Peru is South America´s third largest country, covering 1.285.215 square kilometres. The Peruvian population is estimated at 28 million inhabitants. Lima is the capital of Peru with more than 10 million inhabitants. It is a democratic republic divided into 25 regions and the province of Lima,
Callao. Peru is a multiethnic country with Amerindians, Europeans, Africans and Asians. The main spoken language is Spanish, although there is a significant number of Peruvians that speak Quechua and other native languages. The mixture of cultural traditions has resulted in a wide diversity of expressions such as art, cuisine, literature and music.
The history of Peru started long before the Spanish conquest came in the 16th century. Peru has a history, dating back to centuries before Christ, which have giving rise to many cultures. These cultures left proofs of their existing and we have today a line of important archaeological sites to visit. One of the earliest developments was in the north, beginning by the Chavín civilization from 1500 – 400 BC. They achieved considerable progress in architecture, engineering and agriculture in the northern highlands. After the Chavín civilization, along the north coast arose the Moche culture during 200 BC – 700 AD. The Moche civilization was famous for its realistic pottery and its pyramid-shaped temples. The same area was later controlled by the Chimú kingdom from 900 – 1450 AD, who built the city of Chan Chan near Trujillo, which is an immense mud-brick citadel, featuring 12- meter high walls and superb architectural work.
In the south the Nazca civilization, from 200 BC – 900 AC, made an impressive series of figures in the desert sand known as the Nazca Lines. The ´Paracas´ civilization was almost in the same period as the Nazca civilization 800 BC – 600 AD. This culture created textile and beautiful ceramic pottery.
Centuries later, by the 15th century, the Incas began to expand their empire from Cusco Valley until they reached six of today’s countries, connected by a 23.000 km. long road network. They formed the largest empire in pre-Colombian America. Andean societies were based on agriculture, using techniques such as irrigation, terracing and fishing.
They build major constructions such as Sacsayhuaman, Pisac and Koricancha that nowadays are beautiful ruins to visit.
The short Inca Empire came to an end with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in 1532, led by Francisco Pizarro. Peru was the first country that the Spaniards discovered and conquered. In a short period of time the Spaniards conquered a large area of South America. The political power was the main proposal of the Spaniards arrival until they discovered mines filled with gold, silver and cobber. After discovering the mines with plenty of minerals, Francisco de Toledo reorganized the country with silver mining as its main economic activity.
During the long time of Spanish influence in Peru, they damaged and changed the culture. They brought a Spanish infrastructure and their Catholic religion. During the time there were many wars against the Spaniards and finally independence in Peru was proclaimed in 1821 by San Martin.
After the Independence, the War of the Pacific from 1879 until 1883 began. Peru was defeated by Chile and lost the provinces of Arica and Tarapacá.
Peru has an enormous diversity in its landscape. The country can be divided in three parts. In the west you will find the coast that is more than 2500 km. long in a straight line from north to south. Along the coastline runs the famous Pan-American Highway. Between the Amazon and the coast lies the Andean mountain range. In the north of Peru you will find Cordillera Blanca with its 35 snow-capped peaks over 6000 meters, and the Huascarán National Park. In the south you will near the city of Arequipa find the valley of the volcanoes and the world’s deepest canyon, the Colca Valley and the Colca Cotahuasi Canyon. Next to the mountains near Vilcabamba, Urubamba and Vilcanota in the Sacred Valley, you will find in the department of Cusco where to find the historical capital of the
In the eastern Peru you will find the Amazon jungle and national parks such as, Puerto Maldonado and Manu in the southern Peru and Iquitos in the north. They are among the best places in the world as a tourist to visit the jungle. Beside the beautiful landscape, Peru has the world’s highest navigable lake, the Lake Titicaca next to the city of Puno. This variety of environments makes Peru a country which is ideally suited for trekking, climbing, rafting and other adventure sports.
In these beautiful landscapes of Peru you will find a great variety of flora and fauna. It includes 80% of the world’s recognized ecological zones. As a result of this exceptional biodiversity, there are approximately 400 animal species, more than 1000 types of birds, 1200 types of salt and freshwater fish and 25.000 flora species have been dated. Peru has areas with some of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. There are 44 protected natural areas, occupying 10% of the national territory. Among these natural areas you can find the beautiful flora and fauna richness of the Paracas Natural Reserve in Ica, the Manu Biosphere Reserve, the Tambopata National Reserve and the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve.
