GENERAL INFORMATION
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GENERAL INFORMATION

General Information

Visas: Most travelers do not need visas; most nationals are granted a 90-day stay and it can be extended Health risks: Altitude sickness, cholera, hepatitis, malaria (in the lowlands). A yellow fever vaccination is essential if you plan to visit the eastern slopes of the Andes or the Amazonian Basin.

Time: GMT/UTC minus 5 hours Electricity: 220V, 60Hz Weights & measures: Metric When Go

Peru 's peak tourist season is from June to August, which is the dry season in the highlands, and this is the best time to go if you're interested in hiking. Travelers do visit the highlands year-round, though the wettest months, January to April, make trekking a muddy proposition. Many of the major fiestas occur in the wettest months and continue undiminished in spite of heavy rain.

On the coast, Peruvians visit the beaches during the sunny months from late December through March, although few beaches are particularly enticing. The rest of the year, the coast is clothed in mist. In the eastern rainforests, it naturally rains a lot. The wettest months are December through April, though travelers visit year-round since it rarely rains for more than a few hours and there's still plenty of sunshine to enjoy.

El Perú es un país de todas las sangres. A través de su historia, el Perú ha sido el punto de encuentro de diferentes razas y culturas. A la población nativa se sumaron, hace cerca de 500 años, los españoles.

Producto de ese encuentro, enriquecido posteriormente con las migraciones de negros, asiáticos y europeos, emerge el hombre peruano, representante de una nación cuya riqueza étnica constituye una de sus más importantes características

Events

Many of the main festivals favor the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. These are often celebrated with great pageantry, especially in highland Indian villages, where the Catholic feast day is usually linked with a traditional agricultural festival. Some of the major events include: Carnaval (February-March), which is particularly popular in the highlands and features numerous water fights; Inti Raymi (24 June), the greatest of the Inca festivals with spectacular dances and parades; Peru's Independence (28 July); All Souls Day (2 November), celebrated with gifts of food, drink and flowers which are taken to family graves; and Puno Day (5 November), which features flamboyant costumes and street dancing in Puno.

Money

The easiest currency to exchange is US dollars. Other currencies are only exchangeable in major cities and at a high commission. Money can be changed in banks, casas de cambio, first-class hotels or with street changers. Casas de cambio are usually the easiest places to change money. Street changers, who hang out near banks, never offer better rates than the best bank rate and have been known to cheat travelers so are best avoided. Rates vary from place to place but not significantly, unless you try to change money at a hotel which charges high commission. Travelers' checks are changed at a slightly lower rate than cash. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card, but credit cards attract an 8% commission unless you are using it for a cash withdrawal (in Peruvian currency) from a bank. ATMs (Visa and Plus system are most widely recognized) are now the best way to extract money in Peru.

A combination of taxes and service charges are added to bills in the best hotels and restaurants and can total as much as 28%. The cheaper hotels and restaurants don't add taxes. Tipping is not expected in budget restaurants. A tip of 10-15% is fine in upmarket restaurants if a service charge has not already been added to the bill. Taxi drivers are not tipped - bargain hard beforehand and stick to your price. Local guides should be tipped US$3-5 per day. Bargaining is a way of life in markets.

Enviroment

Peru is in western South America and shares borders with Chile (to the south), Bolivia (southeast), Brazil (northeast), Colombia (north) and Ecuador (northwest). It has three major regions: a narrow coastal belt, the wide Andean mountains and the Amazon Basin . The coastal strip is predominantly desert, but contains Peru 's major cities and its best highway, the Carratera Panamericana.

The Andes comprise two principal ranges - Cordillera Occidental and Oriental - and includes Huascarán (6770m/22,200ft), Peru 's highest mountain. To the east is the Amazon Basin , a region of tropical lowland, which is drained by the Maranon and Ucayali rivers.

