Peru - At a glance

Peru at a glance

Location Western South America, just south of the Equator, bordered by Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east and southeast, Chile to the south, and the South Pacific Ocean to the west.

Area 1,285,216km2 (20th-largest country in the world)

Status Republic

Population 29.5 million (2012 estimate)

Life expectancy 72 years (male), 77 years (female)

Capital Lima, population 8.5 million (2011 estimate)

Other large towns Lima, Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura, Iquitos, Cusco, Chimbote, Huancayo, Pucallpa

Economy Important mineral resources including copper, zinc, gold and lead are found in the coastal and mountainous regions, whilst the coastal waters are rich fishing grounds. Coffee, sugar and cotton are also exported.

GDP US$197 billion (2012); per capita US$4,250

Languages Spanish and Quechua are official languages; Aymara and Ashaninka, as well as a number of other native languages, are also spoken.

Religion 81% Roman Catholic, 12% Evangelical and the remainder follow various smaller or traditional beliefs.

Currency Nuevo sol (PEN). For up-to-date rates, go to

Prime Minister Oscar Valdés

National airline/airport LAN Peru/Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chávez

International dialling code +51

Time GMT –5

Electrical voltage 220V; 60Hz. Standard outlets accept round prongs but some have dual-voltage outlets and will accept flat prongs.

Weights and measures Metric, except for petrol (gas), which is measured in US gallons.

Flag Three equal, vertical bands of red, white and red, which symbolise the blood spilt in the pursuit of independence and peace. A coat of arms comprising a shield bearing a vicuña, cinchona tree and yellow cornucopia spilling out

coins is set in the central, white column.

Public holidays 1 January, 1 May, 24 June, 29 June, 28–29 July, 30 August, 8 October, 1 November, 8 December, 25 December; also Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Monday

Back to the top

Peru articles

View all

10 lost cities of the world

From crumbling Persian empires to colossal Roman cities, here are some of our favourite ruined civilisations from around the world. 


Favourite sites in Cusco

Hilary Bradt tells us about her personal favourites from 20 years of introducing trekkers to Cusco.


Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, 1969–73

Machu Picchu had been Hilary Bradt's goal ever since seeing a black-and-white photo of the ruins, swathed in cloud. 


Related guides and other books

View all