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Fun Facts About Peru

Your Guide: Catherine Criolla
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  1. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the Inca Empire was the largest kingdom in the world.
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    The Ancient Inca Book Cover
    Inca engineering and logistical achievements are all the more extraordinary because they lacked strong beasts of burden and did not use wheeled vehicles (llamas can only carry up to about 40 pounds on their backs and cannot pull heavy loads). Foodstuffs and other important commodities were carried by people or by llama trains.
  3. The llama (prounounced yama in Spanish) is a member of the Camel family. The South American Camelids are the llama, alpaca, vicuña and guanaco. See Wikipedia for more general information and the llama web for a huge assortment of silly and serious llama websites. If you really want to know more about South American animals and their evolution, check out Splendid Isolation: The Curious History of South American Mammals (out of print but available at libraries and Amazon.
  4. The Atacama desert of southern Peru and northern Chile is the driest in the world. Most sources limit the Atacama to the north of Chile, but the coastal desert of southern Peru is part of the same system. See the 2003 story from National Geographic for more information
    And if you’re a desert rat check out the The Ultimate Desert Handbook : A Manual for Desert Hikers, Campers and Travelers.
  5. The Potato Book Cover
    The Potato was domesticated in Peru (it’s originally Peruvian, not Irish!) and there are more than 400 different varieties of potato. Peruvian potatoes are diverse. Most are rich in flavor and nutrients and very different from those found on the average store shelf in much of the rest of the world. See Wikipedia for more information and You Tube for a video on how to make a Peruvian stuffed potato. If you want to read about the history of the potato since the Columbian exchange, try The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World.
  6. Lake Titicaca (Peru and Bolivia) is the highest navigable lake in the world. See Wikipedia for more basic geographic information or Lonely Planet Peru to go navigate it yourself.
  7. The Andes as the Condor Flies Book Cover
    The Andes is the longest, as well as one of the youngest and highest mountain chains anywhere in the world.
    See Wikipedia for more information and try The Andes: As the Condor Flies for a nice coffee table photo book.
  8. San Marcos University in Lima is the oldest institution of higher learning in the New World. It was founded in 1551 by Spanish royal decree, making it one of the oldest Universities in the World. There aren’t that many places to learn more in English – try The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Latin America Readers (Paperback)) for a taste of Colonial Peru, or look for work on Colonial Peruvian and/or Imperial Spanish history.
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