Like many avid travellers and adventurers, Machu Picchu has been on my bucket list for years. In 2012 I was fortunate enough to cross it off my list. With my sights set on conquering one of the 8 wonders of the world, I barely thought about what else I would encounter before heading to Peru. The cultural experience was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Peru is considered to be a developing country and often described as a third world country, or simply a poor and somewhat unstable nation (Moran, Harris, Moran, 2011). Upon landing in Lima, I didn’t think of the area to be what one would consider third world. It wasn’t until we began our trip to Machu Picchu, visiting the smaller and more rural areas along the way that I encountered such characteristics. As a Latin American country, the overlapping cultural themes of Spanish language and influence of the Catholic Church were prevalent (Moran, et. al., 2011). The people we encountered along our journey certainly looked the part of those in a state of poverty. There were people of all ages and genders selling goods along the roads, in markets, and even along the trail while hiking Machu Picchu. We saw beggers and people playing music in hopes of obtaining spare change. Many children showed an interest in us as we clearly stuck out as being Americans. It was enriching to me to have met these people, even with a language barrier, seeing their way of life and experiencing their culture.
When I returned from my trip I began doing more research on the culture and economic status of Peru. I found it interesting to see that their economy is on the rise. Like many South American economies, Peru is on it’s way up. “In October 2014, Peru’s Institute of Economy and Enterprise Development (IEDEP) – part of the Chamber of Commerce of Lima (CCL) – stated that Peru has the opportunity to become a first world country in the next 13 years” (Dunnell, n.d.).
On a basic level, poverty and low standards of education are two of the most apparent issues that point toward Peru’s still developing status (Dunnell, n.d.). According to the CIA’s World Factbook, many poor children will leave school to help support their families. During my trip, I noticed many children selling goods and panhandling for money. Efforts to increase poverty levels and economic status must be focused on education.
The vast resources of the land are aiding Peru’s economic expansion, particularly that it is becoming a major minerals exporter (Kirkby, 2011). The country also plans to become a regional energy player by developing hydro and wind power to export to its South American neighbors, Ecuador and Brazil (Kirkby, 2011). It is with these continuing advancements in exports as well as technology that will help Peru’s economy become stronger and stronger.
I am very thankful for having experienced so many aspects of Peruvian culture. Having explored the city and the rural areas, I can see the differences of economic statuses and look forward to seeing the country’s economy rise. The hopes that they will one day be a considered a “First World” country seem like it will be a long ways off but I will certainly keep myself abreast with their status. Perhaps down the road I will be fortunate enough to visit the country again in hopes to see a more booming economy.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (n.d.). The world factbook. Retrieved at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html
Dunnell, Tony. (n.d.). Is Peru a Third World Country? Retrieved at http://goperu.about.com/od/cultureandsociety/fl/Is-Peru-a-Third-World-Country.htm
Kirkby, Andrea. (2011 October). Positive growth in Peru. Credit Management, 18. http://search.proquest.com.ezaccess.libraries.psu.edu/docview/897707649?pq-origsite=summon
Moran, R. T., Harris, P. R., & Moran, S. V. (2011). Managing cultural differences: Leadership skills and strategies for working in a global world. New York: Elsevier.
Pennsylvania State University. (2014). OLEAD 497B: Leadership in a Global Context: Lesson 8: South America: Focus on Brazil. Retrieved at: https://cms.psu.edu