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Useful Information of Peru
Surface Area With an area of 1,285,215 square km, Peru is the third-largest country in South America after Brazil and Argentina, ranking it among the world's 20 largest nations.
Peru also holds sway over the sea up to 200 miles from the Peruvian coast and has territorial rights to an area of 60 million hectares in the Antarctic. Peru is divided into 24 departments, plus the Constitutional Province of Callao. Lima is the capital of Peru.
Peru is a nation of mixed ethnic origins. Throughout its history, Peru has been the meeting ground for different nations and cultures. The indigenous population was joined 500 years ago by the Spaniards.
The Peruvians, as a result of this encounter, and later enriched by the migration of African blacks, Asians and Europeans, have emerged as the representatives of a nation whose rich ethnic mix is one of its leading characteristics.
As part of its rich cultural tradition, Peru features many different languages. Although Spanish is commonly spoken across the country, Quechua is a major legacy of the Inca Empire and is still spoken with regional dialects in many parts of Peru.
In addition, other languages such as Aymara (in Puno) are still spoken, as well as a startling variety of dialects in the Amazon jungle, which are divided into 15 linguistic families and 38 different languages.
The official currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol (s/.), which is divided into 100 cents. The currency includes coins for 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and 1, 2 and 5 sol coins. There are bills in the denomination of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 soles.
Peru is a democratic republic. The president and members of Congress are elected every five years by universal suffrage. The current constitutional president of Peru is Alan Garcia Perez (2006-2011)
Peru is a naturally religious country; a diversity of beliefs and freedom of worship can be seen from the wide range of festivals and rituals that feature both Catholic fervour and the mysticism of age-old pre-Hispanic cultures.
For at least 300 years before the arrival of the first Europeans (Spaniards), most of Peru (excluding the eastern lowlands) was the heart of the Inca Empire that extended from present-day Ecuador to central Chile. The area from which the empire developed was centred in the basins and valleys of the Cusco region. The Incas conquered the Andean people and were among the most advanced of ancient American civilizations. The Incas themselves developed a civilization and administration that in many respects was of a high order, although different in basic concepts from the civilizations that prevailed in the "Old World".
The Inca Empire ended with the conquest of its heartland and the capital of Cusco (1531-1533) by the Spaniards as commanded by Francisco Pizarro. Lima was founded in 1535 and became the focal point of Spanish expansion and domination of western South America. It soon became the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru, which until the mid-eighteenth century, extended from the Caribbean to La Plata (Argentina). During the seventeenth century Peru was the second most important producer of silver (for 20 years it was the largest producer). Indians who attempted to rebel or to evade exploitation and forced labour were executed.
The establishment of the viceroyalties of New Granada (1739) in the north and La Plata (1776) in the south greatly reduced the extent and power of the colonial administration centred in Lima. Peru declared its independence in 1821, following an uprising by local European (Creole) inhabitants against the Spanish colonial rule, which came to an end only in late 1824. A long period of instability followed, during which the country was governed by a succession of generals. A short confederation with Bolivia (1836-1839) was broken by rebellion.
Peru went to war with Spain (1864-1871); during the fighting, Callao (Lima's main port) was damaged by heavy bombardment from the sea. In 1879, Peru, together with Bolivia, fought a four-year war with Chile over possession of the nitrate-rich northern part of the Atacama Desert. The defeat of the Peruvian army led to the occupation of Lima by the Chilean army and to loss of territory. The border dispute with Chile was settled only in 1929.
In the late nineteenth century, construction of the railway connecting the mining centres of the highlands with the coast, coupled with large foreign capital investments, brought extensive development to Peru. With economic development came a power struggle between the conservative Creole upper class and the liberal elements pressing for social and economic changes. During the first half of the twentieth century, Peru had eighteen presidents (five were deposed and four resigned), many of whom assumed dictatorial powers. A boundary dispute with Colombia was settled in 1932 by the withdrawal of Peru from a large area in the Amazon plain. A boundary dispute with Ecuador was settled after a short war in favour of Peru (1942), but the dispute was revived in 1981.
A liberal president (Fernando Belaunde), elected in 1963, introduced reforms to improve the social and economic conditions of peasants and workers; these brought about some fundamental changes in the position of the masses. The main reforms, however, were instituted by the head of a political party, General Juan Velasco, who deposed Belaunde in 1968. Alvarado initiated a far-reaching program of agrarian reform and nationalized the major mining companies, industries, railways, banks, and other vital public services. He was deposed after seven years in power by a member of the same party, General Francisco Bermudez, who restored free democratic elections in 1980. Since then, four presidents have been elected and finished their five-year terms of government.
Now, Peru is a stable growing country that has open his doors for all the world....
The Cusco department is located in the southeastern part of the country, and expands into the jungle and highland areas.
It has an area of 76,329 square kilometres, and its capital city is Cusco (3,360 masl).
It is well known as the archaeological capital of South America and the “navel of the Inca world”.
By Road: Several roads lead to Cusco from important cities in the country. From Lima, the most recommended route is the South Pan American Highway to Arequipa and then on to Cusco (1,659 km or 28 hours approx.). The other route is through the highlands by Nazca and Abancay.
By Train: There is a daily train service from Arequipa to Juliaca (Puno) which takes approx. 20 hours. From Puno to Cusco, the trip is approx. 10 hours. The highest point of this trip is la Raya at 4,313 masl and is located between Cusco and Juliaca
By Air: There are daily flights to the city of Cusco from Lima and other cities of Peru (Arequipa and Puno). Velasco Astete Airport is 3 kms from the main square. Taxis and buses are available for transport.
The great majority of the inhabitants are of Andean origin. The spoken languages are Q´echua and Spanish in the urban areas.
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