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Title:Peru
Date of publishing:April 20, 2015
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Language:English
Also available in the following languages:Spanish

Peru

Surface Area

Peru is located on the central west coast of South America, with a surface area of 1,285,215 sq km. It is the third largest country in South America.

Geography

Peru possesses an enormous multiplicity of landscapes, which gives the country a great diversity of natural resources. The country is divided into three main geographic regions, divided regionally from north to south. The Coast comprises 10% and the Andes 29%. More than 60% of the country lies on the eastern side of the Andes Mountain Range, in the Amazon jungle.

Population

Peru has a population of 28,220,764 inhabitants (according to census in November, 2007). Over half of Peru’s 28 million inhabitants, are concentrated in the coastal desert, mainly in the city of Lima. The remaining half live in the highlands and Amazon. About 45% of the population is Amerindian (indigenous from Peru), 37% is Mestizo (mixed race), 15% Caucasian (European), 2% Afro-Peruvian and 1% Chinese-Japanese descent. Density   21,958 (2007) people/km² 

Climate

Peru does not have an exclusively tropical climate as is commonly thought. Because it is situated near Ecuador; the influence of the Andes and Humboldt's cold water currents determine a great climatic diversity to the Peruvian territory. The coast has moderate temperatures, low rainfalls and high dampness, with the exception of the hotter and wetter north coastal region. In the highlands, it frequently rains from November to April, whereas the temperature and dampness diminish with the increased elevation of the Andes Mountains. The jungle is characterized by heavy rains and high temperatures.

Weather in Peru varies a great deal from one geographic region to another. The average temperature is High 70°F(21°C) and Low 34°F(1°C) in the highlands. In the lowlands temperatures range High 63°F to 79°F(17°C to 26°C) and Low 56°F to 68°F(13°C to 20°C). Peru coastal region does have four defined seasons; the highland and jungle do not have four seasons, seasons are defined by the amount of rainfall. There is a rainy season from November to April. The dry season lasts from May to November. However, even during the rainy season the mornings are, more often than not, bright and sunny. Temperatures vary throughout the year; the main influence on temperature is altitude and night fall. Always pack an umbrella or raincoat.

Language

The official languages of Peru are Spanish and Quechua (the language spoken principally in the highlands by most indigenous people). Aymara is not an official language and is spoken in the southern Altiplano region of the Peruvian Andes, where Lake Titicaca is located. There are also more than 40 official dialects spoken in the region of the Amazonia, including the Machiguenga, Shipibo, and the Ashaninka.

Religion

The official religion of Peru is Catholicism. More than 80% of Peruvians are declared Roman Catholics, although less than 20% practice other religions or do not practice any religion. Peru celebrates many religious festivities throughout the year. These occur in different cities throughout Peru. One of the most prominent religious manifestations is the Procession of the Lord of the Miracles (Lima), which is considered by many to be one of the most multitudinous faith manifestations in the world. Peru is a Catholic country, but Peruvians are free to practice one or more religions simultaneously, and generally, religious preferences change due to the geographic location of the populations. This is reflected mainly in the Andes and in the jungle where the people may adore Mother Earth (Pacha Mama) and the Mountains (Apus) in addition to or instead of Catholicism.

Currency

Peru’s unit of currency is the Sol ( s/ ). Most hotels, hostels, restaurants and shops accept U.S dollars, but if you want to change your dollars into local currency, we recommend that you do it at the money change houses or at a bank.
Exchange rate currently is: US$ 1.00 = 2.70 Soles.

There are numerous banks in Lima, Cusco and throughout Peru. There you can change traveller checks, buy soles (local currency) and get cash. Banks are usually open from Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. They are closed on certain holidays (Dec. 25th, January 1st, Easter - Holy Thursday and Friday), so be informed. ATMs are available in main cities, some hotels, tourist areas and shop stores, but do not assume that you will find one in every place, and/or they will accept your credit card. All ATMs accept Master Card and Visa. Check with your bank in advance regarding international fees and limits for cash withdrawals.

