|Official Name||: República del Perú|
|Independence Day||: July 28, 1821|
|First President||: Jose de San Martín|
|Current President||: Ollanta Humala Tasso (2011-2016).|
|Type of Government||: Peru is a Democratic Republic. The president and members of Congress are elected every five years by universal suffrage.|
|Time Reference||: The time in Peru is the same as United States Eastern Time or GMT+5 hours.|
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 countries.
Peru also holds control over the sea up to 200 miles from the Peruvian coast and has territorial rights to an area of 60 million hectares in the Antarctic. Peru is divided into 24 regions. Lima is the capital city of Peru.
Peru is divided in three important natural regions:
Coast: Pacific Ocean
Sierra: Mountain area, Andes Mountain Range
Forest: mostly of tropical forest
About 30.135.000 inhabitants, 2012 estimate:
Peru is a nation of mixed ethnic origins. Throughout its history, Peru has been the meeting ground for different nations and cultures. The indigenous population was joined 500 years ago by the Spaniards. 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.
Although Spanish is commonly spoken across the country, Quechua is a major legacy of the Inca Empire, and is still spoken with regional dialects in many parts of Peru.
Additionally, other languages are spoken such as Aymara (in Puno) and a startling variety of dialects in the Amazon jungle, which are divided up into 15 linguistic families and 43 different languages.
Peru is a naturally religious country: a diversity of beliefs and freedom of worship can be seen from the wide range of festivals and rituals that feature both Catholic fervor and the mysticism of pre-Hispanic cultures.
Shaking hands is the customary form of greeting. Kissing on one cheek between women and between women and men is common in coastal cities. Travellers should avoid the scruffy ‘backpacker’ look – it is not admired and considered bad etiquette.
Peruvians (and Latin Americans in general) are not really confrontational people – if you are struggling with some aspect of your travel (uncomfortable rooms, late buses, etc.), losing your temper will not get you very far. Instead, stay patient, keep smiling and someone will help you eventually, if only to make you go away.