Andes Mountains

Andes Mountains

The Andes Mountains is the longest mountain range in the world and continues continuously along the western coast of South America. The Andes Mountains in Peru are bordered on the west by the Coastal Region and on the east by the Amazon. The Andes Mountains in Peru are home to 32 percent of the country's population.

Peru Andes Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • Children in Compassion’s Peruvian Andes program gather by their church. Thanks to Compassion’s generous donors, we can offer hope to people who know only poverty and hardship. Peru Outside Center
  • This loving Christian family in the central Andes serves as an example – and witness – to their community. Problems of family violence and child abuse plague the region. Peru Family Sitting on Front Step of Home
  • Unpaved roads make travel difficult in Peru’s Andean region. For this reason, many Andean villages are extremely isolated, their people cut off from the modern world. Peru Homes on a Hill and Mountains in Background
  • This family’s house is typical of the dwellings found in the Andes region – tin roof, adobe walls and no windows. Peru Woman and Child Outside of Their Home
  • A young girl helps her family peel dry corn. The training and assistance she receives through her Compassion sponsorship will help her break the cycle of poverty in her family. Peru Women Gathering Corn
  • This small, remote village in northern Peru is home to a thriving Compassion-assisted child development center. Peru Aerial View of Remote Village

Overview: Andes Region of Peru

Most highlands farming communities rest at the base of towering, unstable mountains and are replete with evidence of past avalanches and earthquakes. The most recent seismic shift, however, may be demographic. Young adults are leaving the Peruvian highlands at a fast rate to seek better education and job opportunities in big cities, such as Lima. The loss of youth has sparked concerns that the highlands may soon become a dependent population of the very young and the aged — with fields gone fallow and communities in disrepair.

For the past 1,000 years life has changed little in the Peruvian highlands. Isolated villages, unreachable by motorized vehicles, remain frozen in time. In remote Andean hamlets, without electricity, plumbing or appliances, days still are measured by the sun.

Before dawn, men, women and children begin long days of water hauling, farming, and hustling about steep pathways, carrying loads of kindling, potatoes or tools on their backs. Accompanied by a burro or a llama, it’s not uncommon for people to walk hours to tend to distant farm plots (chacras) or deliver hand-spun alpaca wool to market.

Most highlands residents are Catholic, with a faith informed by pre-Incan rituals. Quechua culture places great importance on community and mutual help (ayni). The social system is based on reciprocity: You help your neighbors, and they do something for you in return.

Like their ancestors, the farmers of the Peruvian highlands invent and repair their own tools and prepare meals from grain they have harvested and animals they have raised and butchered. Resourcefulness and hard work, however, have yet to break the shackles of poverty.


Culture Corner


Try this version of a tasty recipe, popular in the highlands.


  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 4 red peppers
  • 8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp. mashed garlic
  • 1 can green peas
  • 4 tbsp. unsweetened crunchy peanut butter
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 lb. mozzarella cheese


Cut tops off peppers and scrape out seeds. Blanch peppers in boiling water (about 2 minutes) and put aside.

Boil potatoes until tender and keep warm. In a medium-size pan, sauté chopped onions with garlic for 2 minutes; then add ground beef and stir until cooked. Add the peas, peanut butter, pepper and salt. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Spoon meat mixture into each red pepper; place with the potatoes in a baking dish. Cover peppers and potatoes with cheese and place under oven broiler (or microwave) until cheese melts.

Serve while still hot, with 1 stuffed red pepper and 4 pieces of potato on each plate. Makes 4 servings.


Life in the Andes Region

The Andes (or highlands) region of Peru is bordered on the west by the coastal region and on the east by the Amazon. The region is home to 32 percent of Peru’s population.

Life in the Andes is dictated by its severe, forbidding geography. The steep terrain makes travel extremely difficult. As a result, many Andean villages have been cut off from the modern world. Life in these villages has remained unchanged for centuries.