Local Time

Five hours past Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)

Current and Voltage

Electrical current in Peru runs at 220 volts, 60 cycles AC. Most five star hotels have 110 volt sockets in the rooms, although you may want to bring a travel electric adapter. It is recommended to bring an electric adapter to change flat- pronged plugs to round-pronged plugs. In most places all the plugs are ambivalent, circles ( as in Spain ) or planes (as in America) .

Shopping

Peru and also Cusco have a great variety of articles of silver, alpaca wool and pima cotton. Our handicrafts are highly valued worldwide. In our local handicrafts market it is possible barging with the venders.

Tipping

A 10% service charge is included in all restaurants prices. It is customary to leave an additional 10% for the waiter and a voluntary tip for tourist guides and drives , but no for taxi drives.

Internet and Telephone

In Cusco there are public facilities for worldwide internet access at affordable rates. Telefonica del Peru y AT & T sell pre paid calling cards of different denominations available at book stores, markets and newspaper stands.

Mail

A letter or postcard takes one week in arriving to its destination. Mail boxes and stamps are available in most of the book stores, hotels and in the central post office.

Public Transportation

There are not taximeters in Peru, so for that before getting into a taxi, you must clearly establish the rate with your driver. Remember to take low denomination coins with you to pay this service.

Economy

Peru is a developing country that is in a stage of economic growth. In April, 2008, the increase of the Interior Brute Product of this country was 13.25 percent. According to the America Economy and the International Monetary Fund, in 2008 Peru had the second lowest inflation in the world (after France). It, therefore now days, has one of the most solid economies in South America. Peru’s main exports are relative to mining industries. Peru is the second largest producer of silver, fourth largest producer of copper, zinc and lead, and fifth largest producer of gold. Additionally, Peru possesses large deposits of iron, tin, manganese, oil and natural gas. In agro-industry, Peru is the largest producer of fish meal, asparagus, and paprika, the second largest producer of artichokes and the sixth largest producer of coffee. In addition, Peru is the largest producer of Alpaca wool and the most important Latin American exporter of cotton textile articles. In the framework of a new world economy, the Asian-Pacific area will be an investment of economic growth that in conjunction with Peruvian comparative advantages will be a pole of development to attract investments.

Export-Import

The main exported goods are copper, gold, zinc, textiles, and fishing consuming products. Peru´s principal commerce partners are the United States, China, Brazil and Chile. MINCETUR (the Ministry of Foreign Commerce and Tourism) lead the international commerce negotiations in the framework of its government´s macroeconomics and the principals of the World Trade Organization of which Peru is a constitutive member. In this sense, MINCETUR centers its trading analysis efforts and international commerce tendencies to obtain better conditions to access international markets, to maximize Peru benefits in the outline of integration, to promote investments with the promotion of the international commerce.

Gastronomy

Peru´s gastronomic diversity is demonstrated in the fact that, according to experts, there is such a wide range of traditional dishes (491). This is the equivalent of French, Chinese or Indian cuisine. With Peruvian food you can find at least 5000 years of pre-Inca, Inca, colonial and republican history. Almost three centuries of influence is apparent by 762 years of Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula, gastronomic customs and traditions brought by slaves from the African Atlantic coast and the influence and tradition of French chefs who escaped from the revolution to live, in a large number, in Peru´s vice regal capital. Equally important is the influence by the Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Italians from 1900 and other European immigrants (who arrived in Peru between 1400 and 2000). As an exclusive aspect of Peru´s gastronomy, there is food and flavors from four continents in one country. This gastronomy holds various Guinness World Records for its variety, quantity and quality. Peruvian culinary arts are in constant evolution and this, added to its variety of traditional food, makes it impossible to establish a complete list of representative dishes. It is worthy to mention that along the Peruvian coast there are more than 2500 different type of soups. Likewise there are more than 250 traditional desserts.

