About Peru: Maps, Facts and More
Study up on the map of Peru, flag and interesting Peru facts before you go.
Peru Inca heritage: past meets present
In the 15th century, the Inca state conquered and assimilated several other cultures to become the most powerful empire in the New World, stretching from what is now southern Colombia down through Peru to central Chile at its peak. Although they didn't have the wheel or iron tools, the Incas were expert stonemasons and their work including the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman still puzzle modern archaeologists. But the Inca emperors ruled for only about a century before the violent arrival of Pizarro and other Spanish conquistadors.
It's the multiple layers of great civilisations, literally built upon the ruins of the last, which makes Peru so fascinating. Today you can wander through colonial cities such as the ancient Incan capital of Cuzco, where you can see architecturally as well as culturally, how the Spanish conquistadors built on top of old Inca foundations. For example, a colonial church sits on the walls of the Inca temple Koricancha (Temple of the Sun). Luckily, the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu was spared any remodelling due its remote location high in the mountains and remains a dramatically powerful glimpse at this ancient civilisation - learn more about our Machu Picchu tours.
Land rich not only in history but natural beauty
All of this exists in a country with some of the most spectacular and varied scenery in South America. The Peruvian Andes are arguably the most beautiful on the continent and the mountains are home to millions of highland Indians who still speak the ancient tongue of Quechua and maintain a traditional way of life. The verdant Amazon Basin, which occupies half of Peru, is one of the world's top ten biodiversity 'hot spots' - a species-rich area of tropical rain forest that will make your head spin when you start to learn about its ecology. And the coastal deserts, with their huge rolling dunes, farmland oases and fishing villages offer the opportunity to get off the beaten trail in a big way. But you don't have to be a zoologist, an anthropologist or a mountain climber to enjoy Peru, all you need is a keen eye, a love of landscape and an interest in history.
The main staples of traditional Peruvian food are rice, potatoes, chicken, pork, lamb and aji (Peruvian hot pepper). Peruvian food also features all kinds of seafood, especially fish. The Spanish introduced chicken, pork and lamb to Peru 500 years ago and took potatoes, which have been grown in the Peruvian Andes for centuries, back to Europe. Today over 200 varieties of potatoes are grown in Peru, ranging in size and even color.
Interesting Peru facts and stats
Full country name: Republic of Peru
Area: 1,285,215 sq km (501,234 sq mi)
Capital city: Lima (pop. 7,600,000)
People: 54% Indian, 32% Mestizo (mixed European and Indian descent), 12% Spanish descent, 2% Black, Asian minority
Language: Spanish, Quechua (Inca language), Aymara
Religion: Over 90% Roman Catholic, small Protestant population
Take a look at our adventure tours in Peru:
Jaguar Ultimate Peru Adventure
- 14 Days
The 'Jaguar' is our most action-packed multi-activity trip in Peru. Start your trip in the heart of the Inca empire where you'll explore fortresses and surrounding valleys. Hike over stunning mountain passes to Machu Picchu, cycle into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, view Amazon wildlife up close and sea kayak across Lake Titicaca to stay with an indigenous family.
The variety of activities and landscapes on this trip will give you a Peruvian adventure like no other – and an experience you’ll never forget! It captures everything this beautiful country has to offer, from the towering peaks of the Andes down to the steamy depths of the Amazon rainforest. You’ll have a blast in this land of geographical and cultural extremes!
Capybara Peru Family Adventure
- 11 Days
- Adult: US$4,299, Child (15 & under): US$3,799
Bring the whole family to explore Peru, see amazing sights and embark on a kid-friendly adventure of a lifetime (travellers without kids are welcome too). Peru is a vibrant, family-friendly destination and you’ll find children of all ages – yes, even teenagers – will love exploring everything this country has to offer. On the ‘Capybara’, you’ll venture deep into the Amazon rainforest, see an awesome array of wildlife, visit the lost city of Machu Picchu and sea kayak across Lake Titicaca to stay with a local family on Amantani Island. Not only will everyone enjoy this adventure, it’s also a chance for your children and teenagers to immerse themselves in a different culture and way of life. We’ve chosen locally-run, comfortable accommodations for this trip and we take care of all the logistics behind planning your trip, including meals, so all you have to do is show up, have fun and start building memories!
Iguana Peru and Galapagos Explorer
- 13 Days
- From US$6,999
Our 13-day ‘Iguana’ trip has been a long time in the making. Inside two weeks, you’ll experience the absolute best that Peru and the Galapagos Islands have to offer. You’ll travel in comfort and style, get off the beaten track, stay in fantastic locally owned accommodations, meet the locals & experience some of the world’s most iconic landscapes and monuments - all in typical Active Adventures style of course.
You’ll cycle into the Sacred valley of the Incas, hike the Huchuy Qosqo Trail, experience Machu Picchu and explore the wonders of Cuzco. And that’s just Peru! After a short flight to Quito, you’ll head to the Galapagos Islands where you’ll snorkel with seals, hike around one of the world’s largest volcanic craters, sea kayak near Isabela Island, get up close to all manner of wild creatures and relax on isolated beaches. If you’re only likely to visit this part of South America once in your life, we’ll make sure it’s a trip that you never forget.