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Subject:  Whoppers, alpacas at 10,000 ft Date:  9/13/2012  6:19 AM
Author:  Starrob Number:  5131 of 5166

"(Reuters) - Between babies in blankets tied onto women's backs and boys in chullos, the traditional Andean stocking hat with earflaps, Joel Reyna and his girlfriend strode up to the glowing orange sign of one of the world's highest Burger Kings and did what was once unthinkable in Huancayo: they ordered a Whopper Jr.

That, in a nutshell, captures the transformation underway in Peru's economy - the fastest-growing of the larger Latin America countries. Peru's provinces, long ignored as unprofitable backwaters by elites in Lima, are booming as foreign and domestic companies target an emerging class of consumers.

Two decades ago, Huancayo - a city of 400,000 that sits in a farming valley 10,731 feet (3,271 meters) above sea level - was overrun with leftist rebels. Now, it has a shiny new shopping center with all the trappings of a typical mall in the United States, right down to the elevator music, prickly Rent-A-Cops, and an arcade called Happyland."

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