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Peru

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Continent:America National flag
National flag: Peru
Capital city:Lima
Area:1,285,220 km2 ( 19. )
Population:27,925,628 Person ( 38. )
People density:22 Person / km2
GDP per capita:1,315 $ / Person ( 93. )
GDP:36,722,200,820 $
Official language:spanish, kečua

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A fantastic land of gold, Peru was sixteenth-century Europe’s major source of treasure, and also once the home of the largest empire in the world – the sun-worshipping Incas. Since then, the riches of the Incas have fired the European imagination: the country was home to the world’s first stone pyramids, whose genuine antiquity was only discovered quite recently. Meanwhile the desert coast is studded with monumental adobe temples and ruins from several pre-Inca civilizations. These archeological sites generate more than enough awe and wonder to attract visitors and pilgrims from all over the globe; however, the country’s real appeal lies in the sheer beauty of its landscapes, the abundance of its wildlife, and the strong character of the people – which has withstood a recent, lengthy period of bloody political upheaval.

The most varied and exciting of all the South American nations, Peru is often visualized as a mountainous place, many visitors remaining unaware of the splendour of the country’s immense desert coastline and its vast tracts of tropical rainforest. Dividing these contrasting environments is a range of breath-taking peaks, the Andes, over six thousand metres high and four hundred kilometres wide in places, rippling the entire length of the nation. So distinct are these three regions that it is very difficult to generalize about the country, but one thing for sure is that Peru offers a unique opportunity to experience an unusually wide range of spectacular scenery, as well as a wealth of human culture. There’s a rich diversity of music, dance and fiesta activity from every one of its distinctive regions, and Peruvian cuisine is some of the best in the Americas, partly because of the oceanic and tropical resources from which it draws.

The Incas and their native allies were unable to resist the mounted, fire-armed conquistadores, and following the Spanish Conquest in the sixteenth century the colony developed by exploiting its Inca treasures, vast mineral deposits and the essentially slave labour which the colonists extracted from the indigenous people. After achieving independence from the Spanish in the early nineteenth century, Peru became a republic in traditional South American style, and although it is still very much dominated by the Spanish and mestizo descendants of Pizarro, about half the population are of pure Indian blood. In many rural parts of the country, native life has changed little in the last four centuries. However, "progress" is gradually transforming much of Peru – already most cities wear a distinctly Western aspect, and roads and tracks now connect almost every corner of the republic with the industrial urbanizaciones that dominate the few fertile valleys along the coast.

Only the Amazon jungle – nearly two-thirds of Peru’s landmass but home to a mere fraction of its population – remains beyond the reach of Peru’s coastal markets, and even here oil and lumber companies, cocaine producers and settlers often think of themselves as being closer to Brazil and Colombia. Nevertheless, mundane, unaffected pleasures remain in place. The country’s prevailing attitude – despite the sometimes hectic pace that permeates the capital, Lima – is that there is always enough time for a chat, a ceviche, or another drink. It’s a place where the resourceful and open-minded traveller can break through barriers of class, race, and language far more easily than most of its inhabitants can; and also one in which the limousines and villas of the elite remain little more than a thin veneer on a nation whose roots lie firmly in its ethnic traditions and the earth itself.

[ Buy on Amazon: The Rough Guide to Peru ]

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Map of country Peru

Map of country  Peru

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