Size: With an approximate surface area of 500,000 square miles, Peru is the third largest country in South America, after Brazil and Argentina.
Population: About 28 million.
Language: Spanish is the official language. Quechua is still spoken in many areas in the country. Other languages include Aymara in Puno and several dialects in the Amazon jungle.
Location: Peru lies along the Pacific Ocean in western South America. It shares borders with Ecuador and Colombia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east and Chile to the south.
Currency: Nuevo Sol (currently $1 US = about 3 soles) divided into 100 cents.
Religion: More than 90 percent of Peruvians are Roman Catholic.
NATIONAL PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
Jan 1: New Year's Day
Easter Week: Apr 9-16, 2006
Celebrations concentrate in the Andean highland villages, where the mix of Catholicism and pagan religions creates some of the most colorful and fervent festivals. The most popular celebrations take place in Tarna, Huaraz, Cuzco, and, above all, Ayacucho, the most famous and well attended.
May 1: Labor Day
Jun 29: St Peter's and St Paul's Day
Jul 28-29: Independence Days
During these two days, across the country, Peruvians throw parties and hold patriotic celebrations to remember the Declaration of Peru's Independence (July 28, 1,821) by the Libertador Jose de San Martin. In various parts of the country (mainly Cajamarca and Piura), Peruvians also hold agricultural and livestock fairs together with three activities that are the soul of Creole culture: cockfighting, bullfighting and Peruvian paso horse exhibitions.
Aug 30: Saint Rose of Lima Day
Religious celebrations to honor the patron saint of Peru. The shrine, located in downtown Lima, is constantly visited by pilgrims in search of a miracle, especially those seeking to cure an illness. On August 30, pilgrims often cast letters detailing their needs into the wishing well where Saint Rose dropped the key from her cilice.
Oct 8: Battle of Angamos
Celebrates an important naval battle won by the Peruvians in the war between Chile and Peru.
Nov 1: All Saints' Day
Primarily a religious celebration (similar to Memorial Day) the day of the dead is observed with family visits to cemeteries to place flowers, and in the highlands food, on loved ones' graves.