The system of highways that was the key to the unification of the Inca Empire was not preserved by the Spanish conquerors. The lack of an adequate transportation system is still a major obstacle to economic integration and development.
Peru's railroad system, consisting of 2,102 km (1,306 mi) of track in 2002, nationalized in 1972, is subject to landslides and guerrilla attacks. Operation of the railroad system was given in concession in July 1999, for 30 years, to two companies: Ferrovias Central Andina S. A. (central railway) and Ferrocarril Transandino S. A. (south and south-east railways). The two principal railway systems, the Central and Southern railways, were built during the second half of the 19th century and were at one time owned and operated by British interests. The Central Railway, the world's highest standard-gauge railroad, connects Lima-Callao with the central sierra. The Southern Railway links Arequipa and Cuzco with the ports of Mollendo and Matarani and runs to Puno on Lake Titicaca, where steamers provide cross-lake connections with Bolivia. The Tacna-Arica Railway, totaling 62 km (39 mi) and linking Peru with Chile, is also a part of the nationalized system.
In 2002, of the estimated 72,900 km (45,300 mi) of existing roads, only 8,700 km (5,406 mi) were paved. The nation's highways are deteriorating, especially in the mountains, where landslides and guerrilla attacks often occur. The two primary routes are the 3,000 km (1,864 mi) north-south Pan American Highway, connecting Peru with Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile, and the Trans-Andean Highway, which runs about 800 km (500 mi) from Callao to Pucallpa, an inland port on the Ucayali River. The 2,500-km (1,550-mi) Jungle Edge Highway, or Carretera Marginal de la Selva, spans most of Peru along the eastern slopes of the Andes and through the selva. In 2000, there were 318,270 automobiles and 208,252 commercial vehicles. About 60% of inland freight and 90% of all passengers are carried by road.
The Amazon River with its tributaries, such as the Marañón and the Ucayali, provides a network of waterways for eastern Peru. Atlantic Ocean vessels go 3,700 km (2,300 mi) up the Amazon to Iquitos and, at high water, to Pucallpa. All together there are 8,808 km (5,473 mi) of waterways. Peru has 11 deepwater ports, and in 2002, its merchant fleet consisted of five vessels over 1,000 tons, with a total GRT of 29,470. Only Peruvian ships may engage in coastal shipping. Callao, Peru's chief port, and Salaverry, Pisco, and Ilo have been expanded.
Much of Peru would be inaccessible without air transport. In 2001 there were an estimated 239 airports, 49 of which had paved runways. The two principal airports are Col. Fco. Secada at Iquitos and Jorge Chavez at Lima. Faucett Airlines is the older of the two main domestic air carriers, which serve 40 airports and landing fields. The recently privatized Aeroperú, created in May 1973, provides both domestic and international services. In 2001, 1,604,900 passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international flights. The Peruvian Air Force also operates some commercial freight and passenger flights in rainforest areas.