Facts About Peru
Peru at a glance
With an area of 1,285,215 square km, Peru is the third-largest country in South America after Brazil and Argentina, ranking it amongst the world’s 20 largest nations.
Peru is divided into three regions.
Although this simple division is a fair portrait of Peru’s geography, the reality is much richer and far more complex: in Peru, nature appears to have taken on particular characteristics which have turned its mountains, plains, jungles and valleys into unique habitats. An extraordinary variety of eco-systems shelters a wide diversity of animals and plants.
This is a region bordered by the Pacific Ocean with large extent of desert areas, beautiful beaches and fertile fluvial valleys. The coastal desert runs the entire coast, from Ecuador to Chile and is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountain range.
It experiences two distinct seasons:
Summer (December to March), with temperatures up to 27˚C (85˚F); and winter (May to October), very humid and cold with temps down to 12˚C (53˚ F). Although it rarely rains on the Peruvian coast, light drizzle and mist are common during the winter. The northern coast is sunny and tropical all year round, with temps ranging between 25C˚-35C˚ (95˚F) in the summer months.
This region is dominated by the Andean Range, reaching heights of up to 6768 meters above sea level, or 22,204 ft, at the famous snow-capped mountain of Huascaran. It is known for its’ dry temperate climate and has two distinct seasons: summer (May to October) with sunny and clear days, very cold nights and scarce rain. This also happens to be the best, and busiest season to visit Peru. The rainy season lasts for approximately 3 months (December to March). In the highlands, significant drops in temperature, 65˚F down to 35˚F, are common.
This region of Peru is dominated by tropical forest corresponding to the Peruvian Amazon, where Peru’s largest nature reserves are found. It is divided into two areas: the cloud forest (above 700 masl) that features a subtropical balmy climate and the lowland jungle (below 700 masl).
The region is known for its’ humid tropical climate and two distinct seasons: summer (May to October), with sunny days and temps topping 100 F˚ (35˚C) and the rainy season (November to March), with relentless showers and bulging rivers.
-28,674,757 (July 2007 est.)
– Urban: 72,3 %
– Rural: 27,7 %
Peru is a nation of mixed ethnic origins. Throughout its history, Peru has been the meeting ground for different nations and cultures. The Spaniards joined the indigenous population 500 years ago.
As a result of this encounter, and later enriched by the migration of African blacks, Asians and Europeans, Peruvian man emerged as the representative of a nation whose rich ethnic mix is one of its leading characteristics
Our country’s official languages are Spanish and Quechua, although the former is more commonly used. The Ayara language is also recognized by the Peruvian state, mainly spoken in the southern highlands, as well as 48 other native dialects. Those working in tourism and travel speak English.
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Banking, Currency and money modes
The official currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol (S/.), which is divided into 100 cents. The currency includes coins for 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents and 1, 2 and 5 sol coins. There are bills in the denomination of 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 Nuevos Soles.
Peru is essentially a dual currency economy, with the US dollar floating at roughly 3.25 soles per one US dollar. Check local currency exchange rates upon arrival to get exact rates of exchange during your time visit. The US dollar is readily accepted in most commercial establishments, restaurants, and service stations at this rate of the day. ATM machines, internationally recognized banks (9am-6pm M-F, Sat 9-12pm), and change houses are also readily available in all big cities and most major traveler destinations.
The vast majority of establishments also accept major credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Diners and American Express. Traveler’s checks are changed with a standard commission of 5%.
Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of US dollar cash, traveler’s checks and cards is best. Always take more rather than less, as you don’t want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.
Visitors from all countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity)
Citizens of most American and western European countries do not require a visa. If you are from one of these countries, the maximum authorized time of visit in Peru is 90 days. This however, can be legally extended 3 times for 30 days each extension for a maximum of 90 days extra. The cost of each 30-day extension is approximately US$30.00 In the case that one stays longer than the allotted 90 day or extended visa, a fee of $1.00 US dollar charged daily.