The diversity in landscape, makes the climates varies considerably by region. The months January through March are the wet season, especially in the Andean and jungle zone.
The coastal areas are during those months quite hot and humid, and are cold during the rest of the year by la garua (drizzle). The western part of the Andes is very clear, warm and dry for the greater part of the year. As it can be very hot by the strong sun, the night temperatures in the Andean region can be very cold coursing the high altitude. Furthermore, the eastern slope of the Andes, like the Amazon basin, experiences very heavy rainfall during the wet season, which extends from January all the way through April, but the temperatures are always comfortable.
It is possible to visit Peru whenever you want. However, the best months to visit Peru, is in the dry season, from June till October.
Current Time & Date:
When it is noon in Western Europe, in Peru it is 6 a.m. Lima time is the same as Eastern Standard Time. When it is noon in Lima, it is 1 p.m. in Caracas, noon in Bogotá and 3 a.m. in Japan.
Currency & Money:
The Peruvian currency is El Sol. Its abbreviated form is S/. or PEN.
Many establishments, as well a private person accept US Dollars for current transactions.
There is no limit to foreign currency you can take to Peru. Money can be changed at the airport, in most banks in the city, Casa de Cambio (money exchange) and also by money dealers who operate around the streets. Wherever you choose to do it be careful to check the money you are given. The US$ and the €uro are the most convenient foreign currency to take with you. If you have Soles left when you leave Peru, you can easily change them at the bank or at the airport.
Spanish (throughout the country); Quechua (Andean region, mainly in the south). Other languages: Aymara (Puno); dialects of the Jungle tribe.
Food & Drinks:
Lima, Arequipa, Cuzco, Trujillo and Chiclayo have a wide variety of restaurants. In addition to the local cuisine, many Peruvians are frequent customers of the Chinese restaurants called Chifas. Pizza restaurants and trattorias are very common. There are also restaurants offering Argentine, German, French and Japanese food.
Water can be drunk safely at first class restaurants and hotels in the larger cities, but not elsewhere. Bottled drinks and mineral water are preferred; mineral water with no gas is readily available.
Pisco: A popular grape brandy is the national drink. It is used to make the famous pisco sour which you should certainly take the opportunity to try.
Chicha: Is a beverage made from fermented corn and honey. It is consumed in the inland of the country and in the populous districts of Lima. It is always found in artesian exhibitions and popular fiestas of peasant origin.
However, beer is definitely the most popular drink and is of renowned high quality. Cristal, Pilsen, and the regional beers, such as Cerveza Cuzqueña, Arequipeña, Trujillana, etc are excellent brands.
January 1 New Years Day
(movable) Holy Thursday
(movable) Good Friday
(movable) Easter Day
May 1 International Workers’ Day
June 29 St. Peter and St. Paul
July 28 and 29 Independence Day
August 30 Santa Rosa de Lima
October 8 Battle of Angamos
November 1 All Saints Day
December 8 Immaculate Conception
December 25 Christmas Navidad
Big parts of Peru are located in a high altitude. It is possible to get soroche or mountain sickness. The symptoms are similar to seasickness, just with a strong headache. It is produced by a reduced oxygen pressure at high altitudes and can be prevented by drinking more than 2 litres a day, resting and eating frugally in the evening or morning before travelling. Glucose or the (prevent) medicine, coramine, are recommended, or you may do the same as Peruvians to chew the coca leaves, drink coca tea or you can take the coca candies. It is also very important to acclimatize gradually.
Don´t drink water from the tap, because it isn´t as hygienic as in Europe. And better avoid ice-creams, ice cubes, salads and fruits.
Your passport must be valid for one year beyond the date of entry.
Citizens from Europe do not need visas, only for a longer stay than 90 days in Peru you need a visa.
Although it is not compulsory, the vaccinations you are advised to have when travelling to Peruvian Jungle.
Peru’s international airport is The Jorge Chavez Airport located in the Province of Callao