Peru is a nation of mixed ethnic origins. Throughout its history, Peru has been the meeting ground for different nations and cultures. The indigenous population was joined 500 years ago by the Spaniards.
As a result of this encounter, and later enriched by the migration of African blacks, Asians and Europeans, Peruvian man emerged as the representative of a nation whose rich ethnic mix is one of its leading characteristics.
As part of its rich cultural tradition, Peru features many different languages. Although Spanish is commonly spoken across the country, Quechua is a major legacy of the Inca empire, and is still spoken with regional dialects in many parts of Peru.
In addition, other languages are spoken such as Aymara (in Puno) and a startling variety of dialects in the Amazon jungle, which are divided up into 15 linguistic families and 38 different languages.
The official currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol (S/.), which is divided into 100 centimos. The currency includes coins for 5, 10, 20 and 50 centimos and 1, 2 and 5 sol coins. There are bills in the denomination of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 soles.
Peru is a democratic republic. The president and members of Congress are elected every five years by universal suffrage. The current constitutional president of Peru is Alejandro Toledo Manrique (2001-2006).
Peru is a naturally religious country: a diversity of beliefs and freedom of worship can be seen from the wide range of festivals and rituals that feature both Catholic fervor and the mysticism of age-old pre-Hispanic cultures.
Peru is divided into three regions.
Although this simple division is a fair portrait of Peru's geography, the reality is much richer and far more complex: in Peru, nature appears to have taken on particular characteristics which have turned its mountains, plains, jungles and valleys into unique habitats.
An extraordinary variety of eco-systems shelters a wide diversity of animals and plants.
Features deserts, beautiful beaches and fertile valleys..
The Peruvian coastline is formed by a long snaking desert hemmed in between the sea and the mountains. The Andes to the east and the cold Humboldt sea current that runs along the coast are what make this area so arid. From the Sechura desert to the Nazca plains and the Atacama desert, the dry coastal terrain is occasionally split by valleys covered by a thick layer of cloud and drizzle in the winter.
Humidity in these areas produces a sensation of cold, although temperatures rarely dip below 12°C. During the summer, meanwhile, the sun beats down and temperatures often top 30°C. The central and southern sections of the coast feature two well-defined seasons: winter from April to October, and summer from November to March. The north coast, meanwhile, is not touched by the effects of the cold current, which means it enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year and warm temperatures all year-long (as much as 35°C in the summer). The rain season runs from November to March
A mountainous area dominated by the Andes, where Mount Huascaran soars to 6,768 meters.
In the Peruvian highlands, there are two well-defined seasons: the dry season (from April to October), marked by sunny days, cold nights and the lack of rain (the ideal time for visiting); and the rainy season (November to March), when there are frequent rain showers (generally more than 1000 mm). A characteristic of the mountain region is the drop in temperature during the day: temperatures commonly range around 24°C at midday before plunging to -3°C at night.
The steep slopes of the Andes means temperatures gradually drop in the highest region, known as the puna, the highland plain.
The dry and pleasant climate in the highlands makes it possible to grow a wide variety of crops there.
A vast region of tropical vegetation in the Amazon River Basin, index.htm to Peru's largest natural reserves.
The vast Peruvian jungle, which surrounds the wide and winding Amazon river, is divided into two differentiated areas: the cloud forest (above 700 masl), which features a subtropical, balmy climate, with heavy rain showers (around 3000 mm a year) between November and March, and sunny days from April to October; and the lowland jungle (below 700 masl), where the dry season runs from April to October and is ideal for tourism, with sunshine and high temperatures often topping 35°C.
During this season, the river levels dip and roads are easy to drive. The rainy season, meanwhile, which runs from November to March, features frequent rain showers (at least once a day) which can damage roads in the area. The jungle features high humidity all year long. In the southern jungle, there are sometimes cold spells known locally as friajes or surazos, cold fronts which drift up from the far south of the continent between May and August, where temperatures can drop to 8-12°C.