Peru is a relatively large nation located on the central pacific coast of South America. It has a long coastline, running about 2,400 km (1,500 miles) from north to south and a population of nearly 30 million, with about 10 million calling the capital city of Lima their home. Lima is the economic and political center of the country and it is the only city in Peru with an international airport. Peru is famous for its extreme natural and cultural diversity and offers amazing vistas and great beauty in all of its diverse regions. With the world’s second tallest mountain chain, the world’s largest jungle and one of the world’s driest deserts, Peru really does offer myriad beauty. In addition, Peru was home to many pre-Colombian civilizations, including the famed Inca Empire. The archaeology and cultural history of Peru is unrivaled by any other nation in the western hemisphere, and with sights like Machu Picchu and cities like Cuzco, Cajamarca and Arequipa, it is no wonder that tourism is the third largest industry in the country.
Cuzco is probably the most famous city in Peru. The former capital of the Inca Empire, the city now sports one of the world’s largest tourism industries. A beautiful and historically important city in its own right, Cuzco is also the launching point for tourists interested in seeing many of the Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley and at Machu Picchu.
Spanish is the national language of Peru, though many of the people in the highlands also speak Quechua (the native language of the Inca) or Aymara (the language of the Tiwanaku empire that was based in Bolivia).