Peru facts for kids

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Republic of Peru

República del Perú
Flag of Peru
Flag
{{{coat_alt}}}
Coat of arms
Motto: "Firme y Feliz por la Unión" (Spanish)
"Firm and Happy for the Union"
Anthem: Himno Nacional del Peru  (Spanish)
National Anthem of Peru
National seal:
Gran Sello de la República del Perú.svg
Gran Sello del Estado  (Spanish)
Great Seal of the State
Location of Peru
Capital
and largest city
Lima
Official languagesa Spanish (offical) 84.1% Quechua (official) 13% Aymara (official) 1.7%
Demonym(s) Peruvian
Government Unitary presidential constitutional republic
Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
• Prime Minister
Fernando Zavala
• Vice Presidents
Martín Vizcarra
Mercedes Aráoz
Legislature Congress
President
Luz Salgado
Independence from Spain
• Declared
July 28, 1821
• Consolidated
December 9, 1824
• Current constitution
December 31, 1993
Area
• Total
1,285,216 km2 (496,225 sq mi) (20th)
• Water (%)
0.41
Population
• 2013 estimate
30,475,144 (40th)
• 2007 census
28,220,764
• Density
23/km2 (59.6/sq mi) (191st)
GDP (PPP) 2013 estimate
• Total
$352.875 billion
• Per capita
$11,403
GDP (nominal) 2013 estimate
• Total
$220.825 billion
• Per capita
$7,135
Gini (2010)  46.0
high · 35th
HDI (2013) Increase 0.741
high · 77th
Currency Nuevo sol (PEN)
Time zone UTC−5 (PET)
Date format dd.mm.yyyy (CE)
Driving side right
Calling code +51
ISO 3166 code PE
Internet TLD .pe
  1. Quechua, Aymara and other indigenous languages are co-official in the areas where they predominate.
Peru - Regions and departments (labeled)
Peru

Peru is a country in South America. The capital is Lima. The ruins of Machu Picchu, the Andes mountains, and the source of the Amazon River are all found in Peru.

Peru is bordered to the north by Ecuador and Colombia, to the east by Brazil, and to the south by Chile and Bolivia. Peru is a representative democratic republic divided into 25 regions and over 29.5 million people live in it.

Peruvian territory was home to the Norte Chico civilization, one of the oldest in the world, and to the Inca Empire, the largest state in Pre-Columbian America. The Spanish Empire conquered the region in the 16th century and established a Viceroyalty, which included most of its South American colonies. After achieving independence in 1821.

Peru suffered a terrible guerrilla war in the 1980s. The communist (Maoist) Shining Path tried to take over the country. But after the leader of the group was captured in 1992, Shining Path was not a threat anymore. During the 1990s, it was ruled by President Alberto Fujimori. During this time, the economy of Peru got better, and it became easier to start a company or operate a business. After Fujimori, Alejandro Toledo was elected President, and then Alan Garcia, who was President from 1985 to 1990, was elected again in 2006. Ollanta Humala was elected President in 2011 and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was elected President in 2016.

Peru's most important exports, products that it sells to other countries, are fish, gold and other metals, oil, coffee, sugar, and cotton. Also, the food in Peru is very diverse, including typical dishes like Ceviche and Broiled Chicken.

Tourists from other countries like to come to Peru because of the history and also to enjoy nature. Many people come to climb mountains in the Cordillera Blanca in the Ancash Region, and many people visit Peru's long Pacific coast or the Amazon jungle. Cuzco and Macchu Picchu are just two of the places where many buildings built by the Incas are still standing after hundreds of years, and these are some of the most visited places. The Incas were not the only tribe in Peru who left buildings and artifacts, but they were the most powerful.

Peru is divided into 25 regions of Peru regions. Lima is the capital and other main regions are Cuzco, Arequipa and Lambayeque.

Urarina shaman B Dean
Urarina shaman, 1988

In the Amazon jungle region, we can find many important rivers and different animals, plants and people of many indigenous cultures.

Population: 29, 5 mill.

The currency of Peru is the Nuevo Sol.