Bird and marine life is abundant along Peru 's desert coast, with colonies of sea lion, the Humboldt penguin, Chilean flamingo, Peruvian pelican, Inca tern and the brown booby endemic to the region. Common highland birds include the Andean condor, puna ibis and a variety of hummingbird. The highlands are also home to cameloids such as the llama, alpaca, guanaco and vicuña, while the eastern slopes of the Andes are the haunts of jaguars, spectacled bears and tapirs. Peru 's flora contains a number of hardy and unique plants, including patches of Polylepis woodland found at extreme heights. The vast wealth of wildlife is protected in a system of national parks and reserves with almost 30 areas covering nearly 7% of the country.

Peru 's climate can be divided into two seasons - wet and dry - though this varies, depending on the geographical region. The coast and western Andean slopes are generally dry, with the summer falling between December and April; during the rest of the year, the garúa (coastal fog) moves in and the sun is rarely seen. In the Andes , the dry season is from May to September, while the wet season takes up the remainder of the year. On the eastern slopes of the Andes , the drier months are similar to the highlands, though the wet season (January to April) is more pronounced.

Weather

Peru has a very wide range of climates, and the best time to come depends on where you want to go. The three biggest areas are the Coast (Costa), the Andes (Sierra), and the Amazon (Selva). Peru has Southern Hemisphere seasons, which means that summer runs from December to March and winter from June to September - but because of it's proximity to the equator, temperatures generally do not vary drastically. The summer holds the most rainfall in the mountains and the jungle, and the most sunshine for the coast, while the winter brings slightly cooler temperatures for all areas and a grey mist over the coast, particularly Lima .

The coastal region, which is the long, arid, desert area between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, has a fairly temperate climate, warmer in the north and a little cooler in the center and south. It very rarely rains, with the exception of the far north, where rain can be frequent in the summer months. Although Peru lies very close to the equator, the cold marine current of Humboldt, or the Peruvian current, brings cold waters from the south, lowering temperatures. Summer temperatures range from 25° to 35°C (77°-95°F) during the day and cool off to 17° to 20°C (63°-68°F) at night. In Lima, a light mist, called guarúa, covers the city during the winter months and temperatures drop, fluctuating between 12ºC and 18ºC (54°F and 64°F) amidst high humidity. The north coast escapes this heavy fog and experiences mostly warm, sunny days all winter.

The Andes are generally cooler, due to the altitude. The highlands in Peru are best visited during the dry season (winter), from April to October, with June and July being the peak tourist months. During this time, the climate is mostly dry, sunny and warm during the day, with temperatures reaching 20° to 25°C (68°- 77°F ). However, it gets very cold at night, with temperatures often dropping to just above freezing. The wet season is from November to March and is milder, with temperatures ranging from 18° to 20°C (64°- 68°F ) and dropping only to 15°C ( 59°F ) at night. These months experience heavy rainfall in the afternoon occasionally.

The Amazon is generally warm and humid, and experiences the same rainy season as the Andes (December through March). There are heavy showers during these months (usually lasting only last a few hours), causing rivers to swell. While April through November is the “dry” season, it is always very humid in the jungle and it still rains on a daily basis during this period – just not as much. The average daytime high temperature in the Amazon is between 30° to 35°C (86°- 100°F ) and the average nighttime low is between 16° and 22°C (62° and 73° F). Nevertheless, between May and September, sometimes cold fronts from Argentina can sweep into southwestern Amazonia and push daytime highs down to 9° C (50° F) and the nighttime lows to 5° C (43° F), so during these months it is good to be prepared for cooler weather.

Getting Around

Peru is a big country, so many travelers take internal flights if they have limited time. As of August 1999, Aero Continente has effectively monopolized the domestic market. Prices have risen accordingly, and route coverage is limited. In July 1999, LanPeru, co-owned by LanChile, resumed domestic flights. There are also a handful of small airlines flying to remote destinations in light aircraft. There's an 18% tax on domestic flights, but you can avoid most of this if you buy tickets abroad. There's also a US$6 departure tax on domestic flights.

