Last Updated on August 12, 2021 by Travels with Kids
Here is our collection of interesting facts about Peru for kids! Before I had children of my own, I lived in Peru for many years and traveled far and wide in this fascinating country.
I’ve included here Peru facts for kids that my own children find interesting, and I am sure you will too! In short, from Inca facts to Machu Picchu, from the Coast to the cities like Cusco, there is so much to discover about Peru with these interesting facts about Peru. Enjoy these Fun Facts about Peru!
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Peru in a Nutshell
Located in Western South America. Puer is famous for its rich history and as the home to the “Lost City of the Incas,” Machu Picchu.
Peru is the third-largest country in South America. It has a population of 32 million (2020) divided into three geographical regions, the coast, the Andes mountains, and the jungle. Over a third of Peru’s population live in the capital, Lima.
Official Name: Republica del Peru (Republic of Peru)
Government: Presidential Republic
Interesting Facts About Peru: Geographical Peru Facts
Peru has a Whopping 90 Different Microclimates in the One Country!
As Peru is a long thin country down the coast it has an amazing range of scenery from the lush jungles of the Amazon, to the striking altiplano, to the dry and arid coastal deserts. As such Peru has about 90 different micro-climates and one of the widest ranges of biodiversity in the world. Statistics vary but Peru is home to 500 kinds of mammals, 300 reptiles, and over 1,800 species of bird.
Half of Peru is Covered by the Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon jungle is the world’s largest rainforest. It is sometimes known as the “Lungs of Earth” producing 20% of earth’s oxygen. Known as the ‘selva’ in Spanish, this huge jungle covers nearly half of Peru and also half of Brazil. It is home to a massive variety of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. It is believed that nomadic tribes, uncontacted from the outside world, still live deep in the Amazon. It’s estimated that 15 of these tribes live in Peru.
The Andes Mountains are the Second-Highest and Longest in the World!
The Andes Mountains Are The Second-Highest Mountain Range In The World, After The Himalayas! The highest point in Peru is Mt. Huarascán, which is part of the Andes Mountain chain. Mt. Huarascán is also the fourth-highest mountain peak in all of South America!
Another Interesting Fact In Peru is that the Andes are the longest above-water mountain range in The Andes Mountain Range goes through seven South American countries, including Peru. Starting north in Venezuela and going all the way south through Argentina, it is about 7,000 km (or 4,300 miles) long!
The World’s Largest River, the Amazon, Starts In Peru
The Amazon River is considered the world’s longest river. However, there have been arguments that the Nile River is actually longer. Either way, the Amazon River is definitely the world’s largest river by volume.
Starting in the Peruvian Andes and running through Peru and the entire length of Brazil the Amazon finally empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Lots of amazing creatures call the Amazon home like the piranha, the anaconda, the Amazonian manatee, and the Amazon River Dolphin!
Other major rivers in Peru are the Marañón, Ucalayli and Madre, and Dios, all of which are tributaries of the Amazon.
The Source of the Amazon River is in Peru
In 1996 a glacial stream on the Mismi mountain peak was identified as the source of the Amazon River. Mount Mismi is 5,597-metre (18,363 ft) in the Chila mountain range not far from Arequipa. It must have been a contentious announcement as future studies, in .2001 and again in 2007 once again found that the source of the Amazon was definitely on Mismi Mountain.
Peru Is Also Home To The Deepest Canyon In The World
Cotahuasi Canyon (from Quechua Kutawasi), near the city of Arequipa in Peru, is one of the deepest canyons in the world. With a depth of approximately 3,354 meters (11,004 ft), it is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.
More Peru Facts: Peru has the Highest Sand Dune In The World
The highest sand dune in the world is located is in Peru. It is 1,176 meters (3,860 feet) tall!
Located near the Nazca Province of Peru, near the town of Nazca. It is about 455 kilometers (283 miles) south of the capital of Peru, Lima. Getting across the dunes is easier said than done. You can go by 4×4, and sandboarding is commonly practiced in the area too – some of the dunes flow down for a full 1km.
Lake Titicaca – the World’s Highest Navigable Lake
For many, this makes Lake Titicaca the highest lake in the world, though technically there are many, many other bodies of water (that is, Lakes) at much higher altitudes. So you see, there are many interesting facts about Peru!
That is why, technically, when referring to Lake Titicaca being the highest lake in the world, you need to say the highest commercially navigable lake in the world is Lake Titicaca. It lies in the Altiplano at a height of 3,810 m (12,500 ft) above sea level and is half in Peru, and half in Bolivia.
