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Peru Culture

It's the multiple layers of great civilizations that make Peru so fascinating. Cobblestone streets preserve the era of the Conquistadors, the ruins of the lost city of Machu Pichu remind travelers of the once mighty Inca Empire, and the mysterious Nazca lines elude all explanation. On top of this the Peruvian Andes are arguably the most spectacular mountains on the continent and home to millions of highland Indians who still speak the ancient language of Quechua and maintain a traditional way of life. Then to the East and thousands of feet below, the lush Amazon Basin covers half of Peru and is one of the world's top 10 biodiversity hotspots - these are areas of super high species diversity that are under threat of being extinguished.

Lying along the Pacific Coast, Peru shares borders with Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador. 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 Carratera Panamericana. The Andes comprise two principal ranges - Cordillera Occidental and Oriental - and includes Huascarán (6768m/22,199ft), Peru's highest mountain. To the east is the Amazon Basin, a region of tropical lowlands, which is drained by the Maranon and Ucayali rivers.

Cusco: The once great Inca Capital of Cusco still teems with Andean pride and has become a travelers' mecca of sorts. Narrow streets lined by Inca walls stretch out from the main plaza and indigenous farmers and craftsmen rush by carrying their wares to market. Traditional and international foods are found everywhere and shopkeepers always offer a welcoming smile.

Religion, Language and Food

The predominant religion is Roman Catholic, but there is a scattering of other Christian faiths. Indigenous Peruvians, however, have blended Catholicism and their traditional beliefs. An example is the near synonymous association of Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) and the Virgin Mary.

Spanish is the main language throughout Peru, although most highland Indians are bilingual, with Quechua being their preferred language and Spanish their second tongue. When bargaining in rural markets, a Quechua word or two will not only endear you to the vendors, but usually get you an extra orange or more juice! Several small lowland groups speak their own languages. English is understood in the best hotels and in airline offices and travel agencies, but it's of little use elsewhere.

Peruvian food consists mainly of soups and stews, corn pancakes, rice, eggs and vegetables. Seafood is excellent, even in the highlands. Local specialties include ceviche, seafood prepared in lemon juice; lechón, suckling pig; and cuy, whole roasted guinea pig-however, some delicacies may only be for the most adventurous stomachs!

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Visit us: Calle Del Medio 131, Plaza de Armas Cusco - Perú