An overview of the Peace Corps, sending U.S. citizens abroad since 1961


The first volunteers for the Peace Corps prepare to leave from National Airport, headed to Ghana, on Aug. 29, 1961. More than 215,000 U.S. volunteers since have served abroad with the Peace Corps, which is now revamping its application process. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
July 14

The Peace Corps, officially established on March 1, 1961, sends U.S. citizens abroad to perform service projects aimed at helping to spur long-term change and to promote a better mutual understanding of global cultures. The federal agency, which grew out of then-Sen. John F. Kennedy’s vision, is “devoted to world peace and friendship.”

Since its founding, the Peace Corps has sent more than 215,000 people to 139 countries. With application numbers dropping in recent years, the Peace Corps announced Tuesday that it is revamping its application process.

Here is a snapshot of the Peace Corps today:

■Host countries: 65

Serving in the Peace Corps

■ Volunteers and trainees: 7,209

■ Gender: 63 percent women, 37 percent men

■ Marital status: 93 percent single, 7 percent married

■ Minority participation: 24 percent

■ Average age: 28.7

■ Volunteers older than 50: 8 percent

■ Fiscal 2014 budget: $379 million

The Peace Corps formed more than 50 years ago to send Americans abroad to volunteer. From movie references to famous former volunteers, PostTV takes a look at "the toughest job you'll ever love." (Gillian Brockell, Jhaan Elker, and Kate M. Tobey/The Washington Post)

■ Geographic distribution of volunteers: Africa (46 percent), Latin America (20 percent), Eastern Europe/Central Asia (13 percent), the Caribbean (4 percent), North Africa/Middle East (4 percent), Pacific Islands (3percent).

■ Top country: The Philippines, which has hosted more than 8,700 volunteers since 1961.

As a volunteer:

■ Volunteers typically serve for two years after in-country training.

■ The Peace Corps provides volunteers with housing and a stipend to cover food and incidentals, aiming to have the volunteers live similarly to the people in their community.

■ The minimum age is 18 and there is no upper age limit.

■ Volunteers must be U.S. citizens.

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