Lake Titicaca is Home to a Tribe that lives on Man-Made Floating Islands
The traditional residents of Lake Titicaca are the Uros people who migrated to Lake Titicaca about 3,700 years ago. After the arrival of the Incas who were an aggressive tribe that took over local tribes, the Uros built mobile floating villages in order to evade their enemies. Eventually, they were taken over by the Inca.
These floating platforms were made by weaving the thick roots of the Totora Reed (which grows on Lake Titicaca) into a sturdy layer. This is a significant task as the base of each island is up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) thick. This takes considerable time and effort! To hold them in place, the islands are moored to the lake bed using long sharp sticks and plenty of rope. The islands also require a lot of maintenance, especially as today they are a popular tourist attraction.
You can Climb a Fascinating Rainbow Mountain in Peru!
That’s right, high in the Andes, near Cusco, Peru there is an amazing rainbow mountain! It is also known locally as the mountain of seven colors or Vinicunca
When climbing up to the Rainbow Mountain area, people particularly notice the cochineal red, terracotta yellow, pink, white, turquoise, brown, and pink earthy tones. Each of these colors is caused by a specific combination of mineral deposits and creates the ‘rainbow’ effect.
Vinicunca Rainbow Mountain is also Peru’s newest tourist attraction, only becoming wildly popular since becoming a social media phenomenon in 2013. If you are thinking of traveling to Peru and are young, check out our full post The Rainbow Mountain Peru with Kids.
There is so much exciting stuff to share about Rainbow Mountain; we put together a full Rainbow Mountain Peru Facts Post.
Peru Is Home To The Puya Raimondii – The World’s Tallest Flowering Plant
Puya Raimondi is the world’s tallest bromeliad species of plant. A bromeliad is a relative of the pineapple and can take up to 10 years or more to even bloom. When it blooms, it can contain up to 8,000 white color flowers that look like lilies. After it blooms, it does.
The Puya Raimondi is only found in the Peruvian or Bolivian Andes. Sadly, this plant is an endangered species. It is estimated that there are only about 100,000 Puya Raimondi plants in the wild.
Peru Fun Facts –Animals of Peru
You Want To See A Llama, Go To Peru
¾ of the world’s population of llamas live in Peru but don’t get close to them – they spit! Like really far, about 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 meters).
Did you know that llamas are cousins of the camel and highly intelligent animals? Llamas can learn simple tasks after only a few repetitions. Take a look at more Fun Llama and Alpaca Facts, including some llama jokes!
Don’t Confuse a Llama with an Alpaca
Another fun Peru fact for kids is that many people confuse llamas with their cute cousins, the Alpaca. So how can you know the difference? Look at their ears! Alpacas have short little ears with smooshed faces while Llama’s have longer ears and longer faces. Actually, the differences between llamas and alpacas are so fascinating we have written a whole post!
The llama’s and alpacas cousin is the national animal of Peru. There are so many llamas and alpacas in Peru it would have been a fair bet to think that they would be Peru’s national animal. You are not far wrong; their cousin the Vicuna is the national animal of Peru.
The Llama is the Longest Animal Resident in the Americas!
The llama family (camelids) originated a whopping 40 million years ago on the central plains of North America, where they became extinct in the last ice age. However, before the Ice Age, they had migrated southwards making a home for themselves in the Andes where they continue to thrive long after their northern relatives have disappeared.
The Guanaco is a camelid native to South America and is closely related to the llama. Its name comes from the Quechua word Huánuco. Guanacos are one of two wild South American camelids. The other being the Vicuña, which lives at higher elevations and can be seen on a trek or remote adventure in the Andes.
Guinea Pigs Are a Special Meal
In North America, Europe, and places like Australia you can find guinea pigs in the pet store alongside rabbits and other domesticated animals. However, in Peru, the guinea pig is also a very special meal!
Known as ‘cuy’ the guinea pig is an important part of the Andean culture as well as a source of protein. The cuy, or guinea pig, plays such an important role in the local culture that the painting of the Last Supper in the cathedral of Cusco depicts Jesus and his disciples dining on guinea pigs!
Eaten on special occasions if you visit typical Peruvian homes you will hear the peeps and squeaks of guinea pigs running underfoot. They are natural garbage disposal; the local people just peel their potatoes, carrots, etc. straight onto the floor where they are hovered up by the guinea pigs. But what are you going to do if someone grabs a guinea pig and roasts it in your honor?
The Largest Flying Bird on Earth – The Andean Condor – Lives in Peru
You can see the largest bird on earth, in the Colca Canyon. The Giant Andean Condor can grow up to 4 feet high and it has a wingspan of up to 14 feet, which is huge for a bird! Its wingspan is so huge that the Giant Andean Condor can fly for hours.