History

Peru was the home of the Inca Empire. The Incas were a well-organized Indian civilization that began the city of Cuzco (now called Cusco). Beginning in the 1400s, they defeated many nearby tribes and built an empire in the Andes. The Inca forced the people to work for the king for a certain number of days every year. They used this "work tax" to build roads and terraces on the sides of the mountains to grow crops, and huge cities with rich palaces for the rulers and their queens. Records were kept on quipa, knotted ropes, since the Incas never invented writing. These could be quickly sent anywhere in the empire by a series of relay runners set up along the roads. Heavier loads were sent by llamas, the pack animals of the Andes.

The Incas were rich in gold and silver which could be found in the mountains. The Spanish wanted that treasure when they discovered the nation in the 1500s. Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish man, kidnapped and killed the Inca ruler in 1532, even after his people paid a huge amount of treasure for his release. The Incas fought the Spanish for many years, but the last Inca king was killed in 1572.

Peru was a Spanish colony until 1821. Spanish is still the main language of the people, although many also speak Quechua, the Inca language.

Geography

Manú National Park in the Amazon, the mountain peak Alpamayo and Paracas National Reserve.

Peru is located on the central western coast of South America facing the Pacific Ocean. It lies wholly in the Southern Hemisphere, its northernmost extreme reaching to 1.8 minutes of latitude or about 3.3 kilometres (2.1 mi) south of the equator, covers 1,285,216 km2 (496,225 sq mi) of western South America. It borders Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, Bolivia to the southeast, Chile to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The Andes mountains run parallel to the Pacific Ocean; they define the three regions traditionally used to describe the country geographically.

The costa (coast), to the west, is a narrow plain, largely arid except for valleys created by seasonal rivers. The sierra (highlands) is the region of the Andes; it includes the Altiplano plateau as well as the highest peak of the country, the 6,768 m (22,205 ft) Huascarán. The third region is the selva (jungle), a wide expanse of flat terrain covered by the Amazon rainforest that extends east. Almost 60 percent of the country's area is located within this region. The country has fifty-four hydrographic basins, fifty-two of which are small coastal basins that discharge their waters into the Pacific Ocean. The other two are the Amazon basin, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean, and the endorheic basin of Lake Titicaca, both delimited by the Andes mountain range. In the second of these basins, the giant Amazon River is born, which, with its 6872 km, is the longest and mightiest river in the world, with 75% of the Peruvian territory. Peru contains 4% of the planet's fresh water.

Most Peruvian rivers originate in the peaks of the Andes and drain into one of three basins. Those that drain toward the Pacific Ocean are steep and short, flowing only intermittently. Tributaries of the Amazon River have a much larger flow, and are longer and less steep once they exit the sierra. Rivers that drain into Lake Titicaca are generally short and have a large flow. Peru's longest rivers are the Ucayali, the Marañón, the Putumayo, the Yavarí, the Huallaga, the Urubamba, the Mantaro, and the Amazon.

The largest lake in Peru, Lake Titicaca between Peru and Bolivia high in the Andes, is also the largest of South America. The largest reservoirs, all in the coastal region of Peru, are the Poechos, Tinajones, San Lorenzo, and El Fraile reservoirs.

Climate

The combination of tropical latitude, mountain ranges, topography variations, and two ocean currents (Humboldt and El Niño) gives Peru a large diversity of climates. The coastal region has moderate temperatures, low precipitations, and high humidity, except for its warmer, wetter northern reaches. In the mountain region, rain is frequent in summer, and temperature and humidity diminish with altitude up to the frozen peaks of the Andes. The Peruvian Amazon is characterized by heavy rainfall and high temperatures, except for its southernmost part, which has cold winters and seasonal rainfall.

Wildlife

Because of its varied geography and climate, Peru has a high biodiversity with 21,462 species of plants and animals reported as of 2003, 5,855 of them endemic, and is one of the megadiverse countries.

Peru has over 1,800 species of birds (120 endemic), and 500 species of mammals and over 300 species of reptiles. The hundreds of mammals include rare species like the puma, jaguar and spectacled bear. The Birds of Peru produce large amounts of guano, an economically important export. The Pacific holds large quantities of sea bass, flounder, anchovies, tuna, crustaceans, and shellfish, and is home to many sharks, sperm whales, and whales.

