Peru- Details

• Official name: Republic of Peru
• Area: 498,222 square miles (1,285,215 km²)
• Capital city: Lima, 7' 665,222 inhabitants (estimated 2008)
• Government: Democratic based on 3 powers: Executive, Legislative and Judicial
• President: Alan García Perez (2006-2011)
• Main Cities: Lima, Cusco, Arequipa, Trujillo
• Official languages: Spanish. English is widely spoken.
• Independence date: July, 28th 1821
• Currency: Nuevos Soles S/. (Dollars and Euros can be easily changed)
• Religion: Majority Roman Catholic
Peru is located on the western side of South America. Its territory borders the Pacific Ocean to the west and bounded on the north with Ecuador, on the northeastern with Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia and south to Chile. Because of its geographic position and its tropical location, the presence of the Andes and both the Humboldt and El Niño currents, Peru is the earth's most ecologically diverse country. Eighty-four of the one hundred and four ecosystems in the world, and twenty-eight of the thirty-two climates on the planet can be found here. Additionally, it is one of the world's leading countries in terms of variety of species and habitats.
Peru is a nation of mixed ethnic origins. Throughout its history, Peru has been the meeting ground for different nations and cultures. As a result of this encounter, and later enriched by the migration of Africans, Asians and Europeans, Peruvians emerged as the representatives of a nation whose rich ethnic mix is one of its leading characteristics.
Most businesses and Bank offices are open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., although some banks also open Saturday mornings. You can withdraw money with major credit cards at the principal banks. In major cities, most hotels, restaurants and shops accept international credit cards and travelers checks. Nevertheless, it is always advisable to carry some cash. The use of U.S. Dollars is allowed. You may pay for goods and services directly in US Dollars or in Soles at the daily rate of exchange. ATM's are easily found throughout the main cities. Cash advances can be made at most banks or ATM's
The official currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol (S/.), which is divided into 100 centimos. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency or travelers checks brought into Peru.
Each passenger is allowed two bags of up to 55 pounds (25 kilos) each, plus a 11 pounds (5 kilos) carry-on luggage, photo or video camera, wheel chair, or baby carriage can be transported free of charge if there is space availability.
Electricity in Peru is 220 volts AC, 60 cycles. Some hotels have 110 volts AC or adapters.
Peru's official language is Spanish. Quechua is the second official language, and is widely spoken in the sierra (highlands). English is spoken in major visitor centers.
Valid passports are required for entry into Peru. No visas are needed for stays of up to 90 days. Before landing, your airline will give you an embarkation/disembarkation card to be filled out and presented to the Immigration officer.
There is a sales tax added to purchases; hotels and restaurants charge sales tax and service. There is also an international departure tax is to be paid in U.S. Dollars at the airport.
One of the great advantages of visiting Peru is its year-round sunshine. Although most of the world's climates can be found somewhere in Peru, the weather is generally mild and does not present difficulties for travelers. Some cities along the coast have a mild, humid climate. In the northern cities, near the border with Ecuador, the climate is pleasant and sunny all the year round. In general, the climate at altitudes between 3,300 and 8,200 feet (1,006 and 2,500 masl), such as Arequipa or Ayacucho is cool yet sunny throughout the year. At 11,500 feet or more (3,505 masl), there are only two seasons: the rainy season (December through March) and the dry season with sunny days and chilly nights. The cities of Cusco, Puno, Cajamarca and Huaraz have this type of climate. On the other hand, the whole of the jungle region, from Iquitos to Madre de Dios (Puerto Maldonado), is always hot, with year-round temperatures averaging between 75°F and 83°F (24°C to 28°C).
Anyone who has been to Peru can vouch for its wonderful cuisine. Sophisticated restaurants, awarded several forks, reflect the diversity of a nation that has blended its native traditions with the cuisine of Europe, the Middle East, China , Africa and Japan. The result: unique flavors that make Peruvian cuisine one of the finest and most varied in the world. Today the gastronomy bounty can be enjoyed in traditional restaurants and also through the creations of a new generation of chefs who have achieved international recognition for their imaginative use of traditional ingredients and recipes with haute cuisine techniques. Peruvian restaurants throughout the country can be a fantastic and inexpensive treat. Most restaurants take major international credit cards.
As in many places, gratuities are customary, but entirely at guest's discretion. Guidelines for tipping will be found in the "Welcome Kit" you receive upon arrival.
Local time on the mainland is Greenwich Meridian Time minus 5 hours (Eastern Standard Time in the United States). Valid though all Peru all year around.
No inoculations are required for entry. Travelers with heart conditions or high blood pressure should check with their physicians about high-altitude travel, as well as preventive measures for visiting tropical areas. Bottled water is advised and available everywhere. For guests traveling to Peru's Amazon Region, a yellow fever vaccination is required. Altitude sickness, known as soroche in Peru, is occasionally a problem for visitors traveling directly from the coast or jungle regions to the high Andes, above 2,500 meters (8,000 feet). The best way to prevent it (headache, dizziness, fatigue) is to eat lightly, and drink plenty of fluids. It is recommended to ascend gradually to become acclimated and rest on the first day of your arrival.
Bottled mineral water, with or without carbonation, soda drinks like Inca Kola and Coca-Cola are available in all hotels, ships and restaurants, as well as Cristal, Pilsener and Cusqueña beer. Coffee and tea are usually served at the end of meals. The "chicha morada" is the typical drink of Peru, and it is generally consumed in the coast.
It is advisable to bring a variety of clothing, depending on the places to visit. If the traveling is through the coast, it's appropriate to wear clothing for fall. If traveling to the mountains, winter clothing will be necessary. Be prepared to dress in layers in the jungle. If the plan is to enjoy some time at the beach, bring light summer attire. Comfortable shoes, a hat and sunblock to protect you from the sun's strong rays in the mountains and from the heat of the jungle are recommended.
Some tours and programs are not suitable for smaller children, and thus not recommended for them. Children over eight will have no problem. Hotels in the major cities cater to children of all ages, providing children's menus, baby sitters and extra beds/cribs.