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PERU FACTS AND CULTURE: GREAT MONUMENTS & BEST NATIONAL PARKS. Inca Monuments, Historical Cities, Indian Art, Andes & Amazon Nature

Peru facts and culture

This page provides some basic Peru facts and culture info, some of them illustrated with high quality photos. We hope you like them.


Why consider booking our  Peru National Parks Tour? Because for the same price, our tour gets you to ALL places for which Peru is so famous, and on top of that, you get to see 9 National Parks/Reserves accompanied by a naturalist guide. There is nothing similar on the market. As Peru can be combined with other countries, we organize tours in modules: Lima Cusco, Machu Picchu module, Manu National Park module, National Parks Module, All modules.

Destinations Overview:  World Heritage Site LimaWorld Heritage Site Cusco, Amazon park Manu National Park World Heritage Site Valle Sagrado/Sacred Valley, World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, Cloud Forest Machu Picchu Sanctuary, Highland wetland Titicaca National Reserve, Uros floating islands, Altiplano wildlife park Salinas & Aguadas Blancas National Reserve, World's second deepest canyon Colca Canyon, Word heritage site Arequipa, World heritage site Nazca Lines, Pampas Galeras National Reserve, San Fernando National Reserve, Paracas National Reserve, Ballestas Islands National Reserve.


Economic development

While the economy of Peru is one of the world's fastest growing economies, ranked the 39th largest in the world and an upper middle class income, about 30% op the population is still poor, 10% of which living in extreme poverty. In the last few years, inflation has fluctuated around 2%, some of the lowest in Latin America.


Multi-ethnic origins

With the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, the population gradually became multiethnic. The first major changes was due to a dramatic collapse of the native population, that fell from and estimated 8,00,000 in 1548 to 3,000,000 by 1570 by 1570, due to diseases brought from Europe. The 1792 census recorded 13% Spanish, 27% Amerindians and 56% castas or mestizos. The Peruvian population continued to decline and by 1800 the colony had no more that 1,000,000 inhabitants. From then on however, the population started to grow rapidly and by 1825, the population had more than doubled to 2,500,000 inhabitants by 1825. As Peru imported slaves from Africa, people from African decent are present in certain areas. After independence, immigrants arrived from England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. In the 1850s Chinese were brought over to replace the slave work force and have since become a major ethnic influence.


The people

Peru has about 30,000,000 inhabitants, which makes it the 5th larges population in South America. Population growth has slowed down from 2.6% in the 1950s to 1.6% in 2000 and continues to fall. The population is expected peak at about 40,000,000 by 2050, after which is would start decreasing. Currently almost 80% of the people live in urban areas and just over 20% in rural areas. Lima has more than 8,000,000 inhabitants, followed by Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura, Iquitos, Cusco, Chimbote, and Huancayo respectively. 15=% of the population lives at elevations between 2,000 and 3,000 m, about 20% lives between 3,000 and 4,000 m, while only 1% resides above 4,000 m. More than half of the population lives in the coastal lowlands, while about 12% lives in the Amazon region.


The official languages are Spanish as well as the tribal languages, of which Quechua and Aymara are the largest.


The colonial period

As the Inca empire became subjugated to the Spanish Crown in 1932 through the conquest by Pizarro, the new territory became the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1942, which it remained until independence in 1821. After independence, the country became a republic. Currently, Peru is multi-party democracy with a president, a prime minister with his council of ministers and 130 members Congress. 


A lifetime of servitude

Debatedly, the cruelest measure of the colonist was the subjugation of the native americans to a life time of servitud. During the colonial days, the native population - colonos as they were called -, particularly in the Andes, was condemned to living a life of slave-like servitude or bondage. Their woolen clothes identified them as Vicos - bondservants -, families built their house on the property of the mega-landowner, but did not own it. In fact, they owed the estate 3 or more days of labor per week for using a small subsistence plot together with the land of their house. For grazing privileges, the newborn animals were divided each year between colono and landlord. A symbolic wage of 2 dollar cent equivalents as well as a portion of coca leaves and alcohol were given to each colono. Moreover, the colonos had to perform other services, such as pasturing the cattle of the landowner,  providing any labor from construction to roads maintenance; the women and girls had to serve as maids in their homes. The landlord might also rent his colonos to other land owners, without paying them wages. This system was ended in 1954 in the context of Peru's land reform.


Main economic activities

The rapidly expanding economy is based on  53% of Peruvian GDP, 22.3% manufacturing, 15% mining, and 9.7% taxes. Economic growth was catapulted by the implementation of the free trade agreement with the USA in 2006, as well as political and economic stability. Main exports are copper, gold, zinc, textiles, and fish meal, mostly to its major trade partnersthe USA, China, Brazil, and Chile.



