General Information

Perú is a united republic and sovereign state located in the central western part of South America, between the parallels 0º 02´ and 18º 21´34" southern latitude and the meridians 68º 39´ 7" and 81º 20' 13" longitude. In front of the Pacific Ocean, with borders to the north with Ecuador and Colombia, to the east with Brazil, to the south with Bolivia and Chile.

The territorial surface of Perú is 1'285,215 km2, the third largest country in South America after Brazil and Argentina.

Four rich natural regions oriented from North to South make up the country : Coast, Sierra, Jungle and the Peruvian Sea.

The Coast is a narrow deserted plain located between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra or mountainous region. However, it is criscrossed by fertile valleys with crops of cotton, sugar, rice, grapes, etc. It also has a vast oil production, chemical and fish flour industry. The most powerful businesses and industries are located there, as well as the most populated big cities such as Lima, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Tacna, Piura and Ica. In the Coast the famed pre-inca cultures developed, such as Mochica, Chimú, Nazca, Paracas and Chavín, archaelogical sites are abundant in this region.

The Sierra is the region located between the Coast and the Jungle, completely conformed by the Peruvian Andes that go along from north to south of the country, they are divided in three mountain ranges - Western, Central and Eastern- the highest peak is the majestic Huascarán in Ancash which reaches 6,768 meters above sea level. Among this impressive geography the rich interandean valleys are located, as well as formidable mining deposits, a dynamic agricultural and livestock activity, and the most colorful towns full of tradition and folklore. Cusco, Huancayo, Arequipa, Cajamarca, Huánuco, Ayacucho and Puno are the most important cities. In the southern region is where the Inca Empire developed and also the cultures Wari and Tiahuanacu (the last one along the shore of the imponent Lake Titicaca).

The Jungle covers more than a half of peruvian territory (60%) and it is the less populated region. It is located between the last eastern slopes of the Andes and the borders with Colombia and Brazil, it is itself divided in High Jungle and Low Jungle. The first- also known as "Mountain Eyebrow"- covers the highlands of the Andes, with thick vegetation and a formidable variety of flora and fauna. Rich agroindustrial regions are located there, such as Tingo María, the Huallaga, Jaén, Bagua and La Convención. The Low Jungle or "Amazonia" is located between 80 and 400 m.a.s.l. and makes up the jungle plains, that constitute the Amazon Basin, the biggest river in the world. Rich oil deposits, lumber industry and fishing determine the developement of this zone. Iquitos and Pucallpa are big commercial cities.

The Peruvian Sea or Sea of Grau is part of the Pacific Ocean that extends along the peruvian Coast and it is 2,500 Km. long and 200 miles wide. Its great ictiological richnes is a result of the interaction of the Humboldt and El Niño ocean currents. More than 800 species of fish it is calculated live in its water. Fishing makes Perú one of the most important fishing countries in the world. Callao, Chimbote, Ilo, Matarani, Pisco, Malabrigo and Salaverry are the main ports.

Perú has a large variety of climates that permit it to be visited all year long. The stablished seasons winter, spring, summer and fall in reality become only two with no intermediate seasons. In the Coast the weather is mild and it almost never rains. The hot season is from December to March (Average 28º to 29ºC). The winter is humid and cloudy from June to September (Between 13º and 19ºC). The Sierra is dry and sunny all year long, the nights are cool and temperature gets colder according to the height above sea level. Arequipa seems to live in an everlasting and mild summer, in Cusco the air is a little cooler; Puno because of its height is much colder.

 The ideal months for a visitor to the Sierra are between May and October when it is warm during the day (between 19º and 25ºC). Between December and March it rains a lot and landslides or "huaycos" make it difficult to travel on the roads. In the Jungle it is always very hot (30ºC in August and 35ºC between December and April). It rains all year long. We recommend the voyager to wear light clothes in the summer for the Coast and warm clothes for the highlands. In the winter they should wear warm clothes.

GMT -5. Some years the country´s official time varies in the summer according to government regulations. Peruvian time is usually the same as colombian and American Eastern Time.

220 Volts AC, 60 Hertz. With the exception of some small towns in the junble, electricity is available all over the country.

24 million of population (1995). Urban population: 70%, Rural population: 30%. The population is basically of indian race and halfbreed with european races (spanish, italian, german). There are also many descendants of asian immigrants (chinese, japanese) and african. In the amazon basin live very singular indigenous tribes in contact with western towns. Perú is one of the few countries in the world with such a varied race melting pot.

The official languages in Perú are Spanish and Quechua (which has three variations according to the region). The Aymara dialect is spoken in some areas of the Department of Puno. In the Amazon region more than 35 native languages are spoken. English, Chinese and Japanese are also spoken in the touristic and commercial zones. Thanks to advances in communication the iliterate rate is decreasing continuously.

There is freedom of cult. Catholic: 88%, Evangelist: 8%, Others: 3%, None: 1%. Temples and churches are spread throughout the whole counttry and religions even have presence in the media. The only three Catholic Saints in South America are peruvian: Santa Rosa de Lima, San Martín de Porres and San Juan Masías. The impressive procession of Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles) in Lima congregates thousands of people every October. Easter in Ayacucho and Arequipa are also huge celebrations. The misionary labour of Catholic and Evangelist religions en the sierra and jungle, as well as Lima´s shanty suburbs is acknowledged.


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