Peru, officially the Republic of Peru - Quechua: Piruw, is a country in western South America, bordering Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil to the east, Bolivia to the south-east, Chile to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
In addition to being known as the cradle of the Inca empire, Peru harbors many indigenous ethnic groups, making it a major historical and cultural site.
Peru's territory has an area of 1,285,216 km². It is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia on the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, and finally Chile and Bolivia to the south. To the west lies the Pacific Ocean. Its population has more than 27 million inhabitants that speak Spanish, with others bilingual in Quechua or Aymara and other native languages.
Eastern Peru consists mostly of the moist tropical jungles of the Amazon Rain Forest, the largest on Earth. In the southeast along the border with Bolivia lies Lake Titicaca — the highest navigable lake in the world. The Altiplano plateau is a dry basin located along the slopes of the Andes in southeastern Peru. Along the border with Chile, the Atacama Desert is the driest place on the planet.
The Peruvian Sea is home to a large amount and variety of fish life.
The largest main cities include:
Lima (the capital and the economic and cultural centre)
Callao (the contitutional province)
Cusco (the capital of the ancient Inca Empire)
Ica, Puno, Chimbote, Huancayo, Cajamarca, Pucallpa, and Iquitos.
El Señor de los Milagros Procession
Uros people on Lake TiticacaPeru is one of only three countries in Latin America which has its largest population segment consisting of indigenous Amerindians. The country's plurality, some 45% of all Peruvians, are classified as Amerindian, and most are found in the southern Andes, though a large portion is also found in the southern and central coast due to the massive internal immigrations from remote Andean reagions to coastal cities, especially Lima.
The two major indigenous ethnic groups are the various Quechua-speaking populations, followed closely by the Aymará, as well as literally dozens of indigenous cultures dispersed throughout the country beyond the Andes Mountains and in the Amazon basin.
Urarina shaman, 1988A large proportion of Peru's indigenous peoples who live in the Andean highlands still speak Quechua or Aymara, and have vibrant cultural traditions, some which were part of the Inca Empire, arguably the most advanced agricultural civilisation in the world. In the tropical Andes and lowlands of the Amazon, which represents nearly 60% of Peruvian national territory, one notes some of the planet's greatest cultural and biological diversity. Peruvian Amazonia is rapidly becoming urbanized. Important urban centers include Iquitos, Puerto Maldonado, Pucallpa and Yurimaguas. In Peruvian Amazonia is home to numerous indigenous peoples, including the Urarina, Cocama, and Aguaruna, to name just a few.
At the national level, mestizos constitute a large minority of the population, comprising some 37% of the population. The term denotes people of mixed ancestry be it European with indigenous, African or Asian.
Some 15% of the population is classified as "white" European, mostly the descendants of relatively unmiscegenated Spanish colonizers (called criollos), though other smaller immigrant communities are also present, including Italians, Germans, Eastern Europeans, Chinese, Japanese and North Americans. The majority of them live in Peru's largest cities and those found along or relatively close to the coast, such as Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura, Lima, Cajamarca, and Arequipa .
Between 2% to 3% of Peruvians are classified as "black" (Afro-Peruvian), most of them live in coastal cities found south of Lima such as that of the Ica Region, cities like Cañete, Chincha, Ica, Nazca and Acari.
Peru has the second largest population of people of Japanese descent in Latin America after Brazil. Many of them traveled to Japan in the 80's as the economic situation in Peru got worse. Many came back after the Japanese Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori developed the economy. A large community of people of Chinese descent live in Lima, where Chinese restaurants (chifas) are commonplace. In contrast to the Japanese, the Chinese intermarried much more. "Unmixed" Asians make up 3% of the population of Peru; the largest percentage of any Latin American nation.
Peru has two official languages - Spanish and the foremost indigenous language, Quechua. Spanish is understood by most Peruvians (over 80%), and is used by government, media, and in education and formal commerce. There had been an increasing and organised effort to teach Quechua in public schools.
