Commercial exchanges well reflect the deep socio-economic fracture that continues to contrast the Costa area with the Sierra and in general with inland areas: while in the coastal centers there is a strong demand for goods of various kinds and a great variety of goods of consumption, in the interior a prevalent subsistence economy and a flourishing Indian handicraft largely compensate for the limited needs of the local population. As for foreign trade, the expansion policy that characterized the Peruvian economy in the last decade of the twentieth century naturally led to a very sensitive development in this sector as well. Exports mainly concern minerals (gold, mine and foundry copper, oil, followed by, zinc, iron, lead, silver), fish and seafood, clothing, vegetables and fruit, fish oils, timber; imports are mainly made up of machinery, raw materials and semi-finished products. The trade balance alternates years with positive balances (such as the three-year period 1978-80) with others with negative balances in relation to the prices on the world markets of raw materials, on which the country’s exports are based; in recent years, however, the balance has remained positive. The main partners are the United States (which absorb a quarter of trade), followed by China and the South American states (Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Argentina) for imports, and by China, Switzerland, Canada, Japan and Germany for exports. § The tertiary sector employs, on the whole, half of the active population (2003) and participates in the formation of the GDP for 58% (2005). The conformation of the territory has made communications particularly complicated; infrastructures are in fact lacking and constitute a serious obstacle to economic development, despite the fact that the country (unlike other Andean regions) experienced an excellent road system in the Inca era, created to connect the capital Cusco to the sea and to other areas of the plateau. However, the ancient road network was destroyed during the Spanish colonial domination, with serious consequences for internal contacts (especially between the three major morphological sections of the country), which only improved in the twentieth century. The railway network, built eminently to exploit the mines of the Sierra, is of strategic importance, but with a total distance of 2177 km, it does not cover the needs of transport or communication between the various parts of the territory.
The main lines are two: the Ferrocarril Central, the highest railway in the world, which connects Lima to La Oroya through the Ticlio pass, used above all for the mining industry and which reaches an altitude of 4829 m and the line that connects, to S. Arequipa and the near port of Mollendo with Puno on Lake Titicaca, passing through Cusco and reaching 4770 meters. The road network is relatively extensive (78,829 km in 2004, of which only one seventh asphalted), but not always efficient, especially in the Sierra, and even poorer in connections with the Montaña; it is essentially based on approx. 3,337 km of the Peruvian section of the Pan-American Carretera, which from the border with Ecuador to that with Chile connects all the main centers of the coast, and on the trans-Andean artery, which connects Lima to the eastern areas, passing through La Oroya and Cerro de Pasco up to Pucallpa. Where there are no roads or railways, river navigation is widely used (numerous boats operate especially in the Montaña, between Pucallpa and Iquitos); Also noteworthy is the navigation on Lake Titicaca, on the western end of which the port of Puno is located. Other ports in the country are that of San Nicolás, Talara and San Juan. Air services, fairly developed, connect Lima (home of the Jorge Chávez international airport) with all the main centers of the country, as well as with almost all the South American capitals and with the United States; among other international airports: Iquitos, Cusco and Arequipa. § The foreign currency revenues due to tourism are significant, despite the country’s political instability exposing the sector to frequent fluctuations; As a country of South America defined by constructmaterials, com, Peru is visited annually by over 1.5 million foreigners, attracted both by the imposing vestiges of the pre-Inca and Inca civilizations and by the distinguished testimonies of colonial art, and by the charm of a nature of great beauty and variety.