Peru is a country on the west coast of South America. It is bordered to the north by Ecuador and Colombia, to the east by Brazil, to the southeast by Bolivia, to the south by Chile, and to the west by the Pacific Ocean.
Peru, the third country of Latin America, is divided into 3 areas:
◊ The costa (coast), to the west, is largely arid and runs along the Pacific Ocean. Lima, the capital as well as the largest cities of Peru are located on the coast.
◊ The sierra (the Andes) in the centre, is the second largest mountain range in the world after the Himalayas with the highest summit of the country, the Huascarán (6,768 m).
◊ The third region is the selva (the Amazonia rainforest) that extends to the east. Almost 60% of the country’s area is located in this area.
Peru covers 1.285.216 km2 with a population estimated at 30 million, mainly living on the coast, particularly in Lima.
On the coast, the temperatures are very high and it almost never rains. However, when the winter comes, between May and September, a humid fog, which is called “ Garua”, covers all the coast. The temperatures are the highest in this region from January to March.
In the “Sierra”, the temperatures are very low and it rains a lot from December to April.
The “Selva” is characterized by heavy rainfall and high temperatures mainly from January to March. Summer time is from May to December.
Peru’s biodiversity is one of the richest in theworld, mainly in the Amazonian forests with the highest number of species of plants and animals (mammals, reptiles and amphibians). There are between 40.000 and 45.000 species of plants in Peru.
Unfortunately this balance is threatened by human activity which constantly exploits nature for one goal only: economic profit. The deforestation of Amazonia, drug trafficking, mining and oil exploitation, pollution, unsuitable agriculture, … all those are real threats for the survival of the eco-system.
The history of Peru is one of the richest in the world. The first civilisations settled there in 1250 BC: the Chavins, the Nazcas, the Chimus and the Tiahuanacas. The Inca Empire, the largest in pre-Columbian America, was born in 1500 with the merger of many civilizations and will quickly be coveted by the Spanish in search of gold. It was Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador, who made it a Spanish state until July 28, 1821, when Peru was declared independent.
Peru has the most important variety of craftsmanship in the world. It is of prime importance for the economy of the area.
In Amazonia, you will discover typical objects such as bows, blowpipes or hammocks. Turn to the Andes and you will find musical instruments such as flutes, panpipes and guitars. There are many other beautiful artifacts such as pottery, jewellery, clothes, leather goods, paintings or precious stones.
The traditional Shipibo craft is renowned for its patterns, particularly the design of their fabrics. This fabric is first of all dyed by hand with natural products, mainly the bark of trees. The colour is fixed with alun, a natural stone. All the designs are drawn by hand and they are inspired by ancestral beliefs and the representation of the world in which the Shipibo community evolves.
The barks, mainly from small trees, are used to colour in the drawings. The colour is obtained by soaking the barks together with a variety of clay which is found on the banks on the river.
The diversity of Peruvian food, which is one of the most important in the world, is due to the geographic particularities of the country, the blend of races and cultures but also to the fusion of traditional and modern cuisines.
In the Selva, the dominant ingredient is of course fish which is the main local and natural food. There are also many fruits such as mangoes, bananas, passion fruits … The “Juane” is a well liked dish in the region. It is prepared with rice, spices and chicken which are then wrapped in a Bijao leaf.
In the Andes, the main ingredients are corn and potatoes. This is where the potato comes from. There are more than 3000 varieties of potatoes to be found in Peru.
Ceviche, a dish of raw fish, is the most appreciated speciality on the coast.
Generally speaking, the Peruvian cuisine, which is very hot and colourful, is most of the time served with rice.
The Peruvian music is more than 10,000 years old. The blend of Spanish and African traditions led to more than 1300 types of music in Peru, which are played in all the different regions by many musical groups. The quena, a recorder, is a traditional musical instrument used all over the country. It is often played together with the mandolin, the harp and the violin.
As with music, Peruvian dances are specific to each region. On the coast, there are some typical dances such as the Marinera, the Creole waltz or some afro-peruvian dances. In the mountains, the dances are a display of colours and energy (heel clicking, acrobatic jumping,…). In the Selva, communities indulge in tribal dances.