There’s so much Peru information floating around the web. As it can be very overwhelming, we’ve pulled together this list of some of the more interesting facts about Peru – the essentials for any first-time traveler to Peru.
- Peru’s official name is actually the Republic of Peru, or República del Perú.
After the decisive Battle of Ayacucho, Peru secured its independence from Spanish colonial rule and became a representative democratic republic, the Republic of Peru.
- Peru is located in western South America.
Hugging the Pacific coastline, Peru is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia to its north, Brazil to its east, Bolivia to its southeast, and Chile to its south. Its capital, Lima, is located along Peru’s central Pacific coastline.
- The official flag of Peru is a vertical triband of the colors red-white-red.
Peru’s first flag was designed by the great South American liberator José de San Martin. The current red-white-red triband flag with a coat of arms at its center
was designed by Jose Bernardo de Tagle. The Peruvian coat of arms features a vicuña, a cinchona tree (the source of quinine), and a cornucopia overflowing with gold coins.
- Peru is five hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.
The entire country follows Peru Time (PET) year-round. Though it used to be, Daylight Savings Time is no longer observed in Peru, meaning the time difference between Peru and places like the United States, England, and other countries that follow Daylight Savings Time can shift by an hour depending on the time of year.
- The total area of Peru is slightly smaller than that of the state of Alaska.
Peru covers an area of 1,285,220 square kilometers, or 496,226 square miles, making it the third largest country in South America after Brazil and Argentina.
- Peru is the 42nd most populous country in the world and the 4th most populous in South America.
According to United Nations estimates, Peru’s total population, as of 2019, is 32,906,644 people, 79.3% of which live in Peru’s major cities, like Lima, Arequipa, and Cusco. Peru’s population is expected to grow to 42 million by 2050.
- Peru has three distinct geographic regions: the coastal plains, the highlands, and the jungle.
Running down the spine of Peru, the Andes Mountain Range, or highlands of Peru, divide the arid coastal plains of the country’s west from the humid lowland jungle in the east. The highest point is Huaraz’s Nevado Huascaran, a 6,768-meter (22,205 ft.) peak in the Cordillera Blanca range of the Andes Mountains. The largest geographic region is the Amazon Rainforest that covers roughly 60% of Peru’s territory.
- Peru is classified as a megadiverse country.
Situated in the tropical latitudes, carved by mountain ranges, and regulated by the ocean currents of the Pacific Ocean that line its entire western edge, Peru is home to a diverse range of climates. And while the country’s geography can be neatly divided into three regions, its climate cannot. The same swath of Amazon can vary in temperature and rainfall depending on the season and latitude, while the coast sees warmer and wetter climactic conditions the more north one goes. The mountains are relatively consistent with frequent summer rains, low humidity, and lower temperatures than the rest of Peru.
- Peru’s official languages are Spanish, Quechua, and Aymara.
While Spanish is the main language spoken in Peru, Quechua, Aymara and other native languages do still exist and are widely spoken. In fact, 13% of the population calls Quechua, the language of the Incas, their first language.
- Though Roman Catholicism is the main religion in Peru, it’s still infused with indigenous traditions.
Due almost entirely to Peru’s Spanish Colonial past, Roman Catholicism, with a touch of indigenous tradition still apparent during Catholic festivities, is practiced by about 76% of the population. 14.1% are Evangelical, 4.8% are Protestant, Jewish, Latter-day Saints, or Jehovah’s Witness, while 5.1% are nonreligious.
- Peru is home to 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Of Peru’s 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, eight are cultural, two natural, and two falling under both categories. They are: the city of Cusco, the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu, the Chavin archaeological site, Huascaran National Park, the Chan Chan archaeological zone, Manu National Park, the historic center of Lima, Rio Abiseo National Park, the Nazca Lines and Pampas de Jumana, the historic center of Arequipa, the sacred city of Caral-Supe, and the Qhapaq Ñan, the Inca-built road system.
- Peru’s national currency is the Peruvian Nuevo Sol.
At the time of writng this, one Peruvian Nuevo Sol is equivalent to about 30 cents (USD). Nuevo Sol banknotes come in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 while the coins are available in denominations of 1, 2, and 5 soles or 1, 5, 20, and 50 centimos.
- You can travel by land, air, and river in Peru.
Peru has more than 230 airports, about 63,931 miles of roadways, and about 5,343 miles of navigable Amazon tributaries and another 129 miles if you include Lake Titicaca. All of these numbers mean that you can fly, drive, and boat your way through Peru when you visit.
- Famous Peruvians
From Mario Vargas Llosa, the Arequipa-born writer, journalist, and politician, to Paolo Guerrero, Peru’s soccer star, and Gaston Acurio, the original ambassador of Peruvian cuisine, there’s a long list of famous Peruvians you should know about.