The great variety of Peruvian gastronomy is based in 3 major sources:

  • Peru´s singular geography
  • The blend of races and cultures
  • The adaptation of millenary cultures to modern cuisine

CUSCO CITY

Population

The population in Cusco City according to census in November, 2007, is 400,000 inhabitants. The annual growth rate is approximately 4%. In 1821 after 3 centuries of Spanish colonial administration, this city had about 40,000 people. In the Tawantinsuyo's apogee it should had between 225 to 300 thousand inhabitants.

Altitude

The altitude is 3,400 meters above sea level (11,150 feet). Some persons not used to the high altitude get problems as a consequence of the oxygen scarcity. There is an inverse relationship: the higher the altitude, the smaller the amount of oxygen. That phenomenon makes changes in people who live in high altitudes; they develop their hearts and lungs bigger. Their blood contains a higher amount of red cells too. Scarcity of oxygen produces in some people the altitude sickness that is also known as soroche or sickness of Monge. The symptoms include sleeplessness, headaches, increased excitability, shortness of breath, and a lower threshold of pain and taste. Tendon reflexes slow down and there may be loss of weight, thyroid deficiency, lung edema, or infections. Women may experience dysmenorrhea or amenorrhea, and many people experience psychological or mental disturbances. For some people it may take days, weeks or even years to adjust to some altitudes.

The most important rules when arriving on altitude are to avoid physical exercise the first day(s), drink lots of water, get enough rest, eat light and avoid coffee, alcohol and cigarettes. Most people will feel the lack of oxygen for a while but when taking the former advice into account undergoes little hinder. In case you would have stronger headaches, insomnia and troubles breathing it is strongly recommend to see a doctor. In Cusco and other cities on altitude oxygen is widely available in pharmacies. Most hotels also provide oxygen for their guests if requested.

Temperature

It is relatively cool. The annual average in the city is between 10.3° to 11.3° Celsius (50.54° to 52.34° Fahrenheit). Over here there is some uniformity in temperature between summer and winter. Normally it is somewhat cold at nighttime and during the first hours in the early morning while that at midday temperature increases considerably. During the early mornings in June and July temperature frequently drops to 5° and 7°C below zero (23° and 19.4°F).

Rainfall

The altitude in which Cusco is found and its proximity to the equator make the city's climate so special. There are just 2 well-defined seasons: a dry season and another rainy one. The dry season is from May to October and the rainy season from November to April. Generally, rainfall fluctuates between 600 to 880 mm. per year, that is between 31.5 to 34.5 inches.

Humidity

In the lower section of the Cusco Valley there is an annual humidity average of 64 %.

Health Precautions

Don’t forget to take precautions to avoid altitude sickness ( Cusco 11.200 ft), and be sure to try a hot tea or infusion of coca leaves on the arrival in the altitude, rest some few hours and eat lightly. Travelers with heart conditions or high blood pressure should check with their doctor before traveling to Cusco. If you are going to visit areas of the jungle, do not forget that a yellow fever immunization is a prerequisite and must be receive at least 10 days before beginning your trip to this area.

Water And Food

To avoid problems drinking tap water, we recommend that you always drink bottle water. Peruvian cuisine is highly varied and spicy ,we recommend that you take advantage of your visit to enjoy the local and international cuisine prepared in Cusco that is recognized around the world as one of the best.

Clothing And Weather

Here the weather can vary considerably in one day, according to the time day. It can be cold in the early morning and at night, and quite warm at midday. Therefore, it is advisable to dress in layers of clothing that can be easily put or taken off. Sweaters, jackets and long slacks are necessary.

Domestic animals

The dog is the favorite domestic animal in Cusco, you will see dogs everywhere. The cat is present but in smaller percentages. Be not afraid if one day when checking the menu in the different restaurants finds the guinea pig as main course. Here the Guinea pig is not a pet. This little animal constitutes one of the most traditional dishes in Cusco cuisine.

Family Houses

This is a different type of lodging offered by some families from Cusco, they offered simple and double rooms. To be in a family house is a great advantage for those that want to know a little but about the customs of Cusco resident's.

What should I pack to come to Peru?

