45 Interesting Facts About Peru

A lot can be told about South America and specifically Peru, but one thing is for sure, it is among the most beautiful countries in the world. With beautiful coastlines that span thousands of miles and an awesome weather for tourism, there is nowhere else you would wish to spend your vacation. However, the coastline and weather are not the only the interesting things about Peru. Let’s explore more about this country…

45 Interesting facts about Peru

1. For someone who loves ocean surfing, you will be impressed to learn that Peru is the best surfing location in the world. With a 1.5 miles long tidal wave that you can surf, be sure to hit its coastlines and surf the wave.

2. This one is an interesting one, and it probably will make you laugh. In Peru during New Year’s Eve, it is a normal tradition for your friends and even family to give you a gift of yellow underwear!

Interesting facts about Peru: Yellow underwear as a gift in Peru
Interesting facts about Peru: A hanging yellow underwear

3. And what about the oldest university in the Americas? Yes, The National University of San Marcos, which was founded in the year 1551, is the oldest university in the Americas.

4. This might be the funniest among the long list of interesting facts about Peru. The government of Peru banned prisoners from using chili sauce in 1973 claiming that it increased their sexual arousal.

5. If you think that soccer riots are only common in the UK then think twice. A soccer match between Peru and Argentina in 1964 is recorded as being the worst in soccer history. 500 people were injured, and more than 300 lost their lives.

6. On the list of interesting facts about Peru, it would be foolish not to mention the origin of its name. It is said that the word Peru was a product of mispronunciation of the word pelu that means a river.

7. Among the not so amazing facts about Peru that are still worth knowing is that in 2013, the United Nations declared it the largest producer of cocaine in the world. With over US$1 billion in revenues and employing over 200,000 people, this still stands as an amazing fact about Peru.

8. Another amazing fact about Peru that is of a positive nature is that it is ranked as the sixth largest producer of gold. Remember, this is not in the Americas, but the world. So make sure you tour Peru, maybe you will go back home with a couple of pounds of gold.

9. Peru has its fair share of oldest things; this time round, it is not about the oldest university. The sacred city of Caral-Supe is said to the oldest residence of our ancestors as human beings in the Americas, and it is over 5,000 years old.

Sacred City of Caral-Supe
Interesting Facts About Peru: Sacred City of Caral-Supe. Photo by Christopher Kleihege

10. Talk about accounting and record keeping. The Incas of Peru had one of the most complex record keeping methods ever to exist. Because they did not know how to write or read, they used to tie knots on a rope that varied in size and color. Each knot was unique and thus represented the number of items recorded.

11. Their national dance is an amazing thing to see. The dance known as the coquettish marinera is choreographed to mimic the mating ritual of birds.

12. The world has a population of 10 million Alpacas, but more than 3.5 million of them are found in Peru.

13. Ever asked yourself where John Wayne met his third wife. Well, wonder no more. Wayne met her on the edge of a Peruvian jungle where he was on a set in 1952.

14. From the longest tidal wave to the highest dune, is there anything massive that does not exist in Peru? Located in the Sechura Desert, Cerro Blanco is the highest dune in the world standing at 1,176 meters tall.

15. Ever wondered where potatoes came from, wonder no more. It is said that the Spaniards in 1562 brought this precious commodity from Peru to Europe.

16. You think that the Grand Canyon is deep. Then you are in for a shock. At 11,595 feet, and twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Peru’s Cotahuasi Canyon is the deepest Canyon in the world.

Cotahuasi Canyon Peru. Image credit – http://www.willyadventureperu.com/packages/arequipa

17. In honor of Spanish settlers who were forced to eat cats the first time they arrived in Peru, a festival by the name of La Festival del Gastronómico del Gato is held each year where 100 cats are barbecued. But if you are a cat lover worry not for a judge banned this practice.

18. By the way, about the yellow underpants for a New Year’s Eve present, it is given to a person for good luck.

19. For someone into living and eating healthy, you will love Peru. Camu-Camu fruit which freely grows in Peru is a healthy alternative for oranges with the highest concentration of vitamin C compared to none other food.

20. If you love eating fish, you will love Peru, with the second largest fish catch in the world every year, Peru is a fish lover’s paradise.

21. Ever asked yourself what ancient Peruvians used for currency? Wonder no more. They used corn. Peru produces more than 55 varieties of corn in a wild range of colors.

Variety of corn - Peru. Image credit
Interesting Facts About Peru – Variety of corn. Image credit

22. And do you want to drink a lot of coffee? Move to Peru. Being the eighth largest producers of coffee in the world in 2011, you will love Peru.

23. Another addition to the list of interesting facts about Peru is looking at the Nazca Lines from the sky. The Nazca line consists of geoglyphs that have the impression of gigantic humans, plant, and animals like creatures. These impressions are so great that they have been named to be among the greatest archeological mysteries in the world.