Peru also has an equally diverse flora. The coastal deserts produce little more than cacti, apart from hilly fog oases and river valleys that contain unique plant life. The Highlands above the tree-line known as puna is home to bushes, cactus, drought-resistant plants such as ichu, and the largest species of bromeliad – the spectacular Puya raimondii.

The cloud-forest slopes of the Andes sustain moss, orchids, and bromeliads, and the Amazon rainforest is known for its variety of trees and canopy plants.

Demographics

The population of Peru is apprx. 30 million. The ethnic composition of Peru is like the following:

  • 44.0%: Mestizo.
  • 31.0%: Native American.
  • 15.0%: European.
  • 7.0%: Mulatto.
  • 2.0%: Black.
  • 1.0%: Asians.

Economy

About 39.8% of the population lives below the national poverty line.

Culture

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

Visual Arts

Peruvian art has its origin in the Andean civilizations. These civilizations rose in the territory of modern Peru before the arrival of the Spanish. Peruvian art incorporated European elements after the Spanish conquest and continued to evolve throughout the centuries up on to the modern day.

Pre-Columbian art

A detail of the Raimondi Stela
A detail of the Raimondi Stela. This stela was found out of its original placement at the ceremonial complex, Chavín de Huantar
Nariguera Moche2
Moche Nariguera depicting the Decapitator, gold with turquoise and chrysocolla inlays. Museo Oro del Peru, Lima

Peru's earliest artwork came from the Cupisnique culture, which was concentrated on the Pacific coast, and the Chavín culture, which was largely north of Lima between the Andean mountain ranges of the Cordillera Negra and the Cordillera Blanca. Decorative work from this era, approximately the 9th century BCE, was symbolic and religious in nature. The artists worked with gold, silver and ceramics to create a variety of sculpture and relief carvings. These civilizations were also known for their architecture and wood sculpture.

Between the 9th century BC and the 2st century CE, the Paracas Cavernas and Paracas Necropolis cultures developed on the south coast of Peru. Paracas Cavernas produced complex polychrome and monochrome ceramics with religious representations. Burials from the Paracas Necropolis also yielded complex textiles, many produced with sophisticated geometric patterns.

The 3rd century BCE saw the flowering of the urban culture, Moche, in the Lambayeque region. The Mochica culture produced impressive architectural works, such as the Huacas del Sol y de la Luna and the Huaca Rajada of Sipan. They were expert at cultivation in terraces and hydraulic engineering and produced original ceramics, textiles, pictorial and sculptural works.

Another urban culture, the Wari civilization, flourished between the 8th and 12th centuries in Ayacucho. Their centralized town planning was extended to other areas, such as Pachacamac, Cajamarquilla and Wari Willka.

Inca Quipu
'Quipus' were recording devices fashioned from strings historically used by a number of cultures in the region of Andean South America.

Between the 9th and 13th centuries CE, the military urban Tiwanaku empire rose by the borders of Lake Titicaca. Centered around a city of the same name in modern-day Bolivia, the Tiwanaku introduced stone architecture and sculpture of a monumental type. These works of architecture and art were made possible by the Tiwanaku's developing bronze, which enabled them to make the necessary tools.

Urban architecture reached a new height between the 14th and 15th centuries in the Chimú Culture. The Chimú built the city of Chan Chan in the valley of the Moche River, in La Libertad. The Chimú were skilled goldsmiths and created remarkable works of hydraulic engineering.

The Inca Civilization, which united Peru under its hegemony in the centuries immediately preceding the Spanish conquest, incorporated into their own works a great part of the cultural legacy of the civilizations which preceded it. Important relics of their artwork and architecture can be seen in cities like Cusco, architectural remains like Sacsahuaman and Machu Picchu and stone pavements that united Cusco with the rest of the Inca Empire.

Colonial art

Anonymous, Cuzco School, Peru - The Virgin of the Pilgrims and Child - Google Art Project
The Virgin of the Pilgrims and Child, Anonymous Colonial Cusco School painting, 18th century

Peruvian sculpture and painting began to define themselves from the ateliers founded by monks, who were strongly influenced by the Sevillian Baroque School. In this context, the stalls of the Cathedral choir, the fountain of the Main Square of Lima both by Pedro de Noguera, and a great part of the colonial production were registered.