The major obstacle to a more widespread use of the Quechua language is the lack of modern media which use it: for example books, newspapers, software, magazines, technical journals, etc. However, non-governmental organisations as well as state sponsored groups are involved in projects to edit and translate major works into the Quechua language; for instance, in late 2005 a superb version of Don Quixote was presented in Quechua.
Despite this work an even more fundamental problem remains: most of the native speakers of Quechua are illiterate. Thus, Quechua, along with Aymara and the minor indigenous languages, remains essentially an oral language. Until more work is done in terms of teaching written Quechua, it is unlikely to rival Spanish as the major language of the country.
There is a big variety of food, like maize, tomato, potatoes, uchu or ají (Capsicum pubescens), oca, ulluco, avocado, fruits like cherimoya, lúcuma and pineapple (anana), and animals like taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis) (similar to the little red brocket), llama and Guinea pig. After the combination of the American, European and Moorish culinary traditions, appeared new meals and ways of preparing them. The successive arrivals of the Africans and the Chineses also influenced in the development of the Creole cuisine, that is so diverse and succulent nowadays.
Peruvian cuisine, for years unnoticed abroad, has recently exploded onto the world gastronomic scene. Peruvian cuisine is a blend of Amerindian and Spanish roots, but has also been influenced by other groups, including Africans, Italians, Chinese and Japanese, all of whom have added their own ingredients and traditions to the mix.
Peru's many climate zones also make it possible to grow a wide range of crops. There are the dozens of native potato, maize and chile pepper varieties from the Andes being Rocoto one of the most popular, to the plentiful fish and seafood from the Pacific coast, mangoes and limes from the coastal valleys, and bananas and manioc from the Amazon jungle.
Between the most typical dishes of the Peruvian cuisine, we have the cebiche, which is also spelled "ceviche" (fish and shellfish marinated in lemon juice), the chupe de camarones (a soup made of shrimps (Cryphiops caementarius)), the anticuchos (a beef's heart roasted in brochettes), the olluco con charqui (a casserole dish made of ulluco and charqui), the Andean pachamanca (meats, tubers and broad beans cooked in a stone oven), the lomo saltado (cuisine) (meat fried lightly with tomato and onion, served with French fries and rice) that has a Chinese influence, and the picante de cuy (a casserole dish made of fried guinea pig with some spices). Peruvian food can be accompanied by typical drinks like the chicha de jora (it's a chicha made of tender corn dried by the sun). This drink has a very low alcoholic graduation. There are also chichas made of purple corn or peanut. They are very refreshing and do not have any alcoholic content.
The most popular ceviche is a type of seafood cocktail where the fish has been marinated in lime with onions and hot peppers, but not cooked. The lime's acid precipitates the protein and hence turns the fish white, "cooking" it. There are several types of ceviche that include fish only, mixed seafood, mussels, etc. Other typical food include staples from the Andes; humitas (tamales), roasted cuy guinea pig, papa a la Huancaina, Jalea de Mar, Chilcano, Sudado, Aguadito, Tallarin Saltado, Aji de Gallina, Arroz con Pollo, Seco de Res, Chicharrones, Tacu Tacu, Carapulcra (Dry potato), choncholi, Salchipapas, Mondonguito a la Italiana, Chanfainita, Ocopa, different Chifa dishes (Chinese food made with Peruvian ingredients), Estofado, Bistec a la Pobre, Arroz con Pato, Rocoto Relleno, Empanadas, Pollo a la Brasa, Lechon, Picante de Mariscos, Arroz con Leche, Turron de Doña Pepa.
Caramel, also known as Manjar Blanco in Peru, is a very popular dessert. Also Crema Chantilly in very popular in cakes. Other desserts include Mazamorra Morada, Arroz con Leche, Flan, Crema Volteada, Leche Asada, Torta Helada.
The most popular soft drink is called Inca Kola, which is a yellowish cream soda, but other sodas are popular too, such as Kola Inglesa, Guarana Backus, and other very common fruit sodas like oranges, pineapple, and lemon. Peru's most well known beverage is the Pisco which originated in the Peruvian department of Ica.
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