Peru is the third most diverse country on Earth. Only seven countries in the world can boast such high rating, as it has more than 70% of all the biodiversity in the world. The Peruvian territory is the equivalent of France, Italy and Spain. It has a population of 27 million. This place gave birth to a civilization which is literally thousands of years old. They left as a legacy, both impressive buildings and technological know-how which we even find surprising today for its sophistication and complex symbolism. Even today, the identity of these ancient cultures is still kept alive in the customs and ways of life.
Peru offers us a huge variety of landscapes, cultures and experiences for the visitor; pre-hispanic cultures, popular festivals, gastronomy, adventure sports, and many others. Obviously, not all of this remarkable diversity can be appreciated all at once. For this reason it is necessary to plan your visit well, to work out your priorities and to leave sufficient time to enjoy what this country has to offer in a relaxing way.
Peru is located between 3° and 18° South Latitude and 68° West Longitud. It extends over an area of 1.285.216 km2, its territory represents 0.86% of the continental surface of the Earth and 0.25% of the total Earth surface (including the oceans). It has 3.080 km of coastline beside the
Pacific Ocean. The sea is cold, which limits the amount of rainfall, making the coast a desert of about 150km in width.
More than half the population live on the coast which amounts to 12% of national territory. The mountain range above 500m in height, is formed by the Andes, which is the largest mountain range in the world and the third highest, after the Himalayas and the Pamir, in Asia. The range makes up 27% of the territory and crosses the country from North to South. It separates the coast from the jungle. In Peru more than 500 mountains are more than 5000m and more than 40 are snow-capped at 6,000m. The highest mountain peak is the Huascarán at 6,768m.
Of the approximate 27 million inhabitants , 7 live in the capital, Lima, which is home to the government and the private sector.
The official languages are Spanish and Quechua. Other languages such as Aymara, are spoken in the area around Lake Titicaca. In the Amazon rainforest the native languages are divided up into 15 linguistic families and 43 different languages.
The official currency is the New Sol (S/.) which is divided into 100 cents, has coins of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 soles. American dollars and Euros are accepted in the cities. It is advisable to change money into new soles in banks and bureau de change in order to have it ready to use on trips, and also to have notes and coins of small amounts.
The time zone in Peru is 5 hours before GMT. There is no time change within the country, nor changes during winter or summer.
The electricity is of 220v. The plugs are of the American kind, so we need to get hold of an adaptor. The electrical supply does not generally cause problems.
The telecommunication network is accessible throughout the country. Public pay-phones accept coins and cards. Internet cafés are widespread and there are many workstations at reasonable prices. In out-of-the-way locations, a phone service via satellite using radio frequency is available.
The climate in Peru is very changeable. The ideal season to visit the Central Andes is from May to September as the weather is stable and it doesn’t rain but at night it can get very cold ( -10ºC). During the rainy season which runs from November to April, some paths in the mountains are not possible to use. That’s why it’s not recommended to visit the Andes at that.