Public buses are the usual mode of transport over long distances. They are cheap, frequent and relatively comfortable, at least on major routes. When traveling between towns, have your passport with you as it will need to be shown at police checkpoints. Armed robberies on night buses are not unheard of in Peru , so travel on a day bus (or fly) if you have the option. Trucks often double as buses in remote areas. The fare is usually standardized according to the distance, but agree on the fare in advance. Local buses are slow, cheap and crowded; when you want to get off just yell out. Taxi fares need to be haggled over; there are no metered cabs. The government-owned railways (INAFER) is facing imminent privatization. Services go from the coast to the highlands: The Central Railroad runs from Lima to La Oroya, where it branches north and south. The northbound line goes to Cerro de Pasco and the southbound to Huancayo; although there are plans to open the southern route to passenger trains, both of these routes are currently for freight use only. A short passenger line continues from Huancayo to Huancavelica. The Southern Railroad runs between Arequipa to Lake Titicaca and Cusco . Services are cheap and fairly comfortable, but not particularly safe.

Boat travel is important in Peru 's eastern lowlands. Dugout canoes powered with outboard engines operate as water taxis; larger cargo boats are often also available as water transport.

Getting There and Away

AeroPerú and Faucett , Peru 's international airlines, are indefinitely shut down. There is talk of reopening AeroPerú in some form. For the time being, you must use a non-Peruvian airline for international flights. Lima 's international airport, Jorge Chavez, is the main hub for flights to the Andean countries from North America and Europe , and has plenty of connections to neighboring countries. Some international flights land at Iquitos , in Peru 's Amazon region. There is a departure tax of approximately US$25 on international flights.

There are overland border crossings between Peru and Bolivia at Desaguadero and nearby Yunguyo on the shores of Lake Titicaca ; between Peru and Chile at Tacna ;and between Peru and Ecuador at Tumbes. It is possible to travel by river from Colombia and Brazil to Iquitos .

History

The first inhabitants of Peru The first inhabitants of Peru were nomadic hunter-gatherers who lived in caves in Peru 's coastal regions. The oldest site, Pikimachay cave, dates from 12,000 BC. Crops such as cotton, beans, squash and pepper chillis were planted around 4000 BC; later, advanced cultures such as the Chavín introduced weaving, agriculture and religion to the country. Around 300 BC, the Chavín inexplicably disappeared, but over the centuries several other cultures - including the Salinar, Nazca, Paracas Necropolis and Wari (Huari) - became locally important. By the early 15th century, the Inca empire had control of much of the area, even extending its influence into Colombia and Chile.

Between 1526-28, the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro explored Peru 's coastal regions and, drawn by the riches of the Inca empire, returned to Spain to raise money and recruit men for another expedition to the country. Return he did, marching into Cajamarca, in northern Peru , before capturing, ransoming and executing the Inca emperor Atahualpa in 1533. Pizarro subsequently founded the city of Lima in 1535 but was assassinated six years later. The rebellion of the last Inca leader, Manco Inca, ended ingloriously with his beheading in 1572.

The next 200 years proved peaceful, with Lima becoming the major political, social and commercial center of the Andean nations. However, the exploitation of Indians by their colonial masters led to an uprising in 1780 under the self-styled Inca Tupac Amaru II. The rebellion was shortlived and most of the leaders were rounded up and executed. Peru continued to remain loyal to Spain until 1824, when the country was liberated by two 'outsiders': the Venezuelan Simón Bolívar and the Argentinian José de San Martín. In 1866, Peru won a brief war with Spain but was humiliated by Chile in the War of the Pacific (1879-83), which resulted in the loss of lucrative nitrate fields in the northern Atacama Desert . Peru also went to war with Ecuador over a border dispute in 1941. The 1942 treaty of Rio de Janeiro ceded the area north of the Río Marañón to Peru but the decision was fiercely contested by Ecuador.

