Previously the heart of the Incan Empire, Peru has maintained a strong indigenous cultural character although the country today is home to a wide-ranging population that encompasses Amerindian-, European-, African-, and Asian-descended communities. Of all of the Andean countries, Peru is geographically the largest and this diversity is seen in the nation’s mix of desert, alpine, and tropical zones. In spite of economic growth under the rule of Alberto Fujimori, intense political repression during his administration as well as the violence committed by a Maoist insurgency, Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), fostered domestic tension that prevented the level of economic advancement seen in neighboring countries. Although an economic boom has led to widespread increases in the quality of life since that period, a third of Peruvians are poor and must contend with erratic quality of public services, namely water and sanitation, particularly in rural areas where open defecation remains an issue and negatively affects human health.