The third largest economic activity is tourist, right behind fishing and mining. Archeological monuments and colonial city centers are the primary attractions for tourists, although ecotourism to the Peruvian Amazon and adventure tourism are constantly growing. Cultural tourism forms the largest sector of the tourism industry in Peru. The Pre-Columbian civilizations – particularly the Inca Empire and the cultures of the Chavín, Moche, and Nasca – left many ancient remains, making Perú the archeologically richest nation of the Americas and among the 10 richest worldwide. Of course, the World Heritage site Machu Picchu is the most internationally recognized of all the ruins of Peru and has the higest visitation numbers. Other famous monuments are Chan Chan, Sipán, Kuelap, the Nazca Lines, Caral, Sillustani and  the ruins in the Sacred Valley such as Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuamán and Pisac.


Colonial architecture

The Spanish colonial architecture in many cities in Peru are equally fascinating, finding their highlights in colonial churches throughout the country, both in major cities and in small villages in the countryside. Lima, Arequipa, and Cusco are of course the most famous old cities of Peru. These areas, many built over 500 years ago, demonstrate the superb architectural ingenuity of the colonists during the Viceroyalty of Peru.



Lima not only has the rich colonial monuments associated with being the capital of the Spanish colonial empire in South America, it also has the country's best museums, such as the National Museum, the National Museum of Anthropology, the Archeology and History, the Rafael Larco Herrera Archeological Museum, the National Museum of Peruvian Culture, and the highly controversial Gold Museum. While Cusco needs no mention, the city of Arequipa is a little known treasure. The "white city" - named after the color of the light gray natural volcanic stone from which it was built, has a fantastic colonial center and is definitely worth visiting.



The 2,414km of coastline has a wide variety of beaches that are becoming increasingly popular, particularly among the Peruvians themselves. Resorts are popping up in many small and mid-sized towns, giving the traveler a wide choise of beaches in a great variety of price-classes. Among international travelers, the beaches are less recognized, even though they have a great advantage as compared to beaches in other tropical countries. As the Humboldt current passes by the coast, the air temperatures at the are a bit cooler that one would expect in a tropical country, making one's stay at the beach far more comfortable than elsewhere around the equator. Some beaches are lined with vertical rocks that create perfect conditions for para-sailing.

The flag of Peru.

Peru facts and culture: Flag of Peru

Peru facts and culture: Coat of Arms of Peru.

Coat of Arms of Peru with Vicuña as national mammal.

The government's Palace at the Plaza de las Armas in Lima.

Peru facts and culture: Government's Palace at the Plaza de las Armas in Lima, Peru

Peru facts and culture: Plaza de las Armas, Peru, with in the background the City Hall

Plaza de las Armas, Peru, with in the background the City Hall.

The Santo Domingo Church in Cusco is built on the foundation walls of an Inca temple.

Peru facts: The Santo Domingo Church in Cusco is built on the foundation walls of an Inca temple.
Peru facts and culture: Colonial house in Cusco built on top of an Inca wall.

Colonial house built on top of an Inca wall.

The lost city of Machu Picchu, now a World Heritage Site.

Peru facts and culture: The lost city of Machu Picchu, now a World Heritage Site
Peru facts and culture: Inti Huatana, an astronomic clock or calendar for the Incas at Machu Picchu

Inti Huatana, an astronomic clock or calendar for the Incas at Machu Picchu.

Jungle expedition in Manu National Park.

Peru facts: Jungle expedition in Manu National Park.

Peru facts: Enjoying wildlife in the Amazon of Manú National Parkl

Enjoying wildlife in the Amazon.

Uros raft at the floating islands in Lake Titicaca.

Peru facts and culture: Uros raft at the floating islands on Lake Titicaca

Peru facts and culture: The Hummingbird Nasca Lines

The Hummingbird Nasca Lines.

Humboldt Pinguins at the Ballestas Islands near Paracas.

Peru facts: Humboldt Pinguins at the Ballestas Islands near Paracas

Peru facts and culture: Paracas Petroglyph

Paracas Petroglyph.

Fishing Industry is one of the pillars of the Peruvian economy.

Peru facts and culture: Fishing Industry is one of the pillars of the Peruvian economy

Peru facts and culture: The Cathedral of Arquipa at the Plaza de las Armas

The Cathedral of Arequipa at the Plaza de las Armas.

Folkloric customs are still being worn by women in most parts of the Andes

Peru facts and culture: Folkloric customs are still being worn by women in most parts of the Andes

Peru facts and culture: Luxury sleeping bus Peru

Peru has great bus services connecting most cities. In many cases, these bus services are more efficient than flying with several departures per day. It's particularly efficient taking the night bus in a comfortable sleeping chair at the lower floor.

Peru facts and culture: Deluxe sleeping bus Peru, interior, sleeping chair

Peru facts and culture: Deluxe night bus Peru, inside.

Our National Parks Tour uses the connections Cusco-Puno, Arequipa - Nazca, Nazca - Paracas and Paracas - Lima. 


For other Peru facts and culture info you can consult Wikipedia.

For climate data per region, please consult your page "Climates of Peru"



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Machu Picchu
Sacred Valley
Nazca Lines
Peru National Parks
Uros & Titicaca
Climate by Region
Do's & don'ts

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