THE SPANISH LANGUAGE
is the second most spoken language in the world due to the number of speakers who claim it as their native tongue (after Mandarin Chinese). It is spoken as a first and second language amongst 450 and 500 million people. It is the third most spoken language as a first or second language after Mandarin Chinese and English combined, and is the mother tongue to 400 million people worldwide... Read more
PERÚ Country Profile
The Republic of Peru is a country in western South America, bordering Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, Bolivia to the south-east, Chile to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
In addition to being known as the cradle of the Inca empire, Peru is the home of many indigenous ethnic groups, and it was the seat of the Viceroyalty of Peru, with jurisdiction over all of Spanish South America.
.: Total: 1,285,220 km² (20th) 496,222 sq mi
.: Water (%): 8.80
.: From Spain declared 28 July 1821
.: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara
.: July 2009 estimate 31,000,000 (70th)
.: 2005 census: 27,219,266
.: Density: 22/km² (183rd) 57/sq mi
The land of gold and of the sun-worshipping Incas, Peru was sixteenth-century Europe’s major source of treasure and once the home of the largest empire in the Americas. Since then, the riches of the Incas have fuelled the world’s imagination, although much of the country’s appeal lies in the sheer beauty of its landscapes, the abundance of wildlife and the strong, colourful character of the people.
Ancient ruins only hint at the first chapter of the story. Although the bloody Spanish Conquest shattered the traditional Inca world in the 1500s, the legacy of ancient cultures is still very much alive. Roughly half of Peru’s 23 million people are of pure Indian origin, often living in remote mountain villages. They still speak the Quechua or Aymara tongue of their ancestors and many of their beliefs and customs are a mixture of traditional Andean ways and the culture brought by the Spanish conquistadors. Peru remains one of the world’s great travel destinations- come experience the mystic!
INFORMATION ABOUT PERU
PEOPLE AND CULTURE PERU
Art prior to Spanish colonization concentrated almost entirely upon the production of fine pottery, metalwork, stonecraft and textiles. The Spanish subsequently introduced their version of urban planning, with cities laid out in a checkerboard fashion, and constructed mansions, churches and monasteries, which mimicked Spanish renaissance or Spanish early baroque. Over time, these European styles increasingly showed signs of a native Indian influence, leading to a style known as mestizo. The best examples of mestizo architecture can be found in the churches around Puno and Arequipa. Painting too mimicked European influences but as local artists grew more confident, a new and distinctive Cusco style developed, in which artists turned their attention away from the visible world, and concentrated instead on fairytale and fable. The influence of these works on artist Paul Gauguin, who spent his childhood in Lima, is noticeable.
Peruvian music is almost entirely folk music, while its literature encompasses everything from independence-inspired polemic to the anarchic individualism of its many poets and the boyhood reveries of the internationally renowned author Mario Vargas Llosa.
The main religion is Roman Catholicism, though the Indians, while outwardly Catholic, often blend Catholicism with traditional beliefs. Spanish is the main language. In the highlands, most Indians are bilingual, but speak Quechua as their mother tongue. There are about 70 other languages, and in remote parts of the Amazon, Spanish is rarely spoken. English is understood in major hotels and tourist areas.
Typical Peruvian dishes are tasty and vary regionally. Seafood is, understandably, best on the coast, while the Inca delicacy - roast guinea pig - can be sampled in the highlands. Other dishes include: lomo saltado (chopped steak fried with onions); cebiche de corvina (white sea bass marinated in lemon, chilli and onions, often served cold with a boiled potato or yam); and sopa a la criolla (a lightly spiced noodle soup with beef, egg, milk and vegetables).
GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT PERU
Peru is in western South America and shares borders with Chile (to the south), Bolivia (southeast), Brazil (northeast), Colombia (north) and Ecuador (northwest). It has three major regions: a narrow coastal belt, the wide Andean mountains and the Amazon Basin. The coastal strip is predominantly desert, but contains Peru's major cities and its best highway, the Carratera Panamericana. The Andes comprise two principal ranges - Cordillera Occidental and Oriental - and includes Huascarán (6770m/22,200ft), Peru's highest mountain. To the east is the Amazon Basin, a region of tropical lowland, which is drained by the Maranon and Ucayali rivers.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE PERU
Peru's climate can be divided into two seasons - wet and dry - though this varies, depending on the geographical region. The coast and western Andean slopes are generally dry, with the summer falling between December and April; during the rest of the year, the garúa (coastal fog) moves in and the sun is rarely seen. In the Andes, the dry season is from May to September, while the wet season takes up the remainder of the year. On the eastern slopes of the Andes, the drier months are similar to the highlands, though the wet season (January to April) is more pronounced.
Peru’s currency is the new sol (nuevo sol). 1 sol can be divided into 100 centimos. Note denominations are S/ 200 (very rare), 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are: S/ 5, 2, 1, 0.50, 0.20, 0.10, .005. In the more expensive establishments prices are quoted in UD dollars to avoid the constant changes in value of the sol.
Becareful! A large number of both US bills (especially US$20 and the larger bills) and soles (both notes and coins) are forged. Always check your money, even in the banks and from ATMs, make sure, that when held up to the light, the water marks and colour change accordingly. The line down the side of the bill spelling out the bill’s amount should appear blue, green and pink. The fake bills are only pink and lack the hologram properties.
Shortage of change in places such as museums, post offices, some shops and markets is normal. So try and carry low denominations and small change. Mastercard, Amex and Diners Club are valid, however, Visa is more widely accepted. Be aware that often there is an 8-12% commission on all credit card purchases.