According to top-medical-schools, Peru is packed with reminiscences of early Native American cultures, the Inca culture, and the Spanish colonial era. The Inca Indian capital Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and today’s Native American cultures on Lake Titicaca can not fail to fascinate us. The varied nature includes dry sand desert, snow-capped mountain peaks, rushing rivers and the evergreen Amazon jungle.
Population: 30.7 million
Language: Quechua and Spanish
The red and white colors are inspired by the war of independence against Spain. There are more than 1000 different orchid species growing in Peru.
The world’s largest ravine, the Colcaravine, is located in Peru. It is more than 4000 meters deep.
Peru’s 30 million inhabitants are predominantly Roman Catholic. About half of the population lives in the coastal country’s oases and cities, while the rainforests to the east are sparsely populated. About half of the population are full-blooded Indians and speak the ancient Inca language Quechua or Aymara which has been spoken by the Aymara Indians for centuries.
History of Peru
Peru has always been populated by well-known Native American cultures such as the Mochica, Nazca and Tiahuanaco cultures, but it is the Inca Empire that most people think of when mentioning Peru. The first sod for the legendary Inca Empire was taken in Cuzco around 1100. When the Spaniards came to Peru in the early 16th century, the Inca Empire stood strongest and stretched over almost all of Peru and parts of Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. Peru came under Spanish rule when the conquistador Francisco Pizarro landed in 1532 with an explicit desire to conquer the state.
This was not a major problem because the Inca Empire at that time was torn apart by a protracted civil war. The Spanish conquerors also devastated the other Native American cultures and founded Lima as the capital of Peru, which at that time encompassed almost all of Spanish South America. The area thus became the Spanish political and military center of power. With the help of the freedom hero José de San Martín, who had fought against the Spaniards in Argentina and Chile, and the Venezuelan Simon Bolivar, Peru conquered its independence in 1821. 19th century Peru was marked by economic crises and corrupt politicians, the 20th century by the struggle between a conservative right wing and a socialist left wing. During the last part of the century, the unrest took the form of frequent general strikes, guerrilla warfare and harsh policies under President Alberto Fujimori. In 2001, the country’s first Native American president was elected – Alejandro Toledo. In 2006, Ian García took over the post, but neither of them has been able to stop unemployment and the strikes, which were a problem already in Fujimori’s time.
Attractions in Peru
A trip to Peru does not have to be limited to a specific theme. Everything from the lively capital of Lima and the living greenhouse Amazonas to the ancient Inca capital Cuzco, the unique Machu Picchu and today’s Indians on Lake Titicaca can be part of a holiday in Peru. With its 3,800 meters above sea level, the huge Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest lake. On its beaches and islands there are small Native American communities where you live as you have done for centuries, even on floating islands of reeds. Cuzco is an ancient Inca capital and Spanish colonial city in one, and with its history, charm and many attractions is one of the continent’s cultural highlights. Here you can experience sun temples, Inca fortresses, colonial buildings and the view of the majestic Andes. In the mountains of southern Peru is Arequipa, known as the White City, at the foot of El Misti volcano. Here you will find the large, old convent of Santa Catalina, the cathedral and the fine colonial houses among the main sights. At the same time, over the low roofs you can see the cone-shaped 5,822 meters high volcano on the horizon. One of the most dramatic natural areas in all of Peru is located in the Colca Gorge north of Arequipa.
From the Cruz Del Condor viewpoint, you look 1,100 meters down into the depths of the ravine, and if you turn your head, you can see 1,700 meters up towards the snow-capped peaks of the Peregrino Mountains. The area is also inhabited by wild vicuñas and the giant condor. An absolute must on any trip to Peru is Machu Picchu. This forgotten enclosure is reached via an incredibly beautiful train journey through the Urubamba Valley or after a four-day hike on the famous enclosure. Machu Picchu is beautifully situated on a high, green plateau above the Urubamba River, surrounded by mountain peaks with grazing llamas along the mountain sides. When the Amazon mists settle over the green-clad peaks, the whole thing gets an unreal and fabulous glow. Thanks to Machu Picchu’s remote location, it was never found and plundered by the Spaniards.