Peru is the fifth-most populous country in Latin America (after Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, and Argentina). Twenty-one cities have a population of 100,000 or more. Rural migration increased the urban population from 35.4% of the total population in 1940 to an estimated 74.6% as of 2005.
Most Peruvians are either Spanish-speaking mestizos–a term that usually refers to a mixture of indigenous and European/Caucasian–or Amerindians, largely Quechua-speaking indigenous people. Peruvians of European descent make up about 15% of the population. There also are small numbers of persons of African, Japanese, and Chinese ancestry. Socioeconomic and cultural indicators are increasingly important as identifiers. For example, Peruvians of Amerindian descent who have adopted aspects of Hispanic culture also are considered mestizo. With economic development, access to education, intermarriage, and large-scale migration from rural to urban areas, a more homogeneous national culture is developing, mainly along the relatively more prosperous coast. Peru’s distinct geographical regions are mirrored in a socioeconomic divide between the coast’s mestizo-Hispanic culture and the more diverse, traditional Andean cultures of the mountains and highlands and Amazon indigenous communities east of the Andes.