Go trekking, traverse the legendary Inca Trail and breathe in the divine serenity of the majestic Andes Mountains. Set off to the jungle, explore the lush scenery and discover an abundance of flora and fauna. Lay out, relax on the white sand beaches, ride the world-class surf of Peru’s coast and enjoy a colorful sunset. Go out in the cities, feel the vibrant life and savor Peru’s gastronomic treasures…
Mountains, jungle, beaches and cities – Peru is a large country with much to offer!
Peru offers a rich buffet of exquisite scenery, captivating cultures and all sorts of exhilarating activities, whether you are into physical exertion or spiritual insight. On its Western border picturesque beaches stretch along the Pacific Ocean and to the East the majestic national parks and wild jungles spread from South to North. Tucked in between the coast and jungle, rise the magnificent Andes Mountain, which serve as the spine of the country.
Below is a short description of the country and an appetizer of the country’s main attractions. We would love for you to have the opportunity to fully experience the diversity of Peru’s cultural history, staggering natural scenery, heavenly gastronomy and much more…
The Country in general
Although it is most closely identified with the Incas, Peru was home to many dynamic cultures centuries before the Incas arrived. Beginning around 9000 B.C., human presence has been found in Peru. The first well-preserved traces of civilization are found in the community of Caral (located some 200km north of Lima), which dates back to between 3200 and 1600 B.C. and is known as the oldest civilization in the Americas.
Centuries after these early Peruvian civilizations, Peru became the most important part of the Inca Empire from 1200 (the start of the Empire) to 1532 (when Spain and Francisco Pizarro conquered the country). Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire, and Machu Picchu a hidden getaway for the rulers. Today it is still debated whether Machu Picchu was a secluded recreational site or whether it primarily had religious or military purposes. However, experts agree that Machu Picchu was no ordinary city.
Peru’s history consists of thousands of years of evolution through pre-Columbian periods, culminating with the famous Inca Empire around 1200, which today is a principal magnet for tourists visiting Peru from all around the world.
Peru was a Spanish colony until 1821 when Peru finally achieved independence. After nearly 300 years the Spanish colonial influence is still very noticeable in the country, having left Peru with architectural marvels like churches, monasteries, squares and parks which today are some of Peru’s major tourist attractions. As an independent republic Peru was influenced by Asian, European and African cultures and examples of these cultures are still visible in Peru’s architecture, gastronomy and music among other areas.
Peru is the world’s 20th largest country with a population of nearly 30 million people. Neighboring Peru are Chile (South), Bolivia (Southeast), Brazil (East), and Colombia and Ecuador (North). Peru has one of the world’s greatest biodiversity due to its climate and geography, spanning across the coast, jungle and mountains. The country lies in the tropical climate zone, but the Humboldt Current and the Andes’ great variation in altitude allow for distinct climatic diversity within the country. Peru, in fact, is home to 28 of the world’s 32 existing climates. This also allows for a huge variation in Peruvian natural vegetation and biodiversity which hosts an impressive 25,000 registered plant species, 2,000 fish species (second in the world), 1,736 bird species (third in the world), 332 amphibians species (third in the world), 460 mammals species (fourth in the world) and 365 reptiles species (fifth in the world), and makes Peru one of the world’s 10 megadiverse countries.
The coast, jungle and mountains stretch across the entire country from North to South and divide Peru into three natural geographical areas. The arid coast runs along the Pacific Ocean, where you can find cliffs, peninsulas, bays and beaches. The jungle represents the largest area occupying 60% of Peru’s territory and is filled with exotic vegetation and wildlife. The jungle is commonly divided into two areas: a high altitude area between 3500m and 800m with a humid semi-tropical climate, and a low altitude area between 80m and 800m with a very humid tropical climate. The Andes Mountains can be divided into 3 regions from North to South, with the North containing lower mountains, the center with the highest, and the southern part of the Andes forms the broadest part of the range.
Peru is a multiethnic country with an amazing treasure chest full of diverse cultures and traditions. The Mestizos, which originally referred to the mixture of Spaniards and indigenous cultures, represent 44% of the Peruvian population, while the indigenous populations form the second largest group at 31%. In addition, 11% of the population is classified as white, 7% mulattos and there is a sprinkling of other smaller ethnic populations.
The Peruvian culture is and has been under heavy influence of immigrants coming from such countries as Spain, China, and diverse countries from Africa and Europe. For more than 500 years these cultures have been contributing to the cultural fabric of Peruvian society, making it very diverse. The official languages of Peru are Spanish, Quechua and Aymara, the latter almost only spoken by the indigenous population. Approximately 81% of the population is Catholic, while Protestants account for about 12%.
Characteristic of Peruvian art production are crafts like jewelry, textiles and ceramics – all of which have backgrounds in indigenous cultural traditions with influences from other cultures. Music and dance are fundamental ingredients of Peruvian culture and are celebrated in a wide variety of styles that, like the Peruvian art, have been influenced by other cultures and immigrants, particularly from Africa. Peruvian cuisine is becoming an ever more important element in the culture. It is one of the world’s most varied and original, offering locally inspired gourmet food bursting with unique flavors and textures. In the Peruvian plates you can both see and, especially, taste the great many influences from French, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese cuisine that together with its own flavors have portrayed gastronomic originality and excellence that today reaps international acclaim.
Short facts about Peru:
– The capital of Peru is Lima, also called “The city of the Kings.”
– Cusco was the ancient Inca capital and sits at 3399 meters (11,152 feet) above sea level.
– Peru has a population of approximately 29.5 million people (2010), with around 8.5 million in
Lima (Metropolitan Area).
– Peru is South America’s 3rd largest country (after Brazil and Argentina) and South America’s 4th
most populated (after Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina).
– Spanish, Quechua and Ayamara are the official languages in the country.
– Peru consists of approximately 81% Catholics and 12% Protestants.
– Peru was an important part of the Inca Empire from about 1200 to 1532 with Cusco serving as its capital.
– The country became independent from Spain on July 28, 1821.
Interesting facts about Peru:
– Peru is the birthplace of the potato and now home to over 2,000 varieties.
– It is home to 11 UN World Heritage Sites.
– #1 exporter of asperagus.
– #1 producer of silver.
– Peruvian cuisine has 468 different registered typical dishes.
– The tomato and avocado (Peru produces the softest variety) are originally from Peru.
– Maca, a Peruvian root, known as Huanarpo Macha is what Viagra is made of and has been in use in Peru for
hundreds of years.
– Peru has the world’s 2nd highest passenger train – Lima to Huancayo. The train was originally the highest
when it was built – reaching a soaring 4815 meters (15,793 feet) above sea level – and is now second to the
train that passes through the Himalayas.
– The higest sand dune in the world is Cerro Blanco (near Nazca), at an astounding 1176 meters (3,858 feet)
from the base.
– The Amazon River starts in Peru and is the world’s largest river by volume and one of the two cleanest.
– The deepest canyons in the world are Cotahuasi, 3600 meters (11,810 feet) and Colca, 3400 meters (11,150
feet). Both are in Arequipa. The United States Grand Canyon is only 1600 meters deep.
– Earnest Hemmingway, the famous U.S. author, lived in Peru’s northern coast for a period, Cabo Blanco.
It is said to be his main inspiration for Old Man and the Sea.