Cuban-inspired guerrilla uprisings in 1965 led by the National Liberation Army were unsuccessful, but a series of nationwide strikes coupled with a violent insurgency by the Maoist Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) guerrillas caused political instability in the 1980s. Another guerilla group - the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) - also gained in strength during this time. However, the 1990 presidential election victory of Alberto Fujimori (erroneously known as El Chino because of his Japanese parentage) over Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, and the capture in 1992 of inspirational MRTA and Sendero Luminoso leaders buoyed hopes for a sustained period of peace.

The main threat to domestic stability remains unemployment and poverty, despite Peru 's fast-growing economy. Fujimori was re-elected in April 1995, comprehensively beating former UN secretary general Javier Perez de Cuellar. A treaty was signed with Ecuador in 1998, peacefully resolving a contentious 57-year-old border dispute, paving the way for increased foreign investment in both countries. In November 1999, Peru and Chile settled their last long-standing territorial dispute over the important trade bottleneck of Arica.

The world watched the April 2000 elections intently as Alejandro Toledo, an Andean Indian from a poor family who became a World Bank economist, gave two-time President Alberto Fujimori the election run of his life. One week before the country headed to the polls for a second time, Toledo filed a formal letter with the National Election Board to further call attention to election corruption, a move that bought a response from the Organization of American States (OAS). It announced that the National Election Office needed more time to correct 'deficiencies' in the voting process. Toledo instructed his followers to write 'No To Fraud' across their ballots and ultimately withdrew from the runoff.

Fujimori emerged victorious in that controversial and rigged election. However, he resigned from his third presidential term in November and fled to Japan following charges of human rights violations and corruption that were made against his intelligence adviser, Vladimiro Montesinos.

La cultura Wari (600 d.C.) introdujo el patrón urbano en el territorio de Ayacucho y expandió su influencia en los Andes.

La refinada cultura Chimú (700 d.C.) trabajó el oro y otros metales y construyó con barro la ciudad de Chan Chán, ubicada en Trujillo.

La cultura Chachapoyas (800 d.C.) utilizó al máximo las tierras cultivables y realizó sus construcciones en lo alto de las montañas de la selva norte. La grandeza de la ciudad fortificada de Kuélap es el ejemplo de su magnífica adaptación al medio.

Los Incas

La cultura Inca (1.200 - 1.500 d.C.) fue la civilización más importante de Sudamérica. La organización económica y la distribución de la riqueza, sus manifestaciones artísticas y su arquitectura impresionaron a los primeros cronistas.

Los Incas adoraron a la tierra (Pachamama) y al sol (Inti). El Inca, soberano del Tahuantinsuyo, se consideraba sagrado e hijo del sol , de ahí que las leyendas del origen de los incas nos relaten que el sol envía a sus hijos (Manco Cápac y Mama Ocllo o los cuatro hermanos Ayar y sus esposas) a fundar el Cusco, ciudad sagrada centro del Tahuantinsuyo.

La expansión de los Incas es atribuida a que fueron extraordinarios organizadores. La población tenía como núcleo central, familiar y territorial, al ayllu, y al tener que alejarse por razones laborales, no perdía los vínculos con éste. El Inca movilizaba grandes cantidades de población como premio o castigo y así fue consolidando la expansión, a la vez que se nutría de los conocimientos de las culturas que se habían desarrollado anteriormente.

El grupo de parentesco del Inca era la panaca, que estaba integrada por los parientes y sus descendientes, con excepción de aquel que se convirtiera en Inca y formara una nueva panaca. Los cronistas españoles del siglo XVI señalaron que fueron trece sus soberanos: desde el legendario Manco Cápac hasta el controversial Atahualpa, quien perdió su vida durante la conquista española.

El Tahuantinsuyo o Imperio Inca, logró extenderse hasta los actuales países de Colombia por el norte y Chile y Argentina por el sur, incluyendo totalmente los territorios de Bolivia y Ecuador.

Los miembros de las panacas eran los nobles incas, encabezados por el soberano. El poder de las panacas y del Inca es tangible en todo el Tahuantinsuyo, pero es en la arquitectura cusqueña que alcanza su esplendor: el Koricancha o Templo del sol, las fortalezas de Ollantaytambo y Sacsayhuamán y sobre todo, la ciudad de Machu Picchu.

