50 Interesting Facts about Peru and Peruvians
Peru is a typical country in Latin America, sharing many similarities with neighboring countries in the region. However, it is also a unique country with its own customs, history, and culture. In our article, we have collected 50 fascinating facts about this country and its inhabitants, which will help you form a first impression and plan your holiday in Peru in an interesting way.
50 Most Amazing Facts About Peruvians and Peru
So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions, and sights of this amazing country.
1. The first people on the territory of modern Peru appeared 12,000 years ago, as evidenced by archaeological findings.
2. About 5,000 years ago, the first civilization emerged here, known as Norte Chico. The ruins of the city of Caral attest to its prosperity.
3. The most famous ancient civilization in the country is the Inca Empire. The Incas built cities on impregnable cliffs, constructed roads, and practiced agriculture.
4. The Spanish arrived in Peru in 1529, and in 1533, the conquistador Francisco Pizarro captured the Inca capital of Cuzco.
5. In 1820, General San Martin captured Lima and declared the country’s independence. However, full freedom was not achieved until 1824 when the country was liberated by Bolivar’s troops.
6. Throughout the 19th century, Peruvians engaged in conflicts with their neighbors and among themselves. The naval battle in Pacocha Bay in 1877 is famous for being the first time a torpedo was used in battle.
7. Wars continued into the 20th century, with Peru at war with Ecuador, Chile, and Bolivia. It was only in 2000 that the situation calmed down, and peaceful development of the country began.
8. Peru holds the record among all countries in the world for the number of presidential resignations and impeachments. The latest high-profile impeachment took place in 2022.
9. Today, it is a dynamic country and a member of the UN, APEC, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the WTO.
10. The republic is home to 32 million people, but almost half of the population lives below the poverty level.
11. The average salary of Peruvians is $520 per month, and almost 10 percent of the population is unemployed.
12. The Republic is rich in minerals, and the basis of its economy is the extraction of copper, gold, and other ores. Traditional agricultural products also make up a significant part of exports, and Peru is the world leader in growing asparagus.
13. The capital of the country is the city of Lima, which is the largest city in the country, home to almost 10 million people—about a third of the total population of the country.
14. Lima was founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535 and was initially called Ciudad de los Reyes, which meant Royal City.
15. The word «Lima» has Indian roots and comes from the name of the river on which the city is built, Rimac. This name can be translated as «He who speaks.»
16. The official state language of the country is Spanish. However, Quechua, an indigenous language, is almost equally as prominent, and Aymara is also used in some places.
17. Peru is a multi-ethnic country. More than 60 percent of the population are mestizos, and another 23 percent are Quechua Indians, who are direct descendants of the Incas.
18. The predominant religion in the country is Catholicism, with Catholics making up almost 75% of the total population.
19. The currency unit of the country is the Peruvian sol. It replaced the inti, and it was one of the largest denominations in the world. One sol was equal to 1 million inti.
20. Peru is located in the -5 UTC time zone, which means it is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.
Attractions in Peru
21. The main sights of the country are undoubtedly connected with the history of the Incas. First and foremost, it is the ancient Inca capital of Cusco. It is believed that Cusco was founded 3,000 years ago, and the grandiose stonework of Sacsayhuaman, an ancient Inca temple, has been preserved from those times.
22. Another iconic landmark of the country is Machu Picchu, a grandiose city located at an altitude of 2,400 meters. In 2007, Machu Picchu was recognized as one of the New Wonders of the World.
23. Speaking of sights, it is impossible to omit the Nazca Desert geoglyphs – amazing drawings that can only be fully appreciated from a bird’s eye view.
24. The city of Lima is an undoubted attraction of the country, with many museums and amazing buildings, including those in the style of Moorish colonial architecture.
25. The ancient Inca Trail is now the most popular tourist route. It is a 39-kilometer-long stone road that leads to the city of Machu Picchu.
26. In the north of the country near the city of Trujillo, there are ruins of two majestic temples – the Moon and the Sun, belonging to the Mochica culture. Frescoes are still preserved on their walls.
