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Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman, Cuzco, Perú. Author and Copyright Nello and Nadia Lubrina
Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman, Cuzco, Perú. Author Nello and Nadia Lubrina

Peru: Inca culture and Andean landscapes

Peru (República del Perú/Republic of Peru) is a presidential republic located in central western South America. The country is washed by the Pacific Ocean to the west and bordered to the north by Colombia and Ecuador, to the east by Brazil and Bolivia and to the south by Chile. Sandwiched between the equator and the parallel 18° south, Peru presents a remarkable diversity of landscapes: the coastal lowlands, the Andes and the Amazon forest.

A COUNTRY WITH VERY DIFFERENT LANDSCAPES

The coastal area of the country has an extension of 2,400 km with a depth of 100 km, having a typical desert climate with persistent fog between June and August. Here are the major cities of Peru such as the capital Lima and cities like Callao, Trujillo and Chiclayo.

The Andean zone is characterized by mountain ranges, which develop from east to west: the Cordillera Oriental, the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera Occidental. The Cordillera Oriental reaches its maximum height with mounts like Ausangate with 6,384 meters and Salcantay with 6,271 meters above the valley of the Urubamba River. While the Cordillera Central is the lowest of the three Cordilleras.

The Cordillera Occidental has the most important mountains of the country. Here is the imposing Cordillera Blanca with the Alpamayo, reaching 5,947 meters and dominated by the Huascarán with 6,768 metres, being the highest mountain of Peru. In the southern area of the country near the city of Arequipa are the imposing volcanic cones of Misti with 5,822 metres, Chachani with 6,075 meters and Pichu-Pichu with 5,669 metres.

In the same area is Lake Titicaca with 8,300 sq km, divided between Peru and Bolivia, lying at an altitude of 3,810 metres and being the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake of the world. To the east, beyond the Andean Cordilleras the vast plains of the Amazon jungle are to be found, which constitute more than 60% of the territory of the country. Here the major rivers are flowing including the Rio Marañón and Rio Ucayali, which are the main sources of the Amazon river.

Machu Picchu, Perú. Author and Copyright Nello and Nadia Lubrina

Machu Picchu, Perú. Author Nello and Nadia Lubrina

A LITTLE DEVELOPED ECONOMY

The agriculture is under-developed. Cereals, potatoes, rice, cotton, sugar cane, coffee and fruits are produced. The breeding, mainly of sheep, lamas and vicuña, is one of the most traditional activities of the Andean population. There is also breeding of poultry, cattle and pigs. Fishing along the coast of the Pacific Ocean is important. Mining is extremely important, being the true basis of Peru’s economy and the main wealth of the country since the colonial period. Copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, iron, oil, vanadium and bismuth are extracted.

Tourism is becoming more and more important thanks to the many cultural and landscape attractions of the country such as archaeological sites like Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines, the colonial city of Cusco and the surrounding ruins of the Incas, Lake Titicaca with its islands, the colonial city of Arequipa, the Andes and the Amazon forest.

The climate of Peru.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster. 

  • Area: 1,285,216 sq km arable land 3,2%, pastures 21,1%, forests and bushland 66%, uncultivated and unproductive land 9,7%
  • Population: 28,674,000 (as of 2007): Amerindians 45%, Mestizos (descendants of Europeans and Amerindians) 37%, Europeans 15%, Afro-Peruvians 2%, Asians 1%.
  • State Capital: Lima.
  • Official Language: The official language is Spanish, spoken as a first language by 80% of the population. The Andean population speaks Quechua (16.5%) and in the southern region Aymara is spoken by 3%.
  • Religion: Roman Catholics 89%, Protestants 6.7%.
  • Currency: Nuevo Sol (PEN)
  • Time Zone: UTC-5 hours.

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