For Cultural Travel (City - day tours)

  •  Passport with one photocopy (color-recommended)
  •  Another ID (e.g. driver’s license) with your photograph on it
  •  A day pack for day tours
  •  Light clothes for sunny days (shorts, t-shirts, shirts)
  •  Warm clothes for the highlands and mountains (jacket, sweater, fleece, pants)
  •  Comfortable shoes or/and hiking boots
  •  Rain gear (raincoat, waterproof shoes)
  •  Camera and memory sticks
  •  Binoculars
  •  Sun cream
  •  Insect repellent
  •  Sunglasses
  •  Hat or Cap

If you want to do Adventure Travel (Hiking) add:

  •  Thermal clothing, it turns very cold after nightfall all year round
  •  Hiking boots (water proof)
  •  Sandals or slippers, to walk more comfortably at the camps sites
  •  Hat for cold and Cap for the sun and for rainy days
  •  Sleeping bag (rated for at least -5°C)
  •  Convertible pants or zipoff pants
  •  Long johns
  •  A towel
  •  Swim suit
  •  Snacks, we recommend power bars
  •  Flashlight with extra batteries
  •  Camera with extra batteries (batteries lose charge easily in cold weather conditions)
  •  Reusable Water Bottle (to avoid unnecessary waste of plastic disposable bottles)
  •  Walking poles

 

FESTIVITY CALENDAR

January

- 1st to 6th, exhibition of typical Nativities in Cusquenian churches and homes;
- 06th, "Descent of the Three Wise Men", important religious and folk festival in Ollantaytambo

February

- (movable date) Folk Carnival Festivals in different towns of the Sacred Valley of the Inkas

March

- (movable) Holy Week; procession of the Lord of Earthquakes on Holy Monday and some other processions during the week, Eucharist exhibitions too;
- 23rd, Spanish Refoundation of Qosqo City

May

- 02nd, "Cruz Velacuy", day of the Catholic crosses in Qosqo and in almost every Andean Village, the festivity goes on even until May 4th;
- (movable between May and June) Festivity of the Lord of Qoyllurit'i, in the Sinakhara Mountain that is nearby Ocongate; it includes pilgrimage and folk atmosphere

June

- (9 weeks after Holy Thursday) Corpus Christi. It has processions of Virgins and Saints from almost all the parishes of the city escorted by folk dances. Fruits and local dishes are displayed and sold at Plateros Street. The classical dish for this festivity is "Chiri Uchu";
- Sunday before the 24th, Folk Festival in the Wiraqocha Inkan temple of the Raqchi village, district of San Pedro, Canchis province;
- 24th,Inti Raymi. Performance in Saqsaywaman of the most important festivity of Inkan times: the "Sun Festivity"; it includes Inkan clothing and folk festival;
- 29th, Festivity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the parish of San Pedro in Qosqo and the districts of those names in the Canchis province;

July

- 16th, Virgin of Carmen; great religious and folk festivity in the Paucartambo village as well as in P'isaq;
- 25th to 29th, Coffee Festival in Quillabamba

August

- Last Sunday of the month. Performance of the "Warachikuy" Inkan Festival in Saqsaywaman;

September

- 14th, Festivity of the Lord of Huanca. It includes pilgrimage from Qosqo City as well as goods and cattle fair in the town of San Salvador;
- 30th, Saint Jerome's Festivity in the district of San Jeronimo;
- Tourist Week, with different sport and cultural activities. Main day is the 27th;

October

- 04th, San Francisco Festivity in Tinta, Urcos and Maras.

November

- 01st, All Souls' Day. Visits to cemeteries;
- 02nd, All Saints' Day. Sale of bread with shapes of "wawas" (dolls) and "caballitos" (little horses), consumption of "Lechón" (roast pork) and "Tamales" (corn wet-bread)

December

- 19th, Gourmet Festival in Andahuaylillas;
- 24th, Santuranticuy Fair (Purchase of Saints). Craftsmanship exhibit and sale in Cusco´s Plaza de Armas;
- 25th, Cusquenian Nativity.