I have lived in Peru for nearly 7 years now working hard in the Peru vacations industry, and I thought I knew quite a lot about the place, so I decided to do a little research into some of things I didn’t know about! Here are 50 fun facts about Peru, that you probably didn’t know, and I certainly didn’t.
1) The potato is originally from Peru, and there are over 3,000 different varieties. Proud Peruvians use the phrase “Soy mas Peruano que la papa” (I am more Peruvian than the potato).
2) Peru grows more than 55 varieties of corn, and you can just about find it in any color including yellow, purple, white and black.
3) Cuy or Guinea Pig is a traditional dish eaten in Peru during important festivals, and is served crispy complete with head, legs and eyes.
4) Peru is the 6th largest producer of gold. In 2010 (according to Thomson Reuters GFMS) Peru produced 162 tonnes of gold, worth US$6,377,865,888.
5) The oldest occupation of man in the America’s is traced back to the sacred City of Caral-Supe a few hours north of the capital Lima. The 626 hectare (1546 acre) site dates back 5000 years.
6) Two-thirds of Peru is covered in prime Amazon Rain Forest.
7) Peru’s Huascarán National Park has more has 27 snow-capped peaks 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) above sea level, of which El Huascarán (6,768 meters / 22,204 feet) is the highest.
8) Peru has 1625 types of orchids of-which 425 can be found growing naturally close to Machu Picchu. The Inkaterra Hotel in Machu Picchu has South America’s largest privately owned collection at 500 varieties.
9) Cusco in Peru was the most important city in the whole of the Inca Empire, and governed as far north as Quito in Ecuador and as far south as Santiago in Chile.
Cusco, Plaza de Armas
10) There are 3 official languages in Peru: Spanish, Quechua and Aymara, but east of the Andes in Amazon Jungle regions it is thought that natives speak a further 13 different languages.
11) The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu was lost to the Amazon Jungle for hundreds of years, until it was re-discovered by Hiram Bingham the American explorer.
12) The Pisco Sour is Peru’s national drink and is made using Pisco brandy, lemons, sugar water, egg whites, ice and finished with bitters.
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13) Lake Titicaca in Southern Peru is the world’s highest navigable lake, and South America largest lake.
14) In Peru, it is tradition to give friends and family yellow underpants on New Year’s Eve.
15) Peru’s is the 8th largest producer of coffee in the world, and is the 5th largest producer of the Arabica bean.
16) There are some 90 different micro-climates in Peru, making it one of the most bio-diverse countries on the planet.
17) Peru is home to the highest sand dune in the world. Cerro Blanco located in the Sechura Desert near the Nazca Lines measures 3,860 feet (1,176 meters) from the base to the summit.
The Sand Dunes of Huacachina, Southern Coast of Peru
18) Peru is a surfer’s paradise. Chicama has the world’s longest left-handed wave at 4km’s long, and Mancora (close by) has the world’s largest left-handed point-break.
19) Cotahuasi Canyon in the Arequipa region is considered one of the world’s deepest canyon at 3,535 meters (11,597 feet) deep – twice as deep as the Grand Canyon USA.
20) Peru’s capital Lima was once the most powerful city in South America, but fell into decline when the Spanish created a viceroyalty in Rio de la Plata.
21) Peru’s Independence Day is celebrated on July 28, and is known as ‘Fiestas Patrias.’
22) In Chincha on Peru’s southern coast it is quite acceptable to eat cat!
23) The finest cottons in the world, Pima and Tanguis are Peruvian.
24) Peru has the second largest amount of Shamans in the world, second only to India.
25) The National University of San Marcos is the oldest in the Americas and was founded on the 12th of May of 1551.
26) Soccer is the most popular sport in Peru. Introduced in the middle of XIX century – probably by British immigrants who were passing by Callao port.
27) According to the last census, in 2017, of the 31.237.385 inhabitants, 50,8% of Peruvians are women.
28) National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) has announced that Pollo a la brasa, a spit-roasted chicken, is Limeños most popular dish to eat outside home. The ranking places ceviche in second and crispy fried chicken at third.
29) National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) has announced that Pollo a la brasa, a spit-roasted chicken, is Limeños most popular dish to eat outside home. The ranking places ceviche in second and crispy fried chicken at third.
30) Consulting firm International Mercer has found that Peru ranks seventh worldwide in number of holidays, with 12 holidays per year.
31) Founded on January, 18th 1535 by Francisco Pizzarro, the city of Lima celebrated 484 years of history in 2019.
32) According to INEI last report, Peru has a 31.151.643 million inhabitants, and 9.835.000 million live in Lima.
33) Market consultants conducted a study in 2018 where Inka Cola was placed forth as the most consumed product in Peru, only overtaken by other brands as Gloria, Ajinomto and Elite.
34) Up to 2020, there have been 61 presidents in Peru, from San Martin to Martin Vizcarra.
35) The Worldwide independent Network stated in 2018 that 74% of peruvians considered themselves “happy” or “very happy”.
36) Inti Raymi, translated from Quechua as “Party of the sun”, is the biggest celebration in Cusco; a tradition that started in the XV century thanks to Pachacutec.
37) Thanks to Huachipa Zoo, Peru has become the only country with 3 different anteater; and the breeds kept in captivity the silky (or pigmy) anteater for more than 10 years.
38) Atahualpa, the Inca Chief, offered a room full of gold and silver for his freedom during the Spanish takeover. In 2015, It was all valued in USD 232 million approx.
39) Machu Picchu is 7972 feet above sea level and Huayna Picchu is higher with 8923 feet above sea level.
40) The Telegraph positioned Huacachina Oasis in Ica, as one of the 21 most impressive destinies worldwide; and it’s the only one representing Latin America.
41) In Cusco 2018, Peru set a world record for having the largest causa; with 12 hours of work and weighing 590.65kg.
42) Arequipa city is surrounded by 4 volcanos, Ampato, Chachani, Misti and Pichu Pichu.
43) Floating Uro Islands are small surface built with totora reed; a water plant that is commonly found around the Lake Titicaca.
44) “Otorongo no come otorongo” is a Peruvian typical phrase – translated as “jaguars don’t eat jaguars”, and it refers to public workers protecting lack-of-ethics behaviors from others public workers; it could also apply for other sectors.
45) As a national symbol, Peruvian arm of coats has a cornucopia, a quina tree and a vicuña to represent the animal kingdom.
46) The twelve-angled stone is part of the Archiepiscopal Palace structure in Cuzco
47) Archeologists Jhony Isla and Luis Castillo used drones and satellite imagery to discover 50 new Nazca lines located on the mountains of Palm’s desert.
48) Llamas tend to spit whenever they feel in danger in order to create a distraction.
49) In 1820, Jose de San Martin got inspired by the bird with red wings and white chest for the Peruvian flag. These flamingos appeared to him on a dream in the Pisco coast.
50) In Peru you can find the pygmy marmoset, the smallest monkey in the world.
This article ’50 Fun Facts About Peru’ was brought to you by the Peru travel experts at Totally Latin America. For more articles like this please visit our Peru travel blog.