It is the multiple layers of great civilizations which makes Peru so fascinating. You can wander around colonial cities which have preserved the legacy of the Spanish conquistadors, visit the ancient Incan capital of Cuzco, explore the lost city of Machu Picchu and ponder the enigma of the Nazca Lines (answers on a postcard please). You don't have to be in Peru too long to realize that the "New World" had a rich and complex cultural life thousands of years before Pizarro turned up wearing funny clothing. All of this exists in a country with some of the most spectacular and varied scenery in South America. The Peruvian Andes are arguably the continent's most beautiful ones and the mountains are home to millions of highland Indians who still speak the ancient Quechua tongue and keep up a traditional way of life. The verdant Amazon Basin, occupying half of Peru, is one of the world's top 10 biodiversity 'hot spots' - a species-rich area of tropical rain forest that will make your head spin when you start to learn about its ecology. And the coastal deserts, with their huge rolling dunes, farmland oases and fishing villages, are underappreciated by travelers but offer the chance to get off the Gringo Trail in a big way. But you don't have to be a zoologist, an anthropologist or a mountain climber to enjoy Peru, all you need is a keen eye, a love for landscape, an interest in history. Peru is in western South America and shares borders with Chile (to the south), Bolivia (southeast), Brazil (northeast), Colombia (north) and Ecuador (northwest). It has three major regions: a narrow coastal belt, the wide Andean mountains and the Amazon Basin. The coastal strip is predominantly desert, but contains Peru's major cities and its best highway, the Carretera Panamericana. The Andes comprise two principal ranges: Cordillera Occidental and Oriental including Huascarán (6,770m), Peru's highest mountain. To the east is the Amazon Basin, a region of tropical lowland, which is drained by the Maranon and Ucayali rivers. Peru's peak tourist season is from June to August, being is the dry season in the highlands, and this is the best time to go if you're interested in hiking. Travelers do visit the highlands year-round, though the wettest months, January to April, make trekking a muddy proposition. Many of the major fiestas take place in the wettest months and continue undiminished in spite of heavy rain. On the coast, Peruvians visit the beaches during the sunny months from late December through March, although few beaches are particularly enticing. The rest of the year, the coast is clothed in mist. In the eastern rainforests, it rains a lot or course. The wettest months are December through April, though travelers visit it year-round since it rarely rains for more than a few hours and there's still plenty of sunshine to enjoy.
Population: 31,4 millions.
Capital city: Lima.
People: 54% Indian, 32% Mestizo (mixed European and Indian descent), 12% Spanish descent, 2% Black, Asian minority.
Language: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara.
Religion: Over 90% roman catholic, small protestant population.