El Encuentro de 2 Mundos:

El encuentro de la cultura inca con la cultura española se inició con la conquista española en el siglo XVI. En 1532 las huestes de Francisco Pizarro capturaron a Atahualpa en Cajamarca. La población aborigen decreció en las primeras décadas y el Virreinato del Perú se creó en 1542 después de un enfrentamiento entre los propios conquistadores y la Corona española.

El proceso de asentamiento español se consolidó en el siglo XVI con el virrey Francisco de Toledo quien, a partir de sus ordenanzas, asentó el fundamento para la economía colonial: el sistema de control de mano de obra indígena (mita) para la minería y la producción artesanal. Estas actividades, junto con el monopolio mercantil, fueron la base de la economía colonial. Pero el cambio de dinastía y las reformas borbónicas del siglo XVIII crearon disconformidad entre muchos sectores sociales. La más importante de las rebeliones indígenas fue la de Túpac Amaru II , con la cual se empezó a generar el movimiento criollo que independizó a Hispanoamérica en el siglo XIX.

Hasta el siglo XVII el Virreinato del Perú abarcó el territorio que se extendía desde Panamá hasta Tierra del Fuego.

La prédica de los sacerdotes se mezcló con las creencias andinas hasta establecerse un sistema de creencias mixto, el sincretismo , que continúa hasta la actualidad. Junto con los españoles también llegó al Perú la raza negra , que sumada a la población indígena y española, forma parte del tejido social y racial de nuestro país.

Durante los siglos XVI y XVII, la producción intelectual y el arte colonial peruano integraron sus aportes a la tradición española.

El nacimiento del Estado peruano

El Perú fue declarado país independiente por Don José de San Martín en 1821 y en 1824 Simón Bolíva r terminó con las guerras de la independencia. Sin embargo, a pesar de los esfuerzos por organizar la joven república peruana, en el siglo XIX el país tuvo que enfrentar el costo de la lucha: la dura crisis económica y un caudillismo militar que dio muy pocas opor- tunidades a gobiernos civiles para gobernar.

Hacia 1860, gracias a los ingresos del guano, algodón y azúcar , se puede prescindir de la contribución indígena y la esclavitud de los negros. Llegan chinos y europeos para ampliar la mano de obra e integrarse a nuestra sociedad. Se une el país con ferrocarriles y se organiza, con Manuel Pardo como presidente, el primer régimen civil del Perú . Los primeros japoneses arribarían al finalizar el siglo.

Pero en 1879 el país se ve envuelto en la guerra con Chile . El Perú es derrotado y queda en bancarrota. Después de un nuevo apogeo del caudillismo militar, retornan los civiles, dando lugar al periodo llamado la " República Aristocrática ": la economía es dominada por la élite terrateniente y se implanta un modelo exportador en el cual el éxito de la explotación del caucho renovó el mito del Dorado .

Perú Actual

Los primeros años del siglo XX estuvieron marcados por una larga dictadura civil encabezada por Augusto B. Leguía. El proyecto de modernizar al país, de crear obras para una "Patria nueva" endeudó al estado, el cual no pudo enfrentarse al crac de 1929. Fue también una temporada de abundante creación intelectual, simbolizada por el fundador del APRA, Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre y José Carlos Mariátegui, creador del pensamiento socialista peruano y núcleo de la labor intelectual y artística del país durante su corta vida.

Tras la caída de Leguía, resurge el militarismo que, al parecer, hubiese llegado a su fin con los gobiernos de Prado en 1939 y Bustamante y Rivero en 1945; pero en 1948 ocurre un nuevo gobierno militar con Manuel A. Odría a la cabeza. Durante ocho años, las grandes obras públicas se entremezclaron con una dura represión política.