The first center of art established by the Spanish was the Cuzco School that taught Quechua artists European painting styles. Diego Quispe Tito (1611–1681) was one of the first members of the Cuzco school and Marcos Zapata (1710–1773) was one of the last.

Painting of this time reflected a synthesis of European and indigenous influences, as is evident in the portrait of prisoner Atahualpa, by D. de Mora or in the canvases of the Italians Mateo Pérez de Alesio and Angelino Medoro, the Spaniards Francisco Bejarano and J. de Illescas and the Creole J. Rodriguez.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the Baroque Style also dominated the field of plastic arts.

Literature

Inca Garcilaso de la Vega

The term Peruvian literature not only refers to literature produced in the independent Republic of Peru, but also to literature produced in the Viceroyalty of Peru during the country's colonial period, and to oral artistic forms created by diverse ethnic groups that existed in the area during the prehispanic period, such as the Quechua, the Aymara and the Chanka people.

Peruvian literature is rooted in the oral traditions of pre-Columbian civilizations.

Cuisine

Ceviche de caballa
Ceviche is a popular lime marinated seafood dish which originated in Peru.

Due to the Spanish expedition and discovery of the Americas, the explorers started the Columbian Exchange which included food unheard of in the Old World, such as potato, tomato, and maize. Modern indigenous Peruvian food mainly consists of corn, potatoes, and chilies. There are now more than 3,000 kinds of potatoes grown on Peruvian terrain, according to Peru's Instituto Peruano de la Papa.

Modern Peruvian cuisine blends Amerindian and Spanish food with strong influences from Chinese, African, Arab, Italian, and Japanese cooking. Common dishes include anticuchos, ceviche, and pachamanca. Peru's varied climate allows the growth of diverse plants and animals good for cooking. Peru's diversity of ingredients and cooking techniques is receiving worldwide acclaim.

Peruvian cuisine reflects local practices and ingredients—including influences from the indigenous population including the Inca and cuisines brought in with colonizers and immigrants. Without the familiar ingredients from their home countries, immigrants modified their traditional cuisines by using ingredients available in Peru.

The four traditional staples of Peruvian cuisine are corn, potatoes and other tubers, Amaranthaceaes (quinoa, kañiwa and kiwicha) and legumes (beans and lupins). Staples brought by the Spanish include rice, wheat and meats (beef, pork and chicken).

Many traditional foods—such as quinoa, kiwicha, chili peppers, and several roots and tubers have increased in popularity in recent decades, reflecting a revival of interest in native Peruvian foods and culinary techniques. Chef Gaston Acurio has become well known for raising awareness of local ingredients.

Music

Marinera Norteña
Marinera Norteña

Peruvian music has Andean, Spanish, and African roots. In pre-Hispanic times, musical expressions varied widely in each region; the quena and the tinya were two common instruments. Spaniards introduced new instruments, such as the guitar and the harp, which led to the development of crossbred instruments like the charango. African contributions to Peruvian music include its rhythms and the cajón, a percussion instrument. Peruvian folk dances include marinera, tondero, zamacueca, diablada and huayno.

Peruvian music is dominated by the national instrument, the charango. The charango is member of the lute family of instruments and was invented during the Viceroyalty of Peru by musicians imitating the Spanish vihuela. In the Canas and Titicaca regions, the charango is used in courtship rituals, symbolically invoking mermaids with the instrument to lure the woman to the male performers. Until the 1960s, the charango was denigrated as an instrument of the rural poor. After the revolution in 1959, which built upon the Indigenismo movement (1910–1940), the charango was popularized among other performers. Variants include the walaycho, chillador, chinlili, and the larger and lower-tuned charangon.

While the Spanish guitar is widely played, so too is the Spanish-in-origin bandurria. Unlike the guitar, it has been transformed by Peruvian players over the years, changing from a 12-string, 6-course instrument to one having 12 to 16 strings in a mere 4 courses. Violins and harps, also of European origin, are also played.

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