A Brief Description
At one time Peru was the homeland of several prominent Andean civilizations, with the Incas certainly the most notable.
The incredible Incas built astonishing mountain temples, palaces and other buildings, all with no mortar; they constructed almost 10,000 miles of roads, engineered functional bridges and built aqueducts to transport their water.
At the zenith of the Inca's influence in 1532, the Spanish conquistadors arrived in their quest for gold and other riches; they executed the proud, but over-matched indigenous Indians and their leaders like ants, captured their cities - and in a brief period of time this innovative and powerful culture was scattered to the wind and all but destroyed.
For almost three hundred years Peru functioned as a Spanish colony, but in the early 19th century, native discontent and colonist revolts brought calls of independence, localized uprisings, and then, civil war in 1821, with the Spanish finally defeated in 1824.
Over the next century, or so, Peru suffered through many wars, some with neighbors; brutal dictatorial rule, military coups and the subsequent political upheaval that comes with the territory.
In 1980, Peru finally returned to democratic leadership, but even today, the new presidential administration is hampered by allegations of corruption and mismanagement.
Regardless, the future is surely bright in this one-time "Land of the Incas," as Peru has an abundant supply of natural resources, enormous agricultural potential and some of the most stunning tourism venues on the planet.
Facts and Figures
(long form) Republic of Peru
Capital City Lima (6.9 mil)
Currency Nuevo Sol (PEN)
Languages Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, others
National Day July 28
Religions Catholic (81%), others
Latitude/Longitude (Capital City)
10º 00' S, 76º 00' W
Relative Location Peru, just to the south of the Equator, is positioned in both the western and southern hemispheres. It's located on the western coast of South America and bordered by Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile and the Pacific Ocean.
Coastline 1,500 miles (2,414 km)
(land) 494,211 sq miles (1,280,000 sq km)
(water) 2,015 sq miles (5,220 sq km)
(TOTAL) 496,226 sq miles (1,285,220 sq km)
Landforms The rugged Andes Mountains cover almost 40% of Peru. Hundreds of snowcapped peaks jut skyward here, with many exceeding 20,000 ft.
Fronting the Andes - from Ecuador to Chile - there's an arid and rocky narrow coastline; in essence, it's a sandy mountainous desert dissected by dozens of small rivers that flow into the Pacific.
In the east, the Andean Highlands slope gently down into the rivers and jungles of the Amazon; a heavily forested, relatively flat area, that stretches to its borders with Brazil and Chile.
The lowest part of Peru is in the far northeast; here the fertile land and jungles are irrigated by tributaries of the massive Amazon River.
And speaking of rivers, Peru is drained by many, including the Apurimac, Maranon, Napo and Ucayali - to name but a few.
Note that Peru shares control of Lake Titicaca with Bolivia, the world's highest navigable lake.
Highest Pt. Nevado Huascaran - 22,205 ft. (6,768 m)
Lowest Pt. Pacific Ocean - 0 ft. (0 m)
Land Divisions 25 regions and 1 province. Regions include: Amazonas, Ancash, Apurimac, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Callao, Cusco, Huancavelica, Huanuco, Ica, Junin, La Libertad, Lambayeque, Lima, Loreto, Madre de Dios, Moquegua, Pasco, Piura, Puno, San Martin, Tacna, Tumbes and Ucayali; the Province is Lima.
Attractions: Peru offers the most impressive mountain vistas in all of South America, as well as remnants of its Inca culture and Spanish colonial history.
Major points-of-interest include the sleek and modern, yet historically preserved capital city of Lima; the fascinating city of Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, and the nearby ruins at Machu Picchu; interesting national parks; Lake Titicaca, the Amazon Rainforest and Andean mountain tours.
Note that while the vast majority of all visitors to Peru have very positive experiences, a small, but seemingly growing number have been victims of crime. All travelers are advised to be aware of their surroundings, especially in Lima, as street crime levels there are high.
Country Dialing Code 51
Electricity Peru uses 220 volts AC (60 Hz)