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.


Andes Region

  • Small-scale agriculture is the primary occupation of families in the Peruvian Andes. Peruvian farm
  • At Compassion centers, children engage in activities that help them learn and grow. Boys praying for their meal
  • Sponsored children receive educational support and hope for a better future. Children studying in a classroom
  • Children love program days at their Compassion center, where they are engaged in a variety of fun activities. Small children playing with blocks
  • Families in the Peruvian Andes typically live in small, windowless, two-room homes. Family in their home
  • Homes of the poor in the Andes highlands rarely have modern amenities, such as electricity or running water. Family cooking
  • These children are participating in a special program to celebrate their rich traditions. Group of children in traditional clothing




Roman Catholic


A Glimpse of Poverty in Peru’s Andes Region

Children of the Peruvian highlands are born into lack.

Children playing with blocks
  • 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.
  • Homes here usually have adobe walls, dirt floors and tin roofs and rarely have electricity.
  • Many people have no sanitation facilities and drink untreated water that comes directly from a river or pond.
In the Andes Region of Peru

Geography & Climate

Life in the Andes is dictated by its severe, forbidding geography.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Most highlands farming communities rest at the base of towering, unstable mountains and are replete with evidence of past avalanches and earthquakes.


  • 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.
  • Quechua culture places great importance on community and mutual help (ayni).
  • 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.
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.

Family cooking

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.

Issues and Concerns

The highest poverty rate in Peru is in the Andes region. 

  • This region’s difficult topography and lack of infrastructure hinder communication with the rest of the country.
  • Most roads are unpaved, dusty in the dry months and muddy during the rainy season.
  • Without a connection to the world outside their own small villages, families lack many of life’s necessities and opportunities.
  • Most Andes region families have no access to improved water sources, which means they commonly suffer from waterborne illnesses, some of which can be life-threatening.
  • The region’s few schools and medical facilities are poorly staffed and resourced.
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.