For more information check with the Peruvian diplomatic mission in your country. Addresses and phone numbers are posted on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Peru. www.rree.gob.pe
Or click here to see more about travel visas in our traveler resource section.
If you plan to travel to the Amazon region, it is recommended to get a Yellow Fever vaccination at least ten days before traveling. Malaria is not a massive problem in Peru, however precautions should be taken if going to remote areas of the Amazon and slopes of the Eastern Andes.
The immigration officer will ask you for your International Embarkation card (given to you on the airplane or by the immigration officer at the border entry point). Take extra care of this card, as you will be required to turn it in upon leaving Peru. If you are unable to provide the card, you will be required to pay a fine of $4.00 US dollars.
The customs officer will give you a form to declare all dutiable items. If you declare nothing, indicate that you have nothing to declare. Items exempt from customs duties included: articles and clothes for personal use, portable computers, cameras and adventure sport equipment. For further details, check with the Peruvian diplomatic mission in you respective country.
On the same form, you will be required to declare any plant or animal species. If such is the case authorizations from the appropriate health authorities in your home country are required. If you do not have the necessary health documentation, the Peruvian health authorities may decide that the plant should be burned and the animal sacrificed.
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We suggest using common sense as the best defense. Like any country, Peru can be dangerous to those unaware of their surroundings. Leave original passport (take a copy), and all valuables in the hotel safe box in your hotel. Take note of what you are leaving at the hotel and verify responsibility taken by the establishment. While enjoying the sites, do not carry or flash large amounts of cash, and remember to keep an eye on your luggage or handbags. If at all possible, avoid walking alone or in dimly lit areas at night. When using taxicabs, call a secure taxi or flag down a yellow taxi with a roof tent. Always agree to taxi fares before stepping into the taxi. Fees are not set and depend on particular destination distances around the city.
Telephone. Peru features a far-reaching telephone network that provides services for national and international long-distance calls from private telephone lines and public cabins. There are also currently 1.7 million clients who have cellular phones, and satellite communications are currently being developed.
It is possible to make international and domestic phone calls from public phones. Country codes and city codes are listed in most phone booths. Pay phones accept coins and phone cards (easiest) sold at kiosks and convenience stores around the city. Take care and make sure you buy the correct phone card for the telephone company you wish to use. You cannot make collect calls from public phones.
Directory information: dial 103(only service in Spanish)
To place an international call dial: 00+country code +city code +phone number
To place a domestic call within Peru dial: 0 + city code + phone number.
Hotels also offer telephone service but in most cases tend to be more expensive.
Internet is readily available in all major cities costing approximately US$60 cents per hour.
Internet / E-mail A number of service providers across the country have given the public access to Internet. Known in Peru as Cabinas Internet, the average cost of an hour’s connection is S/. 2.00 (US$.60).
Airports 36 airports equipped to receive commercial flights and 9 ready for international flights: Lima, Arequipa, Chiclayo, Pisco, Pucallpa, Iquitos, Cusco, Trujillo and Tacna. 19 airlines operating international flights and 7 airline companies offering domestic flights.
Ports Peru’s largest port is Callao, located outside of Lima. Other major ports include Paita, Salaverry, Chimbote, Callao, Pisco, Ilo and Matarani.
Roads Peru is criss-crossed by more than 78,000 km of roads, of which 16,705,79 km are national highways. Of these roads, 8,084.26 km. run from north to south and 7,994.77 km from east to west.
The main roads running down the length of the country are the Pan-American Highway (North and South), which links up the towns along Peru’s coast, and the Marginal Jungle Highway which links up the towns in the northern jungle with the south, near the Bolivian border. Cutting inland is the Central Highway, which starts out in Lima and runs up to the central highlands, climbing through the high mountain pass of Ticlio (Kilometer 132), which at 4,818 meters above sea level is also the world’s highest railway pass. From here, the road descends to the towns of La Oroya and Tarma, continuing down to the Chanchamayo jungle valley in the department of Junín. The government plans to build another 1,819.2 km of roads in the next few years