Peru

Peru is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean.

Peruvian territory was home to ancient cultures, spanning from the Norte Chico civilization, one of the oldest in the world, to the Inca Empire, the largest state in Pre-Columbian America. The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century and established a Viceroyalty, which included most of its South American colonies. 

Peru is a divided into 25 regions. Its geography varies from the arid plains of the Pacific coast to the peaks of the Andes Mountains and the tropical forests of the Amazon Basin. Its main economic activities include agriculture, fishing, mining, and manufacturing of products such as textiles.

The Peruvian population, estimated at 29.5 million, is multiethnic, including Amerindians, Europeans, Africans, and Asians. The main spoken language is Spanish, although a significant number of Peruvians speak Quechua or other native languages. This mixture of cultural traditions has resulted in a wide diversity of expressions in fields such as art, cuisine, literature, and music.

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Archaeological Legacy

While Peru inevitably evokes images of Machu Picchu and the Inca empire, the country is also riddled with archaeological sites which are a legacy of even more ancient times, when great civilizations bequeathed a legacy of their art, customs and rituals, their wisdom and skills.

Much earlier than the Incas and while civilizations like the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese (3000 and 2000 B.C.) flourished, the city of Caral, located north of the city of Lima, was built; this was the first American expression of a Pre-Ceramic urban settlement with monumental architecture in an area greater than 10 hectares. Later, in the northern highlands, the Chavin (800 – 200 B.C.) achieved significant advances in architecture, engineering, and agriculture.

The Chavín civilization (1500-400 BC) achieved considerable prowess in architecture, engineering and agriculture in the northern highlands. Along the north coast, the Moche civilization (200 BC-700 AD) is famous for its realistic pottery (portraits carved into pots and gourds) and its pyramid-shaped temples. The same area was later controlled by the Chimú kingdom (900-1450 AD), who built Chan Chan, an immense mud-brick citadel featuring 12-meter-high walls and superb architectural work.

To the south, the Nazca people (200 BC-900 AD) etched an impressive series of figures etched into the desert floor known as the Nazca Lines, while graves belonging to the Paracas culture (800 BC-600 AD) have unearthed superb weavings which point to the magical and religious vision that governed the lives of this ancient civilization.

Centuries later, the Incas (1300-1500 AD) were to make Cuzco the center of their empire, building major constructions such as Sacsayhuaman, Pisac and Koricancha. It is here that myth and history merge, where the Inca roads, the towns, people and traditions are a living example of the Andean spirit, sacred and monumental.

Discover why Peru is for many the heart of South America's greatest civilizations.

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Flora and Fauna

Species such as the condor, serpent and puma were worshipped by the ancient highlanders, who crafted their images into pottery and monuments during the rise of early civilizations, in homage to their beauty and power. 

Other species served as food or as raw materials for Man's creations. Some animals even forged a relationship of interdependence that has lasted for thousands of years, a relationship maintained by Peruvians living outside the major cities. 

Peru's territory has also long kept hidden thousands of species that continue to amaze scientists from all over the world. The most startling are the native species, due to their unique characteristics and beauty, and above all the way they have managed to adapt to Peru's difficult climate and geography.

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