24. Have you ever wanted to see so many birds in one place? Well, Peru is the place to be. With a world record for 650 birds seen at one place, this is a bird lover’s paradise.

25. There is no need for a freezer and dryer as the ancient Peruvians already devised a way to do that, and it is still in use today. This method is used to freeze dry potatoes by leaving them to be frozen by frost at night then drying them in the sun during the day.

26. Hiram Bingham discovered the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu in 1911.

27. The word jerky, which is lean meat, was originally the Quechua word Charqui.

28. The highest growing tree that also has a copper-colored bark that is consistently peeling grows in Peru.

29. Ever wondered why the climatic condition El Niño was named that way? Well, it was named this way because it hits Peru during Christmas and thus, they decided to name it after baby Jesus (El Niño Jesus).

30. For thousands of year, ancient Peruvians used the coca plant which cocaine comes from for medicinal use and during religious occasions.

31. Another interesting fact is that Peruvians love bullfighting. It is said that is was introduced by Spaniards in 1538.

32. Another fact related to bullfighting in Peru is that the bull-fighting ring that stands in Lima was built in 1768 thus being the third oldest ring globally.

33. The ancient Peruvian Empire of Inca was ones the largest empire in the Americas.

34. The world’s tallest flowering plant is found in Peru.

35. If bird droppings are an issue to you, you would have survived Peru. There was a period in the 1800s when these droppings were among Peru’s greatest exports to Europe to be used as fertilizer.

36. Peru has some of the driest deserts in the world. For instance, the Atacama Desert which it shares with Chile has some points that have never seen rainfall in 400 years.

37. The Peruvians had invented nearly all weaving techniques used today by 2,500 B.C.

38. There is plenty of asparagus in Peru, so much that it was the world’s leading exporter in 2012.

39. Among facts about Peru culture, you will be surprised to learn that some Peruvian tribes used wines know as yagé administered by a shaman to promote healing and knowledge. The wine has hallucinogenic properties.

40. Another addition to the interesting facts about Peru culture is trial marriage. This type of marriage exists in the Quechua tribe whereby men and women are allowed to marry freely and end their marriages whenever they like.

41. On the list of fun facts about Perú, a person is given one poncho to last a lifetime. This may be because one poncho takes up to 600 hours to complete.

42. Marriage in Peru is not a joke. The couple must enter a period where they serve each other. The woman works with the mother-in-law and the man with the father-in-law.

43. One of the many interesting facts about Peru for kids is that it contains the largest portion of the Amazon Desert.

44. If you think that shamanism is an old thing, then think twice. It is still used in Peru to date. This may be because most of the population cannot afford modern doctors, and it is not a bad thing as the country’s former President, Fernando Belaúnde Terry, employed a shaman to treat them.

45. For the Peruvian tribe of Inca, the sign that two people are married was not an exchange of rings but of sandals.

Peru on World Map
Peru on World Map

Quick country facts about Peru

Capital CityLima
12°2.6′S 77°1.7′W
Largest CityLima
12°2.6′S 77°1.7′W
Total area1,285,216 sq km
Population30,444,999 (July 2015 est.)
Official LanguageSpanish, Quechua, Aymara
BordersBolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador.
CurrencyNuevo sol (PEN)
ReligionCatholic, Protestants
Life expectancy73.48 years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatevaries from tropical in east to dry desert in west; temperate to frigid in Andes
Terrainwestern coastal plain (costa), high and rugged Andes in center (sierra), eastern lowland jungle of Amazon Basin (selva)
Natural resourcescopper, silver, gold, petroleum, timber, fish, iron ore, coal, phosphate, potash, hydropower, natural gas
Agricultural land18.8%
Birth rate18.28 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate6.01 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio0.97 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Independence28 July 1821 (from Spain)
National symbolvicuna (a camelid related to the llama); national colors: red, white
National anthem"Himno Nacional del Peru" (National Anthem of Peru)
Industriesmining and refining of minerals; steel, metal fabrication; petroleum extraction and refining, natural gas and natural gas liquefaction; fishing and fish processing, cement, glass, textiles, clothing, food processing, beer, soft drinks, rubber, machinery, electrical machinery, chemicals, furniture
Exports$36.35 billion (2015 est.)
copper, gold, lead, zinc, tin, iron ore, molybdenum, silver; crude petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas; coffee, asparagus and other vegetables, fruit, apparel and textiles, fishmeal, fish, chemicals, fabricated metal products and machinery, alloys

Imports$38.97 billion (2015 est.)
petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, plastics, machinery, vehicles, TV sets, power shovels, front-end loaders, telephones and telecommunication equipment, iron and steel, wheat, corn, soybean products, paper, cotton, vaccines and medicines
GDP - per capita (PPP)$12,200 (2015 est.)
Time ZonePET (UTC−5)
Internet country code.pe
Internet users12.452 million
percent of population: 40.9% (July 2015 est.)
Calling Code+51
Drives on theRight


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