General

Peru is a country on the west coast of South America. It is bordered to the north by Ecuador and Colombia, to the east by Brazil, to the southeast by Bolivia, to the south by Chile, and to the west by the Pacific Ocean.

Peru, the third country of Latin America, is divided into 3 areas:

  • The costa (coast), to the west, is largely arid and runs along the Pacific Ocean. Lima, the capital as well as the largest cities of Peru are located on the coast.
  • The sierra (the Andes) in the centre, is the second largest mountain range in the world after the Himalayas with  the highest summit  of the country, the Huascarán(6,768 m).
  • The third region is the selva (the Amazonia rainforest) that extends to the east. Almost 60% of the country's area is located in this area.

Peru covers 1.285.216 km2 with a population estimated at 30 million, mainly living on the coast, particularly in Lima.

Languages

The official languages of Peru are Spanish, Quechua and Aymara. Many other languages are spoken throughout Amazonia, such as the Shipibo language

Currency

The currency used is the Nuevo Sol (PEN). Currently 1 EUR = 3,88 PEN.

Climate

There is a great climatic diversity in the country.

On the coast, the temperatures are very high and it almost never rains.

But when the winter comes, between May and September, a humid fog covers the coast; it is called the “garua”. The temperatures are the highest in this region from January to March

In the “Sierra”, the temperatures are very low and it rains a lot from December to April.

The “Selva” is characterized by heavy rainfall and high temperatures mainly from January to March. Summer time is from May to December.

Biodiversity

Peru has one of the highest degrees of biodiversity in the world, mainly in the Amazonian forests with the highest number of species of plants and animals (mammals, reptiles and amphibians). There are between 40.000 and 45.000 species of plants in Peru.

Unfortunately this balance is threatened by human activity which constantly exploits nature for one goal only: economic profit. The deforestation of Amazonia, drug trafficking, mining and oil exploitation, pollution, unsuitable agriculture, … all those are real threats for the survival of the eco-system.

History

The history of Peru is one of the richest in the world. The first civilisations settled there in 1250 BC: the Chavins, the Nazcas, the Chimus and the Tiahuanacas. The Inca Empire, one of the largest in Pre-Colombian America appeared in 1500 after the merging of several civilisations. But this empire was coveted by the Spanish in search of gold. Franciso Pizarro, a Spanish conqueror, claimed the area for Spain until  28 July 1821 when the country became  independent.

Culture and tradition

Crafts

Peru boasts the more important variety of craftsmanship in the world.  It is of prime importance for the economy of the area.

In Amazonia, you will discover typical objects such as bows, blowpipes or hammocks. Turn to the Andes and you will find musical instruments such as  flutes, panpipes and  guitars. There are many other beautiful artifacts such as pottery,  jewellery, clothes, leather goods, paintings or precious stones.

The traditional Shipibo craft is renowned for its patterns, particularly the design of their fabrics. This fabric is first of all dyed by hand with natural products, mainly the bark of trees. The colour is fixed with alun, a natural stone. All the designs are drawn by hand and they are inspired by ancestral beliefs and the representation of the world in which the Shipibo community evolves.

The barks of mainly small trees are used to colour in the drawings. The colour is obtained  by soaking the barks together with a variety of clay which is found on the banks on the river.

The craftsmanship of the Shipibos art is  truly art!

Gastronomy

The diversity of Peruvian food, which is one of the most important in the world, is due to the geographic particularities of the country, the blend of races and cultures but also to the fusion of traditional and modern cuisines.

In the Selva, the dominant ingredient is of course fish which is the main local and natural food.

There are also many fruits such as mangoes, bananas, passion fruits … The “Juane” is a well liked dish in the region. It is  prepared with rice, spices and chicken  which are then wrapped in a Bijao leaf.

In the Andes, the  main ingredients are corn and potatoes. And this is where the potato comes from. There are more than 3000 varieties of potatoes to be found in  Peru.

Ceviche,  a dish of raw fish, is the most appreciated speciality on the coast.

Generally speaking, the Peruvian cuisine which is very hot and colourful and is most of the time served with rice.

Music and Dance

The Peruvian music is more than 10,000 years old. The blend  of Spanish and African traditions has lead to more than 1300 types of music in Peru which  are played in all the  different regions by many musical groups.

The quena, a recorder, is a traditional musical instrument used all over the country. It is often played together with the mandolin, the harp and the violin.

As with the music,  Peruvian dances are specific to each region.

On the coast, there are some typical dances such as the Marinera, the Creole waltz or some afro-peruvian dances.

In the mountains, the dances are a display of colours and energy  (heel clicking, acrobatic jumping, ..)

In the Selva area, the communities engage in  are  tribal dances.

More specific information over Amazonia or Pucallpa on the following links :

  

Rao Shobo The Shipibos Your stay Info Peru Rao shobo
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