About Peru


Sharing borders with five countries in South America (Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Chile), Peru is a country rich in biodiversity with many ecosystems and climactic zones. It is marked with three geographic zones: arid coastal desert, Andean mountain, and Amazonian tropical forest. Peru is the third largest country in South America after Brazil and Argentina. It is slightly smaller than Alaska.

Peru is divided into 24 departments (similar to our states in the U.S.) and a constitutional province called Callao. Callao is adjacent to Lima and is the country's chief port. The departments are divided into provinces, which are composed of districts, which are composed of small towns, which are composed of villages.


Country: 29 million (July 2009 est.)
Capital City Lima: approximately 8.4 million
Department of Cajamarca: approximately 1.4 million
City of Cajamarca: approximately 150,000

Official Languages
Spanish and Quechua. Aymara and other Amazonian languages are spoken throughout Peru.

Enthnic Groups
Amerindian 45%; Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and European) 37%; European 15%; Black, Japanese, Chinese, and other 3%. Peru has a largely concentrated Afro-Peruvian community in the Department of Ica and Asians (mainly Japanese and Chinese) in the nation's capital city, Lima. Though these ethnic groups are largely concentrated in these areas, they live throughout the country.


Government type
Constitutional republic

Main Political Parties
Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (APRA), National Unity (UN), Peru Posible (PP), Popular Action (AP), Union for Peru (UPP), and Somos Peru (SP).

Universal and mandatory for citizens 18 to 70 years old.


Chronic malnutrition in children under five years of age continues to be one of the largest health challenges in Peru. Many national and international efforts have been ongoing in the country, especially in rural indigenous regions where chronic malnutrition is more severe. According to a national survey in 2005, chronic malnutrition stands at 24.1% at the national level, while in the rural areas it reaches 39% of the children under five.

Infant Mortality Rate
28.62 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth
70.74 years

Anemic children under 3 years of age
58% (2008)

Children under 6 years old who do not have a birth certificate
7.2% (2008)

Births in places other than a health post or hospital
20% (2008)

No vaccinations are required for entry into Peru. For travel to certain areas, however, it's a good idea to bring Malaria medications and have the Yellow Fever vaccination. It is also recommended to have Hepatitis A and B vaccinations. You may want to consider contacting your doctor or travel nurse, as well as the Center For Disease Control www.cdc.gov prior to traveling.

Altitude Sickness
Typically, physical weakness, headaches, nausea, and shortness of breath are symptoms. Cajamarca is approximately 9030ft in altitude, which has caused some a mild case of altitude sickness. It's a good idea, if traveling to altitudes of 9500ft and above, to either bring medication for this, or purchase medication once in Peru.


Education in Peru begins with kindergarten for three years, usually starting at age 3, followed by primary school (six years) and then secondary school (five years). Bachelor's degrees for professional careers are usually completed in five years for a full-time student. Technical degrees are usually completed in 3 years for a full-time student.

The Ministry of Education elaborates the National Design of the Curriculum (Diseno Curricular Nacional) for the teachers to guide their lessons along the academic year for the three first levels of education. This DCN is based on competencies and abilities.

In 2007, the overall literacy level was estimated to be 92.9%. In rural areas this rate dropped to 80.3%.

From 2005-2007:
52% of children 3-5 years old living in poverty attended school
93% of children 6-11 years old living in poverty attended school
63% of 12-16 years old adolescents living in poverty attended school


Each geographical region (coastal desert, mountain, or tropical forest) has its own distinct culture and within that culture, each department, province, and district has its own special custom, food, and music.

Some typical foods:
Ceviche: a citrus-marinated seafood appetizer
Lomo Saltado: beef stir-fry.
Anticuchos: cut stew meat, typically marinated and grilled cow heart.
Cuy: guinea pig- a delicacy in the highlands.
Pachamanca: an earthen oven that is filled with meat, typically lamb, chicken, or pork, and vegetables. After the oven is filled, it is covered with grass and leaves. The food is cooked slowly in the ground and then served hot.
Papa a la huancaina: potatoes covered in a cheesy sauce that typically served cold.
Humitas: similar to tamales, but typically smaller. Humitas are either filled with meat or cheese and are wrapped in panca, the corn pod.
Tamales: made of corn. Moist, slightly spicy, and with an added flavor provided by the banana leaf wrapping. Traditionally stuffed with pork or chicken.
Potatoes: Peru has over 3,000 kinds of potatoes.


2 pounds of firm, fresh red snapper fillets (or other firm-fleshed fish)
1/2 cup of limejuice
1/2 cup of red onions
1 chili or rocoto (a hot chili pepper from Peru)
2 teaspoons of salt

Cut boneless fish into 1/2 inch pieces
Squeeze fresh limejuice
Finely slice the red onion
Finely dice seeded chili

Mix the fish with the sliced onion, wash and drain well and then season with salt and chili pepper. Toss the fish preparation in the limejuice and mix well. Let sit for 5 to 15 minutes (until the fish turns white) and then serve right away. Ceviche is typically served with half a boiled sweet potato, a slice of boiled corn and lettuce.


Ingredients (serves four):
2 pounds of beef (tenderloin)
3 medium onions
2 pounds of white potatoes
4 fresh yellow pepper
4 tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup oil

Cut the tenderloin into strips
Peel the onion and cut into eighths
Peel and cut the potatoes into french-fry strips
Cut the yellow peppers into strips
Peel and cut the tomatoes into eighths
Chop the parsley

Fry the tenderloin strips in a pan with half a cup of oil. When the meat is cooked, remove it and then add the onions and tomatoes into the same pan. Once the onions are cooked (yet still shiny), add the chopped parsley, salt, pepper, yellow pepper, soy sauce and vinegar, and cook for 2 minutes. (Note: The tomatoes will release their juices, but they should not wither.)

Add meat and lemon juice. Mix well.

Fry the cut potatoes into 1/2 cup of very hot oil until cooked and golden. Drain on absorbent paper.

To serve, place the potatoes with the lomo saltado in the center, you can add rice mold on the side to complement. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.


Quena (kena): a traditional flute of the Andes
Charango: a small string instrument of the lute family
Cajon: a wood box drum


Marinera: a costal dance of Peru, which is an elegant reenactment of courtship
Huayno: an Andean folk dance
Scissors Dance (Danza de Tijeras): a traditional acrobatic dance in the mountains, typically to violin and harp music, while holding scissors.


Soccer and volleyball are sports that most men and women in Peru know how to play.


Peruvian Nuevo Sol


UTC-5 (Same time as New York during Non-Daylight Savings)


July 28 (1821)

Source: The information and statistics found in this document, "About Peru" have been compiled from the following sources:

Center for Disease Control
Central Intelligence Agency
Local newspaper from Cajamarca
Local newspaper from Lima
Ministry of Education of Peru
Ministry of Health of Peru
Ministry of Women and Social Development of Perubr
The National Institute of Statistics and Information of Peru
U.S. Department of State