Mining, raising cattle, and farming are the primary occupations available to Andean Peruvians. Yet jobs remain scarce. Poverty runs rampant throughout the region. Many people have no sanitation facilities and drink untreated water that comes directly from a river or pond.

Children at Home

Highlands children typically live in two-room adobe homes built just as they were a century ago. Houses have straw roofs and dirt floors but rarely have electricity, plumbing or windows. Toilets are usually a hole in the ground several yards from the house. In the evenings, by the light of a kerosene lamp, families retire early — often by 7 p.m. — with parents and children sharing a room. The only other room in the house is for eating, gatherings, cooking and guinea pig cultivation. Guinea pigs are an important source of protein for poor families.


Community Issues and Concerns Peru Community

Children of the Peruvian highlands are born into lack. More than 75 percent of the indigenous Quechan, who account for most of the Andean population, live in extreme poverty. The Andean region of Peru is one of the poorest in South America. Children grow up against a backdrop of chronic illness, abbreviated schooling, arduous work, and early pregnancy. The cause of their poverty is linked to the landscape. The many remote communities enveloped in the steep flanks of the Andes remain isolated from Peru’s working market economy and basic modern amenities.

Local Needs and Challenges

Travel in the Peruvian Andes can be a daunting challenge for Partnership Facilitators. To reach some Compassion centers in the northern Andes requires a treacherous 16-hour bus ride. The physical safety of our Compassion staff is frequently at risk.

Long-term employment opportunities are scarce in the region. Many young people leave for the coast or the jungle as soon as they are old enough to seek work. As a result, the region has lost a sizable portion of its population.


Schools and Education Peru Education

Public education, by law, is free. But in reality, rural families cannot afford to spare an able-bodied child from farming or household chores. Moreover, in remote Andean towns, there are few schools and a tremendous lack of teachers. These forces make it nearly impossible for children in the Peruvian highlands to earn more than a grade-school education.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Child development centers in the Peruvian highlands give registered children a place to learn, grow and study. Children whose families have never been able to offer them clean water, health care, or an education are provided access to these vital resources. Compassion-assisted children attend health classes, tutoring sessions, and Bible studies at the center. They also learn about God’s love for them.


Working Through the Local Church

People who live in isolation, as many in the Peruvian Andes do, lack basic skills and knowledge that we take for granted. Working with local churches, Compassion offers valuable training to young people of all ages. Children 6 to 8 years old learn grooming habits and reading skills. Children 9 to 11 years old are taught about the changes they will undergo during puberty. Young teens are taught God’s plan for dating and sexuality. Young people 15 to 17 years old learn how to choose good friends and how to avoid temptation.

Thanks to Compassion’s generous donors, we are making a difference in the lives of people who have very little hope.

How Compassion Works in Peru Compassion in Peru

Compassion’s work in Peru began in 1980. Since then, we have established a significant presence throughout the country and have affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of Peruvians. Currently we serve more than 57,700 children in 253 child development centers. Compassion partners with local churches and denominations to help Peru’s children most in need rise above their dire circumstances and discover their God-given potential.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

The Andes region of Peru presents unique challenges to Compassion’s Partnership Facilitators. Because parts of the region are so isolated, its people have developed their own traditions over the centuries. Facilitators must find creative ways to present Compassion’s curriculum within the framework of those traditions.

Most of the children in the Compassion program live in extreme poverty. Many are malnourished. Few have any opportunities for education – or viable jobs when they get older. Facilitators oversee the physical care of these young ones, making sure they receive nutritious meals at Compassion’s child development centers. Working with local churches, they also tend to the children’s spiritual needs, introducing them to the radical idea that there is hope for the future.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray for better educational opportunities for highlands children.
  • Compassion facilitators travel through formidable terrain to reach children in the Peruvian highlands. It is not uncommon for people to be delayed for hours or even days by landslides or strikers who block roads. Pray for swift and safe passage for these Compassion workers.
  • Pray for abundant harvests so that parents might have more income. Parents’ and children’s lives depend on it.