The Giant Andean Condor is considered a bird sacred by the Incas. Unfortunately, it is now considered somewhat endangered by the World Conservation Union.
What is the Connection between Paddington Bear and Peru?
The Andean Bear (Tremarctos Ornatus) is the only surviving bear species in South America It is also known as the spectacled bear for the rings of white or light fur around its eyes, which can look like eyeglasses (or spectacles) against the rest of the bear’s black or dark brown fur. It is highly endangered, due to its habitat being divided up by farmers and other types of interruption.
Spectacled bears are generally shy, peaceful and elusive, and tend to avoid contact with humans. Which makes it a little strange that they were the inspiration for the children’s book series (and subsequent movie) Paddington Bear. To this day Paddington Bear is a symbol of kindness to refugees that we should all remember.
Interesting Peru Facts – People and Places
Peru is Naturally Rich
With rich biodiversity in the jungle, Peru is also very rich in natural resources. Gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, and iron are found across the country, and there are reserves of oil and natural gas. Often mined by large multi-national companies, the wealth of Peru doesn’t reach the majority of the population, particularly the indigenous folk in the Andes.
The Capital of Peru, Lima is very BIG
Peru’s capital is Lima, but it was once referred to as La Ciudad de los Reyes, which means ‘City of the Kings’. Lima was never more than an outpost of the Inca Empire but became the capital of the Spanish viceroyalty as the Spanish conquerors preferred to be near the coast.
Approaching a population of 10 million, Lima has almost a third of Peru’s 32 million population.
Out of interest, in 2015 the biggest city in the Americas was Sao Paulo in Brazil, followed by Mexico City, then Lima at third. New York was the fourth largest city in the Americas, and Bogota the fifth largest!
There are Lost Cities in Peru
Andean explorers believe that there are most definitely lost cities in Peru. The legends of lost cities of vast riches keep people interested in the stories and also attract a lot of explorers searching for these mystical cities. The most famous of all is Paititi, which is being searched for up until today. Explorers want to reach the lost city before the huaqueros or treasure hunters do, and preserve its riches and stories for science and history.
While El Dorado may have been a golden myth, it is certain that in Paititi, northeast of Cuzco, there was a gold-laden city. Even today Paititi is thought to be the great archaeological enigma of South America as its location has evaded even the most complicated satellite imaging equipment and modern techniques.
Hollywood certainly has taken on some aspects of this with Dora the Explorer’s live-action movie featuring the search for Parapata, an Incan city deep in the Peruvian jungle, protected by Quechua-speaking guardians.
Quechua is the Language of the Inca Empire
By imposing one language on all the people, they unified what was previously a lot of warring tribes. It is a beautiful language for storytelling,
It is an onomatopoeic language. What is onomatopoeia? See the definition of onomatopoeia here.
Many people in Peru only speak Quechua, especially the women in the high mountain areas. Only recently has Peru decided to teach Quechua as a part of the Peruvian curriculum. However, the Incas didn’t have a written language. They recorded crops and numbers using Qhipus, a series of knots, and they told stories via textiles. Along with Spanish, Quechua and Aymara are the three official languages of Peru.
While We Are On Lost Cities And Unsolved Mysteries
Discovered in 1927, The Nazca Lines, is a group of more than 70 huge human and animal geoglyphs. Geoglyphs are large designs made on the ground by stones, gravel, or carving out the earth. These particular geoglyphs are carved into the desert sand.
Located in a plateau between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, The Nazca Lines are considered one of the world’s greatest mysteries because no one knows who made them or why they are there. Some people believe they are an alien landing strip, some an astronomical calendar but no one really knows for certain.
More Inca Facts
From the fact that the Incas had no written language to the belief that the Inca civilization didn’t have any wheels and their cities were built by other methods, the Incas were a fascinating group of people. Take a look at more Fun Inca Facts for kids.
Peru Food Facts
There is National Roasted Chicken Day In Peru
Peru loves its roasted Chicken so much it has a National Day to celebrate it. Each year, the 21st of July is the official Day of Pollo a la Brasa.
Polla a la Brasa is an authentic Peruvian chicken dish. The chicken is roasted with Peruvian herbs and spices and served with different hot pepper sauces.
Peruvians Love their Potatoes
There are over 4000 species of potato and if you venture out to the communities you are sure to get served up a plate of boiled potatoes.
The Superfood Quinoa is from Peru
Here is my fave Peru food fact – the superfood Quinoa has been cultivated and eaten in the Andes for over 4000 years. But … what is so special about this superfood? Quinoa (pronounced KIN-oh-wa) is extremely nutrient-dense. For example, it is high in protein and is one of the few plant-based sources of protein that includes all 9 amino acids. It is also a great source of iron and magnesium.
