those people who are struggling to eke out an existence in rural areas. The city simply acts as a magnet for younger people with families who want a chance at a better life, which is in many cases not provided by farming life.

This at first suggests that a country is going through a period of economic growth, because job opportunities are more common, labour force is becoming more skilled, size of labour force is growing and the city is perhaps more prosperous. The only problem is that the volume of immigrants is so great that the city can not cope with the demand for housing, functions and employment. Basic economic theory suggests that as the availability of labour increases and employment decreases, the cost of labour will decrease, i.e. wages will decrease. This is because there are many people willing to do a job, which means that the employer can take the person who is willing to work for the lowest wage.

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In 1971, the government ousted many migrants in to the desert and allowed them to settle there. After a short period of time a settlement turned in to a town, or small city named Villa El Salvador. In only three weeks, 30,000 people were living there. Many shanty-towns are constructed in a higgledy pigledy manner, but Villa El Salvador is remarkably well planned. It has risen from a desert to a town with roads and basic water and electricity. In 1986, the settlement celebrated its 13th anniversary.

Having looked at Cairo’s attempt to build new towns outside of the main city and witnessed the relative failure of the scheme, it is strange to see that Villa El Salvador has survived 13 years with relative success. Again, “Why?”

Villa El Salvador is located 25 miles from Lima but it has vast amounts of open space around it. It is not a completely planned town, but instead the inhabitants are provided with basic building materials so as to construct their own homes. This process is known as “Self Help”, and gradually each family can increase their living standards by adding rooms or floors to their house.

There are, however, still very many problems that are associated with all towns of this nature. Sanitation, water supply and electricity are very unpredictable. The water is unclean and many of the inhabitants suffer from diarrhoea and diseases such as cholera are not uncommon. Many live in poor quality homes and food is inadequate to meet demand. Doctors working at clinics in the town say that there is not a huge problem with medicines, but that it is in fact the poor conditions that the people have to endure that really contribute to poor health.

Commuting to the city takes 3 hours. This means that the men (Who work in the city) leave early and do not come hoe until late. The women are the people who run the town, and thanks to them, food kitchens that serve 300 people each, have been established.

Around 500,000 people move to the city each week. These are mainly people who lived in rural areas, but have experienced great hardships due to the lack of good agricultural land. They move to Villa El Salvador with the hope of finding a job and having something to live off of. This is easier said than done, as it is difficult to get a job if you do not know anyone high enough in the government system.

Many people have outlined the main problem, which is the fact that the majority of work is concentrated solely in Lima. If the work was distributed more equally, Lima would not experience such strains on it’s infrastructure and towns like Villa El Salvador would not grow at such a vast rate.

Positive aspects for Lima.

* Many industries located there.

* 70% of doctors reside in Lima.

* Life expectancy is ten times higher than that for rural areas.

* Education lasts 11 years as opposed to 5.

Negative aspects for Peru.

* Unequal distribution of wealth.

* Taxes gathered throughout the whole country are spent mainly on Lima.

* Many of rural areas are empty because Lima acts as a magnet for the poorer.


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