Welcome to Peru! Peru is the third largest country in South America. Peru is located on the western edge of South America, with The Andes mountains running through it. The Andes cause many of the cities of Peru to be located on the Western side, including the capital, Lima.
Peru was at one time the center of the Incan Empire. The old capital of the Incas, Cuzco, meaning navel of the world, was located in the Andes mountains in the southeastern part of the country. The Spanish under the conquistador Pizarro conquered the native Andean culture in 1533 and the country became a part of the Spanish Empire in 1542. Peru was liberated from the rule of Spain by the famous South American general José de San Martin in 1821.
The Andes and Machu Picchu
The Andes take up much of Peru, dividing the country into three sections. The Andes are a constantly changing mountain range, so they are prone to earthquakes, landslides, and flash floods. The Andes, though, are also filled with great beauty, such as the great Incan city of the clouds, Machu Picchu, which is a major tourist destination, and the huge Lake Titicaca. Near Huancayo lies Nevado Misti, a 18,500 foot peak, from which emerges a stream that is considered the source of the Amazon, the world's largest river. It flows eastward, joining other rivers, themselves flowing north and east until the Maranon and Ucayali, two great rivers of lowland Amazonia, meet to form the Amazon River itself.
The Pacific Ocean is cold along the coast of Peru and the winds do not pick up much moisture from it, so the land next to coast of Peru is a very dry place. The southern coast region is part of the Atacama desert, which also extends into Chile. The Atacama desert is known as the driest place in the world.
Although little grows naturally in this region of Peru, the people of Peru have long been using irrigation to farm. As a result, most of Peru's large population centers border this desert.
The Amazon Jungle
The eastern part of the country is covered with dense vegetation, and its most important exports are jungle products, consisting of rubber, cinchona, dye stuffs, medicinal drugs and in the cultivated portions, coca, which is raised in large quantities.
Lima - The Capital City
Lima or the City of the Kings (Cuidad de los Reyes) was founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535. The Cathedral of Lima contains the tomb of Pizarro. Callao, located 7 miles west of Lima, is the port of the capital city and contains one of the finest harbors on the Pacific Ocean.
Arequipa - The White City
The historic old city is located on the Chili river in the mountains of southern Peru and was founded by Garci de Carbajal under the direction of Pizarro in 1540. An imposing feature of the city is the Cathedral San Francisco de Arequipa. The name white city comes from the white volcanic rock called sillar, available nearby, which was used as building blocks in the construction of the city.