Peru is a country in South America that has a rich history, a diverse culture and a lot of natural beauty. It's also the home of the Inca Empire, which was one of the largest empires in the world during its time. The Inca Empire was centered in Cusco, Peru, and it stretched from Ecuador to Chile. The empire was conquered by Spain in 1532, and it took more than 100 years for Peru to gain its independence from Spain.
Today, Peru is known as one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth and it's home to Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Here are some interesting facts about Peru:
1. It's One of the Largest Countries in South America
Peru is located in western South America and shares borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia. It's also bordered by Chile on its southern coast.
2. It Has More Than 30 National Parks
Peru has more than 30 national parks that protect some of the country's most beautiful natural areas. Some of these parks include Manu National Park, which protects an area that is home to more than 1,000 bird species; Tambopata National Reserve; Manu Biosphere Reserve; Paracas National Reserve; and Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (also known as Pacaya-Samiria National Wildlife Reserve).
3. It Has More Than 1,000 Bird Species
Peru has more than 1,000 bird species living within its borders [source: Birdlife International]. The country is also home to many other animals including monkeys, sloths and jaguars [source: Peru Travel Guide].
4. Machu Picchu Is One of Its Most Famous Sites
Machu Picchu is one of Peru's most famous sites because it was once home to an ancient Inca city that was built without using any metal tools or nails [source: UNESCO]. The city was built between 1450 A.D. and 1470 A.D., but it wasn't discovered until 1911 when Hiram Bingham found it while exploring for artifacts [source: UNESCO].
5. Its Capital City Is Lima
Lima is Peru's capital city and it has a population of 8 million people [source: CIA World Factbook]. Lima is located on Peru's Pacific coast at an elevation between 4 feet (1 meter) above sea level at its lowest point and 10 feet (3 meters) above sea level at its highest point [source: CIA World Factbook].
6. Its Flag Has Five Colors
The flag of Peru has five colors -- red (symbolizing blood), white (symbolizing peace), blue (symbolizing the sky), yellow (symbolizing gold) and red (symbolizing bravery). The flag also features a sun with rays extending out from it toward each corner [source: CIA World Factbook].
7. Its Language Is Quechua
The official language spoken in Peru is Quechua -- an indigenous language that dates back to pre-Incan times [source: CIA World Factbook]. However, Spanish is widely spoken throughout the country as well [source: CIA World Factbook].
8. It Has One Of The Largest Economies In Latin America
Peru has one of the largest economies in Latin America, with a GDP of over $250 billion. [source: CIA World Factbook]. The country's economy is based on agriculture, mining and manufacturing.
9. It Has More Than 2,000 Miles (3,200 Kilometers) of Coastline
Peru has more than 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) of coastline [source: CIA World Factbook].
10. It's Home to the World's Largest River Dolphin
Peru is home to the world's largest river dolphin -- the Amazon river dolphin. These dolphins can grow up to 13 feet (4 meters) long and weigh as much as 1,300 pounds (590 kilograms). They live in the Amazon River and its tributaries [source: Peru Travel Guide].