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Peru Travel Information

A majestic South American nation with enchantment from the busiest Plaza Mayor to the most remote snow-capped peak, Peru provides an abundance of opportunity for adventure and education. Lima, a world capital, dazzles with a blend of colonial charm and 21st century development. Cuzco, the cradle of Inca civilization, holds immeasurable historic significance and maintains a unique cultural legacy to this day. The Sacred Valley’s well-preserved ruins, traditional customs, and fierce local pride make for a cultural visit of a lifetime. And Machu Picchu, the mysterious mountain citadel, is an once-in-a-lifetime treasure. Playing host to this fascinating culture is an exquisite natural setting of lush jungles, jagged mountains, vast deserts, and stunning coastline. Peru is a country to be explored and appreciated, with layers of complexity that keep even the most seasoned of travelers eternally intrigued.

To understand the current cultural and political landscape of Peru, one must look past the arrival of the Spaniards, and even beyond the Inca. A vast landmass encompassing the Amazon, the Andes, and the Pacific Coast, what is now Peru was once home to hundreds of independent tribes, each with its own customs, dialects, and beliefs. With the unification and dominance of the Inca in the 15th century, came stunning advances in architecture, astronomy, agriculture, and government – all reflected in the preserved ruins of Inca cities and ritual sites. This empire grew and grew, swallowing up the tiny tribes of Peru’s hinterland and uniting them in their capital city of Cuzco. Not long after the Inca established their dominance, however, a foreign power arrived. European explorers, missionaries, and militants arrived in Peru in the 16th century, and the two powers interlaced their histories through collaboration, trade, and war. The Spanish ultimately won, taking Cuzco and establishing a colonial capital in Lima. A period of colonial rule ensued, with periodic uprisings from the indigenous communities, until Peru won its independence in 1821 under the leadership of Jose de San Martin. As Peruvian identity was cultivated as a blending of the indigenous with the descendants of Europe, Inca heritage lived on through the influential Amerindian communities, including the Quechua who still represent the largest single group in the country.

Now a modern nation with a diverse mix of cultures, massive natural resources, and key access to the Pacific ocean, Peru’s major industries are mining, fishing, manufacturing, and tourism. Common tensions persist, including those between secular governments, Christian teachings, and Quechua customs, and those between environmental groups looking to preserve Peru’s natural treasures and energy companies looking to maximize development. Sharing a border with Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, and Brazil, Peru is a nation infused with plenty of influence from its neighbors, not to mention close contact with Trans-Pacific partners like Japan. This unique geo-positioning is reflected in everything from Peruvian style, to music, to cuisine.

The size of Alaska, with an unrivaled diversity of landscapes and climate zones, Peru is a rich tapestry of South America’s most intriguing elements. Visitors often leave with more questions than answers and a hunger to return and for more exploring.