Peru has more than 55 Varieties of Corn
Yes, that is right, there are more than 55 varieties of corn. There is so much different corn, in fact, that at the Peruvian markets you can practically find corn of every color of the rainbow and even black corn. In fact, corn is a super popular snack in Peru and is served at many restaurants as roasted corn kernels. A large kernelled light yellow corn is boiled in large pots by the road and sold as a popular snack, “Choclo”. We are so into Peru’s corn we even wrote a full post about the different types of Peruvian corn.
Ceviche is Peru’s National Dish
The word “ceviche” is Quecha for “fresh fish”. Ceviche is raw fish that has been marinated in lime juice or bitter orange juice, which preserves the fish, along with onions, chili peppers, and salt. Sometimes it also includes vegetables such as potatoes or corn.
Ceviche is so popular in Peru that actually has a holiday in its honor.
What do Peruvians eat for Breakfast?
In the households where I’ve lived a Peruvian breakfast is very simple – black coffee and pan (plain bread) without butter or jam. If you are out and about on the streets there are some other good options including heading to the market and asking for “Jugo de Papaya” which is papaya blended up on the spot. You can ask the vendor to throw other juices as you see fit! Super delish and super healthy!
If you are game, try emoliente which is a drink made from toasted barley and a variety of herbs. The emoliente drink is a popular breakfast drink and in addition to the health benefits of barley, the emoliente seller will add other herbs, just tell them your ailment. To buy emoliente just look for a cart with a group of people gathered around the hot drinks, steaming in the morning air. We can personally recommend emoliente as a great way to start the day for its calming taste and health benefits.
Finally, if you are looking for something super greasy for breakfast, then you should totally try Chicharron de Chancho. This is pork fried with its own fat, and served up with chopped onion, and sweet potato. Make sure you eat the mint, as it aids with digestion and you are going to need some help as this is a seriously rich Peruvian breakfast dish! (It has always given me some indigestion!)
More Fun Peru Facts – Weird Traditions In Peru
Peruvians Have A Unique New Year’s Tradition
The Peruvians believe that if you wear new, colored underwear on New Year’s Eve it will indicate what the future year will hold for you. Yellow, for good luck, is the most popular color! Red is for love, and green is for money!
All Around Peru, You See Little Bull Statues on Rooves
Why are they on the rooves? Well, the Torito de Pucara as they are called, are placed on the roof for good luck, an abundance of crops and livestock, and also for general prosperity. Almost every building in Southern Peru has the Torito de Pucara on its roof.
Often times the ceramic bulls are accompanied by Christian religious symbols and symbols that honor Peru’s ancient deities.
Why Share these Peru Facts for Kids?
I first arrived in Peru nearly 20 years ago and quickly fell in love with beautiful Peru. It quite literally has it all – stunning landscapes from snow-capped mountains, to arid deserts on the coast. Its history is truly fascinating, not only the Pre Incan cultures like the Chavin and the Chimu, but the mysteries which remain to this day. The enigmatic Nazca lines are incredible and one of Peru’s great secrets. The Conquest of the Incas is a dramatic and captivating story, while facts about Peru’s history after the arrival of the Spanish are also very interesting.
However, it’s the people that really capture your heart. High in the Andes mountains Quechua speaking people carry on their daily life much as in the time of the Incas, or their ancestors before them. Agricultural research stations such as Moray, in the Cusco region.
In my travels, I stayed in earth floor huts, ate guinea pig or fresh-caught fish from high alpine lakes; and participated in local ceremonies that paid respect to Mother Earth, Pachamama. I worked alongside Quechua women wearing traditional dresses as they explained to me the meaning of their weavings.
From the most humbling experiences in the high mountains to the most elegant experiences in Peruvian cities like Cusco and Lima. In Lima we’ve dined in aristocratic mansions once only patronized by the Spanish descended elite, or tasted exquisite Novo- Andino cuisine created by Peruvian genius chefs like Gaston Acurio or Rafael Osterling.
It goes without saying that I have a lot of interesting facts about Peru in my head, and I am delighted to share them with you. Enjoy this charming and special country as we journey to Peru with these Peru fun facts for you.
The Verdict – Peru Facts for Kids
Well, there you have it – some cool Peru facts, some interesting facts about Peru, and some weird traditions in Peru. We recently added some more Peru food facts, and facts about Rainbow mountain Peru; we hope you enjoyed the recent additions! Without a doubt this amazing country is breathtaking in its scope, steeped in tradition, and also full of mystery. We hope you have enjoyed this journey in Peru with us and learned some interesting Peru facts along the way!
Interested in learning more about Peru? Here are some of our favorite Peru books for children.
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