El Perú, en su empeño por establecer una relación armoniosa con los países vecinos, ha superado cualquier conflicto fronterizo. Las condiciones de navegación en el río Amazonas motivaron acuerdos con el Brasil, hasta que en 1909 se completó la determinación de las fronteras entre los dos países. Tras una larga discusión, el tratado fronterizo con Colombia fue aprobado por el congreso en 1927 y se les otorgó a los colombianos la salida al Amazonas. En 1929, tras las disputas territoriales con Chile, frutos del enfrentamiento bélico, la disposición por renovar las relaciones llevó a firmar el tratado por el cual Tacna retornó al Perú.

La demarcación territorial con Bolivia quedó definida de mutuo acuerdo en 1932. Finalmente, tras varios conflictos bélicos y controversias diplomáticas con el Ecuador, el Perú, en 1999, logró hacer prevalecer el "Protocolo de paz, amistad y límites" firmado en 1942, cerrando el último capítulo de disputa por el territorio de la cordillera del Cóndor y reforzando la amistad con el Ecuador.

En 1968 las Fuerzas Armadas, con un golpe de estado, depusieron al entonces Presidente de la República Fernando Belaúnde. Los primeros años de esta dictadura militar la diferenciaron de sus contemporáneas latinoamericanas por su inspiración socialista. Encabezada por el general Juan Velasco, planteó una política de expansión estatal que debía solucionar los grandes problemas que empobrecían al país. Con ese fin, se estatizó el petróleo, los medios de comunicación y se realizó una reforma agraria. Lo sucedió Francisco Morales Bermúdez, quien, presionado por la población, convocó a una Asamblea Constituyente.

En 1980 Belaúnde es elegido nuevamente, pero la crisis que viven los sectores más pobres del país motivó el nacimiento de dos movimientos subversivos que por diez años sacudieron al Perú con su violencia. Después del gobierno de Alan García (1985-1990) el presidente Alberto Fujimori, electo en 1990, cerró el congreso en 1992 y decretó un gobierno de emergencia. Tras su segunda reelección en el año 2000, el reclamo ciudadano exigió nuevas elecciones, para lo cual se estableció el gobierno de transición democrática del presidente Valentín Paniagua. En julio del 2001 el Dr. Alejandro Toledo Manrique asumió el mando como Presidente Constitucional de la República.

Culture

Art prior to Spanish colonization concentrated almost entirely upon the production of fine pottery, metalwork, stonecraft and textiles. The Spanish subsequently introduced their version of urban planning, with cities laid out in checkerboard fashion, and constructed mansions, churches and monasteries which slavishly mimicked Spanish renaissance or the rather phlegmatic Spanish early baroque.

Over time, these European styles increasingly showed signs of a native Indian influence, leading to a style known as mestizo. (The best examples of mestizo architecture can be found in the churches around Puno and Arequipa .) Painting too mimicked European influences but as local artists grew more confident, a new and distinctive Cusco style developed, in which artists turned their attention away from the visible world, and concentrated instead on fairytale and fable. The influence of these works on artist Paul Gauguin, who spent his childhood in Lima , is noticeable.

Peruvian music is almost entirely folk music, while its literature encompasses everything from independence-inspired polemic to the anarchic individualism of its many poets and the boyhood reveries of the internationally renowned author Mario Vargas Llosa.

The main religion is Roman Catholicism, though the Indians, while outwardly Catholic, often blend Catholicism with traditional beliefs. Spanish is the main language. In the highlands, most Indians are bilingual, but speak Quechua as their mother tongue. There are about 70 other languages, and in remote parts of the Amazon, Spanish is rarely spoken. English is understood in major hotels and airline offices.

Typical Peruvian dishes are tasty and vary regionally. Seafood is, understandably, best on the coast, while the Inca delicacy - roast guinea pig - can be sampled in the highlands. Other dishes include: lomo saltado (chopped steak fried with onions); cebiche de corvina (white sea bass marinated in lemon, chilli and onions, often served cold with a boiled potato or yam); and sopa a la criolla (a lightly spiced noodle soup with beef, egg, milk and vegetables).

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