A brief description of Peru

Peruvian culture is primarily rooted in Amerindian and Spanish traditions, though it has also been influenced by various African, Asian, and European ethnic groups.

Peruvian artistic traditions date back to the elaborate pottery, textiles, jewelry, and sculpture of Pre-Inca cultures.

The Incas maintained these crafts and made architectural achievements including the construction of Machu Picchu. Baroque dominated colonial art, though modified by native traditions. During this period, most art focused on religious subjects; the numerous churches of the era and the paintings of the Cuzco School are representative. Arts stagnated after independence until the emergence of Indigenismo in the early 20th century.

Since the 1950s, Peruvian art has been eclectic and shaped by both foreign and local art currents.

Key Destination

Cuzco

The ancient center of the Inca empire, Cusco is located in the southeastern An22des. Its name in Quechua means "navel of the world." According to legend, the city was founded by the first Incas who were born in the mysterious waters of Lake Titicaca: Manco Capac, known as the Prince of the Sun, and Mama Ocllo.

The Inca architecture in Cusco is thought to date back to the 15th century, and is mostly attributed to the Inca Pachacutec, who built the city’s most remarkable structures. Inca architecture is known for its incredible stone carvings, walls constructed of huge stones that have been fit together perfectly without the use of mortar or cement. For a civilization that did not yet have the wheel, this was an amazing feat of engineering. In Cusco, some of these constructions include the complex of Sacsayhuaman; Korikancha (The Temple of the Sun); and Calle Hatun Rumiyoc, the incredible diorite wall that includes the famous stone of 12 angles. Cusco is known as the archaeological capital of the Americas, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Machu Picchu

Perched on a hilltop high in the Andes mountains, the remarkably well-preserved city of Machu Picchu has astounded outsiders since a Yale University professor named Hiram Bingham brought the site to the world’s attention in 1911. You can follow in his footsteps by hiking the Inca Trail, or travel in luxury aboard Peru Rail’s Hiram Bingham train. However you get there, don’t leave a trip to Machu Picchu out of your Peruvian travel experience.

Nazca Lines

In the Nazca Desert of western Peru, there are giant stylized images2011 of animals and mysterious straight lines drawn in the earth. To this day scholars have not been able to determine why they were made. Take a chartered flight over the desert and see these bizarre formations the only way they can be appreciated, from the air.

Lake Titicaca

Located on the border of Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world. Legend has it that the first Inca emperor, Manco Capac, was born out of these waters. Here you can visit local people still practicing their traditional lifestyle while living on floating islands made of totora reed.

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon, which is located just 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Arequipa, is one of the deepest canyons in the world, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.

The Colca Canyon is culturally rich, with many Andean communities calling the canyon home. Most of these local people still live traditionally in the valley and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca agricultural terraces. The largest town in the canyon is named Chivay, and this is a great place to relax while taking a dip in the La Calera hot springs.

The Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) lives in the canyon, and can be seen in majestic flight from the lookout “Cruz del Condor,” best visited in the early morning and late afternoon.

Paracas

Paracas National Reserve, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, is located 260 km south of Lima. The reserve site is set up to protect the vast marine diversity of the area. Just off the coast are the Ballestas Islands, which can be visited by boat, and are rich in marine and coastal fauna, including many types of birds, sea lions, Humboldt penguins, and the occasional dolphin.

Amazon Jungle Tambopata

The Tambopata National Reserve is located in the southwestern Peruvian Amazon region, covering over one million square hectares. The high biological diversity includes 575 species of birds, 1,200 species of butterflies, 103 types of mammals, and 94 species of fish. The Tambopata River is home to intact populations of giant river otter, South American bush dog, black cayman, and Harpy Eagle – all currently threatened with extinction– thus the reserve is an important place, and considered one of the world’s richest ecosystems.

Another of Tambopata’s attractions is the richness of its flora, as nearly 1,400 species of plants exist in the area, including valuable forest species such as cedar, tornillo, Brazil nut, and palm trees such as the pona, aguaje, huasaí, and ungurahui. Tourism in the protected area is concentrated around the Tambopata River and the lower Madre de Dios River.

Puerto Maldonado

Puerto Maldonado is a city in Southeastern Peru in the Amazon forest 55 kilometres (34 mi) west of the Bolivian border on the confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios River, a tributary of the Amazon River. It is the capital of the Madre de Dios Region.

Galapagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands (official name: Archipiélago de Colón; other Spanish names: Islas de Colón or Islas Galápagos) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed around the equator in the Pacific Ocean, 972 km (525 nmi) west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part.
The Galápagos Islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The principal language on the islands is Spanish. The islands have a population of slightly over 25,000.[1]
The islands are geologically young and famed for their vast number of endemic species, which were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.
The first crude navigation chart of the islands was made by the buccaneer Ambrose Cowley in 1684.[dubious – discuss] He named the individual islands after some of his fellow pirates or after the British noblemen who helped the privateer's cause. More recently, the Ecuadorian government gave most of the islands Spanish names. While the Spanish names are official, many users (especially ecological researchers) continue to use the older English names, principally because those were the names used when Charles Darwin visited.

Lima

Lima is the capital and the largest city of Peru. It is located in the valleys of the Chillón, Rímac and Lurín rivers, in the central part of the country, on a desert coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Together with the seaport of Callao, it forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima Metropolitan Area. With a population approaching 9 million, Lima is the fifth largest city in Latin America, behind Mexico City, São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. Lima is home to one of the largest financial hubs in Latin America. It has been defined as a beta world city by GaWC international ranking.
Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as la Ciudad de los Reyes, or "the City of Kings". It became the capital and most important city in the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. Following the Peruvian War of Independence, it became the capital of the Republic of Peru. Today, around one-third of the Peruvian population lives in the metropolitan area.
Lima is home to one of the oldest higher learning institutions in the New World. The National University of San Marcos, founded on May 12, 1551 during Spanish colonial regime, is the oldest continuously functioning university in the Americas.

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