27. In the north of the country, you can also find the famous Otusco Windows, an ancient necropolis carved entirely in rock. This unusual structure is reminiscent of the cave cities of Europe and Asia.
Character, traditions and customs of Peruvians
28. The basic character trait of Peruvians is their cheerfulness. They are cheerful and rarely wear a frown, often seen with a smile on their faces.
29. Peruvians are known for their hospitality. They treat visitors like close friends, offering to stay in their homes and helping in any way they can.
30. The locals love to celebrate. Any life event turns into a festive occasion, with both relatives and neighbors being invited.
31. Even funerals in Peru are celebrated, with people talking, eating, and playing music rather than grieving and weeping.
32. Another distinctive feature of Peruvian character is shyness. Peruvians can be easily embarrassed for even the most minor reasons, often observing foreigners discreetly and seldom initiating conversations.
33. Family and family values are highly significant to Peruvians. They tend to marry at a young age and rarely pursue official divorce, even if they separate and form new partnerships.
34. Family clans, including both close and extended relatives, play a crucial role in Peruvian society. Many businesses in the country are family-based.
35. The traditions and customs of the Quechua people are a cornerstone of Peruvian society, actively preserved and supported at the state level.
36. The traditional Quechua attire, featuring a woolen poncho and colorful headdress, is also considered the national costume of the entire country. Although Peruvians wear Western clothing in everyday life, these traditional costumes are commonly worn during holidays.
37. Many Quechua Indians maintain a traditional way of life. They engage in communal agriculture, growing potatoes, and raising cattle. The Quechua people are credited with domesticating potatoes, which are now a staple in many parts of the world.
38. Charki, sun-dried llama meat, is a famous national dish among the Quechua people. Similar to Ecuador, they also raise guinea pigs for consumption.
39. A significant number of Quechua people continue to practice Inca religious beliefs, worshipping Pachamama, the Earth Goddess, and various mountain spirits known as the Apu.
40. The Quechua people have a strong affinity for coca leaves and frequently chew them. They believe that coca leaves help curb hunger, alleviate fatigue, and combat altitude sickness.
41. Music is an integral part of Quechua culture, with songs accompanying various tasks. Gatherings and dances, often accompanied by the guitar, drums, and flute, are common among them.
Nature of Peru
42. Peru is located entirely in the Southern Hemisphere, covering an area of 1,285,000 square kilometers. In South America, the country ranks second in size, following only Brazil and Argentina.
43. Peru extends over 2,000 kilometers from north to south, with its northernmost point located just 3 kilometers south of the equator.
44. Despite its equatorial proximity, the country maintains a relatively cool climate. This is due not only to the snow-capped Andes but also to the influence of the cold Humboldt Current, which flows along the Peruvian coast.
45. While Peru is often associated with the towering peaks of the Andes, nearly one-third of the country’s territory is covered by the Amazon jungle.
46. The highest point in the country is Mount Huascarán, standing at 6,768 meters. Peru boasts numerous mountains and volcanoes, some dormant and others persistently active.
47. The most significant natural threat in the country is not volcanic eruptions, but earthquakes. Peru experiences up to 2,000 earthquakes each year, though only a small fraction of them are considered strong.
48. The principal river in the country is the Amazon. Its source lies in the northeastern part of Peru, formed by the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañon rivers.
49. Peru’s fauna is diverse and rich, but the iconic animals of the country are llamas and their smaller relatives, alpacas and vicuñas.
50. The largest lake in Peru is the renowned Lake Titicaca. This high-altitude lake, situated on the border with Bolivia, is the largest freshwater reservoir in South America. For the Quechua Indians, the lake holds deep cultural and spiritual significance, and some people still inhabit artificial reed islands on its waters.
If you are aware of more interesting facts about Peru and its people, please share them in the comments. This country is teeming with captivating stories, culture, and traditions, and many would appreciate learning something new. Your contributions would be greatly appreciated!