Peru's diverse cultures and civilizations culminated in the well-known Inca Empire, and were some of the most advanced in the world. These ancient cultures left behind one of the richest collections of architecture, metallurgy, ceramics, and textiles known to man.
Peru is located in the west central part of South America, and it is the 19th largest country in the world. It shares borders to the north with Ecuador, to the south with Chile and Bolivia, and to the east with Columbia and Brazil. Peru's geography, climates, and cultures are very diverse due to the natural variation of its regions, which include the coast, the Andes, and the Amazon jungle.
1,285,215 km² (494,208 square miles)
Peru is approximately three times the size of California. The highest point is Huascaran at 6,768 meters (4.2 miles) above sea level.
Founded January 18, 1535.
New Sol (S/.)
U.S. dollars are accepted in all places of business and are available at most ATMs. Other currencies can be easily exchanged.
|Languages:||Spanish, Quechua and Aymara|
Located in the south eastern Andes Mountains, Cusco sits at an altitude of 3,400 meters above sea level (11,000 feet). Cusco is the historic capital of the Inca Empire and is the gateway to the sanctuary-city of Machupicchu. Indeed, Cusco is one of the most spectacular highlights of South America. Cusco is not a small mountain pueblo. In fact, Cusco is a cosmopolitan city of 400,000 people.
Cusco does not have comprehensive public transport. Most people walk or take taxis. "Combis" (shared mini vans) are available, but most visitors to Cusco won't find these comfortable or efficient. That said, Cusco is a small city, and walking in the warm sun is not something to be missed. As well, taxis are regulated—from 6:00am to 10:00pm taxis charge only S/. 2.00 ($0.60) to go anywhere in the city; and S/. 3.00 ($0.90) between 10:00pm and 6:00am.
Cusco has excellent food—all of it relatively inexpensive and some very inexpensive. In Cusco, it is possible to get a 3-course lunch plus drink for as little as S/. 3.00 ($1.03). By eating in local restaurants, visitors can enjoy good food at very low prices, though caution is always advised, as food handling is different in developing countries compared to Europe or the U.S.
Cusco is by no means a shopping paradise—certainly not in the same way as London, Paris, Milan, and New York. However, you will be able to buy excellent souvenirs as well as world-class alpaca wool products (sweaters, blankets, etc.) and traditional Inca textiles still produced by hand. Cusco and the surrounding villages are also famous for their handicraft markets. There are also open-air markets for great fruits and vegetables.
Most clubs and bars in Cusco are concentrated around the Plaza de Armas and in the San Blas district. Cusco has a lively nightlife with a wide variety of clubs and bars; Cusco also has some good places to relax and listen to either traditional or modern music. Cusco is a safe city, but it pays to be vigilant, especially late at night. You should never walk alone at night, and you should be very careful with your valuables.