Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Equador, Peru is truly a crossroads of South America. Slightly smaller than Alaska, its size lends it an enormous patchwork of history and gorgeous Andean landscape. Whether you’re planning to visit or are just curious about one of the most influential countries in the Americas, here are some of the most interesting facts about Peru.
7 of the Most Interesting Facts About Peru
1. Peru is home to the oldest human settlement in the Americas
It’s no secret that Peru is a treasure trove of ancient cultures and history. But did you know that it is actually home to the oldest known human settlement in all the Americas? Caral, or Caral-Supe, 200 miles or so from Lima boasts the more than 5,000 year old settlement of the Norte Chico civilisation.
2. Peru has the highest sand dune in the world
Peru is home to some seriously majestic landscapes from the Andes to the Pacific coast and beyond. Among the breathtaking scenery, you’ll find some pretty high sand dunes. Cerro Blanco is the highest in the world in the Sechura Dessert is actually the highest in the world with a whopping 3,860 feet from base to summit.
3. Peru holds a staggering amount of alpacas
Cheery eyed alpacas are easily the first animal to come to mind when thinking of Peru. And it’s not hard to see why, the whole of the countryside is covered in these friendly, furry animals. And the numbers speak for themselves, Peru holds a whopping 87% of the world’s alpaca population.
4. The Inca Empire was larger than the Roman one
The Roman Empire is easily the most well-known and well-documented empire in history. But did you know that at its peak, the Inca Empire was actually larger? The Inca Empire included 24.855 miles of roads and a vast network of messengers (chasquis) that kept the empire connected.
5. You’ll find one of the deepest canyons in the world here
Peruvian nature truly knows no bounds. In addition to the world’s highest sand dune, it also boasts the world’s second deepest canyon. Yep, Cotahuasi Canyon plunges to a whopping 11,004 feet deep and is the second deepest second only to Tibet’s Yarlung Tsangpo. For comparison, that’s nearly twice the depth of Arizona’s iconic Grand Canyon.
6. The national dish of Peru is a roasted guinea pig
Cuy, otherwise known as guinea pig, is the national dish of Peru. It is prepared by roasting the full guinea pig and typically served with head and feet in tact. The roots of cuy go back as a delicacy for more than 5,000 years and make it. staple in Andean cuisine.
7. Ancient Incas were very in tune with constellations
Like many other ancient societies, the Incas were very much in line with astrology and astronomy. However, they were the only ancient civilisation to define both light and dark constellations. In fact, some of Cuzco’s streets were built to align with the stars and of course Machu Picchu’s sun temples and ritual stones line up perfectly with the solstices.