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Tuesday 28th May
Peru Facts
Nevado Huascaran (6,768 m) is the highest point in Peru.

Lake Titicaca, shared with Bolivia, is the highest navigable lake in the world and the largest lake in South America.

Evidence of early human habitation has been found in the cave at Pikimachay, in the Andes Valley, near Ayacucho.

Remains of pyramids mark the site of the city of Caral in the Supe Valley. Caral was built between 2627 BC and 2000 BC and is said to be the oldest city in the Americas and one of the oldest cities in the world.

Textiles found in Peru date back over six thousand years. The Andean backstrap loom which was used in ancient times is still used today.

Early civilisations in Peru included the Chavin (1500-300 BC), the Moche (200 BC-700 AD) and the Chimu Kingdom (900-1450 AD). The Inca Empire developed much later, reaching its peak in the early sixteenth century.

Royal Moche tombs at Sipan, on the northern coast of Peru, were discovered in 1989.

The Nazca people (200 BC-900 AD) made huge geometrical drawings in the desert, some over 200 m long. These are known as the Nazca Lines, thought to have been made for ritual astronomical purposes.

Machu Picchu, known as the Lost City of the Incas, is located in the Andes Mountains. Hiram Bingham, Director of the Peruvian Expedition of the University of Yale, arrived at the Machu Picchu site on 24 July 1911.

In 1947 Thor Heyerdahl from Norway made the famous Kon-Tiki Expedition. Heyerdahl, thinking that people might have migrated from South America to Polynesia, built the famous raft Kon-Tiki and sailed 4,300 miles from Peru to Tuamotu Island to prove such a voyage was possible.

Before the arrival of the Spanish, the Inca Empire stretched from Ecuador, through Peru and Bolivia, to northern Chile.

Franciso Pizarro, the Spanish explorer, led an expedition to Peru in 1520.

Pizarro defeated the Incas whose empire became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru with the capital in Lima.

From the early sixteenth century Spain ruled Peru for nearly three hundred years.

The Spanish converted the native Indians to Christianity and gave them Spanish names.

"Mestizos" is the term used for people of mixed native Indian and Spanish descent.

In 1780 Tupac Amaru led a major uprising against the Spaniards. Tupac Amaru's rebellion failed and he was executed.

Peru was the last Spanish colony in South America to gain independence.

Between 1849 and 1874 one hundred Chinese immigrants arrived in Peru.

From 1840 to 1880 Peru collected over twenty million tons of guano for export: the fisheries of the Pacific are among the world's richest, particularly those fed by the cold currents along the coast of South America. The birds which prey on these fish produce another of the region's important resources - their droppings, piling up year after year, form guano, one of the world's richest fertilizers.

In the southern half of the Pacific Ocean the cold Humboldt (Peru) Current flows north along the coast of South America. At irregular intervals, a warm current from the north called El Nino deflects the Humboldt Current. When this happens the fisheries industry collapses, the birds and other animals dependent on the small fish migrate or die and torrential rains fall in Peru.

In 1970 an earthquake at Mount Huascaran, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, started a rock and snow avalanche that buried the towns of Ranrahirca and Yungay. It is estimated that 67,000 people were killed.

In July 2001 Alejandro Toledo was elected President of Peru. He was Peru's first President of native Indian origin.

Beatriz Merino became Peru's first female Prime Minister in 2003.

It is estimated that around four hundred and fifty people died in August 2007 following an earthquake in the Pacific Ocean, south-east of Lima.

The skeleton of a four-legged whale was found in Lima in 2011. Although whales originated as sea creatures, they moved to the land evolving legs. However, after the extinction of the dinosaurs, the whales moved back to the sea, de-evolving their legs. The discovery is called Peregocetus pacificus – “the travelling whale that reached the Pacific”.

Earthshot prize winner Protect and Restore 2023: Accion Andina, a grassroots, community-based initiative working across South America to protect native high Andean forest ecosystems; they aim to protect and restore one million hectares of high Andean, native forest ecosystems across Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.

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