In less than three week’s time I’ll be crossing one of the top places off my “Bucket List” when I travel to Peru. In preparation for my adventure, I’ve been doing research on the country and have been amazed by some of the facts I’ve unearthed. Below are eight of the ones that surprised me most:
1) Peru is much larger than I thought—in fact, it’s the 20th largest country in the world. By comparison, Peru is only slightly smaller than Alaska and almost twice the size of the second largest state, Texas.
2) In the native Quechua language, Peru means “land of abundance.” This seems fitting since Peru is reputed to be the origin of potatoes, tomatoes and avocados.
3) Cotahuasi Canyon, near the city of Arequipa in Southern Peru, is the deepest canyon in the world at 11,810 feet (3,600 meters) deep. By comparison, the world famous Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA is only 5,300 feet (1,600 meters) deep.
4) Peru’s capital city of Lima sees virtually no annual rainfall. The only precipitation comes from a dense ocean mist, called garua, that covers the city for much of the year. I wonder if this is like the “June gloom” weather phenomenon that affects Southern California every year?
5) Lima’s Chinatown is the biggest in all of South America. Immigrants from China began arriving in the mid-19th century and still make up a sizeable population.
6) Sunflowers are native to Peru. Gold images of the flower and seeds were taken back to Europe early in the 16th century by conquistador Francisco Pizarro.
7) The population of Lima was only 173,000 in Peru’s 1919 census. Currently, less than a century later, the number of inhabitants is greater than 8 million.
8) The Convento de San Francisco in Lima has subterranean catacombs which are believed to hold the remains of more than 75,000 people.
Have you been to Peru before? What were your thoughts? Do any of these facts surprise